Media Talks Back: The Super Moop
A refreshing read that is as well written as it is devilishly witty, The Super Moop’s music blog Moop City is an independent and opinionated voice that stands out in the sea of mediocre content that typifies many popular Indian media publications of today. Its potently fresh elixir of satire and insight does what many other so called ‘reputed’ publications fail to do – provoke thought and generate the need to engage in dialogue.
With a host of music blogs that have established themselves as a sort of speaker box for the indies, the voice of the blogger in India has emerged as a voice of increasing authority in the domain of ‘indie’ culture, as a platform that can represent the voice of the independents more effectively than other forms of commercial or mainstream media. While bigger media outlets have often been riddled with the beasts of censorship, corporate interests, and the need to generate revenue, smaller new media domains – such as the blog space – are developing into a sort of antidote to these big media ailments.
Blogs like Moop City offer an independent voice that challenges what once was the mainstream media’s monopoly on information, news and public opinion. In fact, more and more readers are looking to blogs for relevance and genuine opinions. I caught up more with the mysterious creator (who goes only by the alias The Super Moop) about his calling as a music blogger, his views on the Indian music media, and the bands he loves and loves to hate.
Nirupama: What prompted you to start Moop City?
I stumbled upon a couple of really good gigs by pure accident, and I wrote about it for the fun of it – bands and shows make for good stories, and, when your friends won’t listen to you, there’s always the internet. There wasn’t really a motive – just pet interests, and pet peeves. That’s what the internet’s best for, anyway!
Nirupama: What is Moop City’s purpose as a music blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
I like writing, and I like getting stuff out of my system once and for all. If it gets people arguing about what goes on here, then I’ll be really happy. That’s all I want, honestly – to prod people into thinking about the music that’s made here, how it’s distributed, where it can go, and so on. I think a healthy scene needs a healthy amount of talk. A bit of trolling livens things up a bit – otherwise, we’d all be much too satisfied in our own little worlds, and nothing would ever lead anywhere.
Nirupama: According to you – what are the advantages and/or disadvantages of blogging as a medium of expression – over and above other forms of print/popular media?
What’s really great is, a blog is so impermanent. I’m not trying to write for a “real” paper, so I can dick about as I wish. It’s junk, basically, but that’s what pop music ought to be too, anyway. So, I think the medium goes with the subject. You don’t want to write ten leather bound family friendly volumes about some dickhead rock ‘n’ roll group who practice on out of tune guitars – that misses the whole point!
The disadvantage is simply that people will still take a genuine, honest-to-goodness newspaper more seriously than a nerd on the internet. A column on the Indian Express lends legitimacy to your show in a way that a nerd on Tumblr never can. And I genuinely believe that, in pop music, you shouldn’t even be trying for that – or any – sort of legitimacy, but I suppose it looks good on the press kit, so there we are.
I think Twitter, Tumblr, and so forth are much more in line with how a wham-bam make-a-racket-for-yer-mates pop group ought to operate – it’s quick, noisy, forgettable fun, just as God intended. But a career in music is a different thing, and, at least in India, conventional media still has the sort of hold on the public that bands might need to stay in business.
Nirupama: How objective are you in your critiques? If your girlfriend’s/spouse’s/significant other’s band sucked – would you maintain journalistic integrity and choose brutal honesty – at the risk of domestic upheaval – over sugar coating the truth?
I’m not objective in the least! I was listening to Iron Man in the car, and I thought it was the greatest record ever made – I could’ve gone on about it forever. Five hours later, I was wishing it had never been made. I’ve never been “brutally honest” – I don’t even really believe myself most of the time! What’s more, anybody who says they’re being objective about a band is lying – you can’t do it, there’s no standard to measure a record against, it’s either your sort of thing or it isn’t, and even that has everything to do with whether you had to wait an hour in the traffic, or whether the drain at home is broken again.
But it’s a great question, and if the significant other does one day cut a record that blows, then I’ll still probably plug it like it was The Beatles. Life’s too short!
Nirupama: Have you ever hated on a band because you didn’t like them as people? What are your opinions on separating an artist’s personality/dirty business from their creations – or are the creator and creation one and the same? (Think Woody Allen scandal and the public altering their perceptions/boycotting his films and work).
Not just the recent Woody Allen episode – you have James Brown and Ike Turner and all those other sociopaths. I’m sure Keith Moon would’ve made a terrible flatmate, and Elvis Costello seems pretty unpleasant – you can just see him acting the twat towards guys who come up to him at the bar for autographs. It honestly shouldn’t make a difference, and most of the time, it doesn’t. I can still watch Annie Hall without cringing. That said, I can’t stand Michael Stipe, and that’s just because of the way he looks. I mean, by all accounts, he’s a perfectly decent bloke. It ought to not make a difference at all, but it does.
In all seriousness, I think the art has a life of its own outside of the artist.
Nirupama: In many of your articles, you seem a wee bit peeved. Did the inception of Moop City stem from any sort of disillusionment or frustrations?
Not really, no – I started it because I like writing. It is a bit frustrating going to shows in India, though – there isn’t always a lot of new stuff going around, and you wind up running into the same guys everywhere – that’s a bit stifling, but there we are. I do think there are structural problems with carving out career in music here, and the way the venues and a lot of the press are set up isn’t very conducive to exposing bands to people, and the other way around.
I happen to think that the relationship between bands, venues, and the audiences could be different. There’s a problem when the Weekender is run by the same guys who own the biggest music website in the country. A lot of people don’t see it as a problem, but what would be interesting would be to at least see it discussed openly. That’s the sort of thing which is more interesting to me than the music itself.
Nirupama: What are your observations of the Indian music media? Where do you think there is scope for growth and development?
I honestly think it’s pretty good for listings and information. But, stubborn as I am, I’d love to see more argument – less of the “Raghu Dixit wows Delhi”, more of the “What makes Raghu Dixit tick?” Less “reporting”, more people picking at stuff to find out where it could fall apart! The press really ought to be a permanent thorn in the side for the musicians – an endorsement from the press should really mean something – the writers are too kind! #Twat
Nirupama: Who are your current favourite Indian bands and why?
I don’t think I’ve ever pussyfooted about it, I dig the Shakey Rays and the Fish-Eyed Poets, because both bands make cool, groovy little songs exactly as I like them. I totally dig the first PCRC record, because it’s such a great drinking album, and I hope there’s more where that came from. Adil & Vasundhara do a great, dramatic show, even though I normally haven’t the grit to sit through ten minute songs with six different time signatures. The Ministry of Blues send out mailers that always make me laugh.
Nirupama: What do you see as the way forward – for the music media and their responsibility towards the artists they write about, and the audiences they’re writing for?
In my books, nobody is responsible towards anyone else. Bands should make the sort of records they please, and the journalists should feel free to rave about them or lay it into them, as they see fit. I genuinely think everyone in this business should be looking at campus colleges, as a walled up boarding house for bored teenagers in the middle of nowhere strikes me as exactly the right sort of place to start a riot, but that’s more an opportunity than a case of “responsibility towards the masses” or some such.
Honestly, the whole idea is to get people on both sides of the line – the musicians and the guys who write about music – to just push their own art in the directions they choose. And writing about music can be as much of an art (or as much charlatanry) as making records, otherwise someone like Chuck Klosterman wouldn’t exist.