Greetings fellow users! As some of you are aware, I’ve started a little user review competition in which the winner receives an automatic feature, as well as a “user spotlight” session. It basically consists of an informal chat in which I ask some personal questions as well as some silly ones.
From the review: “Unlike any typical concept album, How To Be Human Being doesn’t stick to a single story or theme. In fact, it does the exact opposite. A song about a mother lamenting her son’s young death and all the memories he could’ve made later in life is followed by a track dedicated to lazy stoners. But this lack of solidarity answers a question very similar to the album’s title: what’s it like to be a human being? It’s funny, sad, sexy, and gleeful. It’s filled with mental illness, social awkwardness, standing in lines, and cookie coasters. It’s all of these things at the same time. This is why How To Be A Human Being might understand life more than most albums in 2016. Life isn’t all pain and suffering, nor is it always a blessing. It’s a mixed bag, and you’re going to have to deal with the good and the bad.”
This week, it was my turn to sit down with the inimitable wtferrothorn, aka Jack.
A true-to-life depiction of ferro
Brostep: Let’s start off with an easier question to warm up. Sowing v. Atomic, no-holds-barred cage fight – who wins?
ferro: Throwing out the hard ones first, are we? I’m probably gonna go with Atomic. Sorry Sowing, but someone who love Carrie & Lowell as much as you probably won’t be throwing any hard punches in the ring.
Harsh. Sufjan Stevens is fairly swole, though – do you think any of his muscle might rub off on Sowing?
I can agree that Sufjan is well built, though I wouldn’t say Carrie and Lowell is his most “masculine” record. But who knows? Crazier thing have happened, and Sufjan might actually give Sowing a bit of an edge.
Nothing like some good ol’ sadness to pump you up. Anyway, what’s your favorite album? It’s tough, I know, since Meghan Trainor’s released two and it’s hard to pick just one…
Quite the coincidence, but Sufjan Stevens’s ‘The Age of Adz’. It’s just a fusion of so many things that I’ve grown to love in music: my appreciation of glitchy and eccentric production techniques (Clarence Clarity’s ‘No Now’ is actually #3 on my GOAT list), the lavish instrumentation and impeccable songwriting that inhabits many a Sufjan record, and the gargantuan scope of it: albums that sound huge score well with me. “Impossible Soul” is probably my favorite song of all time, and it definitely checks all those marks. I didn’t intend to really make this whole Q&A about Stevens, but I guess here we are.
I mean, once you start going down the Sufjan path, it’s tough to leave – he is that good. I notice you’ve got Prince, Janelle Monae, and Neutral Milk Hotel among your 5s as well, and I’m glad you’re keeping it consistent in terms of “huge” albums! What’s your “limit” in terms of hugeness, though? I imagine you’re not quite as fond of mediocre two-hour prog rock epics, even though they might be gigantic too.
Well, if you looked farther into my rating’s you’d notice I have no prog in there, so no comment on that last statement. But I feel that an album or a song gets too huge when it replaces actual captivating textures and songwriting. If someone just threw a gussied-up, bland song at me and expect me to like it just because it’s 8 minutes long and has got some horns and strings thrown in it, they’d be out of luck.
Fair enough. Along the same lines, is there an album or artist that “got you into music” when you were younger? Like a piece of music that changed you from a “casual listener” to a more devoted fan?
I guess my case is a little bit different from most, because I just recently got into music about 2 years ago when I was 14. Aside from the Daft Punk tracks I’d listen to through the animated movie Interstella 5555 on Youtube when I was even younger, I can’t think of any bands that I got into as a little kid. It wasn’t until I saw ANOTHER animated music video on Youtube that I technically really got into listening to stuff other than the radio. It was an animated band, the same sort of concept as Gorillaz, called Studio Killers and they ended up being one of the first bands I listened to a full album from, and also made for my first review on Sputnik! Not to sound too like too much of an ass-kisser, but it was when I joined Sputnik is when my music taste started to develop thanks to the community who provided recommendations, reviews that not only piqued my interest of artists and bands but sparked my interest in becoming a music journalist in the future, and just the passion for music that emanates from the people that post here. But to answer the question, some bands and artists that were the roots of what my taste is right now are Daft Punk, Weezer, Janelle Monae, The White Stripes. These choices really reflect my age, don’t they?
Honestly, I’m still a huge fan of all of those bands, and I’m a few years older. I hear your music taste kind of stops changing once you pass high school because nostalgia starts blinding you – either that or you start getting really into blues-rock like every dad I know.
I really hope that doesn’t happen. Becoming a negative stick in the mud that hates on the music of younger generations just because it sounds different is huge fear of mine. Besides, if great new releases keep coming out year after year like these past two years, I’m certain that my appreciation of current music won’t be fading away anytime soon.
I hope so too, and a lot of people do end up turning into kindly curmudgeons – just look at Jom. I have to ask: what’s the story behind your username? (And how do you pronounce it? Is it WTF-errothorn or WT-ferrothorn?)
First of all, I guess it’d be pronounced “What the Ferrothorn”. But most people just call me “ferro”, which is cool. Now the story: Around the time that I signed up to Sputnik, I was really into Pokemon Showdown; it’s a website where you can design your own Pokemon teams with your ideal stats, pokemon, moves without the hassle of hoping you’d get those specific qualities in the real games. You’d battle with your teams, and there were even user-made teams that’d compete with others teams in tournaments. I remember I joined one and they had their own website. So somewhere out there in the internet, my username is out there on some cheap little website alongside my “teammates”. It was fun, and one of the first internet communities that I felt I was a part of. Anyway, wtferrothorn was my username on there, and it’s basically a mixture of “What the fuck”(can we cuss in these?) and Ferrothorn, a Pokemon that was a major player in a lot of my sets. I don’t use that website anymore, but I guess I haven’t been motivated to ask to have it changed.
Good call – glad you’re sticking with the OG name. What gen is Ferrothorn? I haven’t played any pokemon past the GBA games and everything Sinnoh and beyond is black magic to me.
He’s from the 5th Generation, so you missed him by a bit. I wouldn’t consider him a fan favorite, but his Defense stats and the recovery moves you can get from him make him quite a tank.
Makes sense, I guess. Competitive Pokemon is too much for me – I respect it deeply but I just like blowing things up with Feraligatr. Hypothetical situation: you’re stuck on a desert island, and you can only have one album to listen to. Here’s the catch: it has to be one of your 1s. Which do you pick?
Sure is wonderful that I only have four to choose from. I guess I’d go with Kid Cudi’s ‘Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven’. People, me included, have joked in the thread that it’s the kind of album that’ll be hailed as a misunderstood work of genius and will become a classic in a couple decades. So I guess all that time on that island will give me the chance to develop Stockholm Syndrome and be that person to claim it’s “true genius”.
He’ll be up there with the visionaries for sure. Beatles, Prince, Kid Cudi. Anyway, I/we picked your album as the winner this week because it was (among other things) the best-researched of the bunch submitted. When you write, do you normally pore through interviews and backstories, or do you usually just start putting words on paper until it looks reasonably OK?
I definitely try to at least look into the backstory of the artists to at least get an idea of what their past life and music was like. For example, I did a review for the new Charles Bradley record, which is one of the most underrated albums of this year that more people should definitely check out, and the story behind him is amazing. It gave me an angle to tackle the album from in my review. But this is the first time I’ve looked into specific interviews. Now that I have, it’ll probably be a strategy I’ll be implementing in future reviews. It really helps you get an idea of what the artist was going for.
Makes sense – the kind of research you can do is incredible with the help of the internet, and might as well take advantage of it, you know?
For sure. The internet has drastically changed the worlds of music and music journalism, and it’s interesting being a product of this new landscape.
If you had the power to promote one user to contrib or one contrib to staff (besides yourself), who would you pick and why?
Well there goes my first choice. I’m kidding. Off the top of my head, I’d probably go with Rowan. Not only is he a real nice user whose generally quite easy to get along with, but he’s a genuinely great writer. Also, if you don’t mind if I pick two, (ed. note: “the artist formerly known as”) CL0VER would make for a stellar contributor, though this may come from a little bias as he’s one of the coolest users I’ve conversed with on this site. Also, he’s got a knack for finding incredibly obscure records that have been almost lost in time and giving them exposure with very well written reviews. Like that Thomas Feiner & The Anywhen record that I’ve been meaning to get to. Having a Contributor that could still cover recent releases, but also dig some albums out of the depths of the internet and give them some attention would be really cool.
Good calls for sure. Time for the best part of the weekly interview: open up your iTunes or Foobar2000 and shuffle that bad boy. Give me the first three songs that come up. Go.
Here we go:
- Injury Reserve –”Ttktv”
- Vundabar – “Desert Diddy”
- Weezer- “Da Vinci”
Well, I’ve heard two of those before. I guess that’s the consequence of having dozens of albums saved to your Spotify library that you SWEAR you’re going to hear, but never do. My checklist of albums from 2016 that I need to check out is at about 100 right now, so that leaves a lot of untouched material on there. Then there’s the classic albums I’ve been meaning to listen to in this 6 month marathon of classics that was supposed to be done in only one month.
I feel that – occasionally I’ll shuffle my iTunes and not recognize anything that pops up since I downloaded way too much mediocre free music from Bandcamp a few years ago and have been too lazy to delete it all. Now tell me something nobody on Sput knows. What’s your secret?
Ooh, getting to the juicy stuff now. I’m kind of an open book, so this is a bit of a tough one. I guess I’ll go with the fact that I’m insanely passionate about dancing when given the chance to. This weekend my mom was going to a friend’s wedding, and she chose me as her plus one because I was such a hit at the other family weddings I’ve been to. The dancefloor was considerably emptier than the other weddings, but I did get quite a few glowing compliments from other guests. My keenness for groove-based music might be a good reason for my knack for moving to a beat, but the months of dance lessons that I took could also be a factor.
Heck yeah! That’s rad – I wish I could dance but I’ve got pretty severe white-boy syndrome. My friends who can’t dance all make fun of me for not being able to dance.
Well that’s very uncool of them. I’m guess I’m lucky that the people around me support what I do and who I am. Most of the time, I move like nobody’s watching, so if somebody were to throw a couple verbal stones, I’d just keep moving. All that matters is that a good time is being had by everybody else.
For sure. Last question – is Potsy immortal? Will he ever die?
If he does ever die, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d put up one hell of a fight. If he’s willing to go though pages and pages of album threads to prove that the new Grimes album is objectively garbage, I’m pretty sure he’s not the kind of person to give up easily.
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