Behind the stories
Arts & music reporter Danielle R looks back at her career to date as a music journo and gives away a few awards.
I once read a book called But Enough About Me, written by Rolling Stone reporter Jancee Dunn. I was totally absorbed in and entertained by her experiences. Her awkwardness and nervousness made it real and I could picture myself there with her.
Sometimes a published article only tells half the story and a reporter's experience can be just as interesting. So whether it's embarrassing, insightful or just entertaining, I thought I'd share some of my music reporting experiences.
My first artist interview was with James Ash from the Rogue Traders at a Valentines Day festival. I was given his manager's number along with event passes from a website content manager I was writing for, who assured me it would be easily arranged seeing that James was an old friend of his.
Calling the manager to set it up made me very anxious. I had never been in that situation. How did it all work? I'm not a confident person, but sometimes I think that's not such a bad thing when interviewing. It can bring out the best in others – they don't feel intimidated by you, so they relax and open up with interesting anecdotes.
James had just performed that night and it was late, so it was decided he would call me another day for the interview. Then I was called back with a change of plans. "James would like to meet you. He'll do it now." I can remember my heart racing at the sound of those words. I was about to actually interview a successful musician.
At the end of the festival I was escorted backstage for the interview. I could hear Natalie Bassingthwaighte and co chatting in the neighbouring room as James walked in to greet me. He was so polite and genuinely nice and easy to chat with. I couldn't have asked for a better first interview. With the job done, I just made the last train home. The story was published on my 20th birthday.
Contributing to a number of music websites, ones previously owned by Destra Media as well as fasterlouder.com.au (new window) and more recently accessallareas.net.au (new window) has enabled me to speak with well-known artists and bands such as The Offspring, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Fray, Jet, Powderfinger, Vanessa Amorosi and Keith Urban.
More often than not the lesser names are more enjoyable to speak with because it's more personal. Being in touch with someone who has sold millions of records and toured the world is a definite buzz, though.
Online music journalism is never going to make you rich (most music websites don't pay their writers), but you do get the chance to speak with famous people. It's now been a big chapter in my story.
From great to not so pleasant (luckily for me the latter has been minimal), here are a few interview subjects and moments that top my charts in various categories.
Favourite interview subject: Michael Paynter
I've interviewed Michael a few times now for various pieces (one was published here on youthcentral) and he's almost as quotable as he is a talented musician. I find it rewarding giving others the opportunity to discover more about an inspiring talent and great music. It's what journalism is all about.
Most famous: Keith Urban
The American music scene loves him and so does Nicole Kidman. That makes Keith one very famous man. I was lucky enough to be invited to his press conference and performance at Rod Laver Arena. I got to meet him, ask a few questions and witness sound check prior to his evening show. It was a great experience and he seemed like a down-to-earth guy too.
Most uncomfortable: The Hot Lies
I had a bucket on stand-by in case I vomited while chatting on the phone with the drummer from The Hot Lies. I wasn't well, but I managed to crawl out of bed for the chat. In stark contrast, my interview subject was at Port Macquarie beach enjoying the sun and eating pancakes. I still enjoyed the interview.
Greatest compliment: Angelas Dish
In just my second interview, my first with a full band, singer Michael Harris commented that I was, quote, "getting the best" out of them. It's what every journalist aims for: for their story to get the scoop. Mostly, I just enjoyed it. This interview still takes the cake in the fun stakes, alongside my overseas chat with Gyroscope.
To be continued…
I would definitely encourage anyone else interested in music journalism to get online. If you love music and are curious to find out and share the stories behind it, search out opportunities that can get you involved.
You have to work your way up and also be willing to work for little financial rewards, but it's possible to meet and chat with some of your favourite bands. I couldn't put a price on how much I've enjoyed it and what I've gained from the experiences.
The best thing is that there are still many more artists to chat with and stories to write.
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