There’s something about sitting on a beat-up leather sofa while your musical heroes struggle to put on a clean pair of denim shorts that reminds you that some things are universal.
The first time I interviewed a band, it was not pretty. I woke up three hours early in a tent at 2000 Trees Festival, freezing despite the southern sun and absolutely petrified. I huddled under a taco truck before the festival officially opened and used the spotty on-site website to hurriedly scrawl down some questions for a band I knew absolutely nothing about.
When I got to the press tent, I accidently set in the chair of the correspondent from Kerrang! Magazine. The site I was working for wasn’t big enough to warrant its own place at the press table, so I stood awkwardly in the corner, praying someone would leave before the band arrived so that we could actually sit down.
When they eventually did, my short-sightedness, lack of research and general awkwardness conspired against me in a big way, leading to a 45 second stand-off in which me and the band’s vocalist tried to figure out if the other was the person we’d be instructed to meet.
Despite all that, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my entire life.
I came away shaking. The guys I had interviewed had more accolades in the pockets of their beat-up leather jackets than I had gathered in my entire career. They had been on tour over 18 times, broken up, got back together, and must have answered the questions I timidly put to them hundreds of times.
So why did they seem so happy to talk to me? Why were they treating me like I was worthy of their time?
I had assumed up until that point that everyone could see that I was play-acting. I was only 17 after-all, I could barely do my eyeliner and I thought that wearing dark red lipstick in a place where there were no mirrors was a wise choice. I expected to feel patronised because I deserved to be, I was just a little kid going through the motions of being a grown-up until I inevitably got found out.
For some reason though, that never happened.
That first band treated me with a kind of professional courtesy I’d never experienced before, but also a respect and active interest that made me feel much older, and more legitimate, than I ever thought I could.
Being a journalist was a superpower.
My “AAA” lanyard was a cape that allowed me to masquerade as a cool industry professional without ever revealing my identity as a shy teenager with a panic disorder and bad skin.
Of course, the fear never went away. I’ve conducted countless interviews since, and always there’s the pervading sense that I’m not good enough, that I could never ask anything original, that the bands in question were only being nice in order to stop me noticing their thinly veiled contempt.
But those fears exist behind the mask, and while I’m in costume I can be unrecognisable. For all they know, I live out my life in a state of self-assured calm, able to leap tall deadlines in a single bound.
There was also a single interview that changed my attitude towards failure entirely, and forced me to battle the great twin evils that are Wagamamas and sound-checks, in a triumph that I have referred to ever since as my Almost Famous moment.
You’ll have to check back for that story though, in part two maybe?
19 thoughts on “Music Journalism Made Me A Superhero”
Great post ! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Oh wow, nice content. I am sure that I’d be quite nervous if I should interview someone super famous!
It’s so worth it though, even being awestruck feels like part of the fun now!
I’d be super nervous in your situation! Loved reading this, thank you for sharing this personal story 🙂
I hope it was helpful to you! Like I said, I still get nervous, but thankfully it’s nowhere near as bad now! ❤
Oh it was, thank you for that 🙂 I’m happy that it’s not that bad anymore for you 🙂
I would be so nervous! Interviewing is a true skill
I used to get so nervous I could hardly breathe! It’s still nerve-wracking, but practise makes perfect!
I believe the experience overall is nerve wrecking so I don’t blame your mind going to war on you questioning if you’re good enough. I believe in two things that helped me fake it till you make it (I learned so much from this ) and power of the mind. If you start thinking more positively all the nerves will go away
Ahhh I would be so nervous in your position, but glad these interviews helped you become more confident! 🙂
Glad you have overcome some of your fears! It is understandable that you become nervous. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Being a journalist is surely a power. Great that you have come out of your fears.
Interviewing is such a skill and requires some special talent, for sure, well done!
Amazing post thatnks for sharing! 😀
Such a good post! Makes sense that the experiences helped you to grow and become more confident as a journalist! Funny how we can go from awkward to superhero!
Wow so cool ! I would be so nervous to interview !!
Very intriguing! Love the way you write and looking forward to reading part 2! We’re actually in the music industry too so will be nice to chat 🙂 Ree love3o
Great post. Good to know interviews helped your confidence.
Your writing is amazing. Interviewing people requires lots of confidence.