Joshua Pickard is a friend to many in the local music industry, having reviewed countless album releases, music festivals, and the growing music scene in a fresh and exciting way. Before landing his current position as a regular writer at Nooga.com, he wrote for several music sites including Beats Per Minute out of New York, and Consequence of Sound. He also has a radio show on WUTC called Please Be Quiet, Please every Saturday from 6-8pm.
How did you first get connected with all of these music magazines?
Josh: Oddly enough, it all started on the official Radiohead forum, called At Ease. There was a sub category where people shared music, where I connected with someone who eventually ended up being the founder of Beats Per Minute. He invited me and a dozen of other writers on the forum to submit our writing to his site and I wrote for them for about 2-3 years before I was approached by Consequence of Sound through Twitter and invited to write for them.
Whose writing inspires you?
Josh: It’s funny because unlike poetry and fiction writing, covering music is so subjective that it’s difficult to pinpoint a particular person who inspired my writing style. If I had to pick someone, I would say David Fricke, one of the original writers for the Rolling Stone. To this day, I think he still writes music reviews that I go out of my way to read. He was a natural at cutting through the prose to get to the heart of the music.
As a music writer, it’s difficult to not default your writing perspective to that of a fan. Not to say that you shouldn’t, but sometimes it comes so naturally because you want other listeners to hear what you’re hearing in the music. I stand by every word, but I can get a little wordy sometimes.
What made you want to write for and about the Chattanooga music scene?
Josh: When I first started writing for Nooga.com, I was testing the waters. There have been plenty of people who have written for the local music scene, but nothing seemed to be all that in-depth. You would get these dry concert reviews that were all about the facts. While facts are great, that didn’t catch my eye. I wanted to infuse some personality into the writing. Basically, I wanted to give the music scene the attention I thought it deserved.
I started writing and people were kind enough to lead me to what was going on in the local music scene. I felt like people had an obligation to hear about this, especially with the hip-hop scene. It was getting no coverage that I could see, so I introduced myself to a lot of hip-hop artists and asked if I could write about them. The people in the Chattanooga music scene are some of the kindest people I know. One of the first shows I went to sponsored by The House featured Johnny Balik, Swayvvo, and Isaiah Rashad before he signed to TDE. All of them came up to hug me. I felt an obligation to hear this music and continue to explore the amazing and varied the hip-hop scene here. Sure, you have the party music side of HI$E Cold, the grittier side of Natural Habitz, the smoother stuff of Swayvvo who is also a rapper and producer.
How did you get so connected?
Josh: I introduced myself. I didn’t wait for people to come to me, I went out of my way to reach out to artists saying, “Hey, my name is Josh Pickard. I’m starting to write for Nooga.com. I just wanted to say hi and if you have anything you’re putting out please send it to me and I will listen to it and give feedback.” I did that for years, and have build relationships with many of these people now.
What is Scenic City Publicity?
Josh: This is a project I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a searchable, local music site for touring bands and local artists. You can search by genre, and it’s to help classify bands by genre, their content info, pictures, schedule, etc. You can put in the genre you’re looking for (each band is self described by this info, I do not identify them myself), and there will be a list of them. Other people are doing this sort of thing, but I’m being more proactive in searching and looking for people to put on this database. Sometimes the bands aren’t even part of the process, although I do make sure to ask them for photos. I just want a consolidated database where we can find local artists.
What makes good content for readers, in your opinion?
Josh: For me, good content is something that makes me immediately want to listen to what the author is writing about. That’s why in most of my articles, I try to include a Soundcloud embed, Bandcamp, ReverbNation, etc, so people can listen to it. I want people to actively try to listen to the music, otherwise I’m not doing my job.
What advice would you give to musicians from your position as a music writer?
Josh: You’re gonna get differing opinions depending on who you ask, but I’m of the opinion that you should put as much content out there as possible. As long as you’re proud of it and you want people to hear it, it’s a good way to drum up interest and build a fanbase. You’ll find that people really want to learn the personality of your music.