Brainwashed.com has served as a not-for-profit online music publication and archive for eclectic music for 10 years. Through The Brain (providing weekly reviews, features, new releases and concert news)… The Eye (providing dowloadable video interviews and clips, as well as weekly podcasts and fulltime radio stream), Brainwashed has built a reputation as a reliable resource for open content on finely selected music. This year, Pop Montreal welcomes a showcase finely curated by Brainwashed.
We asked Jon Whitney, key holder of Brainwashed to tell us the story…
POP: What is Brainwashed summed up past, present, and future?
BW: A music domain with Web sites for a handful of artists and labels, archival information: discographical/biographical, music reviews, video features, music videos, sounds, and an overall resource for independent music.
POP: How did you begin hosting websites some of the bands and labels that you do?
BW: Every site has its own story. For Cabaret Voltaire and Current 93, Nurse With Wound, HNAS, Death In June, and Legendary Pink Dots, we adopted sites from college servers when college students who began them graduated and lost their free space. For Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Bowery Electric, and Labradford, we picked up where previous resources abandoned their sites.
For Greater Than One, Meat Beat Manifesto, Tortoise, Stars of the Lid, Jessica Bailiff, Godspeed you black emperor, and Trans Am, we were the first to have a comprehensive site on the net. For Kranky, Thrill Jockey, RRRecords, Stormy Records, Important, Intransitive, and Tigerbeat6, we're just pleased to give them a home!
POP: How did The Brain come into the picture? Where how did it evolve from there?
BW: It was initially a place where the various Webmasters could keep tabs on what we were all doing, maybe talk about some of the things they're listening to, and share some funny emails that we get. Like it was to be one place where an outsider could land and say "hey, what's new on the site? Over the years it blossomed, more people came back all the time, we got better at writing reviews, included sound samples, introduced a lot of new acts, launched a video segment, put release dates, up, etc...
POP: Who contributes? Who has contributed in the past?
BW: All sorts of people. People who contributed in the past, music fans, friends, strangers sometimes! We're all strangers at some point, right? People are encouraged to contribute from all over but the discipline it takes to write all the time is tough. I wish contributors would keep up with it more even if they wrote less because there's so much great music out there as well as so many turds, which need to be identified as turds.
POP: What directs or motivates the content? Does that separate Brainwashed from other music journalism websites and databases like maybe Epitonic, Dusted…dare I say Pitchfork?
BW: You can say Pitchfork, they're actually doing a good job of getting people roped in by providing Radiohead coverage then sneak in a Matmos or Antony and the Johnsons bit here and there. We're not about that, however, and we don't need the capital to keep us going. We all work day jobs so it doesn't matter if we make no money! We don't have an office or anything... Dusted people kind of work the same way we do: decentralized and non profit-driven. I think deep down inside we're all music fans, music collectors, and didn't play the game of applying to big magazines and papers only to have our reviews and contributions rejected by editors, but made our own place where we could say what we want and say it how we want.
POP: How has the past 10 years been? How does it feel getting to this point with Brainwashed? Let’s take a moment of reflection…
BW: Awesome. Wouldn't have changed it. You know, when I get a call from Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls telling me, on her way back from a recording session, how she and Antony were talking about little old me and how important they think Brainwashed has been to their careers and such, that means a lot. When I get to go on vacation and spend some time in Glasgow or Ireland or Wales or Germany with some of my biggest idols who have become my friends, that means a lot. When I loook at the bulk of mini music documentaries I've completed and think "wow, that's pretty immense," it makes me proud. When I get reviews every day from writers all over the world I'm thrilled to publish them. I'm honored to be invited to places like Montreal or Porto *stay tuned!* and am still like a kid in a candy store. "You're such a fan-boy" Colin Newman told me once and it's true. I am. Proudly!
POP: What is Brainwashed doing these days? Any big plans for the future?
BW: Big fest in November, hint hint. We just launched a video podcast. We've been Podcasting since 2004 you know,... The future has no plans other than roll with the technologies that come down the road and use what we can to fit in with our mission.
POP: What are you currently into, musically as well as non-musically?
BW: Video podcasting. A Place to Bury Strangers (the band). Little Miss Sunshine (the movie). Bicycling to work. Enjoying the beautiful weather. Cooking dinner at home for friends. Playing Cribbage with Jessica, Lucas, Patrick, or my mom while listening to an LP in the living room (you have to turn it over every 20 or so minutes). My weekday 9-5 job at a non-profit. DJ'ing and VJ'ing and meeting people.
POP: Who did you decide to have play the Brainwashed showcase? Can you tell us a bit about them?
BW: Keith Whitman is a fucking genius. Him and his brother are both smarter than I'll ever be with respect to music history, composition, arrangement, and technology. It's pretty crazy. And all his shows and recordings are fun while being slightly nerdy.
Sybarite is Xian Hawkins and he's a brilliant pop composer/arranger/musician too. The layers he comes up with are so intertwined and complex but catchy too. That's a difficult task to do.
Jessica Bailiff is one of the most amazing voices right now and she's also a fantastically skilled player, producer, and writer. She's released four solo albums and has appeared on tons of people's records and has about three other bands - Clear Horizon, Northern Song Dynasty, Eau Claire - that she operates in. I wish she got out more!
POP: Any other shows for the festival you plan to attend?
BW: Vashti Bunyan, Giant Sand, and I'm going to run across the street and peek in on Nadja and Tim Hecker.
POP: Have you ever been to Montreal…any expectations for the festival or the city?
BW: I've been to Montreal numerous times and LOVE it. I'm so thrilled to come to the fest and see some great music, see some great people, enjoy a fantastic city, and bring some music and videos. I hope to come back more often. Let's make it a regular thing, Montreal, call me *makes the hand phone gesture*.
Friday, October 6th 2006
La Sala Rossa - 4848 St Laurent
Timeslots: 8 / 9 / 10pm
BRAINWASHED.com Presents.... in co-production w/ LOUDSPKR
Tickets on sale now at: L'Oblique, Cheap Thrills, Atom Heart
$12 advance, $15 door.