I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Jason Urick is not Alan Lomax


by Network Awesome
May 8, 2016
Jason Urick is highly regarded in the Baltimore music and arts scene, through his work in WZT Hearts (pronounced “Wet Hearts”) and at the Floristree Space where he has curated many shows and festivals. His debut solo album "Husbands" on Thrill Jockey gained wide praise despite being difficult to pin down. We learned of Jason's interest in non-western music via Mark Brown from 120 Megabytes, and we've been completely blown away by his selection for today's Live Music Show. We pestered him with a few questions about it and he was gracious enough to answer:

NAMag: Can you tell me a bit about how you got into this kind of music and how you continue to learn more about it?

Jason Urick: It's tough to pinpoint and I'm not sure that it's even really proper to say "this kind of music". For better or worse music all sort of blurs together for me. Youtube has lead me to tons of music that I wouldn't have had access to for sure... with more an more of the populations of African countries and Middle Eastern countries having access to computers there has certainly been an influx of home produced music and availibility of it outside of the original region, which is super exciting. 

NAMag: Autotune: is it evil?

Jason Urick: Heck no. It can be used for bad but so can guitars.

NAMag:  A lot of these videos are as complex as they are lo-fi, any thoughts on what purpose these videos have and why they were made?

Jason Urick: It's different for each region, or really each video. Much of the Nepalese, Nigerian(Hausa region) and Indian videos are from movies, most of the Malinese stuff I find is from TV there, otherwise I believe it's the same reason bands make videos over here, promotion. The lo-fi-ness of many of these videos add another layer to me in a way, much like an old blues record with tons of surface noise often sounds better to me than a remastered version. I suppose it's a somewhat romantic notion but I can't deny it.  

NAMag: With so many mainstream artists (Lady Gaga, MIA, etc) showing an openness to this style of (ok, I'll say it) "world music" (barf) how do you think it conversely effects these musicians?

Jason Urick: It's always been that way I suppose. Not just within "world music". Mega-stars are rarely going to be true innovators, whether it's MIA using Baile Funk beats or the Rolling Stones stealing blues riffs.

NAMag: How does Sociology fit into your personal world?  Do you feel like an youtube-generation Alan Lomax?

Jason Urick: Ha, a friend once made that exact joke towards me, but no.... I think that there are people much better suited for the true research on this stuff. The sociology does interest me but in general I'm usually moving on trying to find the next jam rather than spending a month trying to find more about the origins of the song or style of music.

Questions by Network Awesome writers and editors. We're a lot of fun - you can find us at apocalypse-themed parties, museums of science and industry, and snarky media-obsessed websites.