Interview Mix: Julian Sanchez

October 28, 2007 at 06:27 pm

A prominent byline in the nexus between DC’s young liberal and young libertarian wunderkinds, Julian Sanchez is the man who netted one of the blogosphere’s earliest “scalps” by revealing John Lott-booster Mary Rosh to be John Lott himself.

Sanchez, who is a contributing editor for Reason and a former staff writer at the Cato Institute, is currently gracing the cover of The American Prospect with an article about how comic books have responded to the War on Terror and the Iraq War.

1) What is the first website (other than your own or email) that you visit in the morning? Either my RSS feed or Shoutingmat.Ch (a blog aggregator), though sometimes I’ll just skip to a friend’s blog.

2) What is the most interesting bit of information that you’ve picked up in the past month? America now has more World of Warcraft players than farmers. Also, apparently among graphic designers, your attitude toward the Helvetica font (attitudes which seem to run quite intense in both directions) is some sort of hugely significant shibboleth.

3) How would you describe your taste/interest in music? My current listening probably breaks down something like: 65% standard 20-something Indie rock, 20% 20th century classical/art music, 5% classical-classical music, 5% Jazz, 5% opera.

4) Name five of your favorite songs at the moment (in no particular order).

1) Nina Simone – “Feelin’ Good”
2) Beirut – “Scenic World” (the EP version with the full band, not the weak Casiotone-sounding one from Gulag Orkestar)
3) Steve Reich – “Different Trains”
4) My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”
5) Georgie James – “Cake Parade”

Honorable mentions for being stuck in my head harder than Trotsky’s icepick lately: Freedy Johnston’s “Bad Reputation” & Battles’ “Leyendecker”

5) Name five of your favorite albums of all time (in no particular order).

1) The Solti/Berlin Philharmonic recording of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (granting that it’s probably cheating to call four operas an “album”…)
2) Built to Spill – Keep it Like a Secret (yes, yes, I know the Objectively Correct choice from them is Perfect from Now On, but I can sing along to KILaS)
3) The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
4) Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I
5) Mike Doughty – Skittish (not nearly as musically interesting as his Soul Coughing stuff, but every single track is completely infectious)

6) What are some songs to which you have a particular emotional attachment? Weirdly, “Barbie Girl” is the strongest one. An old college friend used to belt it at the top of his lungs as we drove to debate tournaments. He went off to law school and dropped dead at 23 of a rare brain tumor, and I can’t hear it without tearing up now, absurd as that might sound.

Other, less dramatic ones: Dismemberment Plan’s “The City,” which I was listening to a lot around the time I left New York for DC. Philip Glass’ “Metamorphosis,” just for being pretty. Beauty Pill’s “Cigarette Girl from the Future” works pretty well as a mid-20s-existential-crisis soundtrack. Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes,” Galaxie 500’s “Blue Thunder,” Postal Service’s “District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” and The Decemberists’ “Red Right Ankle” all have girl-specific associations. And Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have” never fails to make me feel 13 again.

7) How did you first get interested in music and how has your taste developed since then? My father’s a huge opera geek, so I sometimes say I was raised Wagnerian in lieu of any more traditional religious upbringing. The first rock band I remember being really into was They Might Be Giants; someone exposed me to them at summer camp, and I ran out and got Flood as soon as I got back home. I was listening to a lot of industrial stuff around age 13, because at 13 you’re required to be vaguely angry whether or not you have any particular reason to be, and then pulled a complete 180 in high school and started listening to all the jam bands my hippie friends were into. In college, between Napster, Amazon’s “people who liked X may also like Y,” and a girlfriend who was much hipper than I was, I got more into indie rock. The jazz side mostly comes from a friend in New York who was studying jazz drumming at the New School at the time.

8 ) What are some of your musical guilty pleasures? I will, after a few drinks, confess to having attended something like 30 Phish shows; I’ll occasionally toss on one of their live cuts.

9) If you were running for President in 2008, what song would you use as your campaign theme? Is it too cutesy to say “Electioneering?” Probably. Maybe “Gouge Away,” provided I can claim it’s about cutting the budget.

10) What is your opinion on downloading copyrighted material without paying for it? A qualified thumbs up. Obviously, artists need to get paid. So the key question always has to be: “Would this download have been a sale in a world of perfect copyright enforcement?” If the answer is no, then it’s a source of mild enjoyment or information for the downloader and a wash from the artist’s perspective, which makes the download a Pareto improvement, as the wonks say. If you listen to it and conclude that you would buy a track or album if you couldn’t download it, though, then I do think you’re obligated to buy it at some point; otherwise you’re just making other people subsidize the production of your entertainment.

One big benefit of downloading, incidentally, is that whereas the development of people’s musical taste used to be far more significantly constrained by their immediate social milieu or what was getting radio play, downloading makes it easy to listen broadly, experiment, and take chances on artists and whole genres that most people would never gamble ten bucks on, because (of course) they’re not into it yet.

Here are some tunes for Julian that the government won’t compel you to listen to, but which you should freely choose to hear.

Listen to an 8Tracks mix HERE or here:

1) Quasi – Hot Shit
2) Slapp Happy – Casablanca Moon
3) The Mattoid – Tinkli Vinkli
4) Drag City Supersession – Zero Degrees
5) Brian Eno And Robert Fripp – Evensong
6) The Young Fresh Fellows – Gus Theme
7) Half Japanese – Firecracker
8 ) Royal Trux – The Exception
9) Johnny Dowd – Ballad Of Lonnie Wolf
10) Donovan – Clara Clairvoyant
11) Mark Eric – Night Of The Lions
12) Black Grape – Kelly’s Heroes
13) White Denim – ShakeShakeShake
14) Shuggie Otis – Not Available
15) Frank Zappa And Burt Ward – Teenage Bill Of Rights
16) Scene Creamers – Bag Inc.
17) Mercury Rev – The Happy End (The Drunk Room)
18) Laurie Anderson – Let X Equal X
19) The Late B.P. Helium – Belief System Derailment Scenario
20) Os Mutantes – Cantor De Mambo
21) John Lennon – Serve Yourself (Home Recording)

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