Joel Funk (of 36vultures) - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the chance to interview 36vultures.net founder Joel Funk. Check out the full interview after the jump.

First off thanks for the interview
Joel: No Problem! Thanks for having me.

For anyone not familiar with 36vultures can you tell me a little about your site when you started it and why you started it?
36vultures is a music blog that brings you updates from bands in the scene that we think are doing something special. It doesn’t matter if the band is an entity that’s already been widely accepted or if it’s a brand new band with just a local following. If we dig what you’re doing, we’re going to talk about it. I started the website on September 19th 2013. When I started the website, we didn’t post any news at all. We were strictly reviewing albums and on a very infrequent basis. I just wanted to talk about the music that I’m into, and thankfully people were willing to help me do just that. I had just done the artwork for the first release of Speak Low If You Speak Love’s debut ‘Everything But What You Need’ and Ryan asked me to review the record, and that’s how 36vultures was officially born. We didn’t start posting any sort of news until May of 2014 when a very, very small band called Pissghetti emailed us asking to talk about a charity release they were doing. That was the start of turning 36vultures into what it is today, and I can’t wait to see how we keep the website growing and evolving. It’s been a great ride so far.

How did you come up with the name 36vultures?
The name 36vultures comes from the song “A Little Bit More” by You, Me, and Everyone We Know. There’s a line in that song that goes “Fifteen elephants sitting on my chest/thirty-six vultures picking at my flesh/solo man overboard without a life vest/yeah I’m a little weighed down/but I’m doing my best.” YMAEWK is a band that means more to me than I think I will ever be able to accurately express. We’re going on ten years since I fell in love with that band, and I’m still blown away every time they release something new.

The reason that’s the name of the website kind of has a life of it’s own. For as long as I can remember, my twitter handle had been @36vultures. I was doing a lot of terrible design work for friends/for fun and wanted a place to house it, so I bought the domain 36vultures.com. I don’t know that I ever actually updated the website then. Almost a full year later, and after I had stopped writing reviews for a website called FuckYourScenes (Hey, Logan!), I decided I wanted to start doing that again. So, I reworked the website into what it is now. As for the “.net” switch, I had forgotten to renew the “.com” domain and couldn’t get it back, so I went with the next best option.

One thing I really like about the site is the color scheme. How much thought did you put into picking the color scheme?
It feels like I spent longer on it than I actually did. When I was re-designing the website, I would look up how certain colors were received in design and it was right around that time that Google had released their guidelines for “Material Design.” I love the idea behind “Material Design. ” Which is that everything is flat and works almost exactly the same regardless of the platform you’re viewing it on. So, once the code was done and working properly, I went through a list of colors Google has OK’d for “Material Design” and went with a nice, pale green. We used a darker shade for the highlights, but have since moved on to using solely the darker shade. So, with the initial design, I spent about an hour picking a color. However, since we ditched the original color with the very small touch-ups we recently added, you could argue that I spent a year on it.

With so many blogs these days how do you think 36vultures attempts to standout from the competitors?
Like I said earlier, we don’t care about the size or the reach of bands that we’re covering. We talk about music that we like and issues that we’d like to see addressed. Aside from that, we try to let the content do a lot of the talking for us. We’ve never published anything that we weren’t proud of. We have such a talented group of writers that are a part of the family now, and I don’t think that bad writing is something that we’re ever going to have to worry about. The one piece that people seem to pay the most attention to is The Mixtape Project. This feature/project is my baby. We ask people in the scene (Bloggers, Labels, Artists, Photographers, PR, etc) to put together a collection of songs and just talk about what these songs mean to them. It exists, in part, because I’m nosey and want to know what music has impacted people strongly enough that they’re willing to talk about it with me. I have a few ideas for The Mixtape Project, and I can’t wait to see about making this something bigger and better than it already is.

You recently ran a feature with James from Modern Vinyl. You talk about Property Of Zack inspiring your website. With POZ officially shutdown what do you think that means for the blog world?
Seeing PropertyOfZack close it’s doors was so weird for me. I forget how I found the site, but I know that it was in 2011. I want to say that it was because of something our now editor, and one my all-around favorite people, Caitlin had reblogged on Tumblr. I remember when I found out that Zack is my age. That was a trip. That alone made me realize that there is no reason that I can’t be doing this, and that’s actually part of the reason I started writing for FuckYourScenes, because I had this goal of writing for PropertyOfZack.

I haven’t thought too much on the effect of the shutdown on the blogging world because, while I was an avid reader of POZ, we existed on two very different planes. I will say that I’m interested in seeing if there will be another site that becomes the go-to, or if it’s going to stay a collection of smaller blogs that people either read or don’t know exist. Here’s to hoping the former happens and to hoping that it’s us.

How do you think it will impact sites like yours? Do you see a site that will come up and compete with AP.net like POZ did?
I honestly don’t know. I will stand by my last answer and say that I’m interested to see if one website becomes the next POZ or if it will stay smaller blogs that people either read or have never heard of. Only time will tell when it comes to this one. Fingers crossed though, I certainly wouldn’t mind having more people reading the website.

If anyone is interested in writing for 36vultures how do they go about it and how do you decide who is going to be a part of your staff?
If you’re interested in writing for 36vultures, see 36v.me/jobstho, because that will explain both what we’re looking for and how to go about applying. Selection process is currently very simple. Do we like your writing? Do we think your writing will mesh with the website? If yes, then congrats! You are now a writer for the website and will be cc’d into all of the necessary docs that keep the website going. I’m sure that as we continue to grow, this process will change, but I can’t speak to the future. If you’re interested in doing a one-off post on the website, then you can email us directly at 36vultures@gmail.com with your name, a sample piece, and your pitch. We will respond within 24 hours. Yes, It’s as easy as that. 

If you could get one interview or feature with an artists/label/brand who would it be and why?
Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years or Ben Liebsch of You, Me, and Everyone We Know. The Wonder Years are one of the only other bands that has hit me like YMAEWK has. I got into them with ‘Suburbia’ and then later go into ‘The Upsides,’ but the way that he writes has always blown me away. I would love to just sit and talk with him about his writing process. The same goes for Ben. I don’t know how much you know about the history of YMAEWK, but it’s been a different band with Ben for near every release. I would love to talk about how having different people to collaborate with on song ideas and structure changes the song from pitch to completion. These are two people that I respect and admire, and just being able to actually talk to them for the website would be incredible.

What's one of your favorite exclusives (interview, review, feature, etc...) that's been posted on 36vultures and why?
I have two that are very near and dear to my heart. The first being my review of Slow and Steady’s debut album ‘In Time We Belong.’ That record hit me like a freight train and I feel like my review of the record makes that very clear. ‘In Time We Belong’ is AOTY material. Please, please give that record a spin. If you like what you hear, then please pick it up. https://slowandsteady.bandcamp.com/

The second is kind of a cheat answer, but I love The Mixtape Project. There isn’t one entry that I like more than the others, I love them all equally. Like I said before, that feature is my baby. It’s a great way to remind people that the music industry isn’t just machines spitting out news and music, we’re people. The same music that moves you moves us. What better way to do that than with a mixtape? Am I right?

What are some of your goals for the site for the remainder of the year?
I try to set very small, realistic goals. I am happy to say that we’ve got Mixtape Project submissions into January 2016, and I am so elated about that! Aside from that, we’re looking to do more interviews and publish more thought pieces. Angel on Earth, Ashley Aron is now a part of our team and has taken over our Press Play feature. With that, we aim to promote bands and see about releasing a comp once every four months with songs from featured artists. She officially took the reigns this week, and if you’re interested in being featured, you can do so here: http://36vultures.net/press-play. We’re also looking to start filming acoustic sessions. If you’re a videographer looking for a new home, we’d be more than happy to welcome you! Emails about that can be sent to 36vultures@gmail.com. Like I said, I also have some bigger plans for The Mixtape Project that I’m going to start working on very soon. The rest of 2015 is looking pretty good for us.

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Once again, thank you for having me! Late last week, we debuted a music video from this insanely talented young band called The Obsessives that you need to check out. We also debuted a new, old Dowsing song that I already know you’re going to love. Be sure to check both of those out, you don’t want to be the only one who hasn’t, right?

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