Music Mondays: Zach Swezy

Zach Swezy, Editor in Chief of Chicago-based blog 1833 and author of I Want To Die Now in 300 Years, chats with us about supporting minorities in the music industry.

Tell me a little about yourself and what you do at 1833. 

Talk about myself, huh... Well I am 26, an avid reader, writer, and music listener. My role at 1833 is basically meant to cater to those interests. My main job is to curate music for our website, edit reviews, interview artists, gather guest mixes, host our radio show and write jokes on Twitter and email blasts. I guess the job title would be "Editor-in-Chief".

What do you like best about running 1833? 

 I love that I can use my small website and social media reach to help put on for people of color, femmes (no terfs tho), and queer people. Some of the most brilliant and talented people in the world come from the margins and if we are going to heal our planet we have to put them at the forefront. To me, elevating these people is the most rewarding thing to do in music industry.  

Have you faced any challenges as a promoter in Chicago? What would you say are the skills required to be a successful promoter? 

Well I can't say I'm on promotion side of things too often. I've organized a few charity events and I know some people don't like to collaborate with me on those anymore because I insist on giving all the money away. Zack Eastman and Blake Witsman are the skillful promoters of 1833, also the founders, also they are my "dad". Karolina Naumowicz is also super essential to the promotion team and has shaped 1833 in a fundamental way. In watching Zack deal with agents, I can tell you promotion is a tricky game, one I probably don't have the skills to play. You have to be a shrewd business person while maintaining an air of extreme likability. You have to know when to bend and when to be rigid. You can't take gruff from anyone. If I'm being totally honest it helps a lot to be a tall, handsome, kind, white man. I think lastly, aside from networking skills the most necessary skill as a promoter is to know how to take a loss and to know you're going to face a lifetime of them. Not every show is a winner and not every city loves a certain artist as much as you might, such is life.   

How do you hope to further your artistic mission through 1833 as well as your personal projects? 

I hope to become a widely read and published author one day, sooner than later. With 1833 I just want to continue to be an alternative to the payola blog game. I want young artists without PR agents to feel comfortable coming to us and showing us their songs. Sometimes we post stuff as favors to our PR friends if we like it but the majority of our finds are from soundcloud/bandcamp digging or from musicians we've witnessed live or become friends with on Twitter. It's not nearly as lucrative as writing a few words about every Future song that's ever come out but I'm pretty stubborn and set in my ways at this point. The lucrative part of our blog comes from throwing banging shows around Chicago, which kind of eases the financial pressure of the blog, though I would like to make more advertisement money -- so FWM s/o @complex Advertisting Network let's build.  

What is one thing everyone that's considering a career in music should know? 

If you're considering a career in the music industry you should know that it is an industry. Like all industries you will encounter deeply entrenched racism, homophobia and sexism. Things in the art world seem to finally be slowly moving to a more egalitarian place, but I could very likely be wrong about that. What is cool though - is that a lot of people on the margins are now becoming more vocal, we are demanding change. We'll see if things improve in the next decade or so.

Interviewed by: Staley Sharples