The Post-Conferences Round-Up


Magnolias blooming off of Washington Square, NYU Campus, during the IASPM/EMP 2012 conference.

Holy crapsticks! I’ve been away from LMGMblog for an inexcusable amount of time. I’ve been quite the busy bee, though. I got a few things published here and there, did some editing on a dissertation chapter that should hopefully turn into a journal article, gave two different papers at two conferences on either side of the Atlantic, and started a new research phase for my current “techno-tourism” project. Oh, and I saw Laurent Garnier play in both Berghain and Panorama Bar last month. I’ve been very busy.

So, here’s a more detailed list of what LMGM’s been up to these past two months, with relevant links and pretty pictures:

Intense Encounters at Feedback Press and IASPM-US Blog

Screen Capture from The Knife's “Pass This On”

Screen capture from The Knife's “Pass This On”

So, this all began with me running across a set of music videos that featured encounters between trans(sexual/gendered/vestite/etc.) women and straight(-looking) young men. Those of you who were reading this blog back in the fall will probably recall that I posted about the three videos here, asking for input and suggestions for other similar videos. Later in the fall, I committed to turning this into a 3-part blog series for the website of IASPM-US (International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Chapter), which took me until January to fully flesh out and submit. (My last post here, actually, was to announce that another 3-part series on doing nightlife fieldwork was going live on there.) The series, entitled “Intense Encounters: Young Men and Trans-Women in Music Videos,” went live on the site in late February (Part I, Part II, Part III).

A short while later, I was approached by the editors of Feedback Press, who were planning to start a new series of essays called Pop Papers. This was a new, experimental format that would draw from the Internet’s best long-form writing on popular music to assemble a series of essays that are both rigorous and accessible, of interest to scholars, journalists, and fans. The resulting essays would be published both in e-book form and as letterpressed chapbooks. So, in the space of only a couple of weeks (in order to coincide with the dates of the upcoming IASPM-US/EMP conference), I turned the 3-part “Intense Encounters” into one longer essay, added a few new sections, cleaned up the language, went through a peer-reviewing process, proofread the final galley prints, and signed off on final publication. It was the fastest publication cycle I have ever experienced—or am likely to experience ever again. In any case, the chapbooks were available for sale at the book fair of the IASPM-US/EMP conference, and I was able to gather a handful of them to give to family. Check ’em out!

Feedback Press' Pop Papers series. In Easter colors, no less.

Interviewing the Techno-Tourism Industry

Although I’m still looking to interview “techno-tourists” themselves, I started a new phase of interviews at the end of February. I started getting in contact with people who are in some way professionally connected to the techno-tourism phenomenon—let’s call ’em the “techno-tourism industry.” For example, I’ve been contacting hotels, hostels, the Berlin travel bureau, travel websites, nightclubs, bars, a PR/lobbying firm that represents the city’s nightclubs, and even a few travel agencies that are devoted to techno-tourism. Yes, they exist! There’s TechnoTravel.com, The Techno Tourist, and Travel2Dance, for example.

I wasn’t really sure what reaction to expect, at first. Some of these organizations have been super-friendly, responding with great interest to my research project and offering not only their time for an interview, but samples of their own organizational materials, data, and so on. TechnoTravel.com, The Techno Tourist, Pegasus Hostel, ClubCommission.de, and the Michelberger Hotel have all been very enthusiastic and supportive. Many others were open to being interviewed, but scheduling the interview has been a more difficult task. Some organizations were far less interested (or friendly). For example, one hotel chain that has numerous cheap hostel-hotel hybrids all over town sent me a frosty reply claiming that “there is no techno-tourism in our hotels.” The initial contact person from the tourism board for Berlin, VisitBerlin.de, was very gracious and promised to put me in touch with the relevant person; this was followed several days later by a curt email from another representative, informing me that VisitBerlin had no time for people like me. Truth be told, the way that these organizations respond to my requests for an interview is just as revealing as what they say (or don’t) in the interview; it says a lot about the social status of techno-tourism in Berlin, as well as the aspirations and concerns of those organizations that profit from techno-tourism.

I’ve saved the clubs and bars for last, partially because I wanted to make sure that my German was at a sufficient level to conduct these important interviews properly, but also because I’m rather certain that these nightlife venues will be the most reluctant to talk to a researcher—especially about something as uncool as tourism.

IASPM-US/EMP 2012 Conference in NYC

The Stonewall Inn, where it all started for the queer rights movement.

From March 22 to March 25, NYU (New York University) was host to the combined conferences of IASPM-US (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) and EMP (the Experience Music Project museum). There were too many interesting and inspiring papers to describe here or even mention in passing, but the conference website is still online, so you can go and check out the program for yourself. You can also check out Tavia Nyong’o’s great post-conference round-up for a few great snippets. My paper went well, I got some great questions, I got to catch up with plenty of my friends and colleagues, I met a bunch of awesome new people, and I had some wonderfully productive meetings. All around, an excellent conference. And look, I made it into one of the official conference photos! Admittedly, I’m just a silhouette, but being a dark silhouette is probably my “best side” anyway…

That's me sitting down, taking a break from a session during the conference at NYU's Kimmel Center. Click on the picture to go to the official Flickr set.

Feature Article on Time in EDM @ Little White Earbuds

Well, the story of how this story came about is actually written into the introduction of the text, so I won’t go into it here. Essentially, I had a moment of clarity a couple of months ago, where I was struck by how much longer the time-scales are for listening to EDM (compared to other musical genres), and how much our manner of listening is shaped by the music we listen to. I pitched the story to Steve Mizek of Little White Earbuds, and the essay went online as a feature article a few weeks later, entitled “As the World Turns: Time in Electronic Dance Music.” Hooray for online publishing! In the world of real-space paper publishing, you’d be lucky to see your idea in print within a year. In any case, this was another essay where I tried to bring in some academic insights without encumbering the thing with jargon or footnotes.

BFE 2012 Conference in Durham, UK

The view of Durham from the train station, with the massive Durham Cathedral in the distance.

Ah, Durham. A small country town just south of Newcastle, with a small historical centre on a hill next to the Tyne river—with correspondingly gorgeous architecture and natural surroundings. If only I could’ve been able to stay for a few days before the conference or afterwards, just to relax in the surroundings.

The conference was for the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, which was originally the UK branch for the International Council for Traditional Music before renaming itself as a self-standing scholarly society in 1995. It is in many ways comparable to the Society for Ethnomusicology (which is aspirationally international, but remains primarily US-centric), but I found the feel of the conference to be quite different. BFE (or “Buffy,” as the members call it) remains a moderately-sized and intimate conference, hosting about 100 delegates and usually running three concurrent panels during most of the meeting. The level of presenters ranged from established, well-respected senior researchers to undergraduate students, and the level of their presentations ranged from beginner to virtuoso. The conference seemed like a safe and welcoming space for junior scholars and students especially, with supportive attendees who were able to provide helpful suggestions and constructive criticism without shaming or humiliating anyone. Mind you, this is not to say that that the crowd there shied away from pressing the more senior scholars with hard questions. In any case, the conference was great, and I even managed to wander around Newcastle a bit before returning home. The trip to and from Durham, on the other hand, was a nightmare of nearly-missed connections in over-crowded airports…

Outside the Northern Transept of Durham Cathedral, with several gravestones too old to be legible.

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