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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Are you familiar with sharing?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about customer experiences.

We’re kicking off our U.S. Now / Next / Why swing on Wednesday in NYC (followed by May 16 in Chicago and June 11 in San Francisco) and the event is all around the idea of “obsessing experience.” And there’s a ton of stuff to talk about around your typical Brand Experiences, but I wanted to isolate one specific instance that might not feel immediately relevant but is.

My wife, Juno, is passionate about food. You could say she obsesses the experience. Whether it’s going out to try new restaurants, reading about chefs and cooking, organizing an intricate weekly meal plan and now writing about food and nutrition full time, Juno’s got it covered.

One of our running chuckles is around an entirely condescending phrase we’re becoming accustomed to hearing in variation, when we eat out:

“Are you familiar with the concept of sharing?”

Forget about the fact that we all learned to share at age four. When a server asks this, it’s a snapping flag to me that we’re in for a less-than-perfect experience. Because it validates something very important in the restaurant power dynamic: that the kitchen rules.

It doesn’t matter if we’re eating together, and each of us order one thing that we want to eat exclusively: the food comes when it’s ready. And Juno’s even experienced instances where her dining companion has finished her meal before Juno’s even arrives. It’s becoming commonplace to put the food before the people.

To me, this is emblematic of the celebrity-chef-obsessed, ego-driven foodie culture that’s bred a new generation of restauranteurs. Many careers have been launched and pockets have been lined by the idea of the kitchen as altar.

But it annoys me, needless to say, and I wanted to pass along an attitude that’s the antidote, one I hope more restaurants will adopt, and one that might be relevant to how you view edge cases, or needy customers, in your work, whomever your literal or metaphorical customer might be.

Brooks Headley is the executive pastry chef at Del Posto, a fine dining restaurant in New York.

He’s a fun writer, too—loose and confident. And in February Bon Appetit ran a column by Headley in which he wrote about accommodating people with allergies.

Our mission is to make people happy—think of us as your surrogate grandmas for the next few hours. I want you to come in to Del Posto and have the grandest, amazing-est time of your life, shooting the breeze with your date, the mom, that boss you’re trying to impress, swirling the wine in your oversize goblet, utilizing your purse stool. And if you’ve got some dietary issues you wanna toss my way? Bring ’em on!

 

It’s a great little essay, and an even better attitude. You can say what you want about the identity politics of food, which tires me to no end. But this isn’t about identity—it’s about humility and service.

And the reader responses agree:

It is a sigh of relief to read of a mindful, creative, and enthusiastic approach to what can be a stress laden experience for the food allergic diner.

What a treasure the patrons of Del Posto must experience, knowing that they are safe and also no burden at all.

I’ve been following Brooks’ career for a while. He was the drummer of two of the best American hardcore bands ever, Universal Order of Armageddon and Born Against. And it’s no surprise that he’s got the sort of level head around making diners feel cared for and safe—that’s not far cry from the life of an independent underground musician. Community. Hospitality. Giving all your energy away to those your performing for.

I know this small strike against the haute pretension of the chef-as-universe’s-epicenter won’t change any “concept of sharing” irritation.

But it will help me line up my values with those of the restaurants that do–and don’t—behave like Brooks.

 

Written by Nick

May 1st, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Events,Food,Music

Something to Play

You should really press play on the ‘A Conversation between Two Totally Metal Dudes: The “Tight Bros from Way Back When” Tape’ (Yeah, there’s strong language.)

This found its way to me via my friend Jimmy, who’s someone I’d imagine to be part of this type of conversation at some point. (And that’s a compliment.)

It’s a taped phone call that happened sometime pre-millennium between Derek, whom you might nicely term an acid casualty, and one of his acquaintances, Kurt, a record store employee. Jimmy of course would be Kurt, not the acid casualty.

The whole thing gave me the youthful mirth of a good natured prank phone call, where both sides are in on the joke and just batting silliness back and forth. You might think ‘Silliness? This guy’s crazy and violent!’ And you would have a point. But I also get the sense it’s just a funny game. Proof the Grateful Dead are Satanists, epic Roger Waters guitar licks, Terry the heroin user and the $20 over the bolt cutters. Man, what a world.

Written by Nick

January 30th, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Music

Around and around we go…Goldfrapp Mobile

Maybe it’s the rumbling beats and Alison Goldfrapp’s melty smooth voice?

Written by Nick

October 24th, 2013 at 9:32 am

Posted in Advertising,Music

Writing elsewhere: Nicolas Jaar in Flaunt

flaunt-jaar-parish

Wow, a celebrity profile!

Pick up this summer’s Flaunt, the Context issue, to read a piece I wrote on Nicolas Jaar, one of the more interesting figures in dance music today. I tried to give a sense of the big ideas Jaar’s grappling with, and his perspective as an artist.

To get a sense of how that’s coming through in the music he’s making, check out his page on SoundCloud. The second issuance from his DARKSIDE project is out now, so you can give that a listen, too. That’s probably my favorite work of his.

Tetsuharu Kubota shot him quite well, I think. Apparently it was a cover story, but one of four. The cover of the copy I got has Beyonce. And includes a poster! Fancy.

Written by Nick

September 8th, 2013 at 11:04 am

Expiration Dates for Creative Companies



A few weeks ago, my favorite music act abruptly broke up. But it wasn’t the standard faff from a band that’s released a bunch of albums and toured forever, ‘we’re having artistic difficulties’, the cover for a junkie drummer or clashing egos. The group was cautious and enigmatic in the first place, and its decision to quit further cemented the realization no one would ever know the full story. The group is called Sandwell District, and it makes deep, dark, often abrasive hypnotic techno dance music, the sort of stuff that begins going through your head after your third day trapped in a well, I’d imagine, or when you’ve spent too much time on a tilt-a-whirl. Some of us, due to genetic programming or maybe many hours of social conditioning in dark rooms listening to loud music, think better with this sort of stuff pumping. I’m one of them. And Sandwell was certainly, to me, the most expressive and aesthetic-oriented group I’ve seen in dance music in some time. It had a formed artistic ethos much like Detroit collectives Underground Resistance or groups like Drexcyia, far from the personality-driven side of the dance music world. In short, Sandwell innovated, and will, in some form or another, continue, apart or together, to make amazing, provocative music. This essay isn’t about Sandwell District, though if you want to find out more about it, its Tumblr is a good place to start , as is this piece from The Wire.

New Values
Beginning the 31st of December 2011, regular audio communication from Sandwell District will cease. All vinyl artifacts have been decommissioned. There is a possiblity of future, albeit irregular, print communications with audio accompaniment. However, details — and indeed content — is uncertain at this moment in time. The Sandwell experiment will exist through live actions — which will continue to expand into new sonic territory — in addition to audio / print installations as previously witnessed in New York, Los Angeles, Gdansk, Bialystok, Berlin and London.

Stasis is death.
See you on the other side.

So, you say, they’re breaking up, but they’re not stopping playing shows, and doing other ‘print communications with audio accompaniment’ — so what’s the big deal?

Well, I know we haven’t seen the last of Sandwell.

But what if we built our creative businesses, our design studios, our content companies, our  journalist’s collectives, with a set of time-based values?

What if businesses had an expiration date?

Obviously, this repels much of the capitalist ideal. Once the company reaches its peak, then is the time when it’s ripest for squeezing, a milking of profits that can continue, managed well, for some years.

If the participants were to agree to pack it in, and go their separate ways, after, say, three years, it would give no hope for investment, no hope for mechanisms of control that come with outside funding.

The best potential test case for this is a small design studio, with 3-5 partners. It is stated at the outset that this is a transient endeavor, meant to last three years, then everyone is released, the property liquidated, business cards tossed into the trash, web presence turned off.

Needless to say, it wouldn’t work as well with businesses based on making artisanal salami or high-grade thermocouples.

In the Wire story, one member of Sandwell, Karl O’Connor, says, ‘As we everything I have been involved with, it’s about creating situations – some you go with, an dsome you abort. We hate this whole ’20 years of so-and-so label’ or ’40 years of that label’. We know when things need to be killed or moved on.’

The ‘we know’ comes with a feeling of creative completeness, but a stated end point would set that feeling in stone, and force an arc higher and brighter than otherwise.

I often am able to connect the dots between people who have bonds to specific companies at specific periods, that is, they all worked at Company X during its heyday, and they all went on to places or things much more interesting than you would expect, given their relative lack of experience prior to Company X. There are a lot of factors at play here, like where Company X was in its life cycle already, or where the winds of novelty were blowing in its industry at the time, or the sort of work they were able to do  while together. But I believe companies with a stated half-life and a strong mission at the outset will create cadres of exceptional people.

Written by Nick

January 21st, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Dust in the Wind: A Playlist

Reading Sam McPheeters’ ode to the cripplingly depressing ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas I was reminded of the list he mentions near the end of the article, a do-not-playlist compiled by the management of Clear Channel, which owns over a thousand radio stations reaching over a hundred million Americans, in the days after 9/11. It was a sly bit of corporate self-censorship of songs that might push the nation over the brink.

There are a lot of different kinds of music on the list, but it’s all affecting. Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ joins the entire Rage Against the Machine catalog, and USMC favorite ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool sits on equal footing with Nena’s ’99 Luftballons’.

The songs declared forbidden by the bigwigs at Clear Channel, deemed unfit for consumption, define an emotional range that completely saturated everything after the attacks. It was chaotic and sloppy and raw, and seemed to fill every place you could fit an interpretation. A story from The New York Times published September 19th says the list’s “intended aim is to ensure national mental health, though First Amendment supporters may point to it as the first shadowy blacklist in what President Bush says will be a war against terrorism.”

I arrived in New York City, pulling a U-Haul onto Lorillard Place in the Bronx, four weeks before September 11. Afterwards, I spent the next three months in a big, new place wandering in a strange trance. Our landlord, who was in the Coast Guard, was never around, and the house quickly turned into a haven for our confused weirdo friends to pad about like mental patients as we all tried to get our heads back together.

I’d like to think that if we had Spotify, and the ability to have access to a playlist containing the most-affecting songs from the last century of American popular music, it might have been a bit easier to snap out of it. Instead we listened to a lot of Can and G.G. Allin, which may have worked just as well.

At any rate, here’s that Spotify playlist. Enjoy the songs of sorrow and elation.

Clear Channel’s 9/11 ‘Lyrically Questionable” songs by Nick Parish

Written by Nick

September 6th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Music,NYC

RIP Dan Sicko: A True Techno Rebel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m incredibly saddened to learn Dan Sicko, husband, father and author of the hugely influential history/hagiography of electronic dance music Techno Rebels passed away today after fighting the vicious cancer ocular melanoma.

You can read more about Dan’s medical struggle here: http://mattsicko.blogspot.com/

Many people who knew Dan, either through his work in music or the online advertising world, only found out he was sick very recently; he faced his illness bravely, without making a public fuss about it.

Admirably, many who have had their lives touched by Dan’s work and spirit have joined together to stand by his wife Amy and daughter Anabel and help defray costs of his hospice care and other outstanding medical expenses.

You can donate to help the Sicko family here: http://www.gofundme.com/DanSicko

Dan’s book that remains, for me, the defining work on electronic music in America, and getting to know him better revealed a patient and caring guy.

I met Dan several times after coming into contact with his work very early in my career as a journalist, listening on the 313 list and trying to soak up every slice of information I could about electronic music.

When I was in town every year for DEMF, I’d get in touch with Dan and try to rendezvous and chat about music. Every time, he wasn’t the slightest bit irritated a fan would try and track him down and seek his thoughts and opinions on what was important or interesting to him.

It was only later that I learned Dan was working at Organic, coincidentally also involved in the wooly world of digital advertising. Dan’s name inevitably brought out good cheer in people who’d worked alongside him, which wasn’t surprising at all.

I last saw Dan in May, when he was hanging out in the Ghostly International tent at the festival, signing copies of the new, expanded edition of Techno Rebels. I joked I’d take a few, because, like most of my favorites they have a habit of getting pressed into friends arms with “you have to read this!” and not returning.

If you haven’t read it, it’s a must for any serious music fan. Purchase the new edition here.

Please consider helping Dan’s family; here’s the link again.

Consider how deep the void he left behind, yet how wide he spread electronic music’s message.


Written by Nick

August 28th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Detroit,Music

Another step for Spotify in the USA?

I’m absolutely in love with Spotify. I think it has fundamentally changed how I listen to music, and opened dozens of new avenues to interesting artists and genres and transformed the social aspect of listening.

I got this email from them this morning, and I really hope it’s a symbol of some movement in their arrival here in the U.S. As much as I love sharing with Euro pals, I can’t wait until all my friends are on the service and jamming.

Hello from Spotify!

You are one of only a few people who has access to a Spotify promotional test account in the USA, and we hope you’re enjoying listening to Spotify through our
Premium or Unlimited service.

We are really looking forward to launching the service in full in the USA over the coming months, and hope that you will continue to use the service and be one of our key advocates.

We need to make some small system changes to our payment system for our USA launch, and so in order to make the transition for you as smooth as possible, we have credited your Spotify account with 1 month worth of FREE Spotify Premium/ Unlimited!

In return for this, we ask that you please do the following:

• Visit our website https://www.spotify.com/account/subscription/change-payment/
• Login with your username and password.
• Select a payment method (Card or Paypal) and click ‘Change’
• Click ‘I Accept/ Continue’ to accept the new product in US Dollars
• Provide us with your payment details once more, so that after your FREE month has expired you will be able to keep listening to music through Spotify.

Your next bill is due to us on  ’28/02/11′, so please provide us with your payment details before then, otherwise you will revert back to Spotify Free and if you have Premium you will lose access to Spotify on your mobile. On this date, you will then be billed in Dollars!

Thanks for your help, and please feel free to reply to us directly if you have any questions!

Kind regards

Written by Nick

February 8th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Music

Steve Goodman aka Kode9 on Sonic Warfare: Well Weapon

goodman_sonic_talk

With a flyer boasting quotes from both J.G. Ballard and Colonel Kilgore of Apocalypse Now, by the time my chum Luis and I arrived at NYU a few weeks back for a special lecture we knew we’d be in for an interesting discussion.

Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, dubstep producer and owner/chief curator of the massively great Hyperdub record label, was talking about his new book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. (MIT Press)

Introduced as a “rogue academic” and member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, it wasn’t immediately clear if the talk was going to be highly abstract or grounded, but it turned out the latter–lucid, well researched and informative. Here are some notes.
Read more on Steve Goodman's Sonic Warfare talk at NYU

Written by Nick

April 12th, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Books,Events,Music,NYC

Flashback…October 15, 1984

JLB Jamming the Strong Songs

97.9 FM in Detroit has long been home to WJLB, one of the finer R&B/’urban contemporary’ radio stations in the country. While kicking around on the excellent Detroit Radio Flashbacks I found the website featured weekly charts, “hip pocket surveys,” for much of 1984-85. These were the final years legendary DJ The Electrifying Mojo was at the station, so I thought it might be fun to take a look at what was getting played just about 25 years ago. I mostly missed the Mojo era, but JLB was a hugely influential radio station for me; it played loads of local records and was one of my first exposures to live turntablism, with a party/booty show every Friday night. So, I hope you enjoy these tunes. There are some hometown favorites here, stuff that stayed pretty local, and things from the last throes of Motown. Not surprisingly, Rochester Hills’ own Madonna is the only white performer on the list. Also not surprisingly, Prince, a Mojo favorite, appears a few times, both in his own work and through Apollonia 6 and Vanity. Pardon the dodgy embeds, Most of the record companies don’t like it enabled on their YouTube offerings…

24. You Get The Best From Me – Alicia Myers


23. We Don’t Work For Free – Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five

No video…but here’s a taste of the song.

22. The Jacksons – Torture

21. Tonight – Ready For The World

See the Top 20 singles from Detroit's WJLB on October 15, 1984

Written by Nick

October 24th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Detroit,Music