The Eyes Behind: YVYNYL Playlist & Interview
New music doesn't come miraculously out of the woodwork or suddenly appear on our iPods. It takes a careful ear, and someone willing to share, for digital word of mouth to spread beyond the reaches of our playlists. For music bloggers this expansive task isn't at all daunting, they relish and seek out new music like a kid savors candy.
Hunting for that next "diamond in the rough," seasoned bloggers like Mark Schoenveld, who runs the ever-popular music blog yvynyl, spend hours a day listening to new music. Whether he's combing through email submissions or Soundcloud profiles, Schoenveld goes down all alleys possible to find his next favorite act.
Taking a moment from his neverending search, Schoenveld sat down with us to talk about the blog's beginnings, what it was like getting behind the camera to direct a War On Drugs video, and how he's constantly inspired by the artists he finds. Notably the first music blog on Tumblr (and second oldest handle on the site save for Tumblr's creator), Schoenveld's yvynyl has become the place to turn when there's a need to hear what's just around the corner.
Why did you start yvynyl?
I started it when I found Tumblr and thought it was a really cool platform for sharing music I liked online or otherwise. I've always been a fan of sharing the lesser-known talents in the world, and human stories about how music makes the world go ‘round.
What was the inspiration and story behind the name
I was just messing around with a URL-buying site and thought it should be called something like "why vinyl?" Kinda silly, but it was easy to remember and locked in all the names on every network.
What's it like meeting bands that you featured on the blog before they made it big?
Well, at that point now one knows who's going to ‘make it', but one way or another, I like to trust everyone with respect. Anyone could be famous one day. But then again, most people I engage with are people who are just as nerdy about this shit as I am, so we've just immediately become friends.
YVYNYL has done showcases at SXSW and CMJ- what's been your most memorable showcase?Any stories you'd like to share?
Personally, one of the best shows I ever saw at SXSW was Jeff the Brotherhood on a cold day in a parking lot behind a Vietnamese restaurant when no one was there. Twin Sister played that show, too, and it was just one of those "no one's here, but this music is so fucking mind blowing" moments.
You've also made music videos for artists like War On Drugs- how did you make that jump from running a blog to getting behind the camera?
I actually started doing videos first. yvynyl (before it was yvynyl) was actually just a video experiment. I wanted to take a video recording of every single show I saw in 2007. And I did. And they're all still online here: http://yvynyl.blogspot.com
What was the inspiration behind "Letters to yvynyl"? Could you tell us about the first letter you've ever received? The very first letter was actually sent to me on paper. I still haven't published it, but I want to. It was like 12 pages long. Hand written. It was amazing and I just couldn't believe that someone would spend such care in sharing their deep feelings about music straight to me. That kind of energy inspired me.
Everyone remembers finding those hidden gems when it comes to seeking out new music- who've been some of your favorites you've posted on the blog?
I've posted some artist's EP or even just their single. They posted it online because, well, they could. And then they disappear without a trace. Never to be heard of again. Those are the kinds of things I treasure. There's one such artist that knows I've been waiting to hear from them after I've posted about them and they just taunt me! They'll have their friends tweet at me, but have never revealed their names.
Have you had an specific "pinch me" moments since creating the site?
Meeting Kim Gordon. Need I say more?
You've mentioned on your site that self-publishing is important-how has that affected how you run the site? Can you talk about what that means for you?
It's a complicated thought process for a lot of us bloggers. There are days when we think "is there any reason for doing this at all? Does anyone care?" But then there are those flashes of brilliance - from artists, from my audience, from the universe - that make it all worth doing.
Finding new music used to be record store scouring and word of mouth- what's your tactic for finding new bands today? Is it different than when you first started the site?
These days I just scour my email inbox, sadly. I wish there was more serendipity in the universe. That's always what I'm looking for first and foremost. It's a drug. I try my best to look through the networks of friends I've got around the world who will hand me a hot new track here and there, but a lot of the best new stuff comes from bands themselves. "Oh, man you should hear my friend's new project…"
Can you remember the first mixtape you made for yvynyl? Do you ever go back and listen to these early mixes?
I sure do. I'm actually listening to one right this minute as I write these answers. They bring back some amazing memories and ‘moments in time' for me. I've taken a break from doing them for a while, but I'll be bringing them back with a vengeance very soon. Stay tuned!
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