How To Write up a Story When the Artist is Dull

Some musicians are fascinating to the point of cloud nine ecstasy. That’s why ordinary folk are so envious of us. My friends are always banging-on about how lucky I am to be meeting so many talented ‘stars.’

Some musicians are fascinating to the point of cloud nine ecstasy
Some musicians are fascinating to the point of cloud nine ecstasy

But, although many artists are intriguing, exciting and sexy let’s not forget that they’re only human  — and it’s fair to point out that some performers are positively uninspiring ( to the point of Zzzz!)

Let’s face facts … Some musicians are just plain unexceptional.

So how do you write-up a story when the musician is as dull as Glastonbury ditchwater?

We all have an obsessive interest in other people. That is a fact. That’s why the classic image of a person’s face remains the single most popular image there is.

Eye tracking computers have shown that when a person meets a stranger, they first look at the face

Once they have [successfully] identified the face they tend to focus on the eyes. Scientists call this behavior “fixation.”

Why do we fixate on faces and eyes, do you think? Well, maybe it’s because we want to identify with the stranger — it’s as if we want to establish common ground or share ideas or experiences …

In this way we are able to quickly establish whether the stranger is going to be a friend to us…

Fighters, such as boxers, will tell you that the eyes are a great give away because they indicate the next move. So, perhaps, when we focus on a stranger’s eyes, we are unconsciously determining if that person is going to attack.

“His face was an index to his mind” Voltaires description of “Candide” (1759)
“His face was an index to his mind” Voltaires description of “Candide” (1759)

When you meet a (seemingly) colourless individual — it’s your job to do that fixating thing on behalf of your readers. Because they aren’t there to do it themselves. (I realize that you may be conducting a phone interview, but these tips still apply.)

It’s your job to reveal the face. To expose the person hidden behind the eyes

You are the go-between — the representative of the reader — it’s your job to “ Look into the stranger’s soul … ”

“Eyes are full of language” Anne Sexton (1964 )
“Eyes are full of language” Anne Sexton (1964 )

Here are some tips that may help:

* What common ground do you and your readers share with the artist? It’s a safe bet that we all like the same kind of music, so probe that area first. Ask the talent about their influences and their inspirations. Ask them about what kind of music fires them up / relaxes them / makes them dance / makes them cry.

* How else can we identify with the performer? Well, we have common emotions, troubles, problems and love affairs. What it is pleasing / vexing them at the moment? Who or what do they love? Who or what is important to them? How do they feel? And why do they feel this way?

* Now we can ask them about what they are doing i.e. recording new songs, going on tour, making a video etc. This is what they came to talk about. And some temperamental or shy individuals might want to rush to this part of the meeting. But we want our readers to get to know them first — to become fixated — before we get down to business. Once you start discussing new projects, though, don’t just ask them what they are doing — ask them why they are doing it too!

* Then ask them how this new work / project compares with their previous material. Why do they think it is better/worse, same or different. Get them to explain and describe their point of view and their attitude to their own work

Any other tips you’d like to share? We would love to hear your thoughts on twitter @rockpencon

Words & Images @neilmach 2016 ©
Neil Mach is editor of RAW RAMP MAGAZINE
Member of the European News Agency, Music Industry Forum, Music Industry Network and regular blogger and contributor to several sites

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