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The Other Side with The Music Slut Co-Founder Jen Kellas

The Music Slut co-founder Jen Kellas reveals why pop music has merit, explains that honesty is the best policy when it comes to blogging, and gives insight into how independent bands can approach music bloggers in this week's The Other Side.

Once upon a time, The Music Slut co-founder and New York native Jen Kellas moved to St. Andrew’s, Scotland in pursuit of something greater than life on Long Island. There, Kellas met Jamie (Skye) McIntyre, “A Ph.D. classicist with sparkling blue eyes and a penchant for S Club 7.”  As their friendship grew, “So did their foray into music geekery,” Kellas explains, “Until one drunken summer’s eve, when Jamie came up with the idea to start a music blog.” It was in 2005 that The Music Slut was born. As Kellas notes, “Unlike other blogs, we wouldn’t be mired down with obscure indie snobbery; we would embrace our love of Kylie Minogue just as much as Sigur Rós. We began the site because we loved reading music blogs, but we felt there weren’t many that catered to our interests in both indie rock and pop. At the start, we just dove right in, setting up a Blogspot. I designed the original logo, and began posting random reviews and lots of discussions (and arguments) between the two of us about bands.” Since 2005, The Music Slut has published hundreds of reviews and interviews, featuring artists like Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wilco, Spiritualized, The KooksTanlines, and Cuckoo Chaos (pictured below).

We were able to convince Jen Kellas 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 (and Robbie Williams worshipper) to a nationally recognized music critic and blogger? 

Jen Kellas: We really felt that liking pop music shouldn’t [carry a negative connotation]. A music fan should be allowed to admit to liking S Club 7, as well as any of-the-moment pretentious indie rock groups, without their taste suddenly being thrown into question. That was what really inspired us to begin writing. Plus, at the time, we were both furiously finishing our dissertations, so taking a moment to write something light was a welcomed distraction.

 

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?

JK: Currently, Jamie and I both have careers outside of blogging. There was a time when The Music Slut was my full-time career, but I currently work for a large Internet company as their Social Media Manager and love my job. Having jobs outside of the site has been wonderful for TMS, it means that what is written on there are things that Jamie and I are both very passionate about. We have also been able to bring on a cavalcade of writers and guest bloggers who are as equally passionate about the music they love.

 

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?

JK: My dream interview would be Freddie Mercury, without a doubt. Queen is by far, my favorite band. In terms of living artists, I’d want to interview Robbie Williams…still! Shortly after the interview, we would have a hot and steamy affair, of course.

 

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?

JK: Update, update, update! You don’t need to post more than once a day, but if you go silent for several days at a time, people will forget about you. Always make sure you are speaking in an authentic voice, to ensure that you are not writing for anyone but yourself. People will gravitate toward honesty and they’ll be hooked when they feel they are gaining an inside knowledge that others don’t have. Don’t freak out about link exchanges or getting listed on The Hype Machine. You should be blogging because you want to write - if there is any another reason [that motivates you to host a blog], you really need to stop.  If you have put together a good website, people will visit your site again and again.

 

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? 

JK: If you have someone genuinely excited about your band representing you, if you don’t bug us too often, if you have actually been to our site and you follow us on Twitter/Facebook, if you have an interesting story, and your music is something we don’t hear every day, [we’d like to feature you on TMS].

 

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?

JK: Don’t hoard your music! Hopefully, you are creating music for people to hear, so give it away and spread it around! If your record is something that really resonates, then it will catch on like wild fire.  Oh, and don’t just send bloggers to your SoundCloud page, give them an mp3 link.

Also, heading immediately into the recording studio when you come up with a handful of songs is a really backwards strategy. Start by playing as many live shows as possible, especially house parties and friend’s shindigs. Get an underground movement going and build from there. Then, hopefully someone will come along who wants to pay for your record. If you want, send around some demos, record something on your computer, or put up a video on YouTube. The track doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around, the song will speak for itself. Some guy with a nice voice playing “Hey Jude” with an acoustic guitar on YouTube still sounds pretty good, right? That is because “Hey Jude” is an amazing song!

 

GLG: What albums have you been jamming recently that haven't been featured on The Music Slut?

JK: We tend to keep our posts to what we are passionate about at the moment, so not much. Lady Gaga is still pumping through my headphones at the gym and The Forms are still making my commute better. I don’t typically write about the Spanish singer Bebe, but her album Pafuera Telarañas still rocks my world. Mumford & SonsSigh No More has also been soundtracking my break-up this year.

 

This week's Other Side is brought to you by: Lauren Mercury Roberts

Photo Credit: Cuckoo Chaos caputred at CMJ 2011 by The Music Slut

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Janelle is the owner of Green Light Go. When she's not spreading the word on her favorite bands she can usually be found riding her road bike through Michigan, designing super hip clothes or analyzing people much to their dismay.
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