WVAU hosts talk by Pitchfork associate editor Lindsay Zoladz
Lindsay Zoladz, associate editor for Pitchfork and former general manager of WVAU, discussed her life as a music critic and writing professionally for a living in MGC 200 on April 13.
Zoladz spoke about the principal circumstances that led to her illustrious career at Pitchfork Media at the event moderated by WVAU General Manager Max Tani. She began as a WVAU general manager from 2007 to 2009. Since then, Zoladz career encapsulates a wide range of pieces including contributions to Slate, Salon, The L.A. Review of Books, The Believer, Washington City Paper, AARP, interviewing members of Pussy Riot and Damon Albarn and formerly contributing pieces to The Eagle at one point.
“I didn’t intend to become a music writer,” Zoladz said. “I did visual media and an English double major and a cinema studies minor, and I really thought I was gonna be like Lena Dunham.”
During Zoladz’s time at WVAU, she expressed an interest in film criticism, but music writing became a far more magnetic, sincere passion she wanted to continue. This sentiment followed Zoladz well after college.
“I graduated in 2009 and was unemployed for the first 5 months after I graduated,” Zoladz said.
Zoladz lived with various friends and took some odd jobs, from cruising couches in the Berkshire Apartments to starting work at a then newly opened Georgetown Cupcake. Zoladz worked hard with the hopes of eventually writing a screenplay.
“But around that time was when I started writing at night and on the weekends because I just realized that I missed writing and I sort of missed engaging with music,” Zoladz said. “So a couple of my friends that were at the station started a blog together out of missing talking about music.”
Zoladz’s first paying gig ended up being at the Washington City Paper, where she sent samples to the current Managing Editor John Fischer. Fischer gave Zoladz a job writing blogs for the Arts & Entertainment section.
“It was terrifying, but there’s the pressure of having to pay rent somehow,” Zoladz said. So I have to just write all this stuff with all these places and just light a fire under myself.”said.
With a well stocked ammunition cache of writing clips to fire off, she got the attention of the Pitchfork Media editors. Mark Richardson, who was the managing editor at the time for Pitchfork, gave Zoladz the call that changed her life.
“When someone from the Internet calls you on the phone. It’s a big deal.” Zoladz said.
So Zoladz went off on her adventure, hitching to New York, where she began writing regularly for Pitchfork. She wrote popular and controversial critiques, such as one for Arcade Fire’s Reflektor in which Zoladz related to the room that she sat listening to the album for the first time while a publicist watched her intently.
During a Q&A session, Zoladz answered a wide range of questions such as what her opinion is on having musical education in critiquing albums (her answer being that there’s a certain point where her experience can’t translate into music theory, but she attempts to do the best possible job with the powers at her disposal), the Pitchfork media rating system (a fuzzy-kind-of-aggregate science that should ultimately be boiled down to what’s being said and not the numbered grade) and, finally, whether she would make a return to film criticism (Zoladz promises she will).
Zoladz, in her pleasantly unorthodox odyssey from slumming it in friends’ apartments to becoming a respected and prolific critic, was summed up in a small, but crucial, piece of advice she imparted to the audience.
“I think just do as much as you can and as many things as you can and follow that,” Zoladz said. “Something will materialize out of it that you won’t expect.”