An interview with katie ingegneri of houseshow magazine
Written by Chloe Graham and featured in her zine Sis: Girls to the Garage
"Last spring I became fascinated with the local music scene in Chicago. All of the bands seem to genuinely love playing, and it is insane to see bands that are little known outside of Chicago have such rabid reactions from fans, like The Walters or Twin Peaks. But I also felt slightly left out, my being a grrrl and all. Most of these bands have a healthy amount of grrrl fans, but very few bands have grrrls in them, and those that are making art from this scene are ignored all too often. I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve been called a groupie!
So I decided to do what I do best: make a zine! I interviewed Al Smith of Melted Magazine, the band Menacerno, and Katie Ingegneri of Houseshow Magazine, who’s interview is below. I also included gorgeous photos by grrrl photogs, like Al, Alex Manley, and my longtime concert bud, Amaya Jade. Also, there’s a letter to Angel Olsen, just for the hell of it! Find Sis at your local alternative record store/bookstore sometime very soon!"
I discovered Houseshow after going to The Orwells’s Midwest Shitfest at Chop Shop in Chicago. I love looking for embarrassing concert footage of myself,and through my search on The Orwells hashtag, I discovered Katie’s Instagram and the fabulous website she writes for, Houseshow. I found her interviews with Chicago musicians like Cadien of Twin Peaks and Mario from The Orwells actually interesting, unlike numerous interviews with such musicians that I’d read that were were just carbon copies of everything else, or wannabe boy writers chuckling through questions about “crazy groupie stories” and obscure music facts. Behold, our interview!
CG: What band made you want to write about music?
KI: Honestly, I guess it wasn't just one band that made me want to write about music. I've been both a writer and a music fan since I was a little kid, and by high school I was into music writers like Lester Bangs (also because "Almost Famous" came out when I was 13, a big milestone for me) but I never really thought about combining my two passions on my own. In college I minored in English/Cultural Studies, and during my college years I took classes about Leonard Cohen, and I even took a summer class on Bob Dylan at Harvard since I'm from Massachusetts - but mostly, that was all pretty academic and literary. Related to your second question, interviewing Thurston Moore in grad school and writing some intros for that piece are where it started crystallizing for me - that I enjoyed writing about music from my own perspective, not some literary critique or paper for class. And then that was what gave me the courage/inspiration to hit up Mario and The Orwells after I moved to Chicago and got into their music - so they are definitely the genesis for Houseshow itself!
CG: I read in your interview with Mario from The Orwells that you interviewed Thurston Moore in college. What was that like?
KI: Thurston Moore is the coolest! Honestly I didn't know a ton about him when he first came to my writing school, the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa in Boulder, to teach a summer workshop at our famous summer writing program. I got into his workshop and was a new editor of our literary journal so I decided to ask him for an interview and he was super nice about it, meeting me on our day off to chat for three hours while he just talked about so much because he's been in the American underground culture scene for like 40 years now. He's a huge supporter of culture - he has a giant library of zines and publications from small presses - and couldn't have been nicer or more down-to-earth. He also made me realize that I like getting on guest lists for shows and having a personal connection to cool musicians and artists, so that was a feeling to chase. I guess thinking about it now, my whole approach with Thurston was just letting him talk and follow the flow of his thoughts and what he had to say, rather than trying to shape it into some hyper MTV-news style interview, and that's sort of guided how I approach my interviews with Houseshow as well.
CG: Considering that after 60+ years of rock history women are still seen mostly as either not interested in music or groupies, are you nervous when approaching musicians you're a big fan of?
KI: Totally feel you on this question, it's still something I struggle a bit with as I learn more and more about the dynamics of the very male-dominated music world. But that's more on a personal level. As a writer, I don't want to be arrogant and say that it's something I don't really think about, but just the circumstances around the birth of Houseshow have led me more into a niche area. Interviewing Thurston is what made me feel I could talk to someone like Mario, whom I found impressive as I was a fan of his music, but Mario was also younger than me and I didn't actually feel nervous about *asking* him for the interview. I was nervous before we talked, but once we got going I wasn't nervous at all.
The next interviews I did were more Chicago-specific bands and so I didn't feel intimidated about asking them, since we were all kind of on the same level - new publication, new bands, everyone needs & likes fans and publicity! And when I asked Cadien for an interview, that was kind of just me seeing an opportunity when I knew he would be home, but I hadn't met him before that as I got into the scene. Our interview was the first time we met, and I had never even seen them play before, which is pretty funny.
Sorry I'm being long-winded, my story is a little unconventional! Also too because I am a little older and have more experience and real-world knowledge now, so I wasn't worried about being seen as a groupie. But no matter your age or education or confidence level, if you're serious about writing and serious about the music then just be confident and bring that to the table. If you're really just a groupie or fan, that will come across pretty fast. I'm also lucky in that largely everyone I've met in Chicago or elsewhere has been very respectful, so I haven't dealt with too much typical "woman in a man's arena" sexism or harassment which is fortunate and definitely not always the case. But I think if you're confident and can show you're an actual fan of the music/band (and ideally a broader understanding and context for their music) and aren't just hanging around to be "cool," that will go a long way.
CG: If someone outside of Chicago came here and wanted to see a show, what's the first band you'd recommend?
KI: If someone from outside Chicago came to see a show and all Chicago bands were here in town (as they aren't so much these days) I gotta say, I would probably recommend The Orwells. As a tight band with an incredibly fun live show and a wild lead singer who gives it his all, you really can't go wrong. Punks like them. Kids like them. Parents like them. Most people love, or at least like, rock n' roll and they do it very, very well. Even if you don't like their music or music in general you will be entertained.
CG: Houseshow has a lot of pieces about Chicago/Midwestern bands. What are some favorites of yours from anywhere else? From a different time in music history?
KI: Growing up my favorite band was The Beatles, and as an only child in the suburbs whose parents worked a lot, I became a mini music scholar based on all of their albums and movies and books. I wrote a book report on John Lennon as a kid. But writing about them at this point just seems so done, I guess. Loved other classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin (I listened to a lot of oldies and classic rock radio, and my dad liked rock music), and then The Strokes changed my life when they came out when I was in middle school. I guess they were the early prototype to how I ended up feeling about The Orwells over ten years later. But The Strokes also got me obsessed with Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, the Strokes's inspirations, and I was always so enamored with the Andy Warhol "Factory" scene in NYC in the 60s. Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, David Bowie, The Strokes, Led Zeppelin and definitely Bob Dylan were my big ones. Today? Besides Chicago bands, my favorite bands/musicians include Angel Olsen, Father John Misty, Parquet Courts, Car Seat Headrest, Kanye West (well, he's Chicago), Lana Del Rey (that one's always a surprise to people) and well, 8 million others across time and space.