if you haven't found out yet, SLUG Magazine turned twenty-one this month. That's right gang, time to pop out the
ol' one-liner: “Its old enough to drink!” Yeah, I know, that
phrase sounds so fucking stupid when you equate it to any business. And I'm quite sure if Mike Brown
were sitting next to me when I wrote it, he would have smacked me
upside the face for typing it. So let's move on...
In tribute to them reaching a milestone year, the staffers dug deep into the vaults and pulled out a fine selection of past articles and interviews spanning its history. Covering every topic they could from JR's piece about starting it, to album reviews of now classics, to columns long ago from an array of talent who have gone onto either greater heights or became recluse. Its worth a read. This year in celebration, the gang will be holding a party on Friday night at The Urban Lounge, featuring Mammoth, DJ Flash & Flare and Muscle Hawk. And this year I got to chat with Kate Wheadon on her career and time with SLUG, as well as her thoughts on the local scene. Along with pictures from the magazine of events this past year.
Gavin: Hey Kate! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Kate: I’m a Utah native and was in California for ten years and moved back to Salt Lake City just over a year ago. I’ve owned a few vintage cars in my lifetime and still have a ’67 Mustang and a ’58 Series 1 Lambretta. I love thrift shopping and hitting yard sales in small towns. I have far too many holiday decorations.
Gavin: What first got you interested in music, and what were some of your early favorites?
Kate: Billy Idol was my “teen idol” and I read a lot about him in teeny bop magazines starting at around age twelve. I was more interested in his influences like Lou Reed and The Kinks than I was in other teen bop bands at the time. Generation X really opened my eyes to the punk scene. I discovered Raunch Records when I was fourteen years old. Early records from Rauch included the Subhumans' Worlds Apart, SNFU’s And No One Else Wanted To Play, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Discord comps, BYO comps and European comps as well, I still have all of those records in my collection today.
Gavin: What was it like for you being here during the early rise of our music scene?
Kate: I certainly can’t say that I was around in the “early rise” of the SLC music scene. I was somewhat envious when I really found out how long the SLC “punk” scene had been going on before I found out about it. I was also raised in Utah county and commuted weekly to shows at Speedway Caf, The Word, Alices and the Fairgrounds. There were also a few bands in Utah County like King Pickle that were playing house parties and basements.
Gavin: Reflecting back a bit, what do you remember of SLUG during those days and the influence it had on you?
Kate: I moved to Delmar Court on 300 South near the old Bandaloops in 1989. The year SLUG started. It was great to finally have a local consistent zine. SLUG was a great resource for shows and it was nice to read interviews from local bands.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to work for PolyGram?
Kate: In 1995, I heard that PolyGram Group Distribution was going to place a College Rep in SLC. I didn’t really have any interest in major labels. I didn’t listen to the radio, but I had a great knowledge of the local music scene, bands, record stores, lifestyle stores, etc… I sent my resume to PGD to be the SLC college rep for PGD and received a denial letter. This really fired me up because I knew that anyone they transferred in from out-of-state wouldn’t have the knowledge of the local scene like I did. When the new rep arrived from Denver, I found his phone number, knocked on his door, and told him I was going to be his intern. Five years later I was the National Director of College Marketing for Universal Music Group in Los Angeles.
Gavin: During your time with Universal you took on many different roles for varying departments. What was it like working for the different divisions and learning that side of the music industry?
Kate: I became the SLC College Rep for PGD. During PGD’s sale to Seagram and merge with Universal Music Group, I was transferred to San Francisco to be the Artist Development Rep for Island Def Jam Music Group where I set up regional marketing campaigns for Island Def Jam artists. In 2000, I move to Los Angeles to be the national Director of College Marketing for Universal Music Group. In 2002, I moved on to be a Director of Retail Partnership Marketing, developing campaigns for artists with brands like Levi’s, Dickies and campaigns in national retail accounts and national magazines. It was very interesting to see the massive force behind promoting bands, record releases and branding. It was also sad to see great records that never saw the light of day.
Gavin: What eventually led to you leaving Universal, and after all that time there what did you take away from the experience as a whole?
Kate: I left Universal when they were preparing to merge with NBC. I was in a newly developed department, and new departments are generally the first to be cut in a merge. I didn’t really mind. The paranoia of Napster and iTunes was just beginning to hit major labels. I walked away with a tremendous amount of knowledge about how the wheels turn in the music industry from major labels and distribution to Indie labels and their distribution, chain retail stores and Indie retail stores, developing marketing campaigns for major artists and developing artists, commercial radio verses college radio, dealing with corporate brands and developing brands. Every project was a puzzle had you had to put the pieces together to create a successful campaign.
Gavin: Shortly after leaving you got involved with the X-Dance Film Festival. How did that opportunity come about?
Kate: Throughout my time at Universal, I kept a very close eye on what was going on in Utah. In 2001, my brother, Mark and a few of his friends saw the need for action sports films to get the exposure they deserved. They proposed this idea to Robert Redford, who gave them his blessing, and this is where X-Dance began. X-Dance had the drive and passion that I was missing while going through corporate mergers and the big business chaos. I watched X-Dance develop and grow naturally at a rapid pace with great support from the filmmakers and actions sports industry. I joined X-Dance team in 2003.
Gavin: Being a relatively new festival during a time with so many, what did you do to make X-Dance stand out beyond the standard Park City set?
Kate: X-Dance was already unique in that it focused on Action Sports films, which other festivals didn’t. I worked with X-Dance to help the festival gain more exposure locally and in Los Angeles by starting the X-Dance screening series in Hollywood.
Gavin: During this time you also started up Pulse MME. Where did the idea come from to start that, and what was it like running the company during that three year run?
Kate: I realized the growing opportunities for action sports films through television, the internet, etc… So I began assisting with one of the more difficult hurdles – licensing and clearing music for films. Many great films have been shelved due to not having proper music licenses. It was also a great opportunity for independent bands to gain exposure outside of traditional outlets such as radio airplay.
Gavin: Did it make things easier running X-Dance while running Pulse, or much more difficult?
Kate: It all went hand-in-hand. I worked with filmmakers that had films in the festival and assisted filmmakers so they could participate in the festival. It helped filmmakers to have the legal music clearances to post their trailers on-line and show their films at other venues and festivals.
Gavin: How did you eventually become involved with SLUG to become their director of Sales & Marketing?
Kate: I needed a change and decided to move back to Salt Lake City. I’ve worked with Angela on projects throughout the years and when the position became available, she asked if I would be interested in joining the SLUG team.
Gavin: What kind of challenges did you take on coming into the fold with a magazine already running and planning things in advance?
Kate: The main adjustment was to jumping on board with planning all of the summer and year-round events that SLUG hosts. Now that I’ve been with the magazine for almost one year, I expect this next year will run more smoothly and I’ll be prepared to plan events with more lead time.
Gavin: How is it for you being a part of this magazine, especially since it’s hitting the 21 year mark?
Kate: It’s exciting. SLUG Magazine is one of the oldest independent zines in the country! Angela has done a great job with building SLUG over the last nine years. It’s great to work with her again. SLUG has a really strong and dedicated staff - Jeanette Moses, James Orme, Rebecca Vernon and Mariah Mellus have all been on staff for 5-10 years!
Gavin: Going to local matters, what's your take on out current music scene, both good and bad?
Kate: Salt Lake has a great music scene! Through the years it seems like it’s gone up and down, but currently it’s very strong. Many great creative and innovative bands are in Salt Lake right now.
Gavin: Who are some your favorite bands and musicians in the scene right now?
Kate: There are many great musicians in Salt Lake. Eli Morrison is one my favorite musicians and I’ve been a fan of all of his bands including The Wolfs, Pink Lightnin’, Ether and Pollstar. I have to give huge props out to Julie Stutznegger as well, she and Eli were in a band back in the day called Power Tools For Girls. It’s hard to name favorite bands since there are so many great bands. How about All Systems Fail, Breaux, Eagle Twin, Dubbed, Subrosa, and my favorite cover band is Irony Man!
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?
Kate: As far as radio goes, I mainly listen to KRCL. KRCL is a great support for local bands and have diverse shows that feature many types of local music.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on the art community and the works coming out of it these days?
Kate: Angela and I organized an event last year called Craft Lake City. It featured over 70 local artists and was a huge success! It was so inspiring and great to see all of the amazing artists in Utah! We are working on the 2nd annual Craft Lake City which will be held on August 14, 2010! This is a must attend for all and admission will be free to the public.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe those different groups, or our entertainment scene as a whole, could do to make things more prominent?
Kate: There are a lot of great events featuring music, art and film in Salt Lake City. I feel all entities are strong in promoting events and getting the word out. Sometimes I feel these events need more public support and everyone needs to be open to venturing out to see new things.
Gavin: What can we expect from both you and SLUG over the rest of the year?
Kate: SLUG’s 21st Birthday Party is this Friday, February 19th featuring DJ Flash & Flare, Muscle Hawk & Mammoth. All artwork for the event was designed by the infamous Brad Barker! Admission is $5!. The SLUG Games Series is hosting the Beat The Pro Ski & Snowboard Comp on March 6th @ Park City Mountain Resort. SLUG will also support Utah Pride Center by having a float in Gay Pride Parade again in 2010. SLUG won 3rd place for Best Float last year and we’re going for the gold this year! The parade is on Sunday, June 6th. SLUG will host the Summer Of Death Skateboard comp series in June and August of 2010. CRAFT LAKE CITY will be held on August 14, 2010 at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City. Admission is free for the public. Call-for-artists will begin in April. SLUG Magazine hosts LOCALIZED, a monthly music event held on the 2nd Friday of every month at Urban Lounge. SLUG also supports The Hard Boiled Book Club held the last Tuesday of every month at the historic Sam Weller’s Bookstore on Main Street SLUG will also have a booth at the Farmers Market the last Saturday of every month throughout the summer. Check the events page for up-to-date event information! Thank you to everyone for supporting SLUG Magazine! We look forward to seeing you at all of the SLUG event over the next year!