Here at the end of another semester, we at Garage Music News pick our favorites of the more than 130 essays, reviews, and photos from the past year. From basements to Basement, GMN‘s second year as a youth-run music magazine brought a field of sweaty emo kids at Warped Tour, live readings with our best and brightest, and our first table at Twin Cities Zine Fest. As we say goodbye to our graduates and get ready for another year of deafening tunes, here is how we grew and learned. This is the Best of GMN 2016–2017.
by Jessi Norblum
My favorite pile of photos I have taken during my year at GMN, are the ones from City Mouth back in February. At this show I was still adjusting to a new lens and just freshly started playing around with a prism. I am really proud of these photos because they are all pretty different. I find myself focusing on single artists when shooting rather than crowd shots. When I first started photographing concerts I never played around with angles or ways to tilt the camera, or even getting down all the way to the floor just to get a different and spunky shot. I think this piece really shows my creativity with photography and brings out my style in a less basic or crisp way. I remember seeing these photos and realizing I found my “photography aesthetic”. The colors are all so vibrant and the prism adds some cool effects such as mirroring that I just fell in love with. This photo set really made me realize my style and find out how I wanted my photos to look.
by Hana Simons
New experiences, that’s what makes life as mystifying-ly abstract as it is. Take for example going to a venue you’ve never been to before and seeing bands you’ve never heard of before; and imagine photographing the show that night. Some people would worry and wonder where they’ll find the best places to take the perfect shot. Some may worry that they’ll hate the bands playing and loathe every second of it.
But that wasn’t the true in my case. Here I was going to Treasure Island to photograph a band called Everclear. I hadn’t heard of them until I heard they were playing a show and it happened to be 16+ and weighed the options of going. First off, I had never been to a Casino prior to hearing about the tour, and second I knew I would be going alone which at the time was a scary thought. I normally go to shows by myself, that’s part of being a music photographer. But I tend to stick to the same couple of venues that I know and feel safe being there alone.
But going alone to this show was freeing in a way, I felt safe with the ungodly amount of security and police officers and with recent events it made sense. Being the in space was safe and welcoming and the fans were amazing. Looking back on this night it was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Music photography can feel like work after a while and it was wonderful to feel like I was there to just have fun but still be able to photograph as well. Everything from the lighting, to the sound, to the bands and even the showroom itself was wonderful. And I couldn’t think of a better time.
Looking at my photos from this show made me realize this was one of my favorite sets I’ve done for GMN. I forced myself to move around and not be stuck in one solitary spot for the entire time. I was free to wander the whole venue and view the stage from any angle imaginable. Treasure Island I will be back for future shows.
by Josie Morss
In my six month stride I’ve been on the Garage Music News staff, I’ve come to take the most pride in my very first profile following the lives of Lionsdale.
The aspect I found most proud of in my piece, was the process of developing quality questions to answer my deep curiosity about the band and how it functions, to not only form it into an article, but to also give their fans an inside look on their lives. Another defining factor that stood out to me of was honing in on the specific theme and stance I wanted to take in the profile. Another part of the article I’m beyond happy about was putting my name out there, in my own writing style.
By Jacob Willenbring
The best post I made for Garage Music News was my Live At The Garage shoot I did for I Destroy’s EP Release. This stood out to me because of the new techniques I used and the experience it gave me. I use more artistic types of shots, such as long exposure, and it was also my first metal concert I have gone to and I didn’t know what to expect from it.
For the photos I took, I used a technique called “long exposure.” It’s where the shutter is open for a longer amount of time, which means that light has more time to make an imprint on the photo. This causes light sources to blend together, like in the photos below. It helps push an emotion in the photo that I believe really works for this style of music. I Destroy has a very intense and angry sound to their music. Through long exposure, you can actually see and feel the action on stage, rather than just looking at a static photo. It allows you to feel movement and energy through a photo.
The second reason why I loved shooting this concert was the experience. I have a completely new appreciation for this type of music after seeing the intensity and energy it brings to a live show. Standing in the back taking photos, I could feel every single drum and guitar hit. It gives you an adrenaline rush. I’d urge everyone to at least try out a live concert before you make any judgments on this type of music.
by Maddy Siiter
It was always difficult for me to speak up in situations I felt uncomfortable in, even when I knew what was going on was wrong. But: I love writing essays and find it much easier to write how I feel than speak. When I wrote my Girl in a Band piece, I was assertive and cynical. It felt great.
My dream response to [what’s it like being a girl in a band?] would go something like this:
“I mean, it is different, but not in a good way. Are you writing this down? I get strange looks from the bartender when I walk in. The guys around me stand awkwardly and offer to help me carry my gear. Instead of getting attention for my skill and talent, people care more about what I’m wearing. There’s a critic standing in the corner who has more scribbles on his notepad about how stringy my hair has gotten in 45 minutes under these stage lights than what I’m getting paid to do here. Apparently people care that I’m wearing a dress.”
The mock interview perfectly encapsulates exactly how I feel whenever I read an interview with the question “what’s it like being a girl in a band?”. It’s the answer I hope to read each time my eyes wander down the page to the next line. I’ve never seen it printed, but I’ve read multiple memoirs of female musicians (Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth’s Girl in a Band and Michelle Leon of Babes in Toyland’s I Live Inside to name a few) that have implied their discomfort and irritation with the question, so instead of it hiding in pages of books on shelves, I wanted it out there.
The personal emotion captured in the ending paragraph really summarizes how I feel; that it’s not about what a musician is wearing on stage or what they look like, but those gut-punching moments that make you feel the most alive.
by John McBride
Garage Music News has been a fantastic opportunity for me. This great atmosphere and terrific group of people, has helped me grow as a photographer. The piece I am most proud of is my Star Party pictures.
This is because I was able to use all of my previous experience and skills, and wrap them together and shoot a lineup that I never thought I would be able to shoot. I’m most proud of how I was able to able to capture each performer’s stage presence and vibe with the pictures I took. It has been a great experience, and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. My skills has grown immensely, and this internship has given me plenty of opportunities.
by EJ Coleman
Possibly my magnum opus, this series contains all of the things I am most proud and fond of in my writing—strange metaphors; podcasts; erratic tagging systems; predicting future popular indie artists; an interconnected web of music, film, and television; obscure musical instruments; the endless stretch of “this was only supposed to be one paragraph, how am I on page three already” that is my writing process. Sometimes the things I write end up sounding more like Stefon from Weekend Update than anything approaching serious writing, and never seem to end, but I guess that’s just part of my charm. “Bandcamp Camp 2” is the culmination of the quirks and common themes in my writing that I’ve learned to love and be proud of in my time here at GMN.
Plus, it was nice to revisit one of my more ingenious ideas, if I do say so myself, and see both how much I’ve grown and how good I was at picking who would get popular next. If Pinegrove and Adult Mom want to hit me up with some of those royalties, I’d be happy to take their calls.
by Lizzie Savage
It’s often hard for me to find the words to say what I’m thinking without getting overly dramatic and rambling, and therefore quickly losing my audience. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that when I write something with the intent of attracting readers, it needs to do just that–attract them with a connection to the world and other people’s feelings and ideas. The two pieces that stand out most to me from this last year were reflections on two important pieces of local music–the now-closed venue Mill City Nights, and Go 96.3, Minnesota’s alternative station.
I like these two pieces best because I let myself get a little ramble-y, but still kept it relevant, and connected it to the local music scene. I love being able to put out a piece that is honest and that people can relate to on an emotional level, and I think that for the most part, both these pieces did that successfully. I added a personal touch by talking about the memories I had made because of these two things, but put equal focus into reflecting on the big picture and why both the closing of Mill City Nights and 96.3 in general should be important to people reading. And for any readers who are not local, there’s an opportunity for them to reflect on analogous places and feelings in wherever it is they call home.