Welcome to the Knack Factory Podcast #2. I was lucky to chat with Johnanna Fateman (Twitter), who is a woman of many hats. Johanna is the owner of the fabulous Seagull Salon (Twitter) in Manhattan, along with Kathleen Hanna, she was a founding member of Le Tigre, and she is well known for her zine output and resultant contributions to the Riot Grrrl movement.
We discuss Johanna’s thick skin, LinkedIn, Sheila Heti, Joyce Carol Oats’ Twitter usage, and a handful of other topics while attempting to focus on her digital media usage. We are in a small restaurant in the Village, and it is right before Christmas, 2012, so there is a good deal of related noise, and so there is some related racket. See the noise note below.
What follows is one of my favorite collections of quotes from the interview:
Weirdly, Twitter is a good form for me. I like the limited characters. I like the ADD format of it. I feel like I can be absurdist, I can say something important, I can link to something I am doing and somehow it all feels okay to mix it up in Twitter. I don’t have to stick to one voice or one purpose. Sometimes I do the Twitter for my old band Le Tigre and I feel like it’s necessary for doing anything right now to periodically link to how to buy my DVD, how to download my song, how to read my essay. You kind of have to do that, I think that people expect that from you if they’re putting out your DVD. I feel like part of it is a job, part of it is really fun.
I do think I thought it was weird at first. Because previously, at least with Le Tigre when we had promoted something, we were relatively inaccessible. We had a band email account, but there wasn’t even MySpace when we were active as a band. We were touring, but it’s not like we were active in a dialogue with people except for at shows. The idea of dealing with people’s comments continuously was like, Oh, wow. This is a more porous reality. You can’t pretend you don’t know people’s reactions. you can’t pretend that your fans aren’t there.
There is a recklessness about it for sure. I am certainly not innocent, first of all because I was totally that 19-year-old who if I had that access to social media I would have been blocked by everyone in the world. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but I do have an aversion to it probably because I see the potentials of my young self let loose on Twitter or Tumblr.
Note: The first handful podcasts are pretty rough, as we were on the road and traveling pretty light. We have since upped our road game with a new mixer and a couple of solid microphones, but for something that was recorded directly into the factory microphone on a Zoom H4n, this sounds remarkably clear.