Interview With:

Jordan Young

Tinderbox Music

Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.

I got my start at KURE, the college station at Iowa State University, where I majored in Communications and minored in Music Technology. I started at the station as a DJ, before becoming the Hip Hop Director, and eventually the Music Director. After college, I spent a year working in commercial radio, doing on-air weekends and fill-ins, events, and board operation at a Top 40 station and an ESPN affiliate. I always knew that I was much more interested in indie music than mainstream content, so I decided to take a chance and move to Minneapolis, which I knew had an amazing Hip Hop scene. I started working at Tinderbox as an intern in 2013, and just a short time later I started running the Hip Hop Department. Eventually, I expanded it to become the Specialty Genre Department, where I now also dabble in Electronic, World, and Jazz music, although Hip Hop is still my main squeeze!

Why does college/community radio matter in today’s fragmented environment?

With how exorbitantly saturated everything is in today’s music, media, and entertainment arenas and how short of attention spans people seem to have, I think there’s a greater need than ever for gatekeepers to serve as arbiters of content and curators of taste and culture. College/community radio is one of the most authentic and unbiased platforms to cultivate sincere endorsements and perspectives, which can be highly beneficial to both artists and listeners. The impressions made through radio have potential for artists to attract lasting, long-term fans rather than fleeting consumers, and allow passionate music enthusiasts to discover and connect with new content and artists that are worthy of their attention and aren’t often featured prevalently on other mediums.

I like to think of college/community radio as “accelerated word-of-mouth”, and I personally think word-of-mouth buzz is one of the strongest forms of endorsement something can get. It really adds a personalized touch and a sense of relevancy that algorithms and most outlets in the digital space can’t match. There’s a magic to the way people program, consume, and interact with radio; it’s a community, and it’s constituents want to be part of the conversation and be aware of emerging music that’s generating buzz and potentially impacting the local and/or national scene in some way. They are also some of the most open-minded, envelope-pushing, and forward-thinking music enthusiasts out there, and some of the most unique and experimental music is given a platform to thrive. The college/community radio market has been a champion of that type of influence and vibe for a long time, and is still one of the best tastemaker circuits out there. Where else can you find these types of grassroots music hubs that aggregate some of the most passionate and influential music fans in various markets all across the country?

What is your favorite experience you’ve had in your career? Perhaps a musical idol you got to meet? A festival you were able to attend? A project you were involved with promoting?

I’d probably have to say it was when I promoted the album Ultraviolet by Sadistik in the summer of 2014. This was the first time I got to promote an album by an artist and a label (Fake Four) that I had been a fan of for years prior to working with them. Landing that album felt like a big deal to me, and I put a ton of work into promoting it that summer. It ended up hitting #1 on the CMJ Hip Hop Chart, and was the first #1 album I’ve promoted. Sadistik was touring with Cage that summer, and I got to meet Cody and see him perform a lot of the songs from the album for the first time when the tour routed through Minneapolis. Ultraviolet also contains a posthumous feature from Eyedea on the song “Chemical Burns”. Eyedea was a well-known and respected Hip Hop artist from the Twin Cities who had a profound impact on underground Hip Hop, and who passed away over 3 years prior to this album being released. It was really cool to get to promote a project with that kind of contribution, and I think this album will always hold a special place with me.

What band/artist outside the realm of college/community radio would people be surprised to hear you love?

I’m a huge fan of classic Jazz standards like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker. I know there are stations that still play these artists, but I don’t really consider them to be in “the realm” as they are all well-known heritage artists who have been deceased for decades.

If that doesn’t count, I’ll say Blink 182. They were the band that started it all for me back in middle school. I also met Tom DeLonge when I was 15 and had a conversation with him about the struggles of being a teenager. Be very jealous.

What job do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t a promoter?

It’s hard to imagine doing something outside of the music business at this point, so if I weren’t a radio promoter I would probably try to work in press, licensing, management or some other facet of the music industry. Aside from the business side of music, I’ve always been intrigued with Music Therapy. It sounds fascinating to explore the benefits of utilizing music in a clinical setting, examining it from a deeply psychological perspective, and seeing how it can really improve quality of life within that context.

What destination would you most like to visit and why?

After recently talking to my good friend and client Jon Wayne (of Jon Wayne and The Pain), I desperately want to go to Thailand. Jon’s been making an annual trip there for the past 5 years and he totally talked me into it. It sounds foreign and exotic while retaining a certain amount of comfortability and familiarity, so I could go somewhere very different without experiencing too much culture shock. The cost of living is super cheap, the weather is fantastic, the crime rate is low, and there are some amazing things to see. Plus, I love Thai food!

You just won a million dollars. What are you going to do with it?

I like to think I’d be philanthropic enough to donate a sizeable chunk of it to charity. I would try to save a lot of it, travel, buy a house and a car. Probably all the normal stuff. Boring answer, sorry!

What is/are your current favorite TV obsession(s)? What was your favorite movie of 2017?

Lately, I’ve really been into the new Showtime series The Chi. Barry Cole is the Music Supervisor and he uses a ton of great Chicago Hip Hop artists like Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Noname, Common, and more.

Favorite movie of 2017? Yikes; honestly didn’t see a ton of new movies last year. I’m sure I’ll get around to more of them when they’re out on HBO or Netflix.

When friends come to town, what is your favorite restaurant you take them to?

Minneapolis is often described as a “foodie” city, so there are a TON of great options. I would probably pick Icehouse though. They function as fairly equal parts restaurant and venue; not like a restaurant that occasionally has bands play or a venue that just serves bar food. The space and ambiance is awesome, the food is simple yet elegant, and I’ve seen some of my favorite artists perform there. I’ll also give notable mentions to Naviya’s, Szechuan Spice, and Blackbird Café.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What five well known people (dead or alive) would you like to have there with you?
  • Tom Hanks.
  • Woodrow Wilson.
  • Luke Wilson.
  • Owen Wilson.
  • Earl Hindman (Wilson from Home Improvement)

You see where I’m going with this. Wilson jokes for days….