An outspoken music writer with a kaleidoscopic eye shares her new memoir. Info
Jessica Hopper is a feminist music critic whose output spans mediums and a variety of musical and cultural moments between 1990 and the present. She published zines and blogged to publish her own criticism for years, going on to write and/or edit for the Chicago Reader, Spin, and Pitchfork, and had a short but brilliant run as editor of a pre-pivot-to-video MTV News. She's also had an extensive career as a publicist for bands like Jawbreaker and At The Drive-In. Hopper's 2015 book, cheekily titled The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic (Featherproof Books) offers a "best of," collecting pieces on artists ranging from Chief Keef to St. Vincent and showcasing an approach to music criticism that puts the listener's personal experience, and Hopper's own encyclopedic knowledge, in the foreground. Hopper, as a Chicagoan, infuses her take on Chance The Rapper with a glowing civic pride, and she trains her eye on details others might miss, taking the time to zoom out and also write about the teenage rappers hanging outside Chance's old recording studio.
Hopper's just-released memoir Night Moves (University of Texas Press) captures the messiness and daily travails of centering one's life around music and culture. Telling the story out of order and in short, poetic bursts, Hopper drenches her lively prose in Midwestern slang. She's also a master of the absurd yet true simile: "Chicago is so Chicago—it's like getting mashed in the face with a volume of Sandburg poems." The book includes an extended slog through freelance hell (ahem) along with some triumphs, but it isn't a tell-all about Hopper's ascent in music media. Night Moves often focuses on leisure––good shows, bad shows, partying with friends, biking across Chicago, making weird dog purse art projects—recognizing that much good writing is born in moments that could never be described as labor, but simply as life lived. —Reid Kurkerewicz