You can never truly predict where your life is going to go. While throughout my fifteen-year career as a professional entertainment journalist I have sought to expose people to artists and concepts that I thought were fresh and interesting, I have also learned much from the ever-expanding scope of my writing.
It was in February 1995 that I received my first paid writing assignment: contributing three short profiles of ethnoambient artists Jorge Reyes, O Yuki Conjugate and Vidna Obmana for a feature about ritual music that ran in Alternative Press’ June 1995 issue. After spending two years writing for fanzines for free — and I enjoyed contributing to i/e, ND, Alternate Music Press and Dreams Word — it was time for me to start getting some cash for my efforts. It was no longer about just receiving free music as compensation. I seriously thought about turning this into a career. And I did.
This first A.P. assignment would lead to other gigs within the next year writing for them, the Boston Phoenix, Tower Pulse! (RIP), Keyboard, Mix, New Age Voice, and Seconds (the magazine formerly published by American Hardcore author Steven Blush). I was staunchly independent in my music tastes and was deep into my goth/industrial/electronic/experimental phase. I loved listening to and championing truly alternative music, and I still do. But while it was tough during the Nineties to get mainstream media to cover the dark electro-rock sounds of Switchblade Symphony, the ethereal ambient tapestries of Terre Thaemlitz or the psychedelic indie rock of Neutral Milk Hotel, I managed to do it fairly consistently. Ah, the good old days. While over the last decade indie and underground music has had an easier time being covered on the Internet through various blogs and alternative websites, in this era of dwindling print magazine page counts and shrinking ad revenues, mass media pays far less attention to those artists.
My writing odyssey has certainly experienced its fair share of changes. I actually embraced online outlets early, writing for Amazon, Playboy.com, MTV.com, Allmusic, CDNow and others between 1998 and 2002, back when there was a lot of money being thrown around and there was plenty of room to cover a wide range of artists. But once the Internet bubble burst in the early ’00s, that market changed, and continually shifting editorial line-ups at some outlets made it difficult to maintain certain relationships. So I jumped more strongly back into print media, chased bigger stories and landed work throughout the last decade with large outlets like Billboard, the Hollywood Reporter, Giant, Playboy, American Way and the New York Times. I also expanded my scope, extending beyond music into film, television, DVD, travel and theater. For example, I am currently the New York editor for Stage Directions and have seen more Broadway shows than I ever thought I would. And while I still love print media, given the tumultuous times it has been experiencing, I have eagerly been expanding back into the online world through outlets like Fandango, Grammy and ShockHound. Both worlds are gratifying in their own ways.
This latest chapter in my story leads me to my blog, which has become a new forum for me where I can write about whatever and whomever I want. While I still champion the exotic and unusual, I have in recent years embraced my mainstream tastes and covered more popular people and topics to balance out my resume and show my diversity. But my blog has allowed artists large and small to bump up against each other without concern for editorial space or ad budgets. As my literary agent said to me recently, I am one of the only writers he knows that can cover Raul Esparza and Judas Priest. That’s an approach that has served me well and continues to do so.
I am excited to interview artists and cover different events of varying scope. I was elated to attend the first goth-oriented Projekt Fest in Chicago in the summer of 1996, to be dazzled by the fiery fingerwork of Grammy-nominated Latin guitar duo Strunz & Farah in concert on both coasts and to travel around Germany in 2000 to explore a heavy metal scene unlike anything we had in America. I have also had fantastic experiences attending the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, having dinner with Broadway star Raul Esparza and going on a set visit for the upcoming Nicolas Cage movie The Sorceror’s Apprentice.
Exposing people to new artists and ideas was the original reason why I chose to become an entertainment journalist. By broadening my reach, I have been exposed to people and ideas that I never thought I would write about. In opening up my mind I have learned more about various art forms and correlated them more readily to each other. That concept in itself has made my journalistic journey very rewarding.