Remember John Norris, formerly of MTV News? When I was a wee lad, MTV played (oftentimes good) music and had their own half-hour news program co-anchored by Tabitha Soren and Kurt Loder (who now also has his own web thing going on). Norris was one of the later alternate faces of MTV News – along with Chris Connelly and Serena Altschul – and had done some work with other pop-culture television programs. If you were a teen in the mid-90s this is probably old hat, otherwise consider these tidbits your valuable pop-culture history lesson of the day.
I’ve occasionally wondered what these folks have been up to now that it’s not the 90s, as it turns out, John Norris is still plugging away interviewing bands, only now it’s for a site called NOISEVOX.
Billed as an “open music magazine”, Noisemakers on NOISEVOX features live footage and interviews of the bands most likely to be listed on a must-see lineup any given week here in NYC. It’s not my scene, so while I know the names I’m not extensively familiar with the music of most of the acts. However, it’s clear they’re targeting, for lack of a better term, the “hip” niche. Relative veterans Moby and Animal Collective have been featured along with Japandroids and Baltimore-based party-czar Dan Deacon. Episodes are broken down into segments so that you can either watch an entire multi-part show or skip around and just catch an interview or live clip.
Here, in an episode from July 17, Norris begins his profile of Dan Deacon during a tour stop to an empty lot in my Bushwick neighborhood.
Noisemakers may be relatively new – the first episode dates from June 11 – but it seems to have its priorities in order. One aspect of this site that’s really useful, particularly for someone like myself who may not know each artist well, is the window/widget with links to more band/artist information including tour dates, mp3s and Wikipedia pages. In that respect it’s clear that the folks behind this site are genuinely interested in promoting newer artists and their work to a wide audience. The information may be readily available on the web, but it’s centralized on the episodes pages for ease of use.
More well-known, established artists also have a place on NOISEVOX because of what we could call the “Joyce Carol Oates Effect.” At a certain point, a band or artist may have produced a number of albums, making it difficult for a potential listener to decide where to begin listening, particularly in the case of one with a diverse catalog.
In the following interview, which Norris conducted with Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite at the 2009 All Points West festival, both gentlemen agreed that festivals like APW serve a function for veteran groups for a very similar reason. Young people who may know Fleet Foxes or Vampire Weekend may be exposed to Mogwai for the first time and seek out their records (which are great, by the way, so go listen to Mogwai!).
NOISEVOX is able to exploit this simple, seemingly intuitive idea because too many small-time sites out there do it poorly with convoluted layouts or lack of good information. It remains to be seen whether NOISEVOX becomes another Pitchfork or Stereogum, though to be fair, I don’t think it is trying to compete with those. There are no reviews (at least none at the moment) and it appears NOISEVOX has devoted itself to providing a different type of multimedia experience to complement the multitude of blogs and review sites already in existence. Live footage and artist interviews, just like what MTV News did back in the day. John Norris has stuck to his guns and seems to be doing quite alright.
Check it out Noisemakers at NOISEVOX.org.