Eric Weiner spoke with Jay Goodman about Banoffee pie, demolishing typical blog platforms, redefining what a music festival could be and finding a constructive route through mental illness.
As a performing and touring artist, the monotony of travel, soundcheck, performance and hotel becomes a blur. While each show is special, it can be difficult to separate one from the other.
This is the first time I have interviewed someone in ages and probably the first time the subject has related to my own work. Thanks for granting me that pleasure, Jay! You have been such a dear friend and supporter for years now. What were your impressions of The Wild Honey Pie and how have they shifted over the years?
Thanks, Eric, for coming to me for this conversation. It really means a lot that you value my thoughts and experiences this much. I have known The Wild Honey Pie since it was just you, Eric, and one camera. It has been amazing to watch it grow over the years. In the beginning, the focus was more about creating music and video content and sharing that with the world through a more traditional blog platform. While TWHP is still a musical tastemaker, the focus on experiential events has really changed the dynamic. Events like Welcome Campers create such an amazing experience for the attendees and it quickly became my most anticipated event of the year. There really is no other festival or event that is as powerful and immersive as what TWHP are accomplishing these days.
You are an incredibly talented musician and have played with and in some of my favorite bands. As a musician, how do you see the live side of the industry evolving with the rise of experiences such as those that were produced at The Wild Honey Pie?
As a performing and touring artist, the monotony of travel, soundcheck, performance and hotel becomes a blur. While each show is special, it can be difficult to separate one from the other when looking back on tours. Experiences like the dinner parties and Welcome Campers are a (literal) breath of fresh air to the musicians. The events are so unique and offer a very comfortable platform for the artists to engage with the audience in a very intimate and safe way.
Some of the best relationships artists make with their fans are after the show at the merch booth where they can casually chat. TWHP events put the artist face to face with their audience in a very social situation that allows the artist to connect with the audience on that “merch booth” level throughout the night.
You have been to all but one Welcome Campers. That is remarkable! How have you seen it change over the years and what do you appreciate most about the festival?
Welcome Campers has grown in a very impressive way over the years. The organization, planning, and execution have clearly improved commensurate with the experience TWHP has gained. Not to say it wasn’t amazing in those first few years, but now it is totally next level. I’m completely blown away by how diverse the attendees are. Some travel hundreds of miles. Others have no previous experience with TWHP and are new, organic attendees. Welcome Campers is an amazing opportunity to meet and network with like-minded music fans from all over.
Taking the time to add artists to my list gives me a sense of ownership in my discovery process. I am more likely to share that discovery than if it was communicated to me from a tastemaker.
I feel that major festivals have done a mediocre job differentiating themselves. You see these lineups and they all have the same headliners with little else setting them apart. Not to mention they are mostly owned by the same companies. How have music festivals treated you as a musician? What do you see as being the future of the music festival?
As a musician, the festival experience is a bit more comfortable than for the average attendee, but not quite VIP status. Artists have their own little village in the backstage area and are treated well (at least with the major festivals) but it can be frustrating when golf carts pick up super drunk VIPs before the artists. Some of the largest festivals (I won’t name names) are a total bummer, and unless you are a top-billed headliner, you’re treated like a commodity that is carted in and out with no personal care. I would love to see the future of music festivals offer more intimate and unique experiences. It is great to perform for a sea of people, but I find more value in connecting with the audience.
Music discovery has changed so much in the past ten years. Where do you discover your music today compared to a decade ago? Do you feel that your discovery methods have affected your relationship to the new music you listen to?
I am a big fan of Spotify’s Discover Weekly. I’ll put that on when I’m doing work to find new music. Other than that, word-of-mouth is my tried and true method. I have a note on my iPhone titled “new music to check out”, and I make it a point to write down the artists people talk about that I haven’t yet heard of. A decade ago, I relied a lot on blogs and tastemakers to tell me what to check out. Now I find there is difference between what is “cool” and “hip” and what is really good music. I feel that by taking the time to add artists to my list gives me a sense of ownership in my discovery process and I am more likely to share that discovery than if it was communicated to me from a tastemaker.
Like a lot of musicians I know, you not only play but also teach music. What do you find most rewarding about that experience? Why do you think it is important for the arts to play a role in the lives of the people you interact with?
Teaching music is one of the most rewarding vocations I have experienced. It doesn’t work for every student, but, when you see the flame ignite in their eyes, it is priceless. All of a sudden, the lesson clicks with the student and they “get it”. Sharing my love of music with as many people as possible is my life goal. While I can do that as a performing artist on stage or through recording, nothing is more powerful and intimate than sparking a student’s life-long passion of music and arts through education.
The Wild Honey Pie has been attempting to bring the worlds of food and music together with our dinner party concerts. What would your ultimate pairing of artist and restaurant be? What would be on the menu and what would their final song of the set be?
I would love to hear Beck at my favorite local restaurant, Concord Hill. Unfortunately the restaurant would probably only be big enough for the band and a handful of tables, but a man can dream. For this pairing, I would want Beck to only perform songs off his sleepy and subdued records Sea Change and Morning Phase. The menu would have a wide selection of toasts (including Concord’s staple Burata), great veggie plates such as their crispy brussels and roasted carrots with cumin yogurt. For entrees I would go with their steak frites, big warm salad, salmon, and the classic double cheeseburger (with sweet potato fries). Wine pairing would be the Ameztoi Rubentis Rose. I might have a glass or three of ginger ale. For dessert, the delectable cheerio crispy treat and banoffee pie. Beck would close the night out with track two of Morning Phase, called “Morning.”
We have some mutual friends who are enthusiastic about sound baths and spreading positive energy with their music in ways that are in no way traditional. Have you ever been to a sound bath? What do you think of meditation?
I have not been to a sound bath yet, but I do plan on it in the near future. I’m all for it. Any way that people can connect with music and sound in a positive way is worthwhile. If people can somehow improve their lives with that experience, that’s even better. I personally don’t practice meditation, but if it helps people in any way, then I totally support it.
Artists are more prone to confronting philosophical questions and the answers aren’t always nice. Sometimes we are forced to confront the larger truths as part of the creative process.
I have had some pretty scary experiences involving mental health and know it is such an important issue in the artist community. Why do you think so many artists struggle with their mental health? What do you do to manage yours?
I have found that mental health issues and the arts go hand in hand in many cases. I certainly struggle with depression and there is no one answer to solve it. Honestly, I don’t think there is a solution, but rather a toolkit of coping skills we can develop over time. It’s hard to give a concrete answer as to why many artists struggle with mental health. I think it might have something to do with the way artists connect with and experience reality. Artists are more prone to confronting philosophical questions and the answers aren’t always nice. Sometimes artists are forced to confront the larger truths as part of the creative process. In a way, artists are a conduit for the unknown; we’re trying to convey threads of universal experience and emotion through art. We feel all the feelings and try to distill them down to a digestible pill for the average person to swallow and feel like they’re not alone.
A non-creative can be more content in their day-to-day without concerning themselves with the bigger picture. To manage my mental health, I’ve gone to therapy, taken medication and tried most of the conventional methods out there. For me, the most effective tools are communication, creativity, and being social with people I love. Sometimes, I just have to ride the wave of darkness and know that I am trying to be a good person and that these feelings will pass. Also, doggos and puppers are amazing at lifting my mood.
Can you take a picture of your favorite piece of art in your apartment and explain why it is so important to you?
One of my favorite pieces of art is this framed Bob Dylan concert poster. Look, I like Bob Dylan plenty. but I wouldn’t call him one of my top ten artists. The reason I love this piece of art so much is not about what’s on the front, but what is on the back. I was given this as a gift by a group of my students after directing them in a performance of folk music. On the back, they all wrote the sweetest little notes thanking me for being their teacher. When times get dark, I can read those notes and know that I really have done some good. I’m still in touch with some of those students and it is really wonderful to see them bloom into successful and happy adults.
Curated by: Eric Weiner
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: May 23, 2018
Total questions: 10
Word count: 1763
Reading time: Six minutes
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About the curator
Eric Weiner is the founder of music discovery company The Wild Honey Pie. It is their mission to introduce people to their next favorite bands through our playlists, events and original videos. Eric lives in Greenpoint with his dog Buzz and lives for moments where music can enrich the lives of people around him as well as people he has never met.
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