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How to behave when you're being interviewed (by a journalist)

By TOM D'ANTONI // Hey musicians! Or anyone, really. Follow these simple instructions on how to be interviewed.

I've interviewed thousands of people, the majority of whom have been musicians. (Note: I have not yet ceased doing so.) A couple of months ago OMN participted in Uncut, a music event put on by PDX Spotlight's Mike Burling, for people 11-17 who had it in their heads that they wanted to be musicians. As a practical matter, I thought they should be armed with some tips on how to behave when they inevitable time came to give an interview.

This is what i told them:

Face it. If you’re thinking of being a professional musician, people are going to want to know who you are. It’s inevitable, like it or not. If you like the idea, you’re ahead of the game. If you do or if you don’t…look at it as a learning experience about yourself.

It’s kinda like therapy, the more you talk about yourself, the more you learn about yourself. Interviews are good for you.

 A few tips:

  • A true interview is a conversation. The person interviewing you may have a list of questions, but you should treat the interviewer like you two are just talking to each other. You have an advantage and it’ll put both of you at ease and establish a connection between you.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the person doing the interview. They may not know what they’re talking about, but they chose to talk to you. That’s a compliment.
  • Don’t assume they know anything about you or your music. Matter of fact chances are they know nothing at all about the technical side of music, really. You can pretty much count on that. But something in what you do has drawn them to your music. They just want to know about you.
  • They may assume that you and your music are one in the same. We know that’s true in many cases but not in all. Big ugly Metal players are often good to their mothers, wives and children.
  • Think about what side or sides of yourself you want to present to them. You are in control of the interview, not them. If they ask you something that you don’t want to talk about, just say so. “I’d rather not talk about that” won’t satisfy every interviewer (although it should). If it doesn’t, you must insist that’s how you feel.
  • Always remember, they have final control over what they say about you. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is a given. Someone gave them the job of interviewing you, or they picked you out on their own. The piece they do is theirs. Accept it.
  • Most interviewers want to hear what you have to say, so say it. No one-word answers or mumbling. Be yourself, and if you have trouble, try harder to answer what they’ve asked.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk too much. There’s no such thing.
  • The more interviews you do the easier it will get.

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