The concept behind One Week/One Band is exactly what you might expect: each week features writing about a different musical act. The tumblr-based project asks people who love music a very simple question: what music do you love, and why? For the reader of OWOB, there is an invitation: “We hope that you follow us along to find out what music means to people.”
Contributors from the project have also written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Pitchfork but mostly it’s just people, mostly people on tumblr, who just really love music and want an outlet to express that love.
I sat down (figuratively) with Hendrik Jasnoch, the creator of One Week/One Band, to talk about the project.
Hi Hendrik, thank you so much for talking with me! One Week/One Band is such a great project, one that I’ve really enjoyed writing for in the past. How did you come up with the concept?
Thanks for having me! And thank you so much for the kind words; I’m happy to hear that. I’ve been an avid reader of music writing ever since I can remember, so the inclination to do something had been there for a while. At the same time, most music blogs and magazines revolve around chasing the next big thing, so I thought it’d be interesting to create a space where we could devote a lengthy amount of time to a musical passion from either past or present — and still keep it fresh by introducing new contributors and new perspectives each week.
I’ve been thinking a lot about personal experience and how writing from that vantage point serves cultural criticism. We have a good deal of it coming out right now, with writers like Maggie Nelson and Roxane Gay, and it’s certainly been the goal of Shakespeare and Punk since I started the site a year ago. Why do you think One Week/One Band works so well? Your schedule is always booked, and you’ve had some really fantastic people jumping at the chance to write about their favorite bands and artists, and some of that writing is quite personal…
Yeah, I think being comfortable in whichever space your writing appears is really important for that; whether that’s your own blog or zine or a major publication. I’m personally very interested in the individual connection we have with music, I think that’s really fascinating to explore why we like the stuff that we like and what role music plays in our lives… sometimes (or even often) more so than the actual musical subject. And in an age where social media makes fandom extremely visible, I think a lot of people share that interest.
But at the same time I think there’s also a danger to create this pressure to be confessional, which is different from just displaying a strong personal POV. To me with some publications it sometimes feels exploitative to read these really personal takes and I just try to be mindful not to create that kind of environment in which people would feel that’s expected of them.
Again I think it’s the mixture that makes it work… I like to have both weeks that are very scholarly, very factual, and then follow it with looser, more personal writing. I’d like to think there’s a place for both!
Do you think that the type of music writing that you facilitate on OWOB has a certain advantages over the type you would read in say, Rolling Stone, or another mainstream music critics’ publication?
Well, I don’t think any kind of music writing is inherently superior to the other… it also depends on what you as a reader are looking for. Certainly for pure music discovery or as a guide for your music listening music magazines might be more helpful, although I’m not sure a lot of young people necessarily even care about that anymore when music’s become so accessible. In a way I feel it’s much harder to write an engaging review and be critical in the literal sense, just because there are so many constraints you’re working under. And also sites like Pitchfork or Spin have done some really cool stuff with features that only their access allows.
But the OWOB format or personal blogs like yours often feel more engaging and quite frankly more fun to me, because you can improvise a lot more and not worry so much about catering to a specific audience or set of interests. And I might not care much about a certain band or genre, but I’m always excited to see people being very passionate about music and sharing that kind of personal connection, and there’s probably a little more space for that away from the major publications.
One thing I really love about OWOB is that anyone can write for it, you’ve never particularly cared about a writers’ credentials or experience, just that they love the music. I think a lot of future music writers will probably have gotten their start writing for OWOB, which is just great. Can you speak more about that? Was it always the intention from the start to keep it open to writers from all stages?
Well I don’t think I could afford to be elitist! Haha… initially it was just people I knew from Tumblr or elsewhere on the web, so I didn’t put too much thought into the selection of guest writers. But over time it’s been more of a conscious decision to ensure diversity in gender, age, writing experiences… just different perspectives.
Which comes back to what I said before — if it’s more about the personal connection than the actual music, it seems essential to not offer the same stale POV over and over again. And I’m super interested in hearing about music fandom from very young people and people much older or with very different backgrounds or geographical locations. To me an interesting angle is the most important thing when reading incoming pitches. I’ve been really lucky that over time a great number of very different & very wonderful people have gotten in touch.
I know you can’t quite pick a favorite, and they’ve all been so good, but what are some of the OWOB weeks you’ve been proudest to publish? Sophia’s Lorde week (the reprise of which is going on now) is particularly great, since Lorde herself read it.
The Lorde shoutout was nice, yes. Thanks, Lorde! I don’t dare picking favourites because I genuinely appreciate the effort everyone’s put into their week. Other than Lorde, the most popular weeks have been those on My Chemical Romance, Stevie Nicks, Blink-182, Radiohead and Carly Rae Jepsen [note: there has also been a week specifically for Jepson’s album E•MO•TION], — and those are all really great. Maybe as an editor I’m slightly predisposed to be excited about anything that wanders off the beaten path, so I really love stuff like a week on fictional pop stars or the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, for example. And obviously if it’s somebody like Tom Ewing doing a series on ABBA you do feel a bit proud seeing it appear on your site. But it’s often the weeks on bands that I thought I didn’t care much about from people I’d hardly knew that turn out to be the most satisfying and exciting when done well.
This is a question from our columnist and guest writer Jacqui Deighton [who most recently wrote for Green Day week]: What are your top five albums of all time?
Hi Jacqui! (That was a very good week and actually a great example of what I just said!)
That’s a difficult one, naturally. Well, Top 2 is actually easy — that’d be Blur’s 13 and Suede’s Dog Man Star. I could spend forever pondering my remaining choices, so let me just go for Antony & the Johnsons’s I Am a Bird Now, A New Chance by the Tough Alliance and Tocotronic’s Digital ist Besser.
Finally, what are you listening to now?
Right now right now I’m listening to “Sensations” by Pépite, but more generally I’ve been into this great new Swedish indie band called Hater, new albums by Molly Nilsson, Gorillaz and Perfume Genius, and some old Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark stuff.
OWOB logo and image used with permission.