You guys, this is the TENTH YEAR that I’ve been a BYT Buddy! (That’s a title I just invented, primarily for its alliterative qualities! It is meant to indicate a decade of roles ranging from INTERN #1 to NYC EDITOR #1 within ye olde BYT family! WOWEE! Look at that featured thumbnail of me dancing in 2010 with Svetlana in the background!) I’ve interviewed a pretty bonkers amount of bands and musicians since I started in 2009, and while some of them have unfortunately been permanently eaten by the internet during our site upgrades, I still had like 94 archived pages of content to peruse when coming up with this list of MY MY MY favorite ones I’ve conducted over the years! It was tough to pare it down to just ten since I’ve genuinely enjoyed most of them for a variety of reasons, but in the end I was able to narrow in the end. (Some are included for more fan girl reasons than others // SUE ME!) So without further adieu, I’ll share those picks with you RIGHT NOW:
When I first wrote this in 2009, I literally said “This is probably the best interview I have ever conducted.” I still think this is true! (At least in terms of how much fun it was!) I dialed up Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt from my senior year college campus apartment, and we proceeded to have a very weird conversation about green bean casserole and dentistry // I’m still not sure what (if anything) was true and what (if anything) was fabricated (see also: he was winding me up the entire time and it was great), but it’s easily one of the most enjoyable phoners I’ve done over the course of this past decade.
BYT: Oh yeah, it wouldn’t be a green bean casserole without those. You can’t have that.
Andrew: Yeah, you can’t. You know what’s the secret? You know what the secret is? The secret is to put a can of cream of mushroom soup in, right? So don’t tell me you never learned something from doing a rock and roll interview, okay?
This is the first interview I remember really like, FREAKING OUT ABOUT, because I was a big fan of CocoRosie at that exact moment in time. It’s also the first interview I can remember ever being trolled in the comments, because I went v. heavy into a description about the ordeal of actually getting through to the sisters on the phone. (When I finally DID reach them, they had to call me back because they were beating each other up.) So shout-out to that person! I’m surprised I haven’t been trolled more in my career! The interview itself was actually really enjoyable, though; I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but the answers to my questions all felt super genuine. A good experience overall!
Bianca: Yeah sorry about that, we were punching each other. We were in an argument.
BYT: Yeah, that’s what I thought was happening, I wasn’t really sure. I’m just glad it wasn’t like…I couldn’t tell if it was like an animal attacking you guys or what, so I’m glad it wasn’t that. But anyway, how’s it going other than the sisterly love?
If you know me, you know I exploit every October (aka spooky season) to ask bands (and everyone) if they have any good ghost stories, and Django Django were one of the first to indulge me on this front! We met up in the green room at the Knitting Factory before their show to talk about the guys’ (Vinnie’s and Tommy’s, specifically) encounters with the paranormal, and they genuinely had some solid SP00PS to share. Most importantly, though, they’re all just the loveliest! So this was a lot of fun for me, and it’s something I trot out every year around Halloween since I have such fond memories. Thanks, buds!
BYT: Oh I know ALL about banshees. My mom went through a weird Irish nationalism phase when we were younger, even though we’re like, fourth generation, and so we were always watching things like The Secret of Roan Inish and Darby O’fucking Gill.
Vinnie: Yeah, well the wailing woman thing came from…you know, again, no one knew how to do a proper, “This person’s dead.” So they would just kind of lie out, and the wailing was to try and get them to come alive again, just in case you were in a coma. So they would scream in your ear for a few days.
Shout-out to Harry Violent for making it onto the list of my ten favorite interviews from this past decade! And shout-out to Palma Violets for putting him on the phone; I have had some pretty terrible and unproductive interviews with band members who clearly don’t want to be on the phone (and like, I GET IT, but just don’t do it if you don’t want to // don’t let your publicist strongarm you into this!), and these boys just stuck their merch guy on, and he was genuinely a lovely person to speak with! More interviews like this, please!
BYT: Did they get attacked by a squirrel?
Harry Violent: Apparently, yeah, although I quite like squirrels; we can actually hypnotize them as well. There’s a special technique.
I remember feeling overjoyed when I got the advance to YELLE’s Complètement Fou, and I just about lost my mind entirely when I found out I’d be able to interview the inimitable Julie Budet over Skype in 2014; I’d been trying (unsuccessfully) to see YELLE since I was doing study abroad in Buenos Aires back in 2008 (I literally had tickets to see the show but our exchange program took a trip to Jujuy up north the same weekend, WHAT THE FUCK), and so this was the closest I have been (and will likely ever be) to one of my favorite music projects, even if it was just through a computer screen. It’s mainly a lot of me fan girling (not surprising), and also it makes mention of Dr. Luke before we knew how fucked up Dr. Luke was, but definitely stands out as an important one for me personally.
BYT: Just a giant corn, no big deal…[Laughs]
Julie Budet: Yeah, and he said, “I think I can do it,” so we started the process, which took about four weeks. We still have it; it’s in a place in our hometown. (It’s REALLY BIG!) [Laughs]
To be perfectly honest, I tend to shudder when publicists ask if I can shoot over a list of email questions which will be forwarded to the band; phoners or in-person interviews are much more comfortable (and often more productive) because you’re able to read the person’s body language, and the conversation can organically veer in some pretty interesting directions. HOWEVER, I am a big fan of themed email Q+A sessions, and in this case we really went for it with a set of 4th of July-centric prompts. Vacationer’s Kenny Vasoli was an excellent sport (A TRUE PATRIOT) and indulged me with his feelings about whether or not we should delete pennies, what are the best burger toppings (we are in agreement that mayo sucks dot com) and more!
BYT: Growing up we all had to pledge allegiance to the flag daily. What (as an adult) do you pledge allegiance to daily?
Vacationer: I pledge allegiance to my dog. I think that might be the only allegiance I am prepared to pledge.
I’ve actually interviewed Garbage several times, but usually it’s a phoner with the guys. THIS time I got to speak with QUEEN SHIRLEY MANSON! I only got about ten minutes for the call, but I’m still in awe that I even got it in the first place // I seriously wish everyone could’ve been on the line with me, because she’s just a joy to speak with. (Bonus: her laugh is SO GOOD!) Aside from the obvious, this one specifically made the list because she said the words, “You know what, Megan? Now you’ve become my best friend…” which I know is totally not actually true, but NO ONE CAN TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME NOW! IT IS IN PRINT!
BYT: She’s SO CUTE.
Shirley Manson: She’s so cute! [Laughs] You know what, Megan? Now you’ve become my best friend, because “love my dog, love me”; it goes hand in hand. Anyone who loves my dog is a friend of mine! [Laughs]
This is another one of those rare instances where I’ve had a ball drafting up a bunch of email questions; Alex Cameron struck me as the type of person who’d be receptive to some p. bonkers questions that were highly word associative, relating solely to the titles of songs from Jumping the Shark. His answers went above and beyond, and I admit that I have frequently re-read this thing in the last three years because it’s so good-weird. (At least according to me.)
BYT: The Internet – If you’d have invented the Internet, do you think you’d have named it the Internet or something else? And if you would have named it something else, what would that something else have been?
Alex Cameron: The internet is just about the best name for it. I like to call it ‘The Web’. Maybe I’d have called it the Totem. ‘Climb the Totem’ instead of ‘Surf the Web.’
I was able to have a chat to Hana Vu IRL at Elsewhere in 2018 before she went on, and I think this interview really encapsulates how nice it can be to speak with an up-and-coming artist; it was nice and free-flowing, she had a lot of endearing (whether intentional or not) answers to my questions, and she went on to play a killer set. Overall, a great way to spend an evening in the presence of an incredibly talented musician.
BYT: That’s incredible. And so wait, what was your actual thesis about Taylor Swift, then? In your college entrance essay?
Hana Vu: That’s she’s a genius!
This one happened THIS YEAR, and I still can’t believe how surreal it was to speak with the one and only Charlotte Gainsbourg over the phone on a random weekday! (I’ve really enjoyed Rest, too, so it was great to get more insight into that!) Certainly her views of the #MeToo movement have been met with some push-back, but genuinely an interesting conversation (in which she brought up Serge, !!!), and I’m glad she was open to speaking about some of these things with me quite candidly.