The Blogger Lowdown is a feature where we ask the good people who run our favorite, essential blogs to give some insight on themselves and their sites. There are some great resources for discovering all kinds of music on the interwebs and our hope is to introduce you to a few of these outlets and the people behind them.
The greatest thing about the good music blogs out there is their unwavering uniqueness. When You Awake has this in spades. How many music blogs can you visit for all your classic rock/country music, picture, and style needs? Just one. As believers in Those That Came Before, and not just Those Who Are Hot Now, we at TWD are avid fans of When You Awake's continuing focus on the greats and the trailblazers. Jody spoke to us about founding and running When You Awake.
How about a little backstory on yourself to start things off.
I'm the founder of When You Awake.com, a daily music blog covering all things indie folk, classic country and classic rock. I promote shows, am part of an all-girl DJ collective called Gold Dust and host the occasional radio show and festival. I was born in Marin County, California, grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, spent most of my adult years in Los Angeles and am currently living in London, England.
When and how did When You Awake come to be?
I was working for an electronic hip-hop DJ/producer (as a music producer and the head of marketing and promotions) and was constantly surrounded by club music. It was enjoyable to work in, but at the end of the day, I felt like I didn't have the space to explore my own musical tastes and connect with people who were more interested in say The Band and Waylon Jennings than MIA or Spank Rock. So, I started When You Awake, which is turning three years old this month, as my creative musical outlet.
Do you have a day job/alter ego?
I do publicity for music festivals, consult with small creative companies on how they can function more efficiently and am currently getting my Master's in Culture, Policy and Management at City University in London.
What kind of music did you grow up with? Did this contribute to your tastes now?
I grew up in Tennessee so country music has always been a defining characteristic of my musical personality. When I was younger, it was my intense dislike of all things country that defined me—and now that I'm older- my complete love of it. See, my dad worked in the music business, handling PR for the Grand Ole Opry where I spent many a night backstage hanging out with the musicians. He even managed a couple of acts including Duane Eddy, King of the Twang guitar, and Harley Allen, a Grammy award winning songwriter and son of bluegrass legend Red Allen.
Somewhere in there (and though I didn't realize it until years later), country and roots music had secretly seeped it's way into my bones. I was always very clear about my love for classic rock and oldies though. My dad was really into bands like the Everly Brothers and the Byrds and my brother was into Dylan and The Beatles, so good music was always playing in our house. They are both musicians as well–so family gatherings are never complete without some classic rock sing-a-longs.
Any embarrassing musical tastes or purchases early on? Any guilty pleasures now?
I was a teenager in the 90s so I liked a ton of music that is really just horrible to listen to now (and that I still love). For instance, I just made this 90s mix with the Spice Girls, Boyz 2 Men, TLC….it's so good. The most controversial track on there that even all of my 90s loving friends can't get behind would have to be Lou Bega's "Mambo #5". The thing is though, everyone hates on that song, but the minute it comes on at a club, folks can’t help but dance.
For newer tracks, I've been obsessed with Yolanda Be Cool featuring Dcup's version of "We No Speak Americano". I know it’s a year or so old—but I seriously can’t stop listening to it. I've even downloaded about 15 different remixes of it, my favorite being "I Like That" by Nablidon. "Ooooooh I like that, you crazy girl, you fight back…". If only people knew what I really listened to…
What’s the one album that you have the greatest emotional connection with?
I'd have to say Nick Drake's Pink Moon and Five Leaves Left. Those records came to me when I was getting into music and starting to search it out for myself rather than just listening to whatever was on the radio or MTV at the time. Nick Drake, in particular, came to me when I was riding in the packed, loud backseat of a friend's car freshman year of high school. Her brother had left a mixtape in the car that was just serving as background music when "Cello Song" came on. It's rare that anything could get 5 teenage girls to shut up—but about 10 seconds in—all of our voices had trailed off and everyone just sat silently and listened. The windows were rolled down, the moon was shining above, it was straight up the Nick Drake Volkswagen commercial (only a couple of years before the commercial existed). It was a very powerful moment for a 13-year old to have.
Which country artists do you consider infallible?
I could say Waylon, Willie, Johnny, Loretta, Tammy, George Jones—-but all of those get so much love. I'm going to say Roger Miller. I've really fallen in love with him recently and think he deserves so much more props than he's ever given. I mean, he was the voice of The Rooster in Robin Hood! Doesn’t get much cooler than that.
How else do you spend your time? Any interesting hobbies outside of music and blogging?
Since I've moved to London, my passion has really been about exploring and going down every weird little side street and nook and cranny that I can find. I’ve also started baking a lot since I’ve moved here. In the past two weeks alone, I’ve made cranberry scones, blueberry scones, chocolate chip cookies, cranberry and orange cookies and a batch of vanilla cupcakes. Needless to say, my flatmates are quite fond of me. I’m also big into the idea of combining music with non-profit/charity work. I put on a series of benefit concerts in the States and am looking to continue the series here in the UK. Stay tuned for details on that!
What’s your favorite whiskey?
Moonshine out of a mason jar. Jack Daniels just can't hold a candle to it. Some of my extended family in East Tennessee actually just created the first legal moonshine distillery in the state. It’s called Ole Smoky Moonshine and you can order it online (for those who don’t live in the south). If you drink it, start off with very little quantities, though. Moonshine is much more powerful than you think!