The trailer for Episode 9 of Weird Vibes, an web-based indie music television show masterminded by New York producer Shirley Braha, takes the form of an advertisement within an advertisement. A very American-looking, middle aged blonde hosts a mock infomercial for “Weird Vibes Warehouse,” a fictitious company specializing in music memorabilia. Chances are, those of us already well acquainted with the ins and outs of indie hype will chuckle at the sight of products like “Grimes All Purpose Cleaner,” “Lana Del Raisin Bran,” and a John Maus-themed, “inspirational” mouse pad; likely, we’ll also experience a twinge of discomfort. A MTV-sponsored project dedicated to “bands who are self-released or on indie labels,” Braha’s labor-of-love inhabits an awkward and frequently hilarious middle-ground between music enthusiasm and self-critique, eager to point out the very processes of commodification in which it willingly participates.
With a backlog of artist appearances that includes the likes Best Coast, Neon Indian, Twin Shadow, and Real Estate, there is no arguing that Weird Vibes tends toward the more above-ground side of contemporary “indie music”; at the same time, it’s hard to not to admire her conviction that a mass medium like music television can be a powerful entry point to artists from all over the visibility spectrum. A graduate of Smith College, Shirley founded the long-running New York Noise music television show while working as an Intern for the city government-sponsored station NYCTV. Though she’s since switched over to a multi-platform media corporation, Shirley insists on handling pretty much every single aspect of the show herself, from treatments and shooting to the Saved-By-The Bell-reminiscent animations that pepper every episode. I met up with her at the cafeteria of the MTV building in Times Square last week to discuss how she taught herself the nitty gritty of TV production, the challenges of presenting niche music to a mass audience, and her advice for getting by doing what you love.
Ad Hoc: Can you tell me what your job as creator/producer consists of?
Shirley: Basically, I oversee the show from start to finish; it’s pretty much a one-woman operation. I have a camera crew that I work with, and I have an Executive Producer, and a Supervising Producer, and a lot of people take care of more of the administrative and logistical stuff, but for the most part, the show is kind of me and a MacBook. I do all the editing myself, all the graphics, all the production. I come up with the ideas for each episode-- what bands to feature, what videos to include. And then I deliver it and they I try to get it out there a little. This show exists because of me and its demise will probably be because of me too.
Read the rest of the interview over at AdHoc.