Ask Fan Landers: Helpful Advice For Musicians

Email a Friend

For 56 years, people wrote in about love, life and loss to the weekly column by Ann Landers. But there wasn’t anywhere to go if you needed advice of a musical nature. Until now. Music writer Jessica Hopper  pens a weekly advice-to-musicians column at the Village Voice under the name Fan Landers. We got Jessica, er, Fan, on the line to answer a few questions.

First up: A woman from Michigan (written under the pseudonym "A Difficult Release") is about to drop a brand new record and isn't getting the support she hoped from her team.

Then, we hear from a musician in Texas (calling himself "Denim Wonder") who wonders how to release new music while keeping the identity of his past, moderately successful band, a secret.

Plus, this letter mysteriously appeared on our desks from Joe Frazier, the host of a music radio show called Cloudspeck. We put Fan Landers to the task:

Dear Fan Landers,

I need your help. See, I host a radio show -- let’s call it Cloudspeck -- that features lots of different types of music. So people think I must know a ton about music. But the sad truth is I’ve been faking it. Oh, I’ve heard of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and some guy named Beethoven that they made a movie or two about. (Was his first name Bernard? Because the movies all seem to feature a St. Bernard.)

But every day, my staff brings musicians to play their songs on my radio show, which again is called Cloudspeck. And I realize I should be listening to their songs, but I’ve really been getting good at Tetris and it just seems a waste of 3-to-4 minutes if I don’t try to raise my game to the next level. So, on to my problem.

My staff -- which, to be clear, is the Cloudspeck staff on a possibly non-public radio station -- is beginning to suspect that I don’t actually know anything about music. Can you recommend some strategies for dealing with people who actually want to engage me in a conversation about bands I’ve never heard of? Like that one over there, getting ready to play for us in a few minutes?

Thanks so much,

John.  Joe. Joe Frazier. Host of Cloudspeck.

Dear Joe,

It would be wise to peel yourself away from the Tetris for a sec and catch up on what's good, but if you can't manage that, here are two fake-it-til-you-make-it methods that will keep you seeming engaged with cool music. If someone starts talking about a new band, their new band, a hotly debated album just stop them and go "Dude. Grimes. It's all I have been listening to for months. Haven't even made time for anything else." The Grimes-manuever should be good until the end of the year.

Another tactic is to emphatically agree with them, deflecting question with "I know. I know. Just ridic. LOVING it. Have you heard the remixes?" There are remixes of every song that has ever been released, and if they ask where you heard it tell them you googled it on a French blog. You can squeak by without knowledge as long as you have a strong opinion about something.