Interview Mix: Kate Sheppard

October 06, 2007 at 05:45 pm

Kate Sheppard got her start in the biz as a beat reporter on “a vegetable farm in southern New Jersey,” where she covered car crashes and Buddhist ceremonies as a staff writer for the Bridgeton News. She’d be embarrassed if she knew that I told you this, but: “At the age of 12, she orchestrated a protest at her elementary school.”

Now, many years and many protests later, she is one of two new writing fellows atThe American Prospect. Thus far, she’s been covering climate change at the UN andillegal sex toys in Alabama.

She also listens to music.

1) What is the first website (other than your own or email) that you visit in the morning? The New York Times or Net Vibes, my RSS reader

2) What is the most interesting bit of information that you’ve picked up in the past month? Selling sex toys is illegal in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, and having just one dildo for sale could land you $10,000 in fines and a year in jail.

3) How would you describe your taste/interest in music? I have an historic inclination toward whiny indie rockers with strange voices and illogical lyrics, as well as hairy, angry women. My tastes of late have mellowed some, to what one might call “sad bastard” music, though I also have a fondness for funk, soul, hip-hop, Latin pop, and … violent dance punk.

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

1) Betty Davis – He Was A Big Freak
2) Elvis Perkins – While you were sleeping
3) TV on the Radio – I was a lover
4) Feist — 1234
5) Cold War Kids – Hang me up me dry

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

1) Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
2) Ani DiFranco – Not a Pretty Girl
3) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
4) Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Airplane Over the Sea
5) Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom

6) What are some songs to which you have a particular emotional attachment? “Am I Wrong,” Love Spit Love; “With a Little Help from My Friends,” Joe Cocker; “Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen; Buildings and Bridges,” Ani DiFranco; and, uh, “Baby Got Back,” Sir Mix-a-Lot

7) How did you first get interested in music and how has your taste developed since then? My earliest memories are dancing to Paul Simon’s Graceland in the house I grew up in, and my parents raised me on Paul Simon, The Band, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary. In fifth grade, an older cousin introduced me to Nirvana, Green Day, and all the wonders of grunge/alternative rock in the early ’90s. In middle school I first became interested in tough folky women with guitars via Ani DiFranco Tracy Chapman, and went to my first concert – Lilith Fair. Annnnnnnnd from there, a variety of people have introduced me to the funk, soul, electo-pop, teen-pop, hip-hop, math rock, rockabilly, the entire decade of the ’80s …

8) What are some of your musical guilty pleasures? Juanes, Steve Winwood, Boyz II Men, and Kelly Clarkson.

9) If you were running for President in 2008, what song would you use as your campaign theme? Aretha Franklin, “Think”

10) What is your opinion on downloading copyrighted material without paying for it? Well, I don’t do it myself, mostly because I couldn’t afford one of the absurd fines levied by the RIAA should they find me out, but I am always happy to take music from those who are more fearless in their downloading. On an ethical level, I don’t have that much of a problem with it, since I spend a lot of money on live shows, and I try to buy albums directly from the artists as much as possible. And pretty much nothing would make me feel bad for the RIAA.

Here are some songs that either make me think of Kate or which I think Kate would like.

Listen to an 8Tracks mix HERE or here:

1) Daniel Johnston – ‘Mac Davis Used To Do This’
2) Radiohead – Talk Show Host
3) The Western Suburb Singers – Come On, Give Us A Go
4) Petra Haden – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey Cover)
5) Bobby Bare, Jr. – What Difference Does It Make (Smiths Cover)
6) Erin McKeown – Blackbirds
7) Amy Rigby – Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?
8 ) The Mattoid – Burn And Rob
9) Maureen Tucker – Hey Mersh!
10) Y.A.C.H.T. – I Believe In You
11) Loudon Wainwright III – Make Your Mother Mad
12) Betty Dylan – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash Cover)
13) Kris Kristofferson – In The News
14) Jeffrey Lewis – Back When I Was 4
15) Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti – Eclipse Do Cometa
16) Odetta – Masters Of War (Bob Dylan Cover)
17) 10cc – The Dean And I
18) The Fire Engines – Meat Whiplash
19) TV On The Radio – Walking The Cow (Daniel Johnston Cover)
20) Johnny Paycheck – Colorado Coo-Aid

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