Music University Interview: Marc Hogan (Music Writer)

Marc Hogan has so much music spinning in his head. One of the only people I have ever met who could carry on a great conversation about John Mayer, Britney Spears, Jimi Hendrix, R. Kelly, Wilco, or The Beatles all at the same time. Marc is a fantastic writer whose last sentences in his reviews are always clever and bring the point all back home. He has written for Pitchfork Media, PlayBoy, and E-music, but now spends most of his time spewing the news out on a sometimes hourly basis for SPIN Magazine online! His ever eclectic music taste, knowledge, and writing make him a go-to guy in the music industry for great features and reviews all across the board. As a resident of Des Moines you might catch him at a show or DJ-ing at the PBR Bar. Say hi and see what he thinks of your favorite new record… cause he’s probably heard it.

You can hear Marc Hogan speak at this year’s Music University conference on October 19th. Check out the full schedule here, then register here. Discounted rates are available for students and performing musicians.

Check out some of Marc’s writing here.

1. Marc, I love the way you write for Spin. You pretty much deliver the news of the day but always put your own personal SPIN to it, if you will. Tell us a little bit about how you started working for them.

I started reading SPIN in high school, but I can’t pretend I was that big into buying music magazines. I just love writing and love music and eventually realized music was what I ended up writing about whenever I had a choice. I totally lucked out around 2004 and got a chance to review albums for Pitchfork, and then after a few years I found out an editor’s email address at SPIN. It’s been a blast writing for them, but it’s also really a privilege.

 

2. Who are some of your music journalism heroes and why?  Also, sub-question: what made you want to become a music journalist?

It’s tricky to name music journalism heroes, because most of them are still working and I don’t want to be a kiss-up. Among the old-school critics, Lester Bangs and Ellen Willis are both good places to start. Richard Meltzer doesn’t really write about music anymore and he also helped invent pop criticism. Really, though, any great writing you read, music you hear, films you watch, or websites you visit can and should influence great music writing. “Take no heroes, only inspiration.” As for your sub-question, again, the music journalism I do is really just a combination of my passions. It’s a labor of love.

 

3. When you’re DJ-ing do you tend to go into it with a plan, or do you play strictly off your audience?  Your setlists are always pretty eclectic… give us a hint of what we may hear when your DJ-ing.

It’s a little bit of both. I can always find a stack of weird little records I’m just wanting to hear on a certain night. But usually I’m DJ-ing at the Vaudeville Mews’ outdoor bar or inside on New Year’s Eve, and in both cases there can be more of a dance-party atmosphere. I hate to put genre labels on it so “eclectic” is a good word. It has to feel right.

 

4. What’s the most exciting musical experience you have ever had?

Going to Denmark’s Roskilde Festival in 2008 is the one to beat right now.

 

5. Who is your all time favorite band/artist and why?

I know it’s not very sporting but the longer I’ve been in the trenches covering music the harder it is to have a single favorite band or artist. There are so many different performers that I love for so many different reasons, and I’m also constantly aware of how much great music I still haven’t heard. When I was in high school Blur were my favorite band and they’re still one I know and love better than most; when I was in 5th or 6th grade I loved Hi-Five and Shai. Frank Ocean and Fiona Apple put out a couple of my favorite albums of last year. Deerhunter probably have my favorite album so far this year. And in general, everything Robyn does is my favorite. But there’s more music out there than we’ll ever hear in our lifetimes. Part of my job is just to point people to stuff they might love.

 

6. You’ve lived in California, New York, Chicago and Des Moines.  What differences besides size do these music scenes have?

I don’t know if I can really speak for those other places — I was just a kid outside Sacramento in California, I was mostly focused on college when I was near Chicago, and in New York, I don’t know, it almost felt like a national scene more than a local one. Des Moines’ scene is small but it has plenty of underrated creativity. I really like to think I’m not someone who would join any scene that would have me as a member. But I’m proud to call some very talented people here friends.

 

7. What are you most excited to talk about in Des Moines on Oct. 19.

I’m excited to hear what my fellow panelists Joan and Matt have to say! But really I’ve spent a lot of time in the front lines of music writing, and I also have plenty of experience in non-music journalism, so I hope I can help shed some light on how music publications work. It can be hard to get our attention, but there’s a method to the madness. Usually.

 

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You can hear Marc Hogan speak at this year’s Music University conference on October 19th. Check out the full schedule here, then register here. Discounted rates are available for students and performing musicians.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @desnoise

Learn more about Marc at: http://www.desnoise.com/

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