Dayton-based Blog Connects Local and National Indie Culture
By Kyle Melton
It’s no secret that blog culture has infiltrated nearly every corner of life in the modern era. In the realm of music and pop culture, however, this takeover seems to have rendered traditional media outlets increasingly obsolete. Local blogger Tim Anderl of the YouIndie blog connected with a unique audience as his distinctive blend of indie music, fashion and regional events illustrates a diversity of interests that currently defines the indie mindset. I recently spoke with Tim about the roots of YouIndie, his range of interests on the blog, and what the future holds for him and this project.
How did you first come to start writing YouIndie? What did you feel the blog could offer that wasn’t currently available?
Well, I actually fell in love with music journalism in my early teen years while reading SPIN, Transworld and Big Brother magazines, and my parents supported my desire to study magazine journalism in college. I started writing about music for the student newspaper at Ohio University, fell into an internship at Alternative Press magazine in the ‘90s, and have been fortunate enough to get a few opportunities to write about music for other magazines (Strength Skateboarding, Substream Music Press) and blogs (DoneWaiting, Delusions of Adequacy) over the years.
YouIndie was actually my mother-in-law’s idea. Sometime in 2007 I was telling her about how much proud I was to have been a finalist during several rounds of a Rolling Stone-sponsored writing contest and about the online music magazine that I’d started and managed from 2001 to 2006 (Bettawreckonize). She insisted that I get back into writing about music in some capacity. So she designed the website/blog, bought the domain name, showed me how to use it and off I went. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude to her.
In the beginning there wasn’t a lot of deliberate thought as to what direction I was taking. It was, and for the most part continues to be, a personal, “vanity” project. It sounds kind of lame to put it that way, but it is probably true. [Tim Anderl]
The site recently passed the 8,500 post marker. With so much content, what do you feel are some of the highlights? Favorite posts?
The YouIndie content that I’m most proud of are the posts that elicit positive reader feedback. Everyone likes warm fuzzies, right? I recently wrote and posted a record review and someone who was heavily involved in the development of the record emailed me and told me that I really “got it” and communicated what they were trying to do. That gave me a tremendous sense of pride.
I’ve also had the opportunity to interview people that I have a tremendous amount of respect for as artists, to reconnect with old friends and to make some new ones. I’m really proud of the coverage we’ve developed with bands that other publications haven’t yet caught onto – I think we were the first blog to interview my friend Mollie Wells about her band Funerals and her Petra Schelm solo effort. I’m also pretty sure we were the first publication on this side of the Pacific to interview my friend Jack about his band Savage Furs who are beginning to make huge waves in London, too. I haven’t seen a lot of online interviews with Ray Riccio of hip-hop clothing line Sedgwick and Cedar, with poster artist Clint Reno, or artist Reuben Briggs, who designed our logo, either. I think it is a shame that these people don’t have more “buzz” surrounding their talents …
One of my best friends once said something like, “You invest more time and energy in something you don’t get any personal return on than anyone I know.” I’m sure he meant this as a compliment, and on one hand he’s probably right. I’m not trying to fill a bar with people interested in seeing my band, sell a T-shirt, skateboard or album, and this blog has never made more money than it has cost me. However, the opportunities it gives me to interface with my friends about cool things they’re doing or to interact with people I’d not otherwise have access to as a fan of music, clothing design, art, etc. have made this endeavor worth the time and sweat I’ve put into it. [TA]
You previously wrote for Bettawreckonize with your brother, Joe. How did that experience impact the direction you took with YouIndie?
To be honest, Bettawreckonize was a much larger animal than I knew what to do with or how to manage properly at the time. When things happened with that publication like missed deadlines or botched projects, or people involved with it disappointed me personally or professionally, I took it to heart. If I’m being really honest, I also over-committed myself and dropped the ball on some of my responsibilities there too, which didn’t make me feel good. Over time I just came to resent it – the amount of time and money it required, and the energy I was spending on it, the hurt feelings it sometimes generated. I basically kept it going until around the time my brother called it quits with Bettawreckonize Media, his record label. In hindsight, I probably should have sold it to the drummer from the Rattlesnakes when he offered me a generous sum of money for it in 2004 or 2005. Buddyhead made the same mistake, and with a lot more money at stake, so I guess I can’t lose sleep over it. [TA]
When you go to do a post, how do you decide what goes up?
There’s not a hard science to what I’m doing at all – I post about what I know and like, and even what I may have read and gotten excited about somewhere else. I got turned on to music in the ‘80s by pop and new wave bands, had hair metal, goth and rap phases during my early teen years, before settling into indie rock, DIY, emo and hardcore communities in the early ‘90s. Southwest Ohio gave me a unique education by providing easy access to Brainiac, Ten O’Clock Scholar, Afghan Whigs and the like, before I headed to Southeast Ohio and got to see bands like Hum, Archers of Loaf, Seam, Party of Helicopters and The Promise Ring for the first time. These days I lean towards post-rock, “grave wave,” black metal, rap, and have more than a few incredibly embarrassing guilty pleasures (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” etc.). At 34, I’m just as into Fleetwood Mac as Fleet Foxes, Psychedelic Furs as Foals, Public Enemy as Clipse, Slayer as Krallice, and Sunny Day Real Estate as Touché Amore. I think that is reflected in what I post.
The bottom line is, if it turns me on, I’ll post about it. If I think it will turn others on, but I’m not necessarily into it, I may post about it too. YouIndie is largely a reflection of my own unique tastes, access to music, and my personal willingness to go seek it out or spend time on it. During my time doing YouIndie I’ve gotten married, my nephew was born, I completed my Master’s degree, and I’ve spent more of my personal time with friends and family who are starting their young families in their homes instead of at clubs, bars or shows. My desire to seek out new things and to stay on the “cutting edge” waxes and wanes with these changes in my obligations and commitments … I’ve also found that the volume and frequency of my content is contingent on whether the Kettering Rec pool is open, so there’s that too. [TA]
While the majority of your content focuses on national-level acts, you continue to wave the banner for Dayton acts. Has this enabled local acts to reach a wider audience?
Over the years YouIndie has covered quite a few Dayton-based acts – Me and Mountains, Kuan, The Sound For Language, 8 Bit Revival, Human Reunion Motel Beds, The Story Changes, Feathered Serpent, Kris Neises, Smug Brothers, etc. – and artists/entrepreneurs with ties to Dayton (Reuben Briggs, Don Pendleton, Ian White, Buddha Den). There are still several other people we’d like to talk to and post about. Although it is flattering that you may think I may be raising the visibility of Dayton on a national or international level, I’m not sure that I can or want to claim that I am “waving the banner” for Dayton. I’m just one dude with my own personal preferences and unique sets of experiences, and there is a lot of great music and art that simply isn’t on my radar. Mostly I’m waving the banner for my friends, and I think the strength with which they stand up to and compare to national acts and artists is incredible. I’d rather see or spin 8 Bit Revival than Of Montreal or the Decemberists any day or the week …
I’m not honestly sure what, if anything, I’ve done to raise awareness of local acts, or if our national or international readers pay attention to our content on local artists. I sure hope they do and I hope that some of the people we’ve written about have found benefits from spending time talking to me. But I’m just not comfortable taking credit for anyone else’s success or hard work in that way. I know how difficult it is to get a few people together who share a vision of the kind of music they want to create, and the blood, sweat and tears that result from hashing that out. The hour or two I spend preparing those features for my site pales in comparison to the overall effort of crafting and delivering the fantastic music or art that these people bring to the table here in Dayton. [TA]
What plans do you have for YouIndie in the immediate future?
I haven’t given YouIndie’s future much thought really. Someday I would love to be able to support my family doing this full-time, but I don’t know how realistic a goal that is. Maybe I should read “The Secret” and develop a more “I Believe I Can Fly” attitude towards it. That will have to go on my bucket list.
For more information on YouIndie visit the blog at youindie.com.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@Daytoncitypaper.com and visit his blog at www.thebuddhaden.net.