Wednesday, February 15, 2012

5 Minutes with Rachel Felder

Rachel Felder is a New York based writer and expert on style, trends, and travel. Her work has appeared in publications including People, Rolling Stone, The Financial Times, Travel and Leisure, New York and many more. She is author of Manic Pop Thrill, a book examining the connection between music and style, and co-author with Coach’s Reed Krakoff of the book Fighter: The Fighters of the UFC. She is currently working on a novel about her days working and playing in the music industry.

Q1. What was the first record that you owned that really had a life changing effect on you?

RF: The first record that deeply changed things for me was the first Clash album, which is still my favourite record ever. (I actually wrote my college thesis on that record, years later.) That album -- the lyrics, the swagger, that glorious sound -- just became an obsession. And it pointed me towards so many great bands from the same era (like the Ramones, Pistols, and the Jam) that have been my soundtrack ever since.

The Clash - London's Burning (live) 1978.

Q2. How did you become involved in the music industry?

I went to university in New York City and basically cared about three things: fashion, music, and writing. So my college years were essentially spent living at CBGB's, looking for cool clothes, and writing for anyone who'd publish me. By the time I graduated, my work had appeared in Rolling Stone and Spin, so I skipped journalism school and worked full time as a music journalist right away, eventually managing a few bands at the same time. After a few years, I started writing a weekly column for HITS Magazine -- the bible of the music industry at the time, and still widely read. That lead to job offers from record labels, and I ultimately took a job at Columbia Records doing a&r: finding new bands, signing them to the label, and overseeing the making of their records.

Manic Pop Thrill.

Q3. Your book 'Manic Pop Thrill' documents the phenomenon of Alternative Music and the rise of Grunge. Do you think we will see guitar based musical movements of this type in the future?

RF: The whole experience of consuming music is so different now: file sharing and walking around with headphones on has made following bands a more internalized experience. But there are still great guitar-fueled artists out there, and ultimately there's nothing more powerful that a memorable song sung passionately with the intensity of loud guitars in the background.

Rachel Felder and Alan McGee - A Discussion on the Music Industry.

Q4. What part did you play in the development of the documentary 'Upside Down-The Creation Records Story' ?

RF: I've stayed close friends with Alan McGee, the brilliant founder of Creation Records, since we first met when I interviewed him for a story in the late 1980's, so I was aware of the film from its inception. After the director filmed an interview with me, we remained in touch and I helped wherever I could, particularly in America. It really is a wonderful documentary, capturing the spirit of the label, the bands, and the era -- in other words, many years of my misspent youth! -- perfectly.

Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine.

Q5. After a long career in the music industry you decided to leave. What prompted this and can you ever really leave it behind?

RF: I worked at Columbia Records for 8 years -- an eternity in record company years! -- and always felt that once that stint was over, it would be time to move on. And, of course, I was pregnant when I left, making my job -- staying out late hanging out with rock bands -- not exactly ideal. I'm glad not to be in that business anymore, which has been truncated thanks to downloads, plus I love what I do now….but you can't take the music lover out of a true fan. To be honest, it's much more fun to go to gigs now, simply as a fervent fan.

Follow Rachel Felder on Twitter: @rachelfelder

1 comment:

  1. NewsFlash: Alan McGee has since announced he wants to restart Creation Records.

    First off, I liked this interview, the documentary, and Alan McGee. I also like Rachel Felder's taste. BUT...

    It's my pet peeve when people who left the music business act smug about having left the music business. It's still a thrill to find and break new bands. Over the last decade, many people left the music business due to burnout, corporate restructurings, etc. They miss the music business.