He has over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, and reviews anything running the gamut of mainstream music to your free-for-download independent releases. In the same breath, he’s also the man that kept getting persistent requests to review Limp Bizkit’s “Gold Cobra” which instead consisted of six minutes of
making a vegan shake, having some spaghetti, and doing whatever else to keep from giving the people the type of review they had sought. He’s articulate, and manages to remind you of some of your favorite music critics who review an album by giving you enough background knowledge to know their history, and then tell you why the album works or doesn’t work, depending on their catalog of material. The man I speak of is Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop, and there’s no contest that with over 1000+ videos dedicated to nothing but reviewing music, he lives up to his tagline as the internet’s busiest music nerd. We got the chance to converse via e-mail about his start, and his most interesting moments, some of which we’ve attached to this interview. Read up, champs.
GR: Talk about your background/education – what got you originally submerged into the music world?
AF: Being the music director at the college radio station at SCSU in New Haven, CT. I’ve always loved music, but working there got me turned in to a lot of different styles, and got me pushing my tastes into different areas.
GR: Who/what were some early influences that got you into wanting to review music?
AF: I had a friend of mine on Livejournal–lol, I know–back in the early 00s who used to do these long writeups about certain artists and she turned me on to a few that were pretty great. It made me want to do the same, share the musical experience on the internet. It didn’t really turn into “reviews” until I tried doing YouTube in 2009, which I only did as an experiment because my blog and podcast were making much traction at the time.
GR: When did you decide to make The Needle Drop a full-time profession? Was the decision a hard one to make? Looking back, is there anything you would change about the experience?
AF: It wasn’t really a decision. It was just a matter of the show taking up so much of my time and making me enough money to sustain myself. I was quitting a job where I was cooking pizza, so it wasn’t that hard of a decision. I love the people who I used to work with, and I was working with a lot of them for ten years, but they understand this is my passion and my own thing that I have to pursue.
GR: Given that you review albums via YouTube and podcast formats, in addition to making a weekly radio show, stuff which usually requires you to sit at a computer for countless hours, how do you challenge yourself to stay active, being a health nut/vegan? And what factors made you choose that lifestyle?
AF: I like to stay active, but I keep it simple. I do a lot of pushups, pullups, walking / running, playing with my dogs. As far as the vegan thing, I’ve been vegetarian since I was eighteen or nineteen. Veganism was something that I just slowly grew into as I learned to cook with more things that weren’t animal products. It was also a matter of me learning more about nutrition and all that. I do it mostly for health reasons.
GR: In a previous YouTube, you cited some awesome channels on YouTube that do the same thing you do, ones that you dig. What kind of tips/direction can you offer someone who wants to follow a similar profession? What should they know?
AF: Don’t be afraid of what other people think of your opinion, try to be as accurate as possible, and interact with the people who view your videos.
GR: You had made an appearance on Nardwuar’s segment at your last stint at SXSW. While you had outlined some of the incredible “gifts” he had handed to you, what was that experience like for you?
AF: It was amazing. I’ve been a fan of Nard for a long time, which I mentioned in the interview, but I’m not sure it made it into the final cut. I’ve basically been a fan of the Evaporators since high school, and it was kinda like everything coming full-circle in that moment.
GR: Being that you’ve reviewed countless tracks and artists, are there any stories of artists taking your reviews in the wrong way?
AF: A few. I had an argument once with an artist about an album he did production on, and didn’t even realize he was one of the producers on the album until after our argument was done. Hah! I didn’t exactly say anything I wouldn’t have said otherwise, but it took me aback for a second.
GR: If you could have a pizza party with any three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
AF: 80s Rick Rubin, Transformer-era Lou Reed, 60s John Cage
GR: You had a review for Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same,” who came up with the Trap Lord prayer? Was it you, or Cal? How long did it take to write that one out?
AF: It was me, and I tricked Cal into thinking it was a religion he should hop onto. It didn’t take too long to write out since I used the Lord’s Prayer as a blueprint.