So you know how I've mentioned a dozen times that I also write for idobi radio on the side (where, incidentally, you'll be able to find new writing from me once this site shuts down)? Well, one of the best parts of writing for idobi is the fact that I get to interact with other music fans, including two of my favourite people, Alex Bear and Emillie Marvel aka Vanilla Bear and Butterscotch Bear (respectively). You may remember them from that time they tried to convince me that Jess Mariano was Rory's best boyfriend. but Alex-and-Emillie (sometimes I refer to them as a single entity, like Turk-and-JD) are more than just pop culture pun-dits.
Alex-and-Emillie are ridiculously talented and already super accomplished for a couple of twenty-somethings, so I asked them to be my final interview for Mind the Gap Zine, in the hopes that one day I can grow up to be just like them. And because it's Wednesday, you can also consider this my final Woman Crush Wednesday post (I can't be the only weirdo with girl crushes on her friends, right? RIGHT?).
Welcome to Mind the Gap, Alex and Emillie! Thanks so much for doing this interview!
A: Thanks for having us!
E: Thanks for embracing our madness!
Let’s start off with a mini introduction: if you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?
Seeing as we usually spend YEARS crafting the perfect bios and we're on a deadline, we decided to "tweet" about each other (GIFs included, because...have you met us?):
Emillie on Alex: The real MVP who gives great history lessons, never sleeps, possesses pun skills beyond her years, & might actually be a vampire.
Alex on Emillie: Accidental Canadian with a bigger heart and brighter mind than her emo looks might suggest.
What musical moment changed your life?
A: Hearing Good Charlotte on the radio for the first time. (Anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes at the predictability of that answer.) I first heard “The Anthem” back when it first came out and *poof* before you know it my teenage years are a blur (quite literally, my swept fringe/bangs ruined my eyesight) of eyeliner, band tees and my mother asking me if I’d “caught the emo”. They were my intro into the pop punk/alternative world and to this day they’re still my favourite band—they shaped who I am and introduced me to a scene where I found more than just music; I found home.
E: I’m so excited you asked this, because I love to tell my music moment story. When I was fifteen, I won tickets to see a The Ready Set show. Little did I know when I arrived at the venue, I was also arriving at my future (corny, but true). I had never considered there was a crew who put on shows. Once I knew you could be in music without making music, it was life changing. Add that to the feeling of belonging the actual concert gave, and leaving that experience feeling more alive than I had in my whole life, and I was hooked. I immediately knew that this was all I wanted to do every night for the rest of my life. From there, I started interviewing bands, applying for internships and street teams, and now I’ve been happily consumed by this wild industry for five years.
How did you get started at idobi? What’s your job like now?
A: I stumbled across idobi randomly when I was about 14—I was looking through internet radio stations and idobi was playing GC and I thought, well, this is the station for me. Fast-forward six or so years and I’m in my final year of university and they’re looking for interns. I applied on a whim thinking I’d never hear back, but…I did. (Obviously.) Emillie and I were hired at the same time, and soon became fast friends, all because of All Time Low…
E: Never tell Gunz, but I came across idobi thanks to The Gunz Show. He was interviewing all of my favorite acts (hello, Cady Groves), and I downloaded the app and quickly became of fan of the network. Intern applications were only open for a couple more hours when I saw they were looking, and I rushed to throw my name into the ring. Not too long after, I got the email that I was hired, and immediately celebrated by listening to “Trenches” by Pop Evil (because I’m nothing if not an emo kid). Not too long after, I was introduced to the Alex to my Jack, thanks to well, yknow, Alex & Jack. We both volunteered to put together the Full Frontal Season 2 Recap. We bonded over the guys’ ridiculous banter + pop punk tunes, and photoshopping that takes the word “pun” to a new level, and we haven’t stopped talking since (seriously, we’re up to a couple hundred thousand Facebook messages).
A: When it came to recapping season 3, we decided to take it up a notch—which meant replacing GIFs with our own…uh, homemade concoctions. We’re both big into Tumblr so we knew kids love badly photoshopped pics—which was handy, because that’s all we could produce. Long story short, there was a spectacularly bad photoshopped picture of Jack Barakat riding a pimped out wooly mammoth floating out on the internet…and I was approached by idobi’s wonderful Chief Creative Officer & CMO, Sherin Nicole, to join the creative team. My official title is now Junior Editor and Assistant to the Chief Creative Officer & CMO, but I think it’s safe to say both Emillie and I don’t really stick to our job descriptions.
E: I believe it was Alex’s line that I inadvertently stole once (#sorrystillsorry), that we’re “general do-ers of things”. I was brought on as the programming assistant, and given the chance to work for our fantastic programming director Eddie Barella. I was also brought on as junior editor with Alex a couple summers ago. Since then, I think I speak for us both when I saw we’ve had plenty of cool tasks under our job titles, and then some. I also think I’m speaking for us both when I say the biggest part of the job is understanding that Wordpress does hate you, will always hate you, and you just have to learn to live with it.
A: Every day is different, and I wouldn’t have it any other way (except, like Emillie said, Wordpress will always be hell). As assistant to the CCO I have a hand in all things creative, corporate, and help brand the company and make sure our “voice” is being heard. Most of the work I do is behind the scenes, helping out on pitches, programming, and partnerships (try saying that 3 times fast), and on the front line helping to edit and put together editorial, and running social media. In my, uh, spare time (what’s that?) you’ll most likely find me working on our latest idobi show, Geek Girl Riot *shameless plug*.
E: It’s really hard to say what I do at idobi, just because it’s ever-changing, and my day to day schedule is almost never the same. There are the weekly tasks of posting podcasts on the website, premiering new material from up and coming acts, newsletter prep, etc. Then, there are the less regular but equally fun tasks. New music newsletters, interviews + editorials, reviews, holiday content, helping with idobi Sessions, and covering social media when I get the chance to share my (very lame) sense of humor with followers. I’m also starting a new column very soon, and facing my fear of hearing my recorded voice with my own Geek Girl Riot segment *doubles shameless GGR plug*.
What has been your most exciting experience at idobi (so far)?
E: Everyday is an exciting moment, working with the team we have on music that’s close to my heart. If I had to pick one or two experiences, though, the first summer of idobi Warped Radio (back when it was called Warped idobi Radio) would definitely be up there. I was able to help out a lot, from helping Fish with day sheets and scheduling while on the road, to our social media and website posts for the features.
Aside from that, my Pierce The Veil interviews would also take the cake on excitement for me. When I was about 17, I remember thinking “I’ll never get to interview that band. They’re way out of my ‘league’, and if I ever do get to speak to them, I’ll have made it.” Last year, I interviewed bassist Jaime Preciado for the first time. Earlier this year, I spoke with him in person for the second. Those were definitely some real “dream come true” moments!
A: There’ve been a lot of highlights, but the one that’s coming to mind is getting to help coordinate a promo campaign for GC’s Youth Authority tour. I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with them on a professional level a few times now—and while yes, I’m British, so it’s in my DNA to be polite and professional down to a tee—it’s a very cool feeling to work with the band you grew up listening to. And it meant I could put all my years as a fan to good use!
When you’re interviewing bands you admire, do you have any tips or tricks to make the process go by smoothly?
E: Three. First, remember you deserve respect just as much as they do. Never go into an interview feeling beneath anyone. It’s totally okay to be a fan, and to tell them so, but remember you’re working in the same industry, and they’re your peers. Second, for me at least, do it in person. When I’m at a show, I feel more like myself. There’s something about the sound of the instruments and the environment of the concert that calms me down, and lets me speak easier. If you share that comfort zone, work your way to in person interviews, it’s worth it. Third, just make it to the interview. The worst part is the pre-interview stress, and it’s never going to go as badly as you worry it will. Once you’ve started chatting, the stress fades, and it gets much easier.
A: Just remember that they’re people too. And music is their job, and interviews are part of that—so they’ve done this a thousand times. Which means if you’re asked the same thing over and over again, it gets monotonous. So I usually have some ideas of topics I want to explore but try to stray away from having set questions. That way you just have a conversation with the band rather than a straight-up Q&A, and you get to see what their personality is like (which in my opinion, is way more interesting). Any band worth their salt has a set of answers they give out all the time, but if you just talk to them like they’re friends and make them laugh, they tend to give you an impression you won’t have seen before.
What's your dream job/what part of the music industry do you want to explore?
E: It’s all about the live shows, baby. (😸) For me, that’s where my interest has always been. I can’t get enough of the bass in my heart and the beat in my bones. I want to help give crowds that infinite feeling you get when you’re screaming along to your favorite song with four hundred of your best friends that you don’t even know. From side stage to load in, I’m completely obsessed with the process of being the crew on a show, and have researched it like it’s my college major. I also, of course, intend on staying involved with idobi for as long as they’ll have me. The station has become a home to me.
A: I really like where I am right now, and I want to continue down the path I’m on. I’m not the kind of person who likes doing the same thing, day in, day out, so having lots of different things to do suits me perfectly...but it also means I don’t want to have my future completely mapped out, because you never know what’s around the corner, or what you might enjoy before you’ve tried it. Currently, I’d really love to dive into producing and more of the programming side—and thanks to Geek Girl Riot, I get to dabble! I’m very much a behind-the-scenes person, and radio has turned out to be a good fit for me.
What's the best part of working in music? The worst? Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the industry?
A: The best part, for me, is getting to share the music I love with other fans. The worst part is that it can be very draining. You never really switch off. So be prepared to put in the hours! Coffee helps too. Other than that, just work hard and don’t ever think you’re too good for something. Arrogance and egos might get you a headstart in this industry, but you’ll burn more bridges than you build, and it’s a very small circle. If you want longevity in this industry, it’s all about how you treat people, your audience (if you have one), and your work. Each should always be approached with respect and courtesy, even if you don’t feel it’s deserved (and there will be plenty of those egos floating around to test your patience). The people who need to notice, will take notice.
E: Once you jump into this industry, if you’re really meant for it, you can’t leave. Even if you try, you’ll always be pulled back. One time, someone said to me how we’re all a part of this really special thing that no one else gets. That special thing can drive you absolutely nuts, it can have you working yourself to death (ask Geoff), and it can definitely become a sort of love/hate relationship, but you’ve gotta appreciate it for what it is. It’s an incredible group of people, all come together for one reason—the music made them feel something. It’s a network of careers built off of emotion, passion, and feeling; and it’s the best place you’ll ever be.
I’m not sure I have a specific worst part. Everything about the industry, I love in one way or another. I suppose at times, it can just burn you out, but that’s when you learn how you, personally, rebuild, and take the time to do it so you can attack even harder next time. The best aspect is being a part of this. It’s special, it’s important, and it means something, and if you’re drawn to it, you’re damn lucky. And finally, my advice would be what it always is: Just keep doing it. Don’t be afraid. If you want something, ask. If you’re told no, ask again when you’re more prepared. Find your place in the industry and stand firm—many will try to knock you down. If you don’t let them, you’ll find yourself in an even better place than before.
You know I love your writing (both of you!) and I want to spread that love - pick 2-3 pieces you're super proud of and link to them here:
What is your number one song recommendation right now?
A: Can you just...not. There are too many. Do you realise just HOW MANY bands have dropped music in the past month? I’m switching between the new ATL and Paramore and The Maine and I’m overwhelmed. But seeing as everyone’s probably already spinning them just like I am, I’m going to go with “Young For The Summer” by DALES. Aka Brian Logan Dales from The Summer Set’s solo stuff. He just dropped this new track and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.
E: I am currently on a major sappy binge for reasons that would totally make me seem like Taylor Swift, so I’m going to go on the total opposite end of that spectrum and go with “SFDD” by Stacked Like Pancakes. The band played the Warped Tour announce show, and from the moment their set kicked off, I’ve been obsessed. Ska got even better when they started making sounds, and these guys alone are worth heading to the show for (plus the dozens of killer other bands on this year’s line up).
Now we’ve reached the fun ones! If you could live in any fictional/fandom world, which would it be?
A: Middle Earth. Hands down, I’d be hanging out at Rivendell with Elrond and eating second breakfast with Sam (most important meal of the day, didn’t you know).
E: Hook me up with a letter from Hogwarts, because honestly, there’s nowhere else in this world I’d rather be. (Just um, keep me far away from the quidditch field. I’m not very coordinated even without the ability to fly.)
QUICK TAKES: No need for long answers here, just hit us with the first thing that pops into your head.
Note: We decided to answer for each other, seeing as we spent so much time asking “hey, what am I currently ______?” because we know each other better than we know ourselves.
Alex for Emillie: Getting tattoos. Like gurl, you’re only tiny you’re gonna run out of space before you’re 25.
Emillie for Alex: Gracing her light box with the best puns. (PS Once I’ve run out of ink-space I’ll just start making suggestions for you.)
Current thing that makes you RAGE?
Emillie for Alex: The American political system, which is why she’s preparing a room at her place for me.
Alex for Emillie: Her hometown. (Because it’s so washed up, and all her friends...you know the rest.)
Pop culture-y item that’s coming out soon that you’re too excited about?
Alex for Emillie: I’m not sure on this one, because—not to make her sound uncool or anything because she is quite the opposite, BUT—she lives under a rather sizeable rock. We even started an editorial series about pop culture items she doesn’t know.
Emillie for Alex: Because Alex’s comment is totally true, I’m also not sure, but just because I have no idea what’s going on in pop culture. (Unless Rian Dawson’s jean jacket counts, in which case, sign Alex up for ten.)
Girl crush of the moment?
Emillie for Alex: Cassadee Pope
Alex for Emillie: “Is anyone more of a bae than Lynn Gunn tho” - actual thing she said to me today. So, yeah.
[Sam's edit: Same, Emillie. Lynn Gunn is a goddess.]
What’s one thing that you love that you wish got more attention?
Emillie for Alex: UK’s Netflix, because honestly it’s a crime how long it took for Gilmore Girls to stream across the pond.
Alex for Emillie: The feminist agenda. You watch her run for President. Yknow, once she’s done being a rockstar and stuff.
Guilty pleasure (though we believe no geeky love should ever cause you shame):
Emillie for Alex: I don’t think it’d be classified as a guilty pleasure, but something you might not expect is that Alex knows more history than your college professor, and gives great lessons on it.
Alex for Emillie: Hinder. To this day I question our friendship over the fact she…*whispers* likes them.
One recommendation that a fangirl just HAS to read/watch/play/ingest:
Emillie for Alex: The two most recent movies Alex has insisted I watch are Fangirl and Love Actually. Do with that what you will.
Alex for Emillie: Those two recommendations Em listed are both hilarious...but for very different reasons. Emillie recommended Naomi And Ely's No Kiss List and Arrested Development...and honestly that just proves how well she knows me.
Time for plugs! Where can people find your content and chat with you?
E: Seconded, if you’re not catching me on idobi.com, I’m not even really existing. On Twitter, you can find me at the very (un)confusing username of @EmillieMarvel (on the rare occasion I remember I have an account, that is).