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Lueda Alia's Journal
|Time Lapse Lifeline
|I have been lost in my thoughts ever since SXSW ended. So many things have happened in the past week; it's difficult to wrap my mind around it all. I don't know if I want this to be my recap for SXSW, because all I really care to focus on are my friends, the AP.net community and all the industry people I work with who I finally got a chance to meet. I suppose this might turn into a big mushy, boring post that's best kept private. But when do I ever take the chance to open up to this extent? So here we go....|
If there is one thing that this past week has truly taught me, it's the fact that people do take notice and appreciate what you do -- sometimes even more than you may realize; people will genuinely care if you are a thoughtful and friendly individual. I find it difficult to believe that there's a single person out there who doesn't struggle with self-esteem issues. And I'm no exception (shocking, right?) It's often difficult to value my own work, or myself in general, more often than I'd like to admit. And I struggle to keep doing what I love doing because crazy insecurities like to take hold once in a while. I always manage to make it through and keep my focus on what truly matters: my love for music. But I would be lying if I said that I'm just that strong. No. It's the people around me -- the people I surround myself with. I've had my fair share of disastrous and betraying friendships/relationships, but at the end of the day, I'm still here. And I have so many wonderful people in my life. I grew up in a third world country with next to nothing, and I moved here as a teen, 10 years ago, without knowing how to speak English. To say that the past decade has been a difficult journey would be an understatement. But I feel so blessed. I was handed a job on this, you know, website called AbsolutePunk 5+ years ago, because the owner had this crazy idea that I'd be a good addition ... obviously all thanks to my flawless taste in music! At the time, I thought he was insane, and looking back, I still think he was. But clearly, he was on to something. I feel like my work on AP.net has made me find myself; it brought me out of the shell I was stuck in after moving to Canada and spending many years alone. And most importantly, it brought me to so many people, and music itself. I never thought I had this in me -- this passion for music. I played the piano for 6 years when I was young, and even though I couldn't play a single note right now, there is absolutely no doubt in mind that music is my life. It's all so clear to now.
There are certain aspects of the industry that are disheartening, but isn't that the case with every industry? In a perfect world, everyone would get the attention they deserve, and everyone would be treated fairly and equally. But that's not the case. And you know, maybe in a naive way, that's what inspires me to be a part of the industry: I want to make a difference, and it doesn't matter how small. I have put my support behind bands that I truly believe in for years, and I have campaigned and promoted them like I was a part of their project -- I've felt and breathed their music to the deepest extent one possibly can. It goes without saying that being able to support a living this way would be ideal, but I don't regret a single second I have spent helping anyone in this industry. Money is crucial, but it's not everything. I have had the pleasure to meet and befriend some amazing people along the way, people that I want to always have around.
I was telling Kate, one of the girls I traveled to Austin with, that I could essentially travel anywhere and I would always have at least one person to hang out with and show me around. To me, that is priceless. I would not trade these friendships for the world. I wouldn't trade them for the simple fact that, when I visited Austin, my lovely coworker Adam picked me up. In addition, I was reunited with one of my favourite people, Christina (hard_luck). We last hung out in San Francisco back in 2010, but our paths crossed once again due to her relocating. And that was amazing, even though she stunk up my hotel room by eating my canned fish. I still love her, and I look forward to seeing her again.
As I'm typing this, I'm talking to one of my longtime friends from AP.net, Dan (Flags of Dawn). I couldn't tell you how we became friends, but this crazy guy from Wisconsin has now become a big enough part of my life that I try to plan summer hangouts every year. He's like that close gay friend every girl wants, except he's completely straight, and he has an amazing girlfriend (hi Marie!). Really, he is pretty damn great and I'm lucky to call him a friend.
And there I go, getting another IM (on aim nonetheless) from James, someone else that I met on AP all the way back in 2004. He has been a part of my life since, and even though he hasn't posted on our forums in a long time, he's still very special to me. We have grown up together, and I hope we'll still be in each other's lives when we're old and wrinkly. There aren't many people that I couldn't picture not talking to on a regular basis, but he is one of them.
But back to Austin -- I had the pleasure of spending some time with these two awesome girls, Kate and Leah, who my best friend and I traveled with. Our personalities could not be any more different, but I had some of the most fun in their company. Here we are, four girls from Canada, stranded in a tornado-ridden state, with a canceled flight. The solution? Drinking Pinot Grigio, Four Loko and Bud Light Platinum... since the latter don't exist in Canada. The entire rest of the trip was an absolute blast, including all the panic attack moments we had here and there. Really, I can't thank them enough for making my trip so memorable. I now have two more friends in Toronto, and I cannot wait to spend more time and work with them in the future.
And of course, Austin would not have been the same without some of the most important people I've met on AP.net: Chris (Billions & Billions), Malcom (Arrange), Paul (Tao!) and Wade (thisisadisaster). I've mentioned the first two many times, and I promote their music like it's my own; they are both great musicians that deserve so much more attention. Not to mention that they are great friends of mine, so we all know what that means: I'll be milking them when they make it big! Speaking of someone that's made it "big" -- I've known Paul since I was 16, so meeting him was a special moment. I jumped in his arms when we saw each other and he spun me around. Quite romantic, but in reality, we are siblings at this point, and I value him dearly. As for Wade, I am still absolutely baffled that he actually made his way to SXSW. It felt so good to finally meet this "one AP kid" who I have known for 8 years. It was so great to have him around, and it's even greater to have become closer to him because of that. And how could I forget Mark (apoemtothedead)? We somehow always bump into each other in different parts of the continent -- it's so random, but so awesome.
On the topic of "AP kids," I managed to hang out with these two guys named Roshan and Alexander. The former works on AP.net's weekly hip-hop round-up, so I had a somewhat "professional" relationship with him. Well, I don't know how else to put this, so I'll just come out and say it: they truly blew me away. They are probably the finest gentlemen in all of Texas, and we all know how big that state is. I didn't expect much from our hangout, but at the end of the festival.... they were truly one of the highlights of my entire trip. They showed me around, took me out to eat, and bought me drinks... on their dime, throughout the entire weekend. While all those perks were nice and all, it was their company that I appreciated most. I spent the weekend being depressed over my mother being in the hospital, so having them around, two "locals" who made me feel right at home, helped me more than they may realize. But one thing is for sure, and I believe they know it too: they have now made a life-long friend, one who, unfortunately, will keep pestering them to visit time and time again. Oh, they have an awesome blog too: WeWoreMasks.
My Austin trip would not have been possible without the company of my best friend, Timo. She was my rock throughout the entire trip and put up with my ups and downs better than I would expect anyone to. It's funny because we joke about our crazy insecurities and that we don't know how to maintain a healthy, close girl-friendship, be it from past experiences or from not having any experience whatsoever. But despite it all, and the ups and downs, we just... click. Maybe it's our Eastern European genes that brought and keep us together -- whatever the reason may be, I feel extremely blessed to have her around. She has been the most supportive and encouraging person about my "career," and my "potential" as a person in general. The way I feel about her and our friendship can not be put down to words, so I think I will end this by saying: you know you are an extremely lucky person when someone offers to take on this crazy trip to Austin, and who selflessly supports you throughout, for an entire week; someone who is constantly encouraging you because they believe in you so much. It's impossible to express the amount of love and gratitude I have for her, so I suppose a gift from her crush, Fink, will suffice. Or Astronautalis?! But really, if you read this: thank you. You are truly incredible.
I ended my trip on a somewhat depressing note on Monday night, but I quickly realized that I really did/do not have anything to worry about. I had this outpouring support from some people that I value so, so much. Tristan (Needler) spent hours trying to ease my anxiety, and I don't know how, but he managed to succeed. His love and support meant, and always do mean, the world. Sometimes unconditional love is all you need. I am beyond lucky to have him in my life.
And I'm lucky to have friends like Brenden, who support what I do and believe in me. He's my second favourite ginger in the entire world, and I am anxious to see what we can accomplish together. And of course, I also feel lucky to have these other two AP.net friends, who I consider anything but "e-friends," called Kyle (HometownHero) and Steph (sjb2k1). The former has been so wonderful to me the past few weeks, and he's slowly, but surely, securing himself a pretty special spot in my heart. His support has been so crucial, and I am extremely excited for both of our futures and whatever we manage to do together. And as for Steph, she is my grammar-Nazi-rock. I don't think she realizes how lost I would feel if I couldn't bug her to proof read any and all that I ever post for AP readers to see. On top of that, she has been such a wonderful friend to me on a personal level. Knowing that she, as well as her lovely girlfriend Gina (imagination), is always there is so comforting.
There are far too many other AP.net people that I would love to thank (Kyle H, Broden, Sean, Dre, Chris C, etc), but these people deserve personal shout-outs for their consistent support, especially the past few days. I sincerely do not know where I would be without them. They are my family.
Before I end this, I want to give a shout-out to some of my favourite people in the industry, people who I hope to get to know better with time. Ryan Graveface (Black Moth Super Rainbow / Dreamend) was one of the very first musicians to send me a personal "thank you" email back in 2010, so it's easy to see why he's a favourite, as a musician and person. I only hope that more people will start to take notice of his talent because I can't think of many musicians who deserve it as much as he does. He's been a great friend and I can't thank him enough for taking a chance with me.
I want to thank my PR friends that I met while down at SXSW: George Corona, Caroline Borolla, Jeff Tafolla, Tito Belis, Chris Vinyard, Ever Kipp, Marni Wandner and Joanna Noyes. And of course, our Buzz Media Director, Jeff Leeds. I still consider myself very much a "newbie" in the music industry, so to have them make an effort to spend time with me.... well, I honestly am not sure I can describe how amazing that felt. They were all extremely friendly and kind, and I cannot thank them enough. I am so eager to continue working with them, and to spend more time with them in general; they are fun and flat out awesome.
Last but not least, I want to thank Doomtree. They made my weekend. And they make me want to move to the Midwest! Well, maybe not... but the collective, as well as their crew, are hands down some of the most genuine people I have had, and will ever have, the pleasure of knowing. Their support means the world, and I will continue to promote their music for as long as I possibly can. Besides being crazy fun to hang out with, they are also insanely talented musicians. They rocked our party, and they will melt your face off live, so go see them!
So there we go, it's all out of my chest. I have no doubt I could have made this much longer, but I suppose I should get back to work. If you didn't care to read any of the shout-outs, then all you really need to know is that: I am surrounded by wonderful
people friends. Whatever happens, wherever this crazy music journey takes me, it feels incredible to know that I have so much support. I have so much love for all these people, and anyone that has ever taken the time to pay attention to and support my work. Words can't do my feelings justice, but Thank You. I could not do any of this without you.
|Tags: sxsw, apnet community, music
|No Genres, Just Music
|It's no secret that I have made a lot of progress in terms of "indie" coverage on AP.net in the past two years. I'm extremely appreciative and thankful to all my contacts in the industry that have helped make this happen; those who have actually taken a chance with the AP audience despite knowing that their bands may not receive as much attention on a site such as ours. I personally believe that is key in advertising--reaching new audiences. It's great to reach a specific audience that will undoubtedly care about a certain band or genre, but isn't it also a good thing to reach new ones? Or is it only important for bands to be promoted to already existing fans? I can simply not wrap my mind around the fact that certain labels/agencies believe the latter to be more important.|
The last point essentially brings me to the biggest issue that I deal with on a daily basis: AP.net being stereotyped as a site that only covers a certain genre of music--pop punk. If one took the time to venture on to the forums, they would soon discover that pop punk is most certainly not even the most "popular" genre on the site at this point. Our readers are interested in "indie" bands." They do love to see features of bands that aren't or don't sound anything like Blink-182. Sure, maybe my readers are a little lazier in replying to my features than the kids who make BrokeNCYDE threads hit 100+ replies in news posts. That is irrelevant, however, because replies are not necessarily an indication of preference.
What prompted this little rant is the fact that various other tiny blogs seem to be able to get exclusives over AP.net, and there is only one reason why this happens: stereotypes about AP.net (and the site name itself), and the music that we supposedly "cover." No, we do not cover just pop punk. No, we don't only care about pop punk. Our site has one of the most diverse fan bases out there, and a little research would easily prove this. So perhaps, instead of catering to Pitchfork-lite sites that are x10 less popular than AP.net, why not take a chance with us? Why not reach a new audience? It would most certainly benefit your bands. As time has shown, various "different" bands have clearly succeeded in attracting new fans by being promoted on our site. Ellie Goulding is one of the most popular pop acts on our site at the moment--I don't think I need to say more regarding our readers' diverse music taste.
My job can be extremely frustrating a lot of the time, especially when my coverage and efforts in general do not yield many rewards (in a general or personal sense). Reaching and building a new fan base on a site that is mainly known for "pop punk" music is difficult. And convincing the music industry that we are not defined by any one genre is even more so. However, despite my job seeming kind of "out of place" and under appreciated on AP from time to time, I would never choose to work on any other site. Why? Because I am proud of our diversity. I am proud of seeing a Top 30 end of the year list that's as different as ours.
Most importantly, I love what I do, and I love doing it right here, on AbsolutePunk.net. I love bringing new music to our readers, because music lovers know no genres--they only know music.
|Tags: apnet, music