A Book Nerd Who Writes About Music – A Q+A With Jordan Snowden of PGH City Paper

Photo by Dom Clayton

Jordan Snowden is a staff writer at PGH City Paper who provides invaluable insight about, coverage of, and support to a diverse group of artists and creatives all across the community. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for Bored In Pittsburgh. Check it out below:

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To start off, how are you holding up during the COVID-19 crisis? Managing to stay sane while quarantined?

I’m finally *semi* adjusted to staying in the house. I’m lucky enough to still be working as my job can be done online. Although it feels SO weird not being able to go to concerts, and be out in the city, as that is/was a major part of being a music writer at the paper. 

I’ve been spending my free time reading and growing my bookstagram, @bohobooksnbrews (shameless plug, and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like, an Instagram account dedicated to books), and alternating between playing PS4 with my fiance and refreshing websites desperately trying to find a Nintendo Switch.  

Who is Jordan Snowden? A tagline or a mission statement, if you will. 

A book nerd who writes about music. 

What led you to become a writer, and, more specifically, a music writer?

I always enjoyed writing, probably because I love reading. I’m also a huge live music, and music in general, fan. During my last year of college, I cold-emailed a bunch of websites and the now-defunct D.C. Music Download was kind enough to take me on as a writing intern even though I had no experience. I bopped around to different writing internships/freelance gigs after that, and while I was working as a radio promotions assistant for Entercom Communications (KDKA, Y108, 93.7 The Fan, 100.7) in 2018 I saw City Paper was looking for a writer.

I applied, for the second time since I moved to PGH in 2016, and that time around they hired me. They knew I was still a semi-novice writer, but they saw potential in me and were willing to take a chance. It was my combined writing and music experience. I’ve now worked at the paper for almost 2 years. It’s the first full-time job I’ve had since graduating college in 2015, proving perseverance is key.

Are there any writers/journalists/people in general who have influenced your work?

The late Tom Wolfe. He was both an author (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, A Man In Full) and a journalist known for this New Journalism style of writing. His work has so much detail… he can go on for pages on a tangent yet it contributes to the story as a whole. Roxane Gay and Joan Didion are another two of my favorites. I could only hope to be as great as them one day. 

Wolfe and Gay and Didion

What has your experience been like as a woman in both the field of journalism and within the music community?

Most people who haven’t met me assume I’m a man. I’ve gotten emails addressed to ‘Mr. Snowden.’ I don’t always correct them. It’s better now that I’m starting to establish a name for myself. But Pittsburgh is lucky to have a few amazing, badass women in high positions in the music community. We help uplift each other. 

Talk a little bit about your Quarantunes series that you’ve been working on with PGH City Paper. 

Since we aren’t able to attend live shows right now, I thought it would be fun to show musicians in their home performing a song or two. I had the idea around the time livestreams were gaining momentum, so I thought a little Q&A and background on the person or band would give it a little more of a draw. I’ve been enjoying seeing what they come up with, not only with the songs but with answers to questions like, “What’s the craziest dream you’ve had since the quarantine started?”

Have you noticed any changes or trends within the Pittsburgh music community during the time you’ve been covering it?

Hip hop and rap were popular in the city when Mac Miller and Wiz were still living here, and then it fell off a bit (or at least the coverage of it did). I’m been seeing a rise in its popularity again. We’ve also been (or were) getting a lot more acts coming through Pittsburgh to perform with the addition of new venues. As a whole, I’m seeing a little more cross-over with genres, but I would love to see even more mixing of music niches. 

Who are some of your favorite Pittsburgh-based artists? What albums/tracks are you listening to right now?

Anything from INEZ, Pressure by The Commonheart, “Superheroes,” by TyDanzuso and Leila Rhodes, Ophelia by Sierra Sellers, Cam Chambers, Juiced up Joey, Glum Hum by Glam Hand.

Is there anything I forgot to ask or that you’d like people to know about you, your work, or anything in general?

I just want to remind people that if you email me, DM, me, etc., and I don’t respond the first time, please reach out again. I get so many emails and things slip through the cracks. And if I don’t cover a release or event from you the first time, it’s nothing against you or your work. Besides music, I write book reviews, light news stories, and more – I simply don’t have time to cover everything and I am the only music writer. 

And if you send me music, please please please send it via Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. When I get emails with mp3 files and such attached, it freezes my computer. (Photo attachments are good though! Just make sure to include the photographer 😉 )

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Many thanks to Jordan Snowden for taking the time to share her thoughts. Make sure to check out her work with PGH City Paper and to follow her on social media.

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