The Interview

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 8.38.26 AMBy Russel Hlongwane and Marlyn Ntsele

Based on "De muzikantengids - Jan van der Plas & Tijs Vastesaeger

Communicating with media requires a particular mannerism, you need to have a story, you have to be ‘’cool’’ and at the same time professional. It’s no wonder a lot of musicians suffer from insecurities when it comes to connecting with journalists and over time they fortunately gain their confidence.

A few undesired outcomes might occur, either you come across as arrogant, or some details may ‘’slip from your mouth’’ and next thing you’re calling the journalist to take them back. Or maybe you don’t sell yourself enough to the journalist. Remember, you need to intrigue the journalist for your story to make print. You just have to get past him/ her.

To avoid this, take the initiative of preparing for your interview. A media interview usually gives you the best results if you take the initiative, by bringing up a newsworthy topic or give short and clear statements, which the journalist easily can use as quotes. Tip – notice how every article has a ‘’qoutables’’ – this sells the article, so give that journalist ‘’qoutables’’.

You can practice this in advance by asking someone to question you and refine your answers afterwards.

Some tips for a good interview:
• Ask yourself in advance, what would interest the media? What would you like to know from another band like yours? What makes your band unique?
• Most journalists base their questions on the band biography. Make sure you have a solid biography in which all important facts are mentioned. Better still make a summary of important statements. Remember ‘’qoutables’’.
• Journalists like anecdotes and expressive language. If you want to emphasize something, make sure you can summarize it in a few short statements. Punchy quotes give the journalist a good story. If you are a band point out 1 or 2 spokesmen. Group interviews often end up in too many opinions, which makes the band seem messy.
• Get down to business quickly. Keep answers juicy yet precise. Avoid long and complicated stories. You’re only making it difficult for yourself. It’s hard for a journalist a to quote you on a long response. In fact, they stop writing your response because they loose track of your words.
• Stop answering in time. A famous trick amongst journalists is taking a pause before their next question with the hope that you will tell them something that they were not supposed to know. So when the interview goes silent, just look at the interviewer, he will ask you the next question.
• Be alert for suggestive questions like “You do not feel that…” and “ don’t you have the idea that…”. Be assertive and answer: “that is your opinion, I see this slightly different”.
• It is unusual that the interviewee gets to see the text of the interview beforehand, but you can always ask. Simply say that you want to check the text for factual inadequacies, most journalists will agree. Be professional and only check that for the inadequacies.
• Be careful with criticizing other musicians. There is a big chance that you will share a stage (or worse a dressing room) with them at your next gig.
• Avoid the worst clichés. Yes, the media do not spend enough time on interviewing South African bands (and especially yours) and of course your album is the best one that has ever been made.



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