TasteMakers001: The Grey Estates

TasteMakers is a new feature from the Adafruit Music team. In this sister series to MusicMakers we will be talking to music writers, bloggers, and brands about creative spaces, technology, and DIY, as well as what inspires them and keeps them motivated to support and amplify the creators in their communities. We’re excited to debut with this feature with Pittsburgh’s Lauren Rearick of The Grey Estates.

Photo courtesy of Kenna Rearick

Lauren Rearick runs The Grey Estates music blog, it’s one of my favourites. I’ve heard a lot of really cool artists for the first time through TGE, including some people we’ve featured on here like Pom Pom Squad and Pearl Crush. Operating in an area where it’s very easy to become jaded or burned out regurgitating press releases and doing favours for the squeakiest PR wheel, TGE stand out by offering something special and different.

The energy and optimism that go into their unique features is totally infectious. The one I like the most is ToonTunes where guest writers put together a mixtape for their favourite cartoon character, it’s a lot of fun seeing shows like Hey Arnold!, Scooby Doo, King of the Hill, Adventure Time, Powerpuff Girls and Sailor Moon getting a lovingly curated playlist made in their honour. Another great one is TGE Recipes where artists write-in with one of their culinary specialities (our own Tom White even came up with a revolting dish for your consideration). But there’s heaps to enjoy on the site including reviews, premieres, interviews, a podcast and a series of killer compilations (with all profits going to RAICES) too. Plus they have a Label of the Month series which introduced us to the gorgeous artwork of Kassie Salas.

TGE is a really great place to be. It’s full of gorgeous music and lovely ideas. It’s the purple blog with the heart of gold and within their pages you’ll find the message that you can do the things you want and you can do what people told you couldn’t and you might even bring a little relief to others while you do it. We hope you can find some inspiration and motivation in The Grey Estates.

Logo designed by Jena Pyle

Before we get going, what’s a song you’re loving right that people can listen to while they read along?
Remember Sports just released their new album and this song “Temporary Tattoo” is the most fun you’ll ever have. Also if you have a lot of experience with heartbreak (LOL, me) then you’ll definitely enjoy. 

Tell us about yourself. How long have you been running the blog?
Hi! I’m Lauren Rearick. I’m a freelance journalist, expert on cartoons, and I started/run The Grey Estates. I’ve been doing The Grey Estates since 2013. I’ve spent five years building up the little purple music blog that could. I also really love Dunkin’ Donuts, my dog Panda, and shopping for overalls.

What inspired you to start and what motivates you to amplify DIY music makers?
I started The Grey Estates because I noticed a distinct lack of non-male voices writing about music. I also had experienced working with other publications and felt really inspired to pursue something of my own. DIY music is what inspires me, what gets me through bad days, what keeps me smiling on sunny days, and it’s been such a part of my life that it seemed like a natural fit. I also love pop music and stuff you’ll hear on the radio, but I wanted to give bands that don’t have those resources or who are waiting to be discovered a platform.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Rearick

Have changes in technology had any effect on your work or engagement with the music community?
When we first started Facebook was a great resource for engaging with readers and for reaching them. As they changed their news algorithms and suffered that whole giving your data away snafu, people started moving away from the platform. I’ve had to really rely on Twitter, Instagram, and other ideas to reach our audience. It definitely affected our readership and traffic, and I don’t know that we’ve found a way around that completely yet.

What’s something you’ve done with the blog that you’re particularly proud of?
In March 2018 we cohosted a showcase with New Professor Records. I can remember watching all my favorite music bloggers go to that event every year and wishing I was part of it. To pull off a show that featured my favorite bands was mind-blowing. Even during the show so many people came up and said kind words and introduced themselves, and that just left me stunned. You can’t ever see the faces of the people reading your stuff on their screen, so to actually meet them and know I had an impact.. that’s incredible.

Are there any changes you’d like to see in the music industry?
I think there can always be changes! I’d love to see a better way of doing premieres because nobody enjoys that. I’d love to see a continue amplification of voices that aren’t the norm, both in music and writing. I’d love to stop reading clickbait stories.

Any tips for making or customising a creative workspace?
After probably two or three years of working at home I finally decorated and made my home office my own. My office is also my bedroom, so I tried to find things that make it feel inspiring, but comfortable. If you’re messy then be messy. If you like to be organized then clean it up! I recommend a planner and Post-Its. I also like finding cute and creative office utensils that I’ll love using. I think it helps to hang up some of your work or work that inspires you, too. Things don’t have to match or fit. Just make a space that you can dream in.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own blog?
Create the space you want to see online. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Write about the things you want, and invent the features you wish were part of the conversation. Don’t do it for clicks or money because those things won’t always happen. Do it because you love it and don’t feel pressured to post a ton or to be the next big thing in blogging.

Who do you think we should speak to next?
Alyssa DeHayes of Riot Act + Arrowhawk Records

Photo courtesy of Lauren Rearick

You can find some really great stuff over on www.thegreyestates.com and you can ask Lauren to write for you here. Follow TGE on Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, Facebook, Hype Machine and Bandcamp.

You can find more music Adafruit is loving right now in our ongoing MusicMakers (feat. Frankie Cosmos, Jeffrey Lewis, Haiku Salut, Bedbug, Pom Pom Squad, Pearl Crush and more) and TrackTalk features.

Plus, you can follow us on Soundcloud and Hype Machine.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

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