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Wendy Fonarow, 2010
|Born||date of birth unknown
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Occupation||Anthropology, Professor, Writer, A&R|
Wendy Fonarow is an anthropology instructor at Glendale Community College, writer and music industry professional. She is best known for the book Empire of Dirt, and for her column Ask the Indie Professor in The Guardian.
Life and career
Wendy Fonarow was born in Los Angeles. As a child she did not have much access to music, but as a teenager she discovered the underground LA nightclubs where she danced to post-punk, goth music and gay anthems.
While studying at University of California in San Diego, she worked at the campus radio station. There she was exposed to bands like The Fall, Pink Industry, Wire, Magazine, and the magazine NME. Milo Aukerman of the Descendants also attended UCSD and decided to do a cover of the Beach Boys "Wendy" for her which was later included on The Descendant's album Enjoy! After graduating, back in LA, she started to go to concerts of similar bands.
In 1989, the Reading Festival was for the first time booked by Mean Fiddler, changing from metal to indie. She wanted to attend but discovered that she could not buy tickets from he USA. Instead she asked Something Happens (an Irish band she had met when they had played the Whiskey-a-Go-Go) for help. They put her in the guest list, which gave her backstage access. There a significant incident happened: an annoyed bartender (because he was a heavy metal fan and didn't like the bands playing) told her: "You don't belong here." But Terry Bickers from The House of Love defended her, telling the bartender that she did belong there. So she found a home in indie music.
While attending other concerts, she noticed that the spectators (usually) obeyed some unwritten rules, which made her interested in music performance as a ritual. So, when she had to choose a topic for her PhD thesis she choose to research indie "gigs".
She started the field work for her research during the festival season of 1993 and stayed in the UK until near the end of 1994. About 5 months after starting she was asked to help out at Domino Records, a credible independent label. Since Domino was a small label she did various jobs there, getting to know various aspects of the music business. In the summer of 1995 she was hired by Reprise Records to work in the London A&R department. In 1996 she was working at MCA Records in Los Angeles as an A&R manager. In 1999 she finished her PhD thesis and in 2006 she published her book. She has given invited lectures and keynotes at Cambridge University, Princeton, Columbia University, UCLA, University of Milan, University of Oslo and the University of Edinburgh as well as professional conferences including By:Larm, CMJ, SXSW, Music Finland, and EMP in Seattle, NYC, and Los Angeles.
- (1995) "The Spatial Organization of the Indie Music Gig" reprinted in The Subcultures Reader, Ken Gelder (Editor), Sarah Thornton (Editor).
- (1996) "Spatial Distribution and Participation in British Contemporary Musical Performances" Issues in Applied Linguistics, 7(1)
- (1999) “The Culture of Participation and the Morality of Aesthetics in British Independent Music Performances” PhD. Diss., University of California at Los Angeles (Ann Arbor: UMI).
- (2006) Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music . Paperback: ISBN 978-0-8195-6811-3, Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-8195-6810-6.
- (2008) "Portrait du chercheur en fan", Cairn.info
- Google Scholar finds 75 citations of her book and 31 citations of her 1995 article (as of 04 April 2013).
- She suggested the name of the band Mojave 3 inspired by the Mojave desert near L.A.
- Sebadoh's "Secret EP" and Album "Defend Yourself" were recorded in Wendy Fonarow's Indietopia Music Studio in Adams Hill, CA.
- Glendale Community College : Faculty & Staff : FONAROW, WENDY
- Dr. Wendy Fonarow, Associate Professor of Anthropology
- "England Made Me", The Word (magazine), Issue 86, April 2010, pages 108-111
- Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music Paperback: ISBN 978-0-8195-6811-3, Hardcover: ISBN 978-0-8195-6810-6
- Wendy Fonarow (22 March 2011). "Ask the indie professor: Why so many bad band names?". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Wendy Fonarow (2006-07-25). "Three vs. 3". mojave3online.com. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- _tunic_ (2012-10-07). "SeBADoH". Retrieved 2013-12-04.
- "Secret EP by Sebadoh". Sebadoh. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
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