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    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Behind the blog: Music Is Art

    One glimpse is all it takes to tell you that Music Is Art is something special. You can start by judging this blog by its cover—it’s one of the best-designed, most aesthetically aware music blogs around—but there’s much more to it than just a pretty template. For one, Danielle, the “dreamer/designer” behind Music is Art, focuses not only on excellent music, but on art, photography and writing and how they all intersect and inform the music. By sharing the sounds and sights that inspire her, she's inspiring a growing number of readers on a daily basis. By documenting artists’ creative processes, she's, in the process, creating a pretty substantial, always-evolving work of art herself. Here's my interview with the woman behind the blog:

    NL: What inspired you to start your blog?

    MIA: I’ve always had a fascination with music and believed in the combination of music, words and art. An idea for Music Is Art has been sitting in the back of my mind for a long time. My friend Erin Caruso is an amazing photographer and really pushed me to start sharing all the things that I loved. I’m constantly changing places or directions, and it’s been a special way for me to keep in contact with distant friends.

    Photo by Erin Caruso

    NL: Are those areas—words, music and art—things you've studied or work in or are they all just passions of yours?

    MIA: I used to perform theatre and play and sing music growing up, but my own passion of music and art has always just been my personal way of surviving.

    NL: How do you find the music that you feature?

    MIA: I’m always searching. Most of the people I feature are artists that are scattered from special music blogs, forums, messages that I stumble upon. Others are old secrets that I’ve been listening to for years.

    NL: What about with the art that you feature?

    MIA: There are some great online sites like Fecal Face and Juxtapoz that provide intricate interviews with thousands of new and undiscovered artists daily. Strangely, MySpace has been another great avenue. There are so many amazing visual artists out there, it’s quite mind-blowing.

    NL: What kind of feedback have you gotten from people you've featured?

    MIA: The feedback has been so meaningful. I actually just received a really beautiful email from an artist yesterday that I featured a few weeks ago. They were so kind and appreciative of the recognition they told me they were honored.

    The Trouble With Insects by Ray Caesar

    NL: What about feedback from readers?

    MIA: Just to know people believe in it, in a way that I might not, means a lot. Music Is Art has become pretty personal to me, those who have actually taken the time to create their own works of art, photography and poetry and send them to me in inspiration because they somehow don’t feel alone. It makes me feel like people actually get it.

    NL: Are you surprised by the response it's received?

    MIA: Yes, I didn’t expect anything. Back in the beginning, when I only had ten readers a day, that was personally considered a lot. Now to have close to three thousand, well that almost scares me.

    NL: Three thousand a day?! Really? Holy crap. How much time do you spend putting a post together?

    MIA: Sometimes it can take half an hour or it can take a few hours. Depends how I’m feeling.

    NL: Yeah, absolutely. What have been some of the posts that still stick out for you?

    MIA: My interview with Lisa Papineau, who’s gifted with an amazing voice and talent to contribute with different musicians. Having different visual artists like Joshua Petker and Kris Lewis share what music means to them while they’re creating art. Guest postings by My Brightest Diamond and Inlets. And a series called song // context // result which associates music with memories.

    NL: I'm glad you cited the Lisa Papineau interview. I was going to bring that one up too. That's one of my favorites as well. So how did you get your site looking so good? Do you have a design background?

    MIA: Thank you. No, not really any design background, I’ve just always had some strange knowledge for html and seemed to have a special love for colors, collaging and rearranging. You should see how I decorate a room!

    Why I Do What I Do by Tara McPherson

    NL: What are some of the albums you're most looking forward to this year?

    MIA: I’m hoping 2007 brings us the new Radiohead and Portishead albums. That would make me very happy, as well as My Brightest Diamond's forthcoming album. Also, the third release by the band OURS. Lead singer Jimmy Gnecco is an eclectic artist who not only makes beautiful music but genuinely appreciates all his fans.

    NL: I don't understand why Portishead is taking so long. It's been ages.

    MIA: It’s been too long.

    NL: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

    MIA: I love Joshua Petker, Ray Caesar, Michael Hussar and Tara McPherson. There’s also this great project called You Are Beautiful where different people from all over the world try to photograph those three words in different ways (drawn in the sand, on posters along subways, etc.)... it’s a strong positive message of sorts and a good feeling, when there doesn’t seem to be much of anything.

    Photo by Alex Synge, from You Are Beautiful

    NL: Huh, that's pretty cool. Do you know about Learning To Love You More? I like that project a lot.

    MIA: No. What’s that about?

    NL: Every so often, they post an assignment and then people will send in their response to it. They'll have some really interesting ones—describe your ideal government, take a picture of your parents kissing, draw a constellation from someone's freckles, things like that.

    MIA: Sounds very interesting. I’ll definitely look into that.

    NL: What about some of your favorite historical artists?

    MIA: Historical... van Gogh, Modigliani, Dali, Degas.

    NL: And what are some of your favorite movies and books?

    MIA: My favorite movie is American Beauty. Then everything falls after that. Amelie, Magnolia, Requiem for a Dream, Waking Life...

    NL: I love Waking Life a great deal. And what about books?

    MIA: For books, an author like Anaïs Nin showcases some of the most personal and elegant words I’ve ever read. She's one of those writers that I can easily understand; that doesn’t happen very often. Also, some other favorite books are Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock and Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself and Brave on the Rocks: If You Don’t Go, You Don’t See by Sabrina Ward Harrison, which provide some of the inspiration that I hope one day Music Is Art will lead to.

    NL: I'll have to check some of those out. So now that I know some of the favorites, tell me a little more about yourself.

    MIA: Hmm, I just turned twenty-five; it’s amazing to think I’ve lived a quarter of my life already. What else would you like to know?

    NL: What would someone reading your site be surprised to find out?

    MIA: I didn’t like high school so I graduated when I was fifteen and went for college. I wanted to immerse myself in music and be around people who loved art just as much as I did. Then I worked for an active rock Boston radio station and learned about the music business a little too much. I began to lose my desire and started to crave the idea of traveling. New Orleans was my first place that I ran away to when I was eighteen and lived on and off of Bourbon Street. That was an experience that I’ll never forget. After that, I just started going towards random cities I always wanted to visit. Boston, New Orleans, Seattle, Austin, and now NYC.

    NL: What's drawing you to New York now?

    MIA: It’s been a place I’ve always wanted to be a part of, but it just never seemed like the right time to settle. Having conversations with different artists and musicians who live in New York, to dive into my creativity, there doesn’t seem like any other place for me to be than to be there right now.

    * MP3: "Only You" (French version) - Portishead [Buy other Portishead]
    * MP3: "I Want None of This" - Radiohead from Help: A Day In The Life [Buy it]

    Comments on "Behind the blog: Music Is Art"


    Blogger Roland said ... (10:10 AM) : 

    Really illuminating interview, thanks! Both of you are doing a really nice job, keep it up.


    Blogger tad said ... (6:01 PM) : 

    I am continually amazed with the aesthetics of MIA, but you did a great job of presenting this interview as well. This is terrific--thanks to you both.


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:24 AM) : 

    There is a much better version of "I Want None of This" performed live on Minnesota (?) public radio. I'm going to send it to you via email.


    Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:43 PM) : 

    Nice job!
    Really good interview!

    Juego De Poker


    Anonymous Rose said ... (7:35 PM) : 

    Great to know more about Mia.


    Blogger Daniela said ... (11:06 PM) : 

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