Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music

A couple days ago I went to go hear Mark Baumgarten talk about his new book, Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music. The book tells the story of Olympia's K Records, a record label that during the 1990s released records by some of the most influential bands of that time, such as Beck, Modest Mouse, Beat Happening, Built to Spill, and the Gossip. Besides putting out a slew of great records, K Records was a big part of the Pacific Northwest music scene that produced some of the most influential music of that time.

The book focuses mainly on the founder of K Records, Calvin Johnson, though it also touches on the other players in the story of K Records. At the reading, Baumgarten read from a section of the book about Johnson's childhood. Johnson's love and interest in music, specifically punk, started when he was just in high school when he went on a school trip to Europe so he could buy the European punk music he couldn't find at home. Back in the U.S. he became involved in the growing Pacific Northwest music scene while still in high school by working for radio stations. He soon started K Records with the motto of "exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982".

What makes Baumgarten's book unique amongst the sea of rock music journalism is how he tells the story. Much rock journalism can only really be appreciated and understood by rock geeks because of the depth of knowledge required to understand and enjoy the text. Baumgarten wrote the book with the idea that it should be a story that even his father, who was not interested in nor knew much about music, would be able to comprehend and be interested in. 

I have yet to finish the text, but have enjoyed it very much so far and would definitely recommend checking it out, specifically if you are interested in the Pacific Northwest music scene.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rookie Road Trip

Tavi Gevinson and I.
Had an amazing day hanging out with the crew from Rookie Magazine, which is by far the coolest thing on the internet. The online magazine, which is technically for teen girls, but can be appreciated by peoples of any age or gender, posts various stories, fictional and real, photo shoots, mixtapes, interviews (check out this great video with John Hamm in which he helps readers with their various problems), DIYs, and various other stories written by editors and submitted by readers. While not a physical publication, Rookie provides what other teen magazines have never before. They mix the light-hearted with the heart-wrenching, the funny with the serious. Often while reading an article on Rookie I have felt a stronger connection with the writer and their experiences than with pieces in other teen magazines.

Rookie was founded by the queen of fashion bloggers, Tavi Gevinson  of the site Style Rookie. I have loved her blog for years and I was beyond ecstatic when I found the Rookie Road Trip, a national road trip in which the editors of Rookie visit cities across America to hang out with Rookie fans, would be stopping in Portland. When I arrived at the meet up I felt nervous approaching the group of Rookie fans and editors. I didn't let my nerves get the better of me and ended up having a great time sitting in the grass, talking to fellow Rookie fans, and getting to chat with Tavi (!!!!!!!) She was incredibly sweet, taking interest in all of our "small town" stories, when her most recent adventure was having dinner with Winona Ryder. Right as I was about to go, Rookie editor Petra asked to take a picture of me, seeing she was taken by both my outfit and my armpit hair (whenever someone comments on it negatively in the future I'll just tell them a professional photographer, who has taken pictures for various publications such as Vogue Italia, took a picture of me because of it). 

I had a great time hanging with the Rookie crew as well as meeting fellow Portland Rookie lovers. It is a great publication and I strongly recommend checking it out.