Whatever your stance on Arizona's music scene, you probably have an opinion or two on the matter. Some of the more opinionated people happen to be local musicians.
Anamieke Quinn is one such person who has surveyed the Valley's landscape only to find it leaves much to be desired.
Quinn is an active participant in the music community, both as a performer and promoter. She pulled double duty last night at Joe's Grotto where KWSS radio man Kevin Gassman held a live broadcast featuring acoustic performances. Quinn was the showcased acoustic performer during the 5 o'clock hour and then made her rounds again at 11 p.m. with her band, Treasurefruit.
Through several initiatives, Quinn is doing her part to make sure Arizona is more than just a proving ground. Follow the jump to find out about her promotional project, Sidepony Music and her Backyard Music Revolution.
Up On the Sun: You talk about promoting music that is "delivered with conviction and truth; no trendy BS." Can you expand on Sidepony Music a little more.
Anamieke Quinn: Sidepony Music is an entity dedicated to the promotion of musical artists who are bearing their souls on stage. Like the average modern music listener, we are also highly eclectic and have found that the only underlying elements common to all the acts we highlight is authenticity and integrity. There are a lot of bands out there that chime in on a current popular style but don't have the heart to prove they mean it.
How did this project come about?
Well I'm not only a performer in multiple genres, but I'm also a bit of a freelance music industry consultant that does PR and artist development for others, including indie label Fervor Records. I found myself regularly promoting acoustic singer/songwriters, indie rock bands, ska/punk/reggae shows, electro dance pop, hip hop acts and more. Plus, I often get a sneak peek at emerging international acts before they launch and have made a point to give people a "heads up" about anything I find that is tasty. I figured that I'm not the only one with such a variety of genres in my radar, and if I could find the common thread such as artistic integrity, I could shout it from a single mountaintop and reach other active listeners.
And what is the Backyard Music Revolution?
This is my localism initiative. So many talented bands run off to a major music hub to "make it," only to get lost in the sea of hopefuls. I am the first one to agree that there are many other cities in the US that have a warmer embrace for artists, but at the end of the day it's important to be where you are and begin your revolution on the home-front. If you strike a chord with audiences, you'll get to where you want to go. But don't act like your neighborhood is just a stepping stone to something better, that's a great way to alienate the very fans who will carry you there.
You make some pretty heady statements about the local music scene. Where does that stem from?
Yes that's true. There are few things going on. First of all, it's very cliquish. Any newcomer to the scene can quickly identify who the major players are and attempt to break in, but unless you are a unicorn, it's going to be damn near impossible to get an opening spot on a bill or what have you. That's to be expected anywhere, but it usually has more to do with quality control than just social alliances. Second of all, "this town is too full of cheerleaders when what they really need is a coach," a quote by DJ Shane Kennedy that couldn't be more true. Enough with the praise for someone that simply had the balls to get on stage. Let's applaud those who have honed their craft.
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You say too much crap has poisoned the perception of Arizona's music scene. What kind of crap is that and what do you hope to do to change that?
Absolutely. Phoenix is a resort town and a sports haven. So the majority of "live music" that the public sees are smooth jazz or cheesy classic rock cover bands. Plenty of music-lovers think that's all there is and never venture beyond that to see what's in the small clubs. And if/when they do, they may very well get inundated with high-intensity metal or punk, which are the other two genres alive and well in Phoenix. Hey, I like metal and punk just like the next guy, but there has to be a middle ground.
I'm on a mission to make it known that [on] any night of the week, people can catch outstanding local bands that are original, listenable, melodic, catchy, not too pop, not too experimental, groovy and fully inspired by the same classic rock everyone else keeps rehashing. Plus even at the cool indie local level, there are a bunch [of] amateurs who probably aren't ready to rock it just yet. I want the public to demand more from our art community, raise the standards and support the scene as it blossoms. Speaking of which, I'm really getting tired of this scene resting on its early '90s Gin Blossoms laurels. Great band, but hello, it's 2011 and time for a new identity.