Monday 13 September 2010

The View From the Shoe: The Indie Handbook

It's been a while since I did one of these, and they are always incredible fun. It's a privilege to welcome to the shoedome Eric Robertson, the guy behind the fabulous The Indie Handbook. Straight over to Eric:

The Indie Handbook started as a joke—a tongue-in-cheek deconstruction of commercialised American hipster culture. What I never expected was that people would take it seriously. I aim to provide much-needed press to unsigned and underexposed artists, trying to put as much effort into quality and style of writing as the artists I review put into their songs. I've been told this is stupid since no one wants to pay attention to anyone who sincerely tries, but in my mind, it's the least I can do—a sign of respect for the artists who pour so much of themselves into their work. My ultimate (and most likely unachievable) goal is to write beautiful criticism.

I operate a second blog, The Indie Handbook Annex , where I indulge my love for essay-writing in the myriad other topics that fascinate me—anything from music to linguistics to the poetics of advertising. I am also in the process of working out the logistics of and funding to launch a magazine dedicated to the DIY aesthetic.

Thank you so much for your time. So, Louboutin or Converse?
Well, I'm wearing Converse at the moment, so I suppose I've already made my choice. Though, they're women's Cons, for whatever it's worth.

What do you do?
I sit in the corners of coffee shops pulling odd faces whilst rifling through a unsettlingly extensive mental cache of T.S. Eliot extracts applying Jungian psychoanalysis to 17th century Scottish demonology through a filter of pre-Enlightenment pop culture references, Gilmore Girls quotations, particle physics, and Kierkegaard in search of a new metaphor to describe whatever happens to be pouring through my tartan earbuds. (I also drive around with my windows down, playing Tigermilk or If You're Feeling Sinister—at a slightly-louder-than-normal volume—in hopes that I will pull up beside a cute girl who'll then look at me and say “Oh, I love Belle & Sebastian!” etc., etc.)

Why is there no one in the world who does it quite like you?
I am a hyper-literate, nerdy, INFP loser fanboy with years of formal training, a dead-end job, an inferiority complex, and absolutely no social life. No, seriously, I can afford to spend 20-25 hours a week working on the blog because my only other option is to sit at home watching NCIS reruns. (Did I mention my charming, disarming, self-deprecating sense of humour?)

What do you really, really love about it?
More than anything, I love all the people involved with it. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really just love all aspects of the human condition from the artists and publicists who began as feature stories and became good friends to the writers and bloggers who have become collaborators. I am even weirdly enamored of the handful of people who hate me for being insufficiently cynical and not mean enough. For me, I suppose, it's always and only ever been about art and people. Though, I am also quite fond of the way new music just sort of materialises in my mailbox and inbox.

A bit more time in the day, or a bit more money in the bank?
Unless by “a bit more money”, you mean at least six figures, I would opt for a bit more time. Four hours would be enough, I think. I will gladly adopt this scheme (, if I can convince everyone else to allow me to do so. I'd just love to not be angry at the prospect of waking up in the morning.

Imagine you “make it”. You wake up, and imagine the day ahead. Tell us about breakfast.
Another four or five hours of sleep, probably. Or waffles.

What’s your Jimmy Choo? And what’s just cobblers?
Jimmy Choo: Chet Baker singing “Born to be Blue”, one of the original 1000 copies of Belle & Sebastian's Tigermilk, a 1584 copy of Sir Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, a date with Debo Mitford circa 1938. Just cobblers: Dave Matthews, bands with 1000-word press releases, Paste Magazine.

Tell us about the last time a fan made you feel 100 feet tall.
I literally have almost no immediate contact with anyone who reads the blog. If it weren't for the Wordpress stats page, I wouldn't even know I had fans. I suppose a lot of it is wrapped up in the sort of people who are fans—musicians and writers and radio people. I find it incredibly flattering to know that they (at least occasionally) are reading what I have to say. I was absolutely over the moon when, after an interview, Emilie Simon (my all-time musical idol, number one celebrity crush, and genius behind Végétal which I chose as Album of the Decade) asked me what Brooklyn bands (where she currently lives) I thought she would like. More recently, an artist I wrote about well over a year ago said she continues to read the blog not because she always likes the recommendations, but because she loves the writing.

Independent and poor, or under contract and rich?
Independent. Marry rich.

Do you remember that bit on Play Away where Brian Cant stood behind people and did the actions whilst they spoke? If you could choose anyone to stand behind you and do the actions to your sales pitch, who would it be and why?
Laura Bettinson, a.k.a. Dimbleby & Capper because: A) She's better looking than I and therefore more marketable. B) Gaffer tape.

Frocks or socks?
Well, there was that one time in my History of Fashion class at uni when my friend Dan and I were led to believe we might have the opportunity to try on a corset. When the day came, the amateur costume shop girls opted to wear them themselves—in an entirely historically inaccurate manner, I might add. So disappointing. We had quite been looking forward to that.