Backstage

  • Janelle Monae's 'Electric Lady' and Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' were among Ronnie's favorite albums this year
  • Ronnie is excited for Lady Gaga's upcoming album 'ARTPOP' and Black Milk's 'No Poison No Paradise'
  • Unlocking the Truth is one of Ronnie's picks for rising artists to watch
  • Earl Sweatshirt is one of Ronnie's picks for rising artists to watch
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Ronnie Reese

Ronnie Reese began his music career in the late ‘90s working for a punk rock distributor and in the marketing and promotions department of RollingStone.com in the late ‘90s. Since then, Reese has written and edited for more than 20 different music websites, record labels and print publications. When he’s not writing, he DJs in Chicago and has performed as an emcee for a number of years. We asked Reese which band he would reunite, his picks for rising artists to watch and which albums he’s most excited to hear.

In your opinion, what were the best albums this year?


Daft Punk, Random Access Memories; Janelle Monae, Electric Lady; Black Sabbath, 13; Earl Sweatshirt, Doris; Thundercat, Apocalypse; Sly and the Family Stone, Higher!; Elvis Costello and the Roots, Wise Up Ghost; Tanya Morgan, Rubber Souls; The Clash, Sound System; Disclosure, Settle.

Which upcoming album releases are you most excited for?


Danny Brown, Old; Pusha T, My Name is My Name; Deltron 3030, Event II; Black Milk, No Poison No Paradise; Lady Gaga, ARTPOP.

Who are your top three picks for rising artists to watch?


Unlocking the Truth, Ceddyjay, Earl Sweatshirt

Which artist or band do you think has the best hair?


Prince

How does a musician’s style (fashion and beauty) impact his/her career?


Style is a major part of a musician's career and always has been. Music purists talk about how many of today’s top artists are high style and little substance, but that outward physical flair has been important for everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Danny Brown, regardless of whether your true musical talent is great or small. They see you before they hear you, and with a wealth of music in the world, artists need to stand out. The masses like shiny, pretty things, so the need to have that appeal isn't going away.

Because there are two sides to this coin, I think it's also good to have artists who are brilliant but dress like hobos—like Neil Young. Neil represents a different time, though. It’s uncommon to find contemporary artists who are successful but look like they just crawled out of bed. For those that do go that route, they’re most likely sporting a carefully manicured, disheveled look. Their jeans may be ripped and worn…but they also cost $500.

Many musicians are either creating their own fashion lines or becoming the faces of established brands. What are your thoughts on this intersection of fashion and music?


Artists themselves are brands, so it's a natural pairing. If I'm H&M, why not have one of the biggest pop stars in the world represent me? Everyone and everything wants to build their brand and make more money.

If you could reunite any band, who would you choose?


Parliament-Funkadelic

How has technology and the rise of bloggers changed the music scene?


Fans can reach out and touch artists like never before. Music is brought to the people instead of the people having to go out and find music. Everyone is a writer and everyone has an opinion.

Ultimately, the digital movement is a good thing, but technology hit the industry pretty hard and it took a while for record companies to grasp how to survive and create a profitable model. They're probably still not where they want to be yet, but it's evolving.

From what you've seen in the music industry, what tips would you give aspiring artists?


Don't be resistant to change and growth, but don't be a sucker, either. Music is a learning process. Surround yourself with smart people you can learn from and who aren't afraid to tell you "no." Know who you are and where you want to go so your path is dictated by you and no one else.
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