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October 14, 2004

Meeting The Neighbors At The Tofu Hut

John Seroff has been the center spoke of the music blog community lately, interviewing fellow music bloggers and reviewing music sites. His mp3 blog, The Tofu Hut offers an eclectic selection of downloads from all over the musical map as well as music news and the heads up on the latest and greatest music sites.

Since John's done such a great job bringing the online music community a little closer, I thought I'd turn the tables and have him answer a variety of his own questions.

1. Where did the name of your blog originate from, and when did the blog start?

The name of the blog is a piss take on my online nick, "forksclovetofu", by way of a reference to Matt Groening's Life In Hell. There's a strip where his be-fezzed gay couple Akbar and Jeff open a stripmall called "The Tofu Hut". Honestly, I didn't give much thought about the name when I started the blog and it wasn't originally a music site. Knowing then what I do now, I've occasionally mused that I might've been better off calling the thing "John the Revelator" which would make it easier for people to associate the site with me. Ah well. Missed opportunities.

For the record: no, I'm not a vegetarian but I _DO_ love to eat tofu in all its many forms.

2. What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it's post-worthy

It should be something that 95 people out of a hundred haven't heard before. It should be awesome. Bonus points if it utilizes a vocoder or gamelan. It should not be commercially available as a single. It should fit the theme of whatever I'm currently running. It should be something neither I nor anyone else has posted before. It should continue to expand the variance of genres that the blog explores.

3. What song consistently makes you happy?

A few off the top of my head: Stevie Wonder's live version of "Ribbon in the Sky" off of 'Natural Wonder' (5:45 to ending only), Desmond Dekker's "Poor Me Israelites", Leslie Feist's "Mushaboom", Basement Jaxx's "Good Luck", Louis Jordan's "The Green Grass Grows All Around", The Golden Gate Quartet's "My Walking Stick", Tatu's "Malchik Gay", Taj Mahal "Cakewalk Into Town", Twista and R. Kelly's "So Sexy", Ghostface/RZA/SlickRick/Raekwon's "The Sun"... that'll do for the moment.

4. What do you do for kicks when you're not posting?

Women (when available and not prohibited by law), surf the web relentlessly, run, hit that gym, eat, go to the museum/library/rekkid store, read paper products, video games, find new music, watch films, yaketty yak, work (too often), sleep (too often), worry (too often), job hunt (not often enough), whatever happens happens yaknow?

5. Do you have a favorite music critic?

I really like Sasha Frere Jones; I'll try anything his name is on. Outside of that, I have a list of my fave critic on my blog; they're my favorite musicblog kids.

6. Gimme five desert island discs (I'll take compilations).

Oh so arbitrary, but:

1. Le Triomphe des Blues (20 disc French import collection)
2. Prince: Hits and the B-Sides
3. John Coltrane: either "A Love Supreme" or "Giant Steps" or "Favorite Things", couldn't tell you which.
4. The Complete Hank Williams (Mercury box set)
5. Goodbye Babylon (dusttodigital box set)

Of course, I would OBVIOUSLY just take my computer with me to any desert island. With Wi-Fi. And a terragig drive.

7. Do you consider yourself a "music journalist"?

Only when I get paid.

8. What was the last track you heard that really changed your life?

Oh, they change my life every day; a good song alters the way you feel and the way you see the world more than damn near anything for me. The last one that jumps to mind is the Quarteto Em Cy's "Tudo Que VocÍ Podia Ser" off their 1972 eponymous album; that thing is so goddamn heartfelt. Should be on the Hut shortly and you can judge for yourself just how good it is.

9. Is there a major flaw in the way musicblog sites function that you'd like to see corrected??

I'd like to see a greater sense of community. For some reason there's a real cynical attitude toward embracing people who are doing the same thing that you're doing on the web. This strikes me as excessively self-defeating. There should certainly be critical standards but we could do worse than to offer everyone a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the back while they get acclimated and see if they have something interesting to offer.

10. Do you really think posting music effectively promotes sales of the album?

Yeah I do and for reasons that I've rehashed so extensively and repeatedly on my own blog and across the internet that it bores me to even think about getting back into that tangle. Suffice it to say: curious consumers with one free track+computer=curious consumer with a budget that includes discretionary income for music willing to buy more. Etc, ad infinitum.

11. Describe the space you do your writing in.

I'm currently living in a vastly overpriced NYC underground cave on a chair with not enough padding and listening to music through my only soundsystem/conduit to the world/writing utensil, which is to say Sonya the II, my erstwhile compooter. It's dark and hell is cold.

12. That old chestnut dinner party is at your house and you can invite three musicians living or dead. Who are you inviting?

Seems to me that John Coltrane, Robert Johnson and Andre 3000 would have a lot to talk about. Again, this is so damn arbitrary; catch me tomorrow and I'll tell you Tom Waits, David Banner and Orpheus.

13. Is there any genre of music that you dismiss out of hand?

There used to be quite a few; now there's pretty much nothing that I don't think deserves a fair shake, up to and including kids hitting tin cans with sticks.

14. What is the most rewarding facet of writing a music weblog?

The response from interested readers and the cross-pollination of musical tastes that engenders. It also represents a creative outlet and a dream to try to pin my star on.

15. Do you someday hope to make a living with something music or
internet related?

f*ck, _please_? I'm asking nicely ovah heah!

16. Drop on by Better Propaganda at http://www.betterpropaganda.com/ and pick out a track from their archives to hype.

Wiley - Wot Do U Call It?

I finally picked up "Treddin' On Thin Ice" a little while ago and it's pretty much straight fire. This is the track that got me started on this fella. If you dig th' Streets and Dizzee Rascal, this is the next logical rung on the ladder.


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