After an unseasonably sunny and mild weekend in October, Portland slipped into a fall-like weather on its first Monday. The proverbial rain ceased by the time evening descended; the calm, cool, and content atmosphere shrouded one of city’s most beloved small venues. As I unpacked my gear for the video interview with Jacco Gardner at the Mississippi Studios’ adjacent Bar Bar patio, I let him know that I did do some homework, and will try not to ask the same old questions. The boyish musician in his unassuming cordiality said, “Please don’t ask questions about my background.”. I assured the Dutch producer/songwriter that I had already read enough interviews where he explained about his paternal British heritage, and I had no plans on making him repeat his family history, along with how he got into music, and his musical influences. Instead of merely trying to access knowledge from a young man from a small town (Hoorn) in Holland, I also tried to understand the toll journalism takes on the artist. Not only should we be responsible for fact checking, but don’t we also have a responsibility to not repeat, for the sake of music journalism and for a healthy relationship between the media and the musicians?
When I first started interviewing musicians, I did it more out of my yearning to to fulfill my fan fantasy, rather than for the sake of music journalism. It’s not that I didn’t take it seriously; I was naive – I didn’t have a degree in any branch of literature, just a passion for music. With the implosion of music blogs, the quality of content has deteriorated, yet it has paved a way for someone like me to gain access to bands that would not have been possible a decade ago. After awhile, I started to become self-conscious about what I was doing and also realized how repetitive it must be for the musicians. It started to feel trite and clinical. So I eased up on requesting interviews. Besides, the video form took countless voluntary hours in post to make it flow – it’s not like just transcribing a verbal interview, one has to cut and rearrange to make sense as an audiovisual piece.
I still desired to get to know the musicians but wanted something more spontaneous, natural, and meaningful. Instead of sitting down face to face with a list of questions, I would have preferred to walked along with Gardner around the venue, as he discovered what made this little corner of the world unique, and in turn, revealed things about himself through action. But time and tide is not so kind to new formats, especially when the world moves as fast as music blogosphere. Thus, I had to settle for the standard Q&A. I didn’t intend the interview to be so self-reflecting on the process itself, but with Gardner’s candor, I learned much about myself as about him. We are a chameleonic race; what I present here now may be forever imprinted in the Net, but doesn’t mean it’s definitive.
Watch the video interview below that took place at Mississippi Studios in Portland, OR on October 7, 2013.
For live coverage of the show that followed this interview, go to our photo galleries page.