If you have seen my Facebook, twitter, read one of my blog posts, or ever had a conversation with me, you know that Sunset in the Rearview is my all-time favorite music blog. Possibly my all-time favorite anything. That’s the only way I can describe how strongly I feel about this site and the love for music that I share with each of the contributing writers as well as the founder of the site Lydia Simmons.
I’ve had a few conversations with Lydia over the years regarding music- often our shared devotion to Scott Mescudi- and today I decided to let you in on the not-so-secret obsession I have with this site and the woman responsible for it. I hope you gain a bit of insight from this talented writer, musicphile, and all around cool human being.
MK: When did you start Sunset? Did you start it on your own or collaborate with someone?
LS: Sunset in the Rearview started in December 2008. I was a senior in college and had a paper I was supposed to write for a class I had no interest in taking. I was sitting in the library trying to find a way to procrastinate, and noticed that several of my friends had interesting “tumblr” URLs on their gchat away messages. I decided to investigate what Tumblr was, and when I figured out it was a blogging platform, thought it would be a brilliant idea to start a music blog. How novel! I’m sure nobody’s started a blog ONLY dedicated to music yet! …So naive. But I started it on my own, and it took me a couple years before I let anybody else touch it.
MK: How long was it before you noticed more comments, downloads, and submissions from artists come in? Was this when you first felt it was “successful” or was it before that?
LS: You know, that’s a good question. I’m not sure when that was, but it took a while to gain traction. The first “big” day I had was when I premiered a song called “Dear Duke” by ANTHM. It went viral amongst the Duke community. A couple days later, ANTHM and I received an email from the President of the University, and ANTHM was invited to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange alongside President Brodhead. That was pretty cool!
MK: How hard has it been to keep Sunset timely and updated so often while you have a full-time job or were a full-time student?
LS: It wasn’t all that hard when I was a student, because I’m the type of person who always needs something I’m passionate about to keep me going day-to-day. Even my first job after college, I was able to maintain it through that without TOO much trouble (though admittedly it was still an enormous time commitment), because I wasn’t feeling completely fulfilled at my job. But now, I’m really passionate about my job at Google, so it’s harder to find and make time for it. But it feels a bit like I have a four year old child, and to abandon it completely would be terrible. So yeah, it’s hard. I often find myself feeling like I have little time to breathe or relax, but it’s worth it because I’m still incredibly passionate about it.
MK: How do you decide which artists to share on Sunset? Is it any music that speaks to you or do you follow other criteria- like what you think your readers will enjoy most or who is being hyped at the time?
LS: I’d say the most important thing for me is to avoid just picking artists who are being hyped at the time. That’s totally against my morals. The reason I started the blog – and the reason I’m still writing it today – is because I want to share music that I’m passionate about and that move me enough to make me write about them. That’s why Sunset hasn’t ever become a blog that just posts the song on its own with a word or two. I’m always sure to write about the music, because if it isn’t able to get words out of me, it’s not worth my time or yours, in my opinion. And that’s just not what this blog is about.
MK: As someone who owes a good chunk of their iTunes library to your site, I have always wondered how you find so many of the artists that I am hearing for the first time. I know you receive submissions from artists, but how much time do you spend on other music blogs or platforms like hypem to find new and different artists?
LS: In its earliest days, I found most of the music on MySpace. Seriously. I’d find artists I liked, look through their top 8, then the next person’s top 8, and keep on going down this path. I found some obscure artists who I absolutely fell in love with. And that’s what I started out sharing. Then, as MySpace started becoming less relevant in the music world, I started spending more time on other blogs (Herfection, Pigeons & Planes, The Coolest Out, to name my first three favorite…only two of the three still exist!). Then, once submissions started coming in pretty steadily, it became a good mix of listening to submissions and searching the web. And that’s where I stand today!
MK: If you had to choose one “perk” or aspect of being a successful music blogger that you love the most, what would it be?
LS: It’s cool to be connected to so many people around the world. There are a lot of people out there who trust my opinion on music, and that’s awesome. I’m honored to have gotten to that point. But more than that, I feel like I’ve been able to influence some people who read the blog in a great way. I get personal messages sometimes from people, and the things I hear blow my mind. That I changed somebody’s life…that’s something I never thought I’d hear, particularly when I’ve never met the person face-to-face. But that’s incredible! That’s honestly a HUGE honor, and it means that if I walked away from all of this today, I’d have succeeded at something.
Somehow I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this site, but I am forever grateful that I did. Sunset changed my life in more profound ways than broadening my musical spectrum- which incase you haven’t caught on, is a very big deal to me. So do yourself a favor and go check out the site, I guarantee that you will come away a better person…or at the very least one who listens to better music.
download link: Sunset Jams
19 Artists I would be living without, if it weren’t for Sunset in the Rearview
- Not for Nothing- OnCue
- Feel I Bring- Aer
- The Childish Games- D.veloped
- Time for What I Want (Biggie& Semisonic)- Brenton Duvall
- Feel The Love(RJF)-Hoodie Allen
- Girlfriend (Chainsaw Love pt. 1)- Mikey Mike
- Dancing With Avicci (Avicci vs. The Knocks)- Captain Cuts
- All I Could Do- G-Eazy feat. Skizzy Mars & Devon Baldwin
- Oh Scarlet (Grateful Dead vs. Cam’ron)- Its Overture
- Dope Girl- ZAKEE
- Molly- Wild Vibes
- I’m On One- TImeflies
- You Need Me- Ed Sheeran
- It’s Around You- ANR
- Dance in the Graveyards- Delta Rae
- If I Die Before You- Ludwig Gorannson
- Stuck in My ID- Reptar
- Higher Love- James Vincent McMorrow
- Raconte- Moi Une Histoire-M83
*This was the hardest playlist I’ve ever had to make. I have literally hundreds of songs I wanted to include and had to narrow down to a few all-time favorites. If you like what you hear, check out Sunset in The Rearview for new music daily. You can thank me later.