We spoke with Meredith Schneider about the imaginary properties of time, attending funerals rather than weddings, realizing the value of making connections and going through a turbulent change in her life and career.
There is nothing like a tight-knit community like the music industry to restore your faith in humanity.
We gave Meredith an alphabetical list of objects, concepts and ideas and asked her what came to mind when she considered each one.
I try to stay away from it, using essential oils and holistic care as best I can. But I can get some massive headaches!
Something future me will have and deck out with plants, lanterns and probably a hammock.
The name of my first boyfriend at age 23, minus the “Y.”
The giant, pink eraser my former roommate have me that said “For Really BIG Mistakes” as an apology.
Something I’d love to play.
What I call people sometimes. Also, my birthstone is a diamond if anyone wants to send me any gifts.
My friend’s brother’s sad-looking dog.
Lemon water, essential oils and yoga. Call me a hippie.
Less in Colorado.
Universal healing and manifestation stone.
The jute I used to assemble my cat a teepee this weekend. True story.
The type of cabin that is on my New Year 2017 Resolution List.
The machine you use to fax all of your information to the state of Kansas when you have tax paperwork. The same machine whose faxes don’t go through. Ever.
A book I didn’t pay attention to in school if it was required reading. And the type of horse you want to pet and own, but not ride.
I read the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” somewhere in the news today. It kind of reminded me of how we’re in a similar industry, staying afloat through personal connections, even if they seem kind of facile sometimes and these people would never invite you over for dinner or help you move on the weekend or whatever. What do you think about the value of making connections?
Having just been through the thick of leaving a position in the industry and creating my own music publication from the ground up, I cannot tell you how much I have stressed the importance of my PR contacts from my previous job. I’m lucky, I actually made a ton of “virtual” friends by having actual conversations with the people who submitted music to me previously, so I feel that I have super-strong bonds with publicists across the U.S. But I also never looked at those bonds as friendships, honestly, until I was between the two positions and people were continuing to email and Facebook message me to check in and help me find other writing opportunities within music.
There was a moment right after I left my last job that I broke down crying tears of confusion and joy, because my now-friend called me to tell me what an impact my writing had been making in his music community and with the bands and publicists he knew. Before I launched my new site, I was nervous and it was like people — not just a handful, but a substantial amount of people — were coming out of the woodwork to prove that the time and thought we had put into our communication with each other wasn’t for nothing. They were like a little comforting blanket and then a group of encouraging friends that catapulted me into my new endeavor so quickly.
I cannot stress the value of these connections enough. I know that the people I speak to regularly are aware that I didn’t make the connections for business. We have the same interests and it’s easy to develop a rapport after a few emails here and there. And those same people are pitching me at my new site. And it’s exhilarating. I will say, there is nothing like a tight-knit community like the music industry to restore your faith in humanity. But my dad has been telling us “It’s who you know” our entire lives, and he’s not entirely wrong.
I think the world has never needed less content — hey, maybe mine included! — but I really like your new online publication Imperfect Fifth. It feels pure and good. Can you tell me about how you transitioned from working at a larger company to setting out on your own? Was it liberating or kind of nerve-wracking?
Ultimately, I believe it was creative differences and the direction my previous publication was headed in that led me elsewhere. To be frank, I was let go pretty suddenly. The good news is, I had had the idea for Imperfect Fifth years ago and had already come up with color scheme, design, and what I wanted to write about. So, it was kind of a baptism-by-fire moment where I messaged a couple of key players I know in music to ask them if they thought there was a space for my publication in the industry, got a couple positive responses and ran with it. The funny thing is, people had been asking me all along why I didn’t just run my own thing. I enjoyed the fanbase where I was at and the platform I had and was afraid to let go of it. But at some point, creatively, it was going to happen. So, I’d say it was 90% liberating and 10% nerveracking. But, I set a hard launch date for the new publication on my parents’ anniversary, and didn’t have time to second-guess it after that.
I have found that having a mindset that avoids time as much as possible has really allowed me to flourish creatively because I don’t feel stuck to a deadline or panicked to be better than someone else.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had existential chats with people about time, other dimensions, spirit animals, all that stuff. Haven’t we all? I can completely agree with that sentiment. Time was constructed by humans. Whether you choose to believe in evolution or the teachings of the Bible or a combination of both, seconds and minutes and hours were created by us.
I try to avoid the concept of time. It stresses me out too much. It’s a head game, and when you’re busy and having fun, it goes by so, so fast. And if you’re bored or unhappy, it trudges along. But the fact of the matter is, it never changes. It’s just our reaction to it that does. I have found that having a mindset that avoids time as much as possible has really allowed me to flourish creatively, because I don’t feel stuck to a deadline or panicked to be better than someone else or something else. I’m trying to find and encourage an environment and support system where people feel safe and less stressed.
Can you take a high-quality image, shoot a silent video or simply describe the natural scenery around your home? How do you relate to the animal or plant life in close proximity to you?
Although I am a very visual person and had some plans for this response, I sat on it for days because the weather around here has been ludicrous and my neighborhood doesn’t feel natural. While areas of my neighborhood feel like you’re lost in the woods — old stone and brick homes with vines growing up them, half hidden by greenery and enclosed in some of the biggest trees you’ve ever seen — there are some incredibly well-manicured mansions, dilapidated apartment buildings, abandoned warehouses, and many, many businesses within blocks.
I live on one of the more well-known streets in Kansas City, located in midtown just outside of the popular drinking district Westport. My front windows face the main drag of West 39th St. and look down into the windows of two bars, a Mediterranean restaurant, a gym, a tattoo parlor and a Millie’s Boots that had been a smoke shop prior. The side of my apartment faces the roof of the vintage dress shop next door and the back side has a pretty clear view of the downtown skyline in the winter when the leaves fall from the trees, clear over the houses and older apartments that surround me. There is a parking lot behind my building, and we share it with the shop next door and the building on the corner. So everything in my immediate vicinity is landlocked by concrete, while a mere block to the north is a lush, green park with tennis courts, a sand volleyball setup, trees that people often slackline between, swings, a new children’s park, and walking paths that have so much overgrowth you feel like you’re lost in Narnia.
I relate to this setup — this struggle between nature and nurture, conflicting ideologies — because I have a yearning to be around cityscapes and nature at any given moment. Having lived in New York, I realize how much I love the fast pace and hard attitude of the city. But I also long for hiking trips in the mountains and warm, salty beach air.
My neighborhood feels like a greener Brooklyn or a neighborhood a little further out in Chicago. It’s relatively clean, well taken care of and just moments from some of the newest architecture in the city at KU Med Center. It’s got a little bit of everything — the bar fights, the reading in the park, the morning runs (Haha, yeah right!), the wonderful cuisine, the chain restaurants and crystal stores and wedding venues, and it’s in a city whose music and art communities seem to be growing tenfold every year.
Moving on from the influence your location has on you, please tell me about the three most subconsciously influential members of your family. In other words, from whom did you inherit your daily, automatic behaviors or tics? Who do you walk, speak or react like?
I know for sure that my mother is one of the biggest influences in my life in every way. I didn’t notice it so much until 2012, when I moved back to Kansas City from New York and started working more with her at our part-time jobs at the arena in Kansas City. Then it became super noticeable. We use a lot of the same phrases — people think it’s so funny when either of us say “Woof!”, like “Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof!” from the film Home Alone. One of our coworkers has been calling me “Lil’ Liz” since I started working there, since my mother’s name is Elizabeth. Plus, we have very similar taste in music. She’s pretty hip and far out, so I end up going to shows with her and all that jazz.
My twin sister, too. I feel like this one is obvious. But we have very similar interests — film and music, largely — and get along with the same types of people. We are both creatives and entrepreneurs, as well as writers, photographers, digital media mavens, hair and makeup artists, event planners, DIY-ers, etc. Who knows if it’s more nature or nurture? What I do know is that we’re both pretty badass.
I want to say my father, but in all likelihood it’s probably my aunt Coleen, who isn’t even blood-related to me. She is my dad’s brother’s wife and my godmother. We went to meditation together for a stretch of time last year, and have been to several meditation/hippie stores since together. She and my uncle are the only two adults I remember drinking coffee as a kid, and I love coffee now even though my parents don’t. She’s a very crafty woman — like my mother lady — and is trying to be more spiritual and confident in herself, which I have been working on as well. We both love our cats and bond over crystals and coffee tables. She’s a good time.
Life begins and life ends, and the impact you make on the people around you can be so intense for them in your passing. You kind of have to revel in that.
Really quickly, can you grab the nearest book in your proximity and crack it open? What’s the very first phrase you see? Can you map it onto your own psychology or experience in any way?
The nearest book to me is Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Ross on my desk, about 3.5 ft. away from where I am on the couch. “The new songs found Kurt plumbing the emotional depths of his own life for material, and writing about the characters around him,” happens to be the first sentence I read when I open the book to a random page.
I guess I am plumbing the emotional depths of my life for new writing material in the lyrics I write that might never be put to music, in the songs and talented musicians I write about, in the memoirs I am slowly curating, in the screenplay contest I need to get my ass in gear about. The characters around me — and the characters that bring themselves into my life — are some of the most hilarious and entertaining people. They inspire the hell out of me.
Finally, can you describe your view of death and dying? I don’t know if you’ve dealt with severe loss in your own life, but if so, how did you process it? Did you kind of have to alter your life into something new?
It’s difficult to admit every single time, but I have gone to a lot of funerals in my life. I actually wondered when I was young why my friends went to weddings and I went to funerals, something I don’t really talk about. It took until I was probably 24 to realize that it was because I was blessed enough to have so many people from so many walks of life in my life from such a young age. I guess I had popular parents. And funerals are sad, but they’re celebrations as well. And it’s fine to laugh and to cry and to feel.
Every time death happens super close to me, I process it differently. There is always a length of silence paired with a length of either hysterical laughter or crying. They could be transposed and happen for different lengths of time, but always paired. Most of the time, I cry. But there has been laughter because, fortunately or not, I get through devastation with a sense of humor at some of the most inappropriate times. It never quite alters my life enough at this point to change the course of it or anything. Anymore, I sometimes just wonder, “How many times can I re-learn that anything could happen and I could die tomorrow?” It causes more anxiety than anything else!
It’s good to be reminded and to also realize it’s not about you and you don’t always have to internalize it as such. Life begins and life ends, and the impact you make on the people around you can be so intense for them in your passing. You just kind of have to revel in that.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: November 17, 2017
Total questions: 26 + 7
Word count: 2558
Reading time: Ten minutes
apartment, aspirin, automatic, balcony, Bible, Bill Murray, blog, Brooklyn, building, Chicago, coffee, collision, community, death, depth, destiny, Dhani Harrison, dilapidation, error, evolution, faith, fiddle, gem, hallway, Home Alone, horse, humanity, impact, Imperfect Fifth, Impose, internet, Kansas City, Kurt Cobain, Led Zeppelin, life, Mario Kart, meditation, Meredith Schneider, Missouri, New York, peculiar, publication, rapport, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, The Shining, treehouse, undertaker, war, web, Xerox, zombie
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
Related conversations W