Alter The Press!


Interview: Sound In The Signals Magazine (Truman Burden)

In a time where several publications are moving their content to the web, Sound In The Signals are heading in the opposite direction by launching its own magazine. SITS aims at covering several genres including hip-hop, rock, alternative, punk, and country as well as sport.

With experience writing for Substream Music Press and Decoy Music, Sound In The Signals editor Truman Burden talked to ATP to discuss several topics including the sites origins, moving from being a digital to printed publication, future plans and more.

Alter The Press: Let’s start at the beginning. How did Sound In The Signals first start?
Sound In The Signals: First off thanks so much for the interview I really appreciate you taking the time to ask me some questions!

Sound In The Signals started about a year and half ago. I’ve been involved in the music scene for quite a while. I ran a small interview site when I was younger for local bands and the punk/hardcore scene, that was going on at the time inspired it. From there I started doing interviews at Decoy Music and stayed with that site for a few years, while I was there I interviewed tons of artists. I basically was able to cross off many interviews I had always wanted to do. While I was at Decoy, a good opportunity came up for me to write a two-page feature in Substream Music Press and that had always been something I had wanted to do. So I accepted Marc’s offer (who at the time was president of the magazine) and wrote for probably seven or so issues. They are bi-monthly so I would say I was with them a couple years. Lastly, I wrote for Loud Hawk Press for just a few interviews before I started Sound In The Signals. After reading that you might think I’m really old, ha, but I’m still in my mid-twenties.

ATP: How valuable was your experience from working with those sites/zines?
SITS: I would say working for anyone has positives and negatives. The coolest part is getting to do something you really enjoy doing and being involved with the actual people that make the music you listen to. The negative is if it isn’t yours, you really have to do what the owner wants.

I guess my main reason for starting my site was to be able to cover music and interview the artists I wanted and have 100% creative control. The thing is when you are working for someone else’s site they can often limit what you are doing or can be critical of the work you are doing. It’s like being in a relationship with someone and eventually hitting that wall and wondering is it worth it to go on. Unfortunately, in this kind of business many people writing for these magazines and sites are making little or no money. So having to do stuff you don’t like or stick to someone else’s ideas just ends up being too taxing. I liked all kinds of music and was interviewing artists from the smallest artists to the largest artists whoever I thought was hype. I just couldn’t do it anymore without my own site and having the control and ability to cover the artists I wanted and the range of music I’m interested in.

I have a few writers that do stuff for me but not many. I try to do the vast majority, but if they have an idea or are really passionate about it, I give them the go-ahead. Even if I don’t feel the vibe when I listen to the music they might hear something, everyone likes different things.

ATP: What influenced the decision to make the webzine into a print version?
SITS: Well I had a vision going into this site that I wanted to do as much as I could really to get the word out about artists that I enjoy. I think a lot of people feel like print is dead, and sometimes I feel like that is an accurate statement. There are however certain cool things about having a physical copy of something. If it is your favorite artists you can have it, kind of put it back, and keep it. It can be something you go back to in a couple years and say I remember when. I know I’ve done that with some older issues of Alternative Press, Rolling Stone, etc. I remember when bands like Taking Back Sunday and The Ataris had their first AP covers and how big of a deal it was at the time. If that was just a digital thing, those features could get lost. You know how it is. The site goes down or reformats and loses stuff and then five years later, you are trying to remember what you read and kind of want to look at that snapshot of the music scene and it’s gone.

ATP: What are your thoughts on digitalization of magazines? Is it something that will come more and more common?
SITS: I think it’s great. We will also have a digital version of Sound In The Signals Magazine. As I said many people think print is dead so the digital version makes it available not only to those people but also to anyone and it’s on demand. Instant gratification is a big deal in the world today. As a society we have gotten to where we are like kids in a candy store, we want it now and we want it as soon as possible. I know magazines like URB have turned more towards the digital side and I think it’s great. At the same time, I remember buying URB when they had The Cool Kids on the cover and being able actually to have it. I think one thing that gets lost is most people buy a magazine and read it front to back. With a digital magazine, sometimes and especially if it’s free, they just flip to what they want to read and don’t worry about checking out the rest. It’s the grocery store mentality when I was a kid. I would grab it off the shelf, read the big article, and then throw it back up there before my mom was done shopping. If you buy it, though you are out the money and want to look through the entire thing.

ATP: How does the site and the magazine differ?
SITS: Well other than being physical not too much. We are going to be covering the same stuff. It will have interviews, reviews, sports stuff, ads, etc. You will get to see a few more pictures of the artists and some exclusive photos in the magazine. There will also be some articles that artists will write that focus on specific things like fashion and touring only in the magazine. However, with the site we do broad interviews.

ATP: What audience is Sound In The Signals hoping to reach?
SITS: I think we want to reach anyone who turns on a computer and wonders what is up today in the world. I know I check about 10-15 sites everyday. There are sites I just can’t go without checking. If you are curious about some of those, I spend a lot of time reading stuff at absolutepunk, 2dopeboyz, Pitchfork, Nahright, etc. I’m a huge fan of music and we cover hip-hop, rock, alternative, punk, country (albeit limited), sports news, etc. So I guess if you like music and sports you should like our site. Some sites don’t have much exclusive content, but our site/magazine does. It isn’t all exclusive because news rolls in from everywhere, but we have a lot of exclusive content like interviews, reviews, etc.

ATP: What can readers expect when they purchase/look at Sound In the Signals?
SITS: Expect to find many genres of music. I’m really hands on with this project. I do the vast majority of the actual designing of the magazine so expect a quality project. The pages are all color and printed on glossy paper so it is high quality. It is really content based. I have very few ads in the magazine. I hate paying money for something and it is half ads. I’ve kept the ads to a minimum and if I included it, it is probably something I think is hype. We have a Le Grand Cru ad in the magazine, it is something I really wanted to include because the style of the line is cool, and they sent us an ad featuring Fresh Espresso, which is a Seattle hip-hop group that I really like.

ATP: The first issue have different covers. Who are they and what made you pick these artists?
SITS: I wanted to have a bunch of covers for the first issue and try to appeal to different genres. The covers as it stands now will be Electric Sunset and Scarlet Grey. We are working on getting DNEZ as a third cover as I type this. We originally intended to have Best Coast and Beach Fossils as covers and we actually finished both of those covers. We reviewed the new Best Coast album, but in the end, her schedule picked up touring wise and her PR people couldn’t nail her down for an interview time, but we’ll try to get her on a future issue. However, I have interviewed her once before and you can check that out on the site. The Beach Fossils interview will be moved to the second issue when the band finish up their heavy tour load and have more downtime. So those artists will hopefully be in the next couple of issues. It was just a matter of getting everything done in time for an actual release.

ATP: What future plans does the site/magazine have?
SITS: I want to collaborate with more sites and not only spread the word about music and our site/magazine, but spread the word about the community of people that write and make all these great interviews, reviews, and news content available. We did interview a blog for the first issue and I plan to continue spreading the word about cool sites. We will have more sports centered issues hopefully. We are currently working on and hope to have shirts, buttons, and stickers available within the next couple of months (probably sooner). The sky is the limit I guess. We’re just going to do what we do and hopefully people like it.

ATP: Is there anything you'd like to add?
SITS: Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I really like your site. To anyone who is interested but not sure about us check out our site or follow me on twitter. The magazine is out in August and we’re really excited for you guys to read it. The first issue of the magazine will be available to view free digitally. So you can check it out and see if it is for you. If you buy a copy send over an e-mail to us with proof of purchase, I would be willing to bet we send you some free stickers!

Sound In The Signals can be found here and Truman Burden can be found on Twitter here.

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!