Daily Archives: April 22, 2010

EMP Pop Music Conference Day 2

Day two! Here are my reactions to the panel discussions I went to.

Engendering Technology Panel

  • Elizabeth Keenan, “Hipster Values: High Art Discourses and White Masculine Mastery in the Music of the Dirty Projectors”
  • Sarah Dougher, “How Girls” Rock Camps use Music as a Tool for Empowerment, and why it Sometimes Doesn’t Work.”
  • Emily Zemler, “Producing the Gender Gap: Male-Dominance in the Recording Studio”

Oh hell yeah. This panel was totally up my alley on the gendered dynamics of specific spaces within the music industry. The hipster discussion looked into cultural appropriation, and the nerd culture that goes along with knowing all of these obscure bands and musical styles, which of course, gets coded as male.

The Girls Rock camp one was also pertinent. I know even at rock camp, it felt like instrumentalists where still valued more over vocalists, and that the vocalists in the band I mentored did feel a little off-set from the rest of the band.

The recording studio discussion most closely mimicked the kinds of things I am interest in, in my own research on the music store culture. Recording studios are gendered, a man’s space, where he is the master of his techy tools and bodily fluids. I asked during the Q&A about what the panelist knew/experienced in the music store as women, and there was a sort of collective “Ha! I have stories…” of which one panelist talked about being ignored in the music store to the point of absurdity.


  • Douglas Wolk, “Beyond the Celestial Jukebox: The Future of Listening to Music”
  • Nick Minichino, “The New Scarcity”
  • Ned Raggett, “The Listener as Electronic Librarian”
  • Tim Quirk, “The Quiet Revolution: From the Walkman to the iPod, How Portability and Infinite Storage Have Changed the Way We Listen, and What We Listen To”

I learned a lot on this one. Especially what “The Cloud” is, and the idea that we need to all put music up into it for everyone to enjoy. Kinda like a communal, property free musical park if you will. I’m not quite sure how much of that I agree with, but it was interesting.

The idea of a scarce musical recording the digital age is interesting. What we think of as scarce is usually in the physical sense, an actual copy. But, everything is on youtube, so really, you can get to almost anything, so how is anything scarce anymore? Hum…..

I really loved Ned Raggett’s talk. I totally agree that in some ways, with our digital music libraries, we are our own DJs as well as, librarians of information. I am also anal when it comes to correctly labeling my mp3s as well. =)

Finally, the infinite storage thing with portable music media. I miss my walk(wo)man. I got it at a garage sale in the 90s. It was black with pink paint splatters. Gosh, I want it back. I don’t think I’ll have as much of an attachment to that as I do with my iPod now. But then again, I used that cassette player so much more. We’ll see in like 15 years.



  • Gustavus Stadler, “Warhol as Recording Artist”
  • Tina Majkowski, “Queer Gear: Percussive Technology and the Queer Sonic Body”
  • Alexandra Apolloni, “There”s No Other Superstar: On Lady Gaga, Disability, and the Technology of Stardom”

Sorry, didn’t really care about the Warhol piece. Mostly just cause I don’t really care about Warhol.

Queer Gear was too awesome. I love the idea that gendered personas are indeed coded into our performances as musicians, and to queer the gear, so to speak, involves and active participation in negotiating how and why you play instruments in a certain way, and the sounds they make. For example, you can play the guitar as a symbolic heterosexual phallus, low, in between your legs, or, you can do this:

Freakin’ Awesome!

Finally, my favorite piece, the Lady Gaga talk! It was a discussion on how Lady Gaga uses ideas of disability in her music and videos and I totally agree. As the speaker said, her usage of fame, celebrity and fashion, as a symbolic and physical disability for female artists was spot on. Women’s bodies are disabled due to restrictive fashion, much as their talent and creativity are stifled by music industry standards as to what good female artists should be. Word.

Retro Uses

  • Lauren Onkey, “Performing Vinyl”
  • Andy Zax, “”Don’t Ever Buy Nothin’ You Don’t Dig”: The Warner/Reprise Radio Spots, 1968-1972″
  • Charles R. Cross, “The Ghost in the Machine”
  • Michael Mannheimer, “Big Wave Rider: Cassette Tapes, Inverted Nostalgia, and the Creation of glo-fi”

Finally, the retro media talk! The performing vinyl piece was cool. What do you do, as an artist if you want to perform live your album that was pressed on vinyl in that order? There is a bit of nostalgia in the idea of hearing a record in that order, but that also assumes that when vinyl was the only option, people listened to it straight through as well, or didn’t hear out of order songs on the radio.

Andy Zax’s talk of old school radio spots on vinyl was classic. The spots were so hilarious and dated, it makes me want to reproduce them for myself. Ya know, make some funny ads promoting Jukebox Heroines with some psychedelic music in the background. Groovy!

The next discussion was on Jukeboxes, and I dug it. They really do have a place in our popular imagination and how they shaped popular songs at the time.

And last, but not least, cassette tape culture. In case you don’t know, cassette tapes are making a small, but trendy comeback for artists. Some release small runs of their music on cassette, sometimes only on cassette out of nostalgia, budget issues, or just pure aesthetic and artistic reasons. I am thinking myself of releasing my music on a limited run cassette. Could be fun!

Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on EMP Pop Music COnference 2010!

Photos from here, here, here and here.

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