Meet a Blogger: Matt Sullivan
Meet a Blogger is a new feature wherein we chat with some of our favorite bloggers about our respective love for blogs. The blogosphere houses some of the most creative minds in the world, and we aim to highlight as many of them as we can. It’s a fascinating sub-culture, and Meet a Blogger looks to further enrich our readers of its overall necessity.
You’ve been a music blogger for a number of years now. What drove you to become a music journalist? What did your first writing gig look like?
I still dig all of Virginia—I still visit regularly and am particularly soft for the greater D.C. area that I grew up in and the Shenandoah Valley where I chilled super hard—but I had to get the hell out of there…
There was an editorial internship opening at my then-favorite website, Altered Zones, so I e-mailed an essay to Ric and Emilie about the life and times of my Summer of Chillwave (lol), along with a counter-argument to a David Byrne piece I read in my ethnomusicology class in school, took a bus to the interview, and the rest is history.
I had graduated from college with B.M. (Bachelor of Music) a few weeks before applying, and though I almost finished a minor in creative writing, it had actually been a long while since the last time I wrote. I’m still quite new to music writing, so I’m especially thankful that they took a chance on me. I admired a lot of critics and journalists’ work from afar, but definitely have a much greater appreciation for the difficulty of doing it consistently and well. Seeing how hard people work for very little or no pay always inspires me to improve for internal reasons.
Also, NYC is the shit. Most fears or preconceptions I had were laughably off the mark, so happy I came here.
You’ve written for Altered Zones, Impose Magazine, and you currently write for Ad Hoc. Which writing gig has been your favorite experience thus far?
I’m most attached to Ad Hoc: I do work for it nearly every day, I’ve been with it from the beginning, and, in many ways, I see it as a spiritual successor to Altered Zones, so the nostalgia for my first writing gig still permeates my relationship with AH. It brought on a ton of firsts for me: first friends in NYC, first writing gig, first fundraiser of its size by a long shot, first introduction to the reality behind a lot of the art that I had grown attached to in my life.
Writing for Impose was sick too. I had to chill on contributing for them for a while because I had to pick up extra work to get by (writing doesn’t pay the bills, I just dig doing it), but being able to work with them was a treat. They have a great sense of humor, such history, and they treat their writers very well—it’s very easy to have fun working with them.
What does a day in the life at Ad Hoc headquarters look like? Do you guys play a lot of musical chairs at the office?
We mostly work from home or coffee shops now. Ric and I are roomies with several others at the defunct DIY space Market Hotel. Everyone there likes to jam, record, practice, write songs, party, have strange schedules, be young and sexy, etc. so we have to negotiate office hours a little, but ultimately it’s a stimulating work environment and I’m totally into the whole working from a couch vibe (yessss).
Sadly, no musical chairs (one day…one day…), but we do switch roles for each other often. Because the regular staff is so small and have such disparate schedules—none of the Kickstarter money is for us, we all work other jobs to sustain ourselves and deny payment so we can bring on contributors and compensate them fairly—we all try to keep up a shared skill set that’s as uniform as possible so we can sub in for each other when someone’s in need of a hand. Regardless of the approach, we try and keep up with news during the regular work day, dig for bonus material for the following days, send a bunch of e-mails, and, if things slow down or we find ourselves moving faster than expected, switch gears to larger-form pieces and other advance stuff that we usually end up doing later that night in our bedrooms.
There’s also a pizza place that has a Ms. Pac-Man machine down the street where I take a lunch break sometimes. Total morale changer.
Your friend and Ad Hoc co-founder, Ric Leichtung, spearheads 285 Kent, a thriving DIY music and arts space in NYC. Will 285 Kent be home to Ad Hoc’s official venue someday?
I don’t think anyone really has a vision for it as an “Ad Hoc” venue per se, mostly because the partnership behind 285 is different from AH. By virtue of the fact that pretty much everyone at Ad Hoc who lives in NYC has worked or does work at 285 (I’ve been Production Manager/Vibes Consultant, all of us have worked the door frequently, etc.), the sweat and personal tastes of us definitely linger in the air. The connection is transparent to anyone who looks at the e-mail blasts from 285, but ultimately the two are separate entities, two wildly different environments, and that seems to work best for everyone involved.
It’s definitely our favorite spot to throw specifically “Ad Hoc” events like our past winter benefit and our recent CMJ showcase because it’s like a second home for a lot of us in the area. Totally speculative, but I feel like a lot of people maintain this strange assumption that Brooklyn is some cold, heartless place you go to sell your own body and soul to the music industry or some crazy bullshit (see this really stupid article here for a taste). The reality is far more wholesome, fun, familial, the kind of thing that induces several utterances of “small world.” It breeds a lot of far-reaching, intense, and long-lasting friendships, which is great because most of the stuff we like needs all the help it can get…
Which reminds me, 285 and Ad Hoc (and several other cool people and places) are always in need of extra hands and help, so if anyone’s in NYC and wants to join, please don’t hesitate to reach out:
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, anyone who needs a hand getting in touch with other people or places that need help, here’s my personal e-mail and phone number. I’m still new to this place, but I’ve become more stable and understand what it’s like to need a foot in the door or a gust of wind to unveil a clue blah blah blah:
email@example.com / 703-475-4122
What’s your favorite part of music blogging? Exclusive album downloads?
That’s definitely a huge factor (read as: hell yeah), but I still buy a lot of the music I write about. Being gifted a digital or physical copy is an honor.
The breakdown of barriers between myself and the people behind the music has been a really exciting part of it too. There are a bunch of people that I would have been extremely anxious to talk to that I now hear from pretty regularly. It’s a really cool feeling to be in communication with such knowledgeable, talented, and supportive people.
You’ve reviewed, listened to, and enjoyed thousands of records. What are some of your all-time favs?
Here are ten all-time personal faves:
‘Cosmogramma’ by Flying Lotus
‘Sung Tongs’ by Animal Collective
‘Emergency & I’ by The Dismemberment Plan
‘Liquid Swords’ by GZA
‘Before Today’ by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti
‘Ridin’ Dirty’ by UGK
‘Madvillainy’ by Madvillain
‘Isn’t Anything’ by My Bloody Valentine
‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ by Modest Mouse
‘I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One’ by Yo La Tengo
and y’know… ‘Since I Left You’, ‘Kid A’, ‘Endtroducing…’, ‘Is This It’ (never 4get), ‘Tender Buttons’, ‘You Forgot it in People’, ‘Marquee Moon’, King Crimson‘s ‘Red’, ‘Red Medicine’, ‘Deceit’, ‘Homotopy For Marie’, ‘Y’, ‘They Threw Us All In A Trench and Stuck A Monument On Top’, ‘Another Green World’, ‘Beaches & Canyons’, ‘Replica’, ‘Remain in Light’, ‘London Calling’, ‘Third/Sister Lover’, ‘Led Zeppelin III’, ‘Led Zeppelin IV’, ‘Aquemini’, ‘The Blueprint’, ‘The Documentary’, ‘Bossanova’, ‘Life is Peachy’, ‘Sister’, ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’, ‘The Perfect Prescription’, ‘Meet The Residents’, ‘Meat Puppets II’, ‘Out of Step’, ‘Damaged’, ‘In Utero’, ‘TNT’, ‘One Word Extinguisher’, ‘Slanted & Enchanted’, ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’, ‘Lord Willin”, ‘Late Registration’, ‘Enta Da Stage’, ‘Illmatic’, ‘Ready to Die’, ‘King’, ‘Tha Carter II’, ‘Dr. Octagynecologist’, ‘Dah Shinin”, ‘Prowler in the Yard’, ‘Discovery’, ‘Glass Swords’, ‘Severant’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, ‘Live/Dead’, ‘The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East’, ‘Electric Ladyland’, ‘Future Days’, ‘Pink Flag’, ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’, ‘I Want You’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Donuts’, ‘Pink Moon’, Curtis Mayfield‘s ‘Curtis’, ‘Yerself is Steam’, ‘Neu!’, ‘Serena Maneesh’, ‘Three Feet High and Rising’, ‘Pet Sounds’…all-time favorite song is “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.”
Some of my favorite classical shit:
‘Preludes No. 1 – 5 for solo guitar’ by Heitor Villa-Lobos
‘Danza Caracteristica’ by Leo Brouwer
‘Vers la Flamme’ by Alexander Scriabin
‘Wozzeck’ by Alban Berg
‘Music for Eighteen Musicians’ by Steve Reich
‘Symphony No. 3: “Eroica”‘ by Ludwig van Beethoven
‘Symphonie Fantastique’ by Hector Berlioz
‘General William Booth Enters Into Heaven’ by Charles Ives
‘Scenes from Ellis Island’ by Benjamin Verderey
Blogging can become overwhelming at times. What keeps you going?
I try to just stay settled, remain grateful, dig deep, get lost, study up (even if it means blowing a “lead”), and chew thoroughly.
Are you a blog lifer? Will you be musically schooling your grandkids when you’re 80?
Man, I hope not! Otherwise my grandkids are losers. I hope they’re schooling me instead.
Favorite releases of 2012 thus far?
I’ve written about many of them for Ad Hoc (Wink With Both Eyes, Teklife Vol. 1, Da Mind of Traxman, R.I.P, etc.) and Impose (Mista Thug Isolation, Attack on Memory, Everything in Parallel, Ekstasis, etc.) so I tried to pick some of my faves that never got a full review or have grown on me as the year went on:
‘Passion’ by Para One
‘Galaxy Garden’ by Lone
‘Ready Country Nimbus’ by Padang Food Tigers
‘Sinews’ by White Suns
‘Superstorms’ by Superstorms
‘Mature Themes’ by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti
‘Go Home’ by Hank Wood & The Hammerheads
‘The Syncopated Elevators Legacy’ by Cedric Stevens (reissue)
‘How To Live With A Phantom’ by Shintaro Sakamoto
‘Dada Damage’ by Various Artists (Night-People compilation)