2020 – A Year in Reflection

As we wrap up one hell of a year, we thought it was only best that we took some time to reflect on some of the really goods things that have come out of this year, specifically with Popscure. Thank you all for making this year a special one—here’s to many more.

What was your favorite write-up from this year? Why?

Tyler W: It’s probably a tie between the Dawit N.M. interview conducted by Cam Murdoch and the Q+A I did with members of the Wild Bunch before the “Our Streets” exhibition, both of which focused on photography. Since practically everyone in the digital age can capture an image with ease, it’s really interesting to me to hear how photographers approach it as an art form.

Jasmine R: My favorite write-up probably has to be “Whose Streets? Our Streets!”— a Q+A written and conducted by Tyler. Documenting the (without a doubt) historical summer of activism and unity is so, so crucial to say the least.

Cam M: The Tyler Donavan piece, I just want that guy to win and have his story shared, so it was big for me to see the response he got from that.

Shannon J: From Overseas, Tyler did a great job poetically telling the story of Kevin Sery and made the piece just as atmospheric and grounded as his music. Otherwise, I was excited to have a couple pieces I wrote go out (“Treasure,” “Bubble Ball“). Since I started working full-time, I haven’t had much time to write for Popscure, so I’m glad I can contribute, and I’m excited to have some new writers on this year too (Allison, James and Noah).

Noah D: Oh jeez, I don’t know. I hate to self-plug but maybe the Why Bonnie interview. It was the first time I’d interviewed a bigger name band, and I just really enjoy the chances it gave me, and I was proud to see it get feedback. Other than that, I loved the recent article [“25 Local Places to Get Gifts in the 757”] focusing on shops in the 757. I think it gave some really solid media coverage to businesses that needed it, and I think it influenced a lot of peoples’ decisions in gift buying.

What was your favorite piece to have edited and published? Why?

Tyler W: I really liked how Jasmine’s interview with LEYA came together because I see that as a great example of how Popscure can create connections both online and IRL. We were able to create a relationship with both the band and their label through email correspondence and then reach new readers through social media shares by the band and label. At the same time, we were telling our local readership about this emerging band that was on tour coming to play in our town. And then we were able to go to the show, meet the band, network with local musicians, etc. I also just really like them and their album—their album was one of my favorites this year. 馃檪

Jasmine R: One of my favorite pieces that I helped put out was the Shaina Negr贸n feature by one of our writers, Darryan. It was a super cool look inside the conjoining of art and self-expression from Negr贸n. I’m also really proud of our Black Experience Collective that we put together as a response to the events of police brutality and blatant murder and injustice that occurred this year. The collective serves as a platform to amplify the black voices unheard in this country.

Shannon J: Jasmine took care of much of the editing, bless her soul, but one of the few I did was “Coronavirus and Why Your Fave Band Tee Is Important Right Now.” Documenting such a shift on the blog was crucial since so much of our content is dependent on live music and the musicians who play shows.

What was your favorite standout moment for Popscure this year?

Tyler W: One moment that stands out for me is posting the Fake Uzumi feature on our new WordPress site in February. Around that time we were leveling up, and I felt proud of the efforts from our newly-formed team. I knew the feature was going to get a lot of exposure, and I remember feeling like our operations were just starting to run smoothly; we had all been working hard getting ready for this new level of attention.

Jasmine R: One of my favorite moments from this year absolutely has to be the Valentine’s Day-themed party we did with Smartmouth Brewing Co. and Citrus City Records. This may sound cliche, but the energy was literally full of love that night. It was literally “nothin’ but love.”

Cam M: Nothin’ but love show with Smartmouth.

Shannon J: Stay Put Fest 2020 was amazing. It was such a fun challenge to translate the exhilaration, fun, and camaraderie of live music onto people’s phones. It was the first time I’d chatted with local showgoers and saw my friends play music in months. There were technical difficulties and a learning process for sure, but I think everyone appreciated it. FlyyScience’s COVID info takeover was super interesting too, and getting to know her and her work was awesome. We just really had to think outside of the box this year with events. No one stole our Instagram account either, which was a plus!

Noah D: I haven’t been on the team long enough to comment!

What do you most look forward to in the future of Popscure?

Tyler W: I look forward to us continuing to grow our team. By adding more contributors, Popscure will expand our investigation into the various aspects of culture and bring our findings to our community.

Jasmine R: Our growth!!!

Cam M: Breaking boundaries and bringing obscure talent to the masses.

Shannon J: Parties, hopefully we can do something fun in the summer!

Noah D: Writing more, editing, carving a voice for myself in the team, etc. etc.

Thank you all for the love and support you showed us this year! On to the next one…


Join NYC Nightlife United in Keeping NYC’s Lights On

2020 has served us all a harsh reminder that “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” Late-night hangs with friends are cut short…big celebrations are canceled or reimagined in a new way fitting of a dystopian novel…things that were once a lighthouse amidst the storm of life have gone dim. I mean, things weren’t perfect before COVID, but at least we had those small sanctuaries of respite. Now, as society begins to rebuild itself to a “new normal,” many will be left struggling to keep their heads above water. And unfortunately, many of those will be members who have brought us that joy and happiness that we took for granted—from artists and musicians to venue workers and small business owners, everyone in the music and entertainment industry has inevitably been affected. To make matters worse, the disparity of who will be affected is disheartening with minority-owned businesses and BIPOC & LGBTQIA spaces being most at risk at closing due to financial struggles.

And this is where we come in. A collective of New York’s finest–ranging from community organizers to music professionals–have come together under the organization, NYC Nightlife United, to support the community that has given them so much life and joy, and they are asking for our help. The organization has launched a fundraiser via Kickstarter to raise $20,000 for NYC’s nightlife–specifically the cultural hubs that have fostered a kinship of community and creativity in BIPOC and LGBTQIA spaces. Kickstarter works off a “pledge” system where you can pledge a specific amount of money and get a reward in return. Rewards include specially curated NNU merchandise, vinyl bundles, and some amazing works by Ebru Yildiz, including exclusive zine prints from For The Record and her photography book documenting the days leading up to the closing of Brooklyn music venue staple, Death by Audio.

You know…there’s one more thing 2020 has taught us—the importance of community. I think it goes without saying that we all have a strong love and appreciation for the arts and for the feelings of camaraderie and pure bliss that come along with it. While NYC is miles and miles away from Virginia, I’d like to think of them as part of our community…and us a part of theirs.

To learn a little more about the initiative, check out the Q+A I did below with NNU member, Morgan Schaffner, and don’t forget to view the Kickstarter here!

Did NYC Nightlife United form as a response to COVID-19 and the closures that came along with it? If so, do you see the organization branching off into other avenues of action in the future?

Yes! We formed back in March as an emergency relief fund to save NYC’s nightlife cultural spaces and those in the nightlife ecosystem. Since initially forming NYC Nightlife United, we’ve refocused our efforts on prioritizing aid for the most vulnerable, specifically BIPOC-owned and led businesses who create safe spaces for the BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities.

Why choose Kickstarter as your platform for funding?

We decided to roll with Kickstarter as a fundraising platform because we wanted to give something back (ie: rewards) to the individuals who wanted to donate to our cause. With Kickstarter, we found it incredibly easy to tell our story and display a lot of the awesome rewards!

In what ways are you all aiming for this fundraiser to tangibly provide?

Our Kickstarter profits will be going towards providing venues and individuals in the NYC nightlife ecosystem with emergency relief grants.

How does the organization plan on distributing the donations? Is there a process?

The first round of applications for the grants just closed on 9/23, but the money from this Kickstarter will be going towards the second round of emergency grants. Once the applications open for the second round of grants, we hope to help even more folks in the community!

What do you think is the biggest misconception about BIPOC and LGBTQIA cultural spaces, such as music venues and nightlife hubs? Music and entertainment industry?

If you take anything from these words, please know that nightlife IS culture. And specifically, throughout much of popular American, music and culture has always been appropriated from BIPOC and LGBTQIA cultural spaces. You see it again and again from American music’s black roots–where white artists became the faces (and highest earners) of genres with overlooked, underpaid black originators.

You also see it in the co-opting of “Voguing” culture from the young, brown, queer youth of NYC’s ballroom scene. Ultimately, we need to work hard to protect our cultural spaces where folks gather–the music venues…the nightlife hubs–because without them, we don’t have culture. And without culture, what do we have?

Will the NYC Nightlife United Sessions livestream series continue after the fundraiser deadline?

Yes! Absolutely. We’re already planning Volume 2 of the next NYC Nightlife United Sessions livestream series. 馃檪

Any more plans for another pledge reward to be added amongst the great options you all have already provided?

Yes! We are adding more pledge rewards every day between now and the end of the campaign (which is Oct. 17 @ 9AM EST).

Have you all found much support outside of New York? (Sidenote: We are based in Norfolk, VA)

We’ve surprisingly found a lot of support outside of the NYC area! I think it’s humbling and honestly awesome that our cause relates and speaks to so many folks, especially since so many artists have had their first “break through” moment in their careers while in NYC.

The current pandemic has illuminated a significant amount of flaws within our society at every level possible. What, if any, flaws have become glaringly apparent during this new environment within the music and entertainment industry?

There’s so many flaws, especially in NYC, that have been incredibly obvious. Flaws that come to mind include the lack of rent protections for commercial lease holders, the lack of federal funding and support for small businesses outside of the PPP loan, as well as venue and live entertainment businesses’ inability to thrive at a reduced capacity.

Concert venues were the first businesses to close due to COVID-19 and will be among the last to return–while there’s some talk of venues re-opening with social distancing and 25% capacity, that’s just really not a sustainable business model. While it hasn’t been easy, I do also believe that the Paycheck Protection Program and rent moratoriums in NYC are the only reason more venues haven’t closed permanently (yet).

In what ways do you think NYC Nightlife United will provide education, or spur conversation, on these flaws? Is education of such topics something you all are interested into exploring more?

Yes! I hope with the work we’ve done, we can continue to educate folks on the issues that those in NYC nightlife ecosystem face, along with providing secure funding for those who are truly in need.

What is one thing you all hope people will take away from this?

I hope that folks will recognize, that while organizations like NIVA + NYIVA are doing amazing work actively lobbying local and federal governments, our aim is to provide direct IMMEDIATE emergency relief for folks in the NYC nightlife ecosystem. We established our Kickstarter campaign as a way to provide rewards and something in return for all the folks who are interested in helping the community ASAP. 鉂わ笍

We wish Morgan and the rest of NYC Nightlife United the best of luck and success in their mission to providing BIPOC and LGBTQIA spaces the help they need during this time! The fundraiser only has 4 MORE DAYS before the deadline on Oct. 17th @9AM EST, and they are just under $2,000 shy of their goal to $20K. For more information on the cause, and to donate, click here!

Getting Familiar with the Unfamiliar: Flyyscience on COVID-19 and Beyond

Following the livestream takeover from our Instagram last night, Popscure Editor-in-Chief Shannon Jay chatted with laboratory scientist, Brianda, better known as “Flyyscience” to discuss all things science, including the recent pandemic.

Brianda is a medical laboratory scientist working on achieving both her Masters in Biological Sciences and PhD in Molecular Medicine. If that wasn’t enough on her plate, she’s also a YouTuber that connects pop culture, society, and science. Under the name @flyyscience, she engages in all of her passions – music, arts, sports, and (obviously) STEM. Her hope is to communicate science to a general audience in a cool and interesting way!

Ever wanted the break down how a bath bomb works? There’s a video on that. How about the science behind that siqq ink you’re rocking’ on your arm? She’s got you covered there too.

Blending her love of hip-hop and medicine, she talks about some of her favorite rappers’ battles with diseases. She starts her Eazy-E video out in his signature shades before talking about his battle with AIDS.

Image via Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In her J Dilla video explaining how he died from TTP, she starts off by grabbing a sweet snack that’s a nod to his signature album “Donuts,” and even uses Stars Wars figures to explain how the disease works. Need I say more?

Image via St眉ssy

Missed the livestream? Don’t worry, you can still view it on our Instagram story for a limited time! Stay tuned to our IG for future live Q&A’s with Flyyscience and subscribe to her YouTube channel!

Coronavirus and Why Your Fave Band Tee Is Important Right Now

In the midst of a global pandemic, Popscure contributor, Allison Weeks, took the time to share some perspective and grounding advice on how to approach our new reality in a world without live music and entertainment.

Spring has started springing, and music lovers and makers alike have reached the threshold of that long-awaited time of year: festival season. In a moment of divine harmony, chilly temps seemed to be on the outs while sunshine, crop tops, and fantasized lineups (too good to be true) floated into sight—a blissful m茅nage 脿 trois between industry, spectator, and – well, Mother Nature. That is…until we were met with the unexpected.

COVID-19. Coronavirus. It has been difficult at best to get straightforward answers about the now pandemic and, as more and more cases are confirmed within the US, industries have been scrambling to make immediate safety decisions. Like rampant wildfire, events and institutions are announcing cancellations – including academia, concerts, festivals…the entire NBA season, even. But the music world has encountered these effects at a much more rapid pace.

On March 6th, in a shot heard ’round the world, the city of Austin, Texas, pulled the trigger on cancelling SXSW. Known more fondly on the street as “South By,” the mega festival/conference is a living, breathing point of convergence among film, music, tech, and interactive media, bringing together more than 400,000 attendees and over 2,000 acts spanning the globe. It’s a smorgasbord of art, culture, indie music, film, and ideas – and the damn thing generates over $350 million in roughly a week. The cancellation, a first in the notorious event’s 34 years, represents more than just a missed opportunity to knock back one too many PBRs while jamming to an exclusive Pom Poko set. It exists as an allegory for the financial ripple effect that artists are immediately feeling in the wake of social and economic chaos.

At this point, the numbers of cancelled shows and postponed tours are too large to gather, but if there’s one undeniable takeaway, it’s that this hurts. In the era of free streaming, leaks (read: hackers), and the availability of just about anything via smartphone at our fingertips, the whole “musician as a full-time job” thing is no cakewalk—nor is it much of a money tree for most. That’s why your favorite acts are always all, “Link in bio,” “Buy some merch,” “Get to the gig!” Promo is dough, yo.

Image via music think tank/Jonathan Ostrow

In all seriousness, with no clear end to the corona-madness in sight and more cancellations rolling in by the day, it’s evident that festival and spring touring season are not going to be the midriff-bearing, sunny dreamscapes we had anticipated. Nevertheless, in the recent words of a quarantined Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in baseball.” That’s right. Now isn’t the time to pity our missed experiences – it’s time to step up and show support in alternative ways to our favorite bands and artists. Cop some merch. Order the limited-edition vinyl. Buy the entire record on Bandcamp. Share their pages on your social media. Venmo where venmo is due (sorry Cash App, shameless personal plug). Also, consider making direct donations to independent labels and venues – they, too, are feeling the heavy weight of this. Seriously, be there for these folks. After all, the sounds they create and share with the world are what get us through difficult times like these.

Once the dust settles and we (hopefully) return to whatever pre-pandemic version of normalcy that existed, it’ll be your continued support that allows artists and venues to reschedule and keep the groove alive.

For more information on how to support artists, view live-streaming events, and stay updated on further cancellations, visit the Virtual Music Events Directory, compiled by Cherie Hu. The featured photo at the top was shot by Tye Truitt via SXSW.

As an added aside, recently featured artists: Shormey, Alfred., LOVELORN, LEYA, and Suburban Living‘s tours have been cut short. In good nature of the article above, directly purchasing any content/items from the artists/bands would be a great way of showing some support.

Unfamiliar with any of these artists? Take some time to get familiar below:

Shormey and Alfred. Announce Spring Tour, SXSW Appearances

Lovelorn Returns With New Sounds, New Tour

LEYA Sheds Light on a Sort of Beauty

Discovering How To Be Human With Suburban Living