Consecutive the Chronicle music editors Raoul Hernandez, Kevin Curtin and Rachel Rascoe (photo by John Anderson)
Daughter of a teacher, I have always measured time in school levels. Four years of high school to really get into music and drive from my hometown of San Antonio to Austin for shows as often as possible. four years to UT-Austin admit that maybe I wanted to write about music and culture after I started studying biomedical engineering, mainly because it’s one of the hardest majors to get into. The end of this year will mark four years of writing The Austin ChronicleThe long-running musical chronicle of – the best unorthodox journalism graduate program I could have asked for.
I estimate there are at least 200,000 words stored in the column, which spurred my worst memory from engineering class, when a quiz asked us to estimate how many candies could fit in a school bus . I chose the name “faster than soundfrom the 1967 song “Light Is Faster Than Sound” by Big Brother and the holding companyespecially from when the Texas icon Janis Joplin was in the group. For my first column in January 2019, I was too shy to introduce myself and started covering the stage.
Over the years since countless interviews, I’ve expanded the limits of my chatty mouse (though certainly not to the sarcastic extent of some former the Chronicle columnists) and tried singing and performing in bands instead of just writing about the practice. So, during my first week as editor of these pages, I thought I’d try the intro again.
San Antonio Girl
When I visualize myself in Austin music, I’m curled up under bright linoleum lights on a crowded garage floor, at 16, waiting for my very first house show. Following our impactful junior year trip to Fun and fun partymy much cooler high school best friend had befriended a bunch of punk kids from austin McCallum High. From out of town, my velvet leopard t-shirt, Difference skinny jeans and loafers felt great among the girls in black shorts and Dr. Martens.
My formative forms of cultural consumption at the time were: Blogspot fashion bloggers, Beginner magazineand DVDs rented from the library based on screenshots of tumblrwhich I caught in its heyday in 2014. Despite having a few adventures in the indie music scene, I had never seen anyone setting up speakers in an alley just to drive around and play music sound own will.
Who are these people and why are they doing this? I still often think like that. I was a tolerated neutral visitor in a scene I would never really be a part of, and I loved it.
I’ve technically held my new title before, first as editor of Alamo Topthe literary magazine of , The Jabberwockywhere I happily exploded Waxahatcheeit is Cerulean salt while assembling the pages after school in the empty computer lab, and then as a music editor at UT Orange magazine. I reluctantly attended my state college after deflating my dreams of Yale (alma mater of the most important journalist of my generation, Rory Gilmore).
Entering medical school with vague aspirations, I owe my journalistic pivot entirely to Sarah Jasmine Montgomeryformer editor at Orangewho invited me and my freshman roommate to join the magazine during a chance meeting outside the AEC building. I hid to cover campus fashion until my essay for The Texas Daily required my very first musical story, which involved interviewing a musician with long hair in a suede jacket (who is no longer a psych rocker, but we are still dating). When asked to write his name on a piece of paper, he just wrote “Chad” in tiny handwriting, unaware that I meant for a full spell check.
Sophomore year opened up my musical world even further by living at West Campus’ Pearl Street Cooperativewhere great local bands played right outside our bedroom doors, and hinds played by the pool South by Southwest. The co-op voted me even though I nervously answered “lo-fi music” to an icebreaker question from the group, not realizing my frequent Last.fm tag couldn’t be a real favorite genre. My weekly duties consisted of working in the office and baking dessert once a week, usually cookies.
Always so good at two shoes, I participated in several undergraduate internships, including filming performances in KUTXit is Workshop 1A and help market the only revival-themed year Sound on Sound Fest. My semester at austin woman magazine led to my very first freelance work under the old publisher april cummingwho commissioned me to stage a 27-year-old Jackie Venson and many other Austin ladies. My biggest vote of confidence wouldn’t come until I entered the the ChronicleThe odd mid-century building off I-35, whose shiny blue and yellow brickwork reminds me of my high school classrooms of the same era.
In front of the CD shelves
Despite a blind panic and a confused call violent women my favorite band on my first day as an intern (I should have said Waxahatchee), investigator and then music editor Raoul Hernandez still saw something in me. Perhaps he suspected, like me, that I found better in writing. He quickly assigned a Kay Odyssey album for my very first review, a written format that I had carefully avoided until now to avoid sharing a semblance of musical opinion.
Under Hernandez’s encouraging tutelage since 2017, I’ve risen through the ranks as an intern, freelancer, columnist, and editor. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed the meeting with the founding musical columnist Marguerite Moser, but hopes to honor her memory as the first female editor. And I write this because the most recent and charismatic figure to ever hold this role, Kevin Curtinstepped down, as announced earlier this month, to focus on his growing family (review “Have You Seen Kevin Curtin’s Last?”).
Last week the the Chronicle the music team surprised Curtin at Sahara Lounge with a city proclamation declaring September 21, 2022 as Kevin Curtin Day. Writer Chad Swiatecki actually managed to get the names of Curtin-affiliated bands, including Cunto!, on a document signed by the mayor. I’ll miss being able to turn to his next desk and ask, “Who’s so-and-so again?” to receive not only Austinite’s cultural history, but also its phone number and the latest happenings from a recent concert.
Very few are as genuinely gregarious and generous as Curtin – who will happily continue to apply his humor and insight to writing for the newspaper as a freelancer. I’m also happy to have amazing club rosters Derek Udensi, the office on the other side, to deliberate on musical gossip. Editors Curtin and Hernandez both saw something in me that I hadn’t seen before, and I hope to extend the same courtesy to younger writers. Expect new signings, as well as more writers participating in news coverage.
I’m excited for what’s to come in these pages. Earlier this month, while attending a festival in West Texas, I took it as encouragement from the universe when I found a green Newport tank top of cigarettes on the rack of a vintage seller. I was worried that a personalized basketball jersey, in Michigan State Spartans green, was not going to arrive in time for Curtin’s scheduled going away party. Another sign of luck, the winner arrived in his own Newport rugby long sleeve and happily swapped it for the tank top after the upset.
Curtin’s contributions will undoubtedly continue in the musical realm. He called me last weekend, which was supposed to be the first day of his long-awaited cross-country vacation without work. I heard him ask someone, “Have you ever listened pink sifu?”