A conclusion to my previous discussion with Steffen about some of these themes surrounding Josh Ritter, the folk genre, and a breeding internet culture...
James Isbell: well...i was going to ask how you got introduced to Josh Ritter?
Steffen: harrisburg was the first song
Steffen: it was in andy's basement
Steffen: andy had left the song on for over 1000 plays
Steffen: so it was on a lot
Steffen: then i started diving into more of his stuff
James Isbell: Oh god...i remember when he did that with the trapeze swinger...it was like 100 years of sadness down there
Steffen: so word of mouth/ p2p sites
Steffen: or wonderment
Steffen: how ever you want to look at it
James Isbell: great....how do you normally get into newer music...you're the guy i go to...but where do you hear about this stuff?
Steffen: reading blogs
Steffen: downloading a lot
Steffen: i may have all the music
Steffen: but i have my people finding what i should download
Steffen: the confederossy has a music thread
Steffen: and i can see who is listening to what
Steffen: JonET, Joe Y, Andy, Ross
James Isbell: i see...so would you say that it's an internet culture? kind of technologically spurred?
Steffen: i don’t think i would be into as much if i had to buy all these albums
Steffen: joe on the other hand buys all the music'
James Isbell: is that unique to this culture...or would you say all music these days?
Steffen: he hears of a band and buys their album
Steffen: and checks it out
James Isbell: that's right..he did buy those albums in chicago just kind of out of the blue
James Isbell: it seems like something that either of us would never do
Steffen: having free access to all of it makes it easy to sample what ever you want
James Isbell: and get the best?
James Isbell: this all kind of leads me to my next big question...is there an underlying culture around Josh Ritter/ all this new alt country/folk music...if so, how can you categorize it?
Steffen: i think the independent music culture lets people attach themselves to an artist that is just coming up
Steffen: they can feel some personal commitment to the music
Steffen: and feel they are supporting the artist by spreading the word
James Isbell: but is there a community among listeners?
Steffen: i think Ritter is a big with our group because he seem genuinely like someone I would hang out with
Steffen: people love to talk shop like minded people
James Isbell: No, I couldn't agree more about that...and it seems that his authenticity and just good nature are really what win him over for all of you guys
Steffen: yea i think people can see that he is authentic
Steffen: and they like that
Steffen: there are not many people who are authentic these days
James Isbell: do you think he's in danger of losing that authentic appeal as he grows in popularity...or would it be possible for him to keep his same Idaho small town appeal
Steffen: i don’t see him loosing it
Steffen: i think that is just how he is
Steffen: so his music will always reflect himself
James Isbell: but that theme seems prevalent with other upcoming artists
James Isbell: he has a higher immunity to it by nature?
Steffen: you don’t hear talk of Josh ritter selling out to the man
Steffen: but there was a bunch of chat about the decemberists
Steffen: when they were getting older
James Isbell: well...he did get very lucky recently getting dropped by V2 with all of his own rights
Steffen: and there albums began to change
Steffen: their intent changed
Steffen: where i feel ritters is the same
James Isbell: I imagine that it could have gone a different way for him if the timing of their collapse hadn't been so perfect
James Isbell: I understand that he got to record Historical Conquests on his own without any corporate input...but will that model really hold for his next...probably highly anticipated and more easily marketed album?
Steffen: josh ritter is not seeing any radio play
Steffen: except for NPR
Steffen: i don’t see how he could get commercialized
Steffen: is his next album going to be highly anticipated?
Steffen: i don’t think so
James Isbell: but he is getting critical acclaim and internet buzz...and the way things have gone, i think you could make an argument that these are becoming more important
Steffen: by us it will
Steffen: his target market is middle aged women
James Isbell: haha really?
Steffen: who don’t use the internet
James Isbell: i think my mother loves him
Steffen: the internet buzz may seem big just because he is huge in our eyes
Steffen: i don’t disagree that he is getting more press
Steffen: but i think it is good press
Steffen: the fact that pitchfork will not even touch the guy seems good for his career
James Isbell: i understand that it is a little bit different that I actually google his name and check him out
Steffen: they reviewed an album a while back
James Isbell: oh god...pitchfork gave Historical Conquests like a 6.4 because a guy said it was too methodical and perfect...not enough spontaneity
Steffen: but they don’t report news on him
Steffen: just review 2 of his 4 albums
James Isbell: i noticed they didn't review animal years, which was very interesting
Steffen: and the review for Hello Starling was more about Golden Age of Radio
Steffen: but he is authentic and i believe his music
Steffen: i dont see him making any big change
Steffen: his music has progressed but it is built on the same foundation
Steffen: as i watched the decemberists add crazy antics to their live show and crazy epic songs to their albums i believed them less and less
James Isbell: just more of an act at that point?
Steffen: then the masses (who are not as smart as me) flocked to them because it is entertainment
Steffen: but i am in it for the music
Steffen: that happens to entertain me
James Isbell: ahhh...
Steffen: not the entertainment that happens to sound alright
James Isbell: i know...the kind of man that prefers to sit at a concert
James Isbell: my kind of man
James Isbell: well great man....i guess that covers the stuff that i wanted to ask...mainly the internet community connection
James Isbell: anything else you want to say on that?
Steffen: i would not have the music i do without the internet
Steffen: and the p2p connections are great places to find new artists