The Wesleyan Music Scene is gaining exposure in the American mainstream media – British periodicals NME and the Guardian have been watching this trend since last year, and the Village Voice has now picked up on it with an article examining how Wes came to be the “epicenter of surrealist Brooklyn pop”.
In contrast to the breathless hype of last year’s NME feature, this one is grounded and pretty accurate in describing the loosely associated group of Wes-to-Brooklyn artists we’ve come to blog and love over the past few years.
The Village Voice interviewed key members like Simon O’Connor of Amazing Baby, Ben Goldwasser of MGMT, Tal Rozen of Boy Crisis, and associate/film director Ray Tintori, who discuss their relationships to Wesleyan, Eclectic, and each other:
[Wesleyan’s] never been known as a particularly “cool” place until now. And if it seems wrong for a tiny, nerdy Connecticut college to be the focus of so much hype, well, blame the British. The music press over there is obsessed with Brooklyn bands, and MGMT’s collegiate circle is obviously irresistible[…] Boy Crisis’s U.K. publicist advertises them as having attended “Connecticut’s prestigious Wesleyan Art College,” a blatant attempt to make it sound somehow fashionable.
That sort of thing drives O’Connor nuts. “It’s not a fucking art college,” he says flatly. “I made the mistake of telling an NME writer that Will (Berman) had left our band to join MGMT, and that was it. We were labeled a Wesleyan band.” O’Connor is currently the only member of his band who attended the school, and he doesn’t think the experience was anything special. “Yeah, we played in bands together,” he says, “but we were music majors. That’s just what you do.” O’Connor and VanWyngarden had a band called Irma Vep that once opened for the Rapture at the Eclectic Society, another institution O’Connor is quick to denounce: “It was exactly like that movie PCU,” he says. “A nerd society, basically.”
MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser was a member of Eclectic, and though he admits he thought of the club as lousy with “hipster assholes” at first, he warmed up to the idea when his friends joined. “I liked being involved in running a performance venue,” he says. “We had the best room on campus for bands to play.” As for Wesleyan overall, Goldwasser disagrees with O’Connor about the experience. “There was definitely something about it,” he says. “There was the usual college drinking/party atmosphere, but people also took initiative to put on creative events. There were bands playing really cool shows on campus”—MGMT among them.
Conversely, Boy Crisis didn’t perform much while at school, and Das Racist and Amazing Baby formed post-college in New York, but the core Wesleyan crowd stayed friends, which won them all extra attention once MGMT blew up. “In some cases, we’ve tried to get their names out there and make people aware of them,” says Goldwasser. “But once we started getting attention, people just automatically started looking at bands we were friends with and bands that came from Wesleyan.”
Like that other Wes entertainment syndicate, the current crop of Wes-related artists is dubbed the “Wesleyan mafia”:
“It’s like a ladder,” [Tintori] says. “When somebody moves up a rung, they reach a hand down to the next guy.” It’s the kind of career mechanism a lot of people would love to latch on to, and Goldblatt suspects they’re already trying. “There must be tons of kids in neon Wayfarers writing wild, psychedelic essays to get into Wesleyan now,” he says. The frightening thing is, he’s probably right.
Looking at you, class of 2013!
Read the whole article:
Village Voice: The Wesleyan Mafia: MGMT, Boy Crisis, Amazing Baby