Monday, September 8, 2014

A belated thank you from SCQ

Dance party in the SCQ Office; Ottawa, 2010

Dear readers,

You’re probably lost. Skeleton Crew Quarterly hasn’t published new material since the end of 2012, so whatever review or interview you’re looking for, I hope it’s old. On the off-chance you’re visiting this blog intentionally, as an occasional reader wondering what the hell happened here, you remembered SCQ on the right day. Below is the goodbye I’d written in January 2013; I opened it today expecting some half-coherent draft and was surprised to find it nearly complete. So, with over a year and a half behind us, here's SCQ’s lost goodbye:


The term “hiatus” is often met with sadness in the music world, not because it represents a permanent cessation of a band or label but because there’s no itinerary to comprehend just what lies ahead. Like a chalkboard wiped clean of plans, the hiatus leaves a momentary gap before we listeners fill it with other interests, other bands. And occasionally, we don’t notice the gap at all.

Skeleton Crew Quarterly turns five years old this month. Those who’ve tuned into this music-blog semi-regularly over the years know that I rarely pass up an opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons, and I had another Year-End Questionnaire arranged to commemorate this milestone. The questions were written and in two cases submitted – both recipients, pianist Nils Frahm and Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre, agreed to take part – but my heart just wasn’t in it. Back in the winter of 2007, the idea of asking a beloved musician their top records of the year seemed like a dream. I was personally invested in discovering and communicating those answers through a loudspeaker to anyone who cared. And over the years, I’ve met and traded emails with many listeners who were quite like me; readers who enjoy peering through the artist’s looking-glass and investigating music their idols like. Only I’m not really one of those people anymore.

I remain terribly obsessed with music. It’s one of my life’s few great loves. But gradually, thankfully, the pedestal I’ve offered songwriters for most of my life has diminished; they’re real people with real jobs and real worries and real minutia. Their opinions on music can be valuable and provocative, but it’s trivia all the same. And in the spirit of simplifying my life and focusing my creative impulses on what matters most, I’ve decided to leave the trivia to others.

A random glimpse over the 1,000 reviews I’ve written showcases an overabundance of trivia – plenty of details I barely remember learning so long ago. But they also chronicle five years of living, which is something a sentimentalist like me cannot ignore. As I read over these reviews, it isn’t commentary on the music that resonates so much as the memories invoked from the time period in which they were written. Whether I was finding my voice with records culled from my own collection during my year in that summer-y High Park apartment, or clicking “publish” with the hope that proofreading wasn’t necessary during one of my Greek-town all-nighters. Records I broke into over subway rides, between classes at my teaching job in Taipei, on late-night Ottawa walks to pick up my girlfriend, at the Starbucks in St Catharines before our internet was connected, and so forth. In the end, how music scores our lives is what Skeleton Crew Quarterly has always been about for me.

Some reviews I can vividly remember – where I was sitting, the view over my laptop as I stared off in concentration. Other reviews, I haven’t the foggiest. Sometimes I’d sneak little secrets into my reviews, to see if friends or family were really reading. (Fun fact: I announced my return from Taiwan a week before I surprised everyone with my appearance in Canada.) And there are many great stories that have gone on behind the scenes about attaining promo copies, missed opportunities and weird semi-friendships that developed with artists, but they’re really only great to me.


That’s it, that’s where I stopped. I’m glad I was proactive enough to notify those who knew me best and tell them, among other things, that they can stop wasting postage on SCQ. I'm also happy I had a chance to tell my conspirator Yusuf before he left this world. There was a list of people I wanted to thank but the task to compile it would be difficult and pointless now. So instead I thank my publicity comrades and label insiders who were always stoked to send me CDs and tickets. I thank the songwriters and band members I got to know for all of their kindnesses and great music. And I thank the readers who made this whole enterprise a glorious bit of fun. In many ways, SCQ was its own little hiatus.

We had some amazing listens,

Love SCQ

2007 - 2012
Toronto, Ottawa

No comments: