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Pop Conference
in collaboration with New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music
presents the 2022 Pop Conference

WHEN I THINK OF HOME: RACE AND BORDERS IN POPULAR MUSIC
April 21-24 2022
Open to the Public and Free admission with Conference Registration:
https://popconference2022.eventbrite.com

Produced by RJ Smith and Jason King
Artwork by Cyrus Kabiru; Maksaens Denis; Design by The Art Dictator
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Friday, April 22 • 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Homeward Bound: Pandemic Sounds and Boundaries

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When the pandemic struck in March 2020, many of us began to do a lot less driving. While this was no doubt great for the environment, an unexpected result was that it reshaped our relationship to music – changing not only what we listened to, but how frequently we did so, where we did so, and how we accessed it. In short, as the title of the panel suggests, the pandemic created a new sense of “home” for everyone, including where our home buttons on our radios landed.

For some roundtable participants, those radio buttons began to represent how they moved through physical and sonic space – and mainly in White spaces like Top 40 radio and outdoor recreational spaces – though not exclusively. This assemblage of stations and spaces bounded our pandemic movements, and not always in a bad way. Once-familiar narrow spaces like the supermarket, and in the more distant past like Top 40 radio, became “home” again as the world closed in, but also somehow expanded, if only in an illusory way.
The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped how we experienced music, and we want to interrogate our responses. Our experiences were unique but not unprecedented, as our sonic spaces shifted to accommodate the crisis. Some panelists spent the pandemic at home listening to comfort music. Others who lived in cities where police responses to the Black social justice protests turned urban spaces into armed camps sought relief in 1980s Japanese ambient music or other seemingly safe sounds. Still other participants attempted to reconcile pandemic contradictions of experiences like driving past the active excavation of possible Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves on the way “safe” leisure places, and with Ethiopian-Canadian artist The Weeknd’s 1980s-synth-pop-influenced mega-hit “Blinding Lights” playing on Top 40 radio in the background.

Some of the questions our roundtable will address:

● How has staying at home affected the way we perceive familiar music?
● How has staying at home changed our relationship to music? Do we listen to more--or less--music because we are staying in one place?
● Does moving through familiar spaces like the Walmart reinforce biases or expand them in subtle ways?
● Did silence become more attractive?
● What new borders are being created by podcasts - and which borders are being burst wide open? How have podcasts tried, failed, or succeeded in using music to attract listeners and what are the implications during the pandemic? Are successful music podcasts recreating terrestrial broadcasting’s biases – i.e. against black and brown voices and musics, and, if so, who is enforcing that?
● How did external political events change our sonic environments, both politically and personally?

Moderator
Ann Powers is NPR Music’s critic and correspondent. She began her career at San Francisco Weekly,and has held positions at the New York Times,the Los Angeles Times,the Village Voice, Blender,and the Experience Music Project. Her books include Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America;Tori Amos: Piece by Piece, which she co-wrote with Amos; and Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop,which she co-edited with Evelyn McDonnell.

Roundtable Participants
Gina Arnold teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of San Francisco and creative nonfiction in the MFA program at San Jose State. She is a former rock critic and the author of four books, including Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana(St. Martin’s, 1993) and Half A Million Strong: Crowds and Power From Woodstock to Coachella (University of Iowa Press, 1993), as well as the co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Punk.

Kyle Barnett is an associate professor of media studies in Bellarmine University’s Department of Communication. He has published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Music, Sound and the Moving Image, the Journal of Material Culture, and several anthologies. His bookRecord Cultures: The Transformation of the U.S. Recording Industry (University of Michigan Press), was named 2021’s best historical research on record labels and general recording history by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

Holly Kruse is a professor of communications at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma (in the Cherokee Nation). She is the author of Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes (Peter Lang); the award-winning Off-track and Online: The Networked Spaces of Horse Racing(MIT Press); and the forthcoming Gender and Technology(Polity). Her research has been published in journals including Popular Music, TheJournal of Popular Music Studies, and Popular Music and Society. Email: holly.kruse@gmail.com.

Alfred Soto is a visiting professor of communications at Florida International University. He runs the website Humanizing the Vacuum. He was features editor of Stylus Magazine. His work has appeared in Billboard, The Village Voice, The Miami Herald, Rolling Stone, Slate, MTV, Pitchfork, and The Pitchfork Review. He lives in Miami.

Annie Zaleski is an award-winning writer with bylines in a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, NPR Music, The Guardian, Salon, Time, Billboard, The A.V. Club. She also contributed liner notes to the 2016 reissue of R.E.M.’s Out of Timeand released a 33 1/3 book on Duran Duran's Rio in May 2021 and is currently at work on Why the B-52s Matterfor University of Texas Press. 

Moderators
avatar for Ann Powers

Ann Powers

Critic and Correspondent; Founder, Turning the Tables, NPR Music
Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. Her books include Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music, Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America,and (with the aritst)Tori Amos: Piece By Piece. She is the co-editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of Rock... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Holly Kruse

Holly Kruse

Professor of Communications, Rogers State University
Holly Kruse is a professor in the Department of Communications at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma (in the Cherokee Nation). She is the author of Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes (Peter Lang); Off-track and Online: The Networked Spaces of Horse... Read More →
avatar for Alfred Soto

Alfred Soto

Visiting Instructor, Florida International University
Alfred Soto is a visiting professor of communications at Florida International University. He runs the website Humanizing the Vacuum. He was features editor of Stylus Magazine. His work has appeared in Billboard, The Village Voice, The Miami Herald, Rolling Stone, Slate, MTV, Pitchfork... Read More →
GA

Gina Arnold

Gina Arnold teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of San Francisco and creative nonfiction in the MFA program at San Jose State. She is a former rock critic and the author of four books, including Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana(St. Martin’s, 1993) and Half A Million... Read More →
avatar for Kyle Barnett

Kyle Barnett

Kyle Barnett is an associate professor of media studies in Bellarmine University’s Department of Communication. He has published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Music, Sound and the Moving Image, the Journal of Material Culture, and several anthologies. His bookRecord Cultures... Read More →
AZ

Annie Zaleski

Annie Zaleski is an award-winning writer with bylines in a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, NPR Music, The Guardian, Salon, Time, Billboard, The A.V. Club. She also contributed liner notes to the 2016 reissue of R.E.M.’s Out of Timeand released a 33 1/3 book on... Read More →


Friday April 22, 2022 12:00pm - 1:15pm EDT
Room A: Sky Church