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I've never met the Indie Peddler before, but I've been asked numerous times to find out who the hell she is. With her long red hair and a wide, radiant smile, she welcomed me with a large hug during our interview. "I'm Kim. Thank you for coming." She had an inspiring kind of voice, velvety, her words carefully chosen and enunciated. "It's very weird to be on the other side being interviewed," Conlan admitted. "But at least we aren't focused on who Paris Hilton is dating. It's rotting our minds."
If you haven't checked out Conlan's Facebook, Myspace, or theindiepeddler.blogspot.com, you are definitely missing out. She knows how to captivate her music fans, and she isn't afraid to use her own unique style to do so. "I'm too aware of corporate elements, I just want to write exactly the way I want to write," she declared. On June 17, Conlan is launching 100 copies of her handcrafted journal at Detroit Bar for all to peruse.
She spent a year and a half writing, traveling, designing and creating her first journal, and she claims she couldn't do it without the music in Orange County. Railroad to Alaska, Moonshine and the Drugs, Drums And Color and Stanley Lucas Revolution will all be performing at the event with a $5 cover. If you want to purchase her journal, it will be available for $15 or a $20 package including a cassette featuring local artists like Billy Kernkamp, Pistolero and the New Limb. You won't want to miss it.
OC Weekly (Danielle Bacher): What inspired you to begin writing? Did you go to school for Journalism?
Kim Conlan: I went to school at UC Irvine, and I didn't realize that when I was applying for my major that literary journalism was on the list. The program was brand new and there were only 60 kids in it [at that time]. I had teachers who had written for Rolling Stone and Harper. It was weird to get advice from people with that kind of experience. Writing creative non-fiction like Hunter S. Thompson is a newer style of journalism, and I couldn't picture myself at like a 944 or something like that. I interned at Surfline under Marcus Sanders. He used to send me huge files, like an interview with Kelly Slater that I would have to transcribe for an hour and a half. I realized then that I wanted to switch into the artist community. That's where I felt at home. It felt warm and comfortable. Anything artistic, I'm completely infatuated with. It drew me over and I let the surf industry go.
What made you want to start writing about bands around Orange County?
I wanted to write the way that I envisioned writing: my own way. I figured I would just start my own blog. I've been obsessed with music since I was really young. It's always been part of my life. I lost a little faith in the surf industry. I knew I needed a change, and pushed me into the music scene. I used to go to shows by myself and stand by the wall in the corner and take it all in. I could be quiet, watch and absorb the music.
Do you play any instruments?
I've been singing since I was little. I spent a lot of time in band in high school, and tinker on guitar and piano. Singing is where it's at for me. My dad's side of the family was very musical. I had a vocal coach that was a professional opera singer. I received training that most people would be lucky to get. I'm that weirdo who searches on the computer discovering new music that I could download and play.
What were some shows that caught your attention when you first began exploring concerts?
My roomate and her boyfriend at the time loved underground music. She introduced me to Devendra Banhart and Voxhaul Broadcast. Now, I live at shows. I attend at least four per week. I remember watching the band Crystal Castles at Detroit in April 2008. It blew my mind. It was disgusting how hot and muggy it was in there. They played four songs and everyone jumped on stage. It was crazy; you couldn't even see the band at all. Later on that year, I saw Sage Francis, a white underground hip-hop artist ranting about political problems. I was singing every lyric as he was throwing broccoli into the crowd and wrapping an American Flag around his neck. Then, he grabbed my hand as I was standing front row and center. I thought, "Oh my god, this is so cool."
What prompted your alias "Indie Peddler" and why did you decide to create a homemade book of your work?
It's been almost a year and a half, and I've been writing about bands and continue to live locally. My name doesn't come from listening only to indie music because I like all kinds of music. I don't discriminate by any means. If you catch my attention and having something to say, then I will listen. At the same time, everyone has his or her own taste in music. I didn't want to criticize bands or tell people what music to listen to. Obviously, you can never write entirely objectively, but I wanted to paint a picture of what the music and message sounded like. Thats the idea of Indie Peddler: everyone should have a chance to decide what music they like for themselves rather than being told what to like.
How long did it take you to write/make your journal?
Did anyone help out with the process?
My mom cut a few pieces of tape. Everything else I did on my own. Owner Stacy Messersschmidt of Fraulein Design and PR of eVocal helped me tremendously with the organizing and design of the book. I printed all the pages at her office. I talked to her once a week, bouncing ideas off her. She really got me inspired.
If you went to a concert and didn't like the music, would you write a negative review?
If I don't see value in the music, then why bother writing about it? I don't write criticisms at all. In my mind, if there is music that I don't like, then I just let it fade away. My friends argue with me about that. They say, "No, sometimes you just need to lay into people and let them know they aren't good." I don't agree. The truth always comes out.
Do you feel any pressure from musicians (many of whom are good friends of yours) to write a certain way about them?
I put a lot of pressure on myself. I'm not happy writing a story in a day or two. I need at least three weeks or a month to write it. I understand that bands are very multifaceted and I'd rather have the entire perspective on that artist. There's always a back-story or something going on. Whenever I've been judgmental, I've tried to wait it out and see what happens.
You wrote a piece on the Costa Mesa-based rock band the Growlers touring around the country. What was that experience like?
When I write a story, I always want it to have a bigger meaning. I want it to be a historical, informative piece that is everlasting. This was a weird piece because I didn't know the band before I started, and I didn't actually go on the tour. It was a big puzzle and I had to put all the pieces together and create a scene. I talked to vocalist Brooks Neilson when he was in Iowa City and he said, "Yeah, we are sitting at this bar hanging out." I had to look up the weather conditions, the info for the bar and get all the details that I could from the phone conversation. They had a biodiesel school bus in which they were touring.They completely ripped out the interior and put beds to sleep. It was completely Growlers style. I want them to look back and say, "Man, that was our tour and that was what we were doing at that time in our lives!"
Would you ever consider paid writing for a publication?
Money will come eventually. I've always been passionate about writing. I want to have my own voice. It's inevitable that when you write for a magazine or newspaper, you have an editor that you have to accommodate. The only way to survive is through support. When I go to shows, I still pay to get in. All artists support each other. I don't want to fall into the corporate world. The money is the least important thing. I will always find a way to survive.
How excited are you for the journal release party at Detroit Bar with all your favorite musicians?
I found a local way to make this show exist. The headliner for my show, (Railroad to Alaska) and third act (Stanley Lucas Revolution) are the closest to the way I feel about music. Their lyrics will just blow your mind. All of these bands are doing something in the Orange County realm that keep music growing. Music is their lives. I'm so excited for everyone to play and share a piece of my art with people who supports me in this community.
What's your future goal? Is there a Volume II in store for us?
I'm thinking about making it a quarterly or moving to publishing. My philosophy is that people can make it on their own. With a lot of time and effort, anything is possible. The biggest piece of advice that I learned in college is the motto, "Writers write." It's just what I do and how I exist.'ve>