The Other Side with The Music Slut's Jamie (Skye) McIntyre
This week’s Other Side unveils part two of our The Music Slut feature with co-founder feature Jamie (Skye) McIntyre, who explains why Skype holds the key to a great interview, gushes about his love of ‘cheesy pop’ bands, and gives insight into the blogging world.
Jamie (Skye) McIntyre grew up on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a place where bands didn’t tour and the music scene was saturated with fiddles and ceilidh tunes, except on Friday nights, when rave and house music poured out of local venues. McIntyre explains, “It was the mid-nineties, after all, and there is nothing wrong with house music, but [because of where I lived], magazines like NME and the record shops that sold to us by mail-order seemed somewhat exotic. This is probably what makes me more likely to listen to recorded music instead of going out to a gig now, unfortunately. I love live music, but it’s simply not something that was a big part of my life [growing up].”
It was in 2005 that The Music Slut was born.“[The Music Slut co-founder] Jen Kellas and I met as co-conspirators,” McIntyre recalls, “While we were graduate students in St. Andrews. We both had opinions about music and we genuinely wanted to share them. We also felt a bit like there wasn’t a blog that catered to people like us – people who liked S Club as much as Arcade Fire. We had the confidence of people who felt like their artistic opinions were worth something. Thinking about it, we’ve been remiss in covering cheesy pop. I forgot to at least tweet about Steps’ recent ascent to number 1 here in the UK….we should rectify this, to be honest.” Since 2005, The Music Slut has published hundreds of reviews and interviews, featuring artists like Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wilco, Spiritualized, The Kooks, Tanlines, and Kokayi, although, the site’s co-founders would never admit to initially drafting a master plan. McIntyre divulges, back when the site took off, “We posted something on Blogger [and discovered] that blogging was easy. We never had a plan; plans are what you create when you take things seriously, which fortunately, is something Jen and I have never really suffered from.”
We were able to convince Jamie (Skye) McIntyre to step away from The Music Slut long enough to tell us what it’s like to be on The Other Side:
Green Light Go: As the co-founder of The Music Slut, what was the turning point that sparked your decision to evolve from just another music fan to a nationally recognized music critic and blogger?
Jamie (Skye) McIntyre: Seriously, I wanted to get on all of the lists record companies compile when they send out free music [and blogging] seemed like a great way to do that. I also had opinions and wanted to share them, but there was no plan to become recognized in any way. If people want to read The Music Slut, I think that’s neat.
GLG: Since many people have preconceived notions about what a blogging career actually entails, what is the day-to-day really like for you at The Music Slut?
JSM: Well, I have a day job, but I’d be depressed if TMS was a ‘career,’ because blogging and listening to music is something that I do for fun. I don’t want to be in the situation where we regurgitate press releases or tour dates for any given enormous act, just because they sent us a list. Honestly, for me, blogging is not about post counts or spending all day writing to make money from ad hits, it’s about sharing something neat and trying to add something worthwhile [to the music community].
GLG: Since the dawn of The Music Slut, you’ve managed to review and stream hidden treasures from artists like Tanlines, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Belle and Sebastian as part of the website’s “B-sides and Rarities” column and you have interviewed artists such as School of Seven Bells, CocoRosie, and Rye Rye. What would your dream interview consist of?
JSM: I don’t think I have a ‘dream interview’ - I suppose it'd be one where I’d have a pretty candid sit down with a band. [With the way the Internet works] these days, an awful lot of interviews are done electronically, like this one. One of our best recent interviews – conducted by one of our writers, Joe, with Kokayi – was done over Skype. Reading the interview, you can tell they had a great meeting of the minds. That’s the kind of thing I like to see done well, but with time constraints, it’s hard to achieve.
As far as b-sides and rarities go, a lot of those have come from bootlegs and such. We don’t do that as a series anymore, because it had really just become a situation where we’d say, ‘Here is a remix of x-song,’ which wasn’t actually notable in any way. Personally, I’d rather find something genuinely rare, such as a bootlegged live track. The problem is, many artists and labels are really savvy about the promotional value of such things, hence, the preponderance of remix and rarities records. I went on a rant about this when La Roux (whose record I loved) announced a b-sides and rarities compilation, and I got the shudders thinking about cynical cash-ins.
GLG: Many independent musicians create blog pages within their band website, or they might host a separate blog to share tour photos and stories. What advice could you lend to someone who is new to the blogging scene and is looking to promote their site by reaching out to a wider audience?
JSM: I’d give the same advice I’d give to anyone who wants to create anything: don’t try to reach out to a wider audience. Figure out what you want to do and do it [well]. It’s a lame answer, I know, but I wouldn’t tell a band what to record, so I also wouldn’t tell them how to run their blog.
GLG: Since you come in contact with dozens of independent artists a day, what characteristics or qualities separates the artists who are “just another indie band” from those who you’d like to interview for the site?
JSM: Being a bit weird, I suppose…and making good music. It’s entirely subjective, sorry!
GLG: From the standpoint of a music critic, what advice would you offer to an independent band that was about to release their first record?
JSM: If there was a single thing I would say, it’s ‘Don’t get disheartened.’ At TMS, we receive literally thousands of emails and messages per week. We can’t possibly do something with all of them and we may never even manage to keep up with reading all of the requests. Not getting mentioned doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, but all bloggers have the same problem of dealing vast amounts of material. So, keep plugging away! Actually, I have a second piece of advice: send me something I can download and play on my iPod. I listen to a lot of music while I walk and while I work. If I can’t download a song, it’s pretty unlikely it’ll get a mention.
GLG: What albums have you been jamming recently that haven’t been featured on The Music Slut?
JSM: Faure’s Requiem and Aribert Reimann’s Requiem...maybe I have a requiem thing going on. Bear McCreary’s soundtracks to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica have been getting some heavy rotation too, along with Valve software’s soundtrack to the video game Portal 2 (for which The National provided a pretty neat song). Other than that, looking through my iTunes recently played list, I’m seeing a lot of stuff we’ve covered – the new Wilco, the Dead Man’s Waltz, and Kokayi. We haven’t featured Anna Calvi, but I’ve really enjoyed her debut. I also had to buy a new copy of Blur’s Modern Life is Rubbish as I noticed flaws in the rip I had made, which I suppose had come from wearing out the CD.
I listen to a lot of music related podcasts at work, like KEXP’s live performances, KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, The Mountain Stage, and NPR’s All Songs Considered. Generally, if we’re listening to it, it’ll find it’s way onto TMS eventually.
This week’s The Other Side is brought to you by: Lauren Mercury Roberts