Music Journalist Raziq Rauf: Founder of Thrash Hits

Raziq Rauf on FluenceRaziq Rauf has more than blood in his veins; music permeates his every molecule atom down to the bone marrow. For over the past 15 years, he’s written as a music journalist for BBC, The Guardian, Kerrang!, Drowned in Sound, Classic Rock, Prog, and Metal Hammer to name a few. He also runs the successful music blog Thrash Hits; a necessity if you’re a fan of metal, hard rock, punk, and more.

Needless to say, we jumped on the opportunity to learn how Raziq started his career and hear his favorite artists so far in 2015.


What was the inspiration behind the genesis of Thrash Hits?

It was part of an umbrella group of specialist sites started with Drowned In Sound in 2008. I’d been writing for them since 2000 so it was a natural partnership. I figured that if I wasn’t being serviced with enough new music of my heavy, London-oriented tastes from an online portal, there would be others that would enjoy that service as well. I also didn’t really enjoy the humourless style of the music press in general, so decided there would be more puns. The problem is that I’m not very funny.


Favorite future hits you’ve covered so far in 2015?

I really love Mord, a black metal band from Iceland that I discovered when I was over there last summer for the very, very awesome Eistnaflug festival. There’s such a wealth of talent in that country.



One closer to home is Prosperina, who sound like “Mastodon having a wig-off with Tool,” if you like that kind of thing. The title Future Hits is a funny one because we shine a light on the most ridiculously uncommercial music around, it’s very, very unlikely any of the bands ever get more than a very committed cult following, but we like that.


Advice for artists looking to reach bloggers with DIY PR?

It’s very difficult, so don’t give up. I have hundreds of new bands in my inbox every month and it’s literally impossible to listen to them all because then I’d have no time to actually write about anything. Generally, if you’re good enough, you’ll find a way through to somebody, somewhere. It sounds simplistic but it’s as meritocratic as it can be.


Latest cool discoveries on Fluence? Any exciting connections with people on the platform?

I found an awesome, brand new prog metal band from London called Orca. There are Incubus and Tool vibes in there and I very much look forward to hearing their forthcoming album.


Your undying love for burgers using a metaphor.

Tip: watch your cholesterol. That’s not a metaphor, just advice.


Best burger place you’ve been to in the past year?

Grill ‘Em All in Los Angeles. You can not beat a full menu of heavy metal burgers full of flavour combinations concocted by gourmet chefs.

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Hugh McIntyre: Writer, Editor, Founder of Pop! Bang! Boom!

Pop! Bang! Boom! Music


Hugh is the founder of the music blog Pop! Bang! Boom! and a Forbes contributor on all things music and music business. He writes for various other publications and blogs around the world and is a member of The Recording Academy.

Check out our interview with Hugh below to learn more about his passion for pop music, his advice for musicians in the digital age, and his resolutions for 2015.


How did you get your start?

I’ve been blogging for fun for about 6 years; it started as a hobby. Then in grad school, I applied for an internship at Billboard and began writing for them. I was living in Boston and I’d come to New York a couple times a month for the Billboard job. During this time, I gradually built up my portfolio. My main gig now is with Forbes about the music industry and the business of music.


Hugh McIntyer on Fluence

Do you think social media is working for or against musicians?

I think it’s very helpful. Back in the day, you either had to have a lot of money promoting you or stick to being a locally known artist, but these days artists can get big because of a fun YouTube video that went viral. Your whole life is different. I like that we’ve seen street teams go away and instead of promoters passing out fliers, now it’s shared on social media with a tweet: “Hey we’re coming to your city.”

Social media has made it a lot more democratic for anyone to have a chance.


What’s your advice for musicians in the digital age?

I think that as much as I don’t want to say it, take every opportunity to make money because you probably won’t sell a lot of records. Count on no money from sales, and focus on getting your song featured in a commercial, do tours. If actual money rolls in from Spotify or Itunes, great!  And focus on brands to hire you.


How’s your experience been with Fluence?

I’ve really enjoyed Fluence. I genuinely like about 75% of the music that is  submitted to me and I’m happy to tweet it out…”hey, I heard this new track on Fluence”.



We saw that Betty Who -“Heartbreak Dream” was your favorite song for 2014; we love that video! How do you decide on your “Favorites” list?

For that list, it’s really specific. It is a favorite list, not a critic list. I look back over the year and I take a look at what I’ve listened to and then I re-listen to it. I think, “Am I happy with this? Do I really like it?” You have to trust your gut. It’s also how I try and review music…sometimes you have to wrestle with it.


On your site, you have a feature called “5 Questions With”. Anyone on your hitlist for 2015?

Gwen Stefani!  As a pop geek, I’m so excited for her comeback.


Why pop music?

When I first started blogging, I reviewed the pop genre more. To know what you’re talking about, you have to know the genre. Starting from a position of not liking it is not fair to the artist or audience. I found myself drawn to pop more, investigating it, learning the history. As I learn more, I find myself thinking, what’s happening in the underground or this reminds me of this artist. You need a certain level of intelligence to cover it well and focus on it.


Any other genres you’re thinking about expanding to?

I end up being connected to EDM music because EDM is pop right now. But then once you’re in the genre, you will get deeper into it. I’m learning about avant-garde electronic and getting more interested in the EDM that isn’t really pop connected.


So 2015 has arrived…any New Year’s resolutions on the professional front?

Yes! I have two…

  1.     Trying to get better at answering emails immediately; I get so many story pitches, ideas from publicists, etc.  I open and read, then forget to respond and I feel so bad.  Even if I say no, it needs to happen right away.  I am getting better at responding, but under 20 unread emails is my goal!
  2.     I get so caught up in writing about business stories, that I will go a week without hearing any new music.  People start asking me, did you hear such and such?  And I’m like, uh, no I’ve haven’t heard anything!  A couple of new records a week is my goal.


You can find Hugh’s Fluence profile here, and see some more people we love on Fluence here.

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Meet Bruno Natal


At Fluence we’re bringing all kinds of creators together with people who can help them with feedback and exposure, and we can’t wait to share one of the latest people to join!

Bruno Natal on Fluence

Bruno Natal is a documentary filmmaker, co-founder of We Demand, and music writer with contributions for Vice, Spin, Urbe, and XLR8R. He is a passionate advocate of crowdfunding and new technologies, and we’re excited to bring you an interview with his latest thoughts on journalism, tech, and filmmaking.

You co-founded the innovative platform We Demand – a place where fans can go to show their support for future live events from their favorite artists. What was the inspiration and story behind the idea?

The whole idea is to connect fans and artists and give complete control of this relationship to the artists. We want to help them communicate with all of their fans for free, whenever they want. We started this as fans, trying to get bands we liked to play in Rio, where we are originally from. Most of them were skipping Rio on their tours to Brazil simply because no promoter was willing to try it out. Rio can be a very tricky market, with the weather playing a huge role in determining if people will go out at night.

We Demand - Fluence Blog

We knew that there were enough fans that, like ourselves, were tired of having to travel elsewhere to watch these shows. We then decided to get all of these people to crowdfund the shows and it worked! 80+ shows after that first one, we expanded to the US and became a platform to help artists connect to their fans by simply asking fans where they want to see artists play. They can then use this channel to sell tickets, make announcements or even crowdfund concerts in certain markets.

You directed and produced the wildly successful documentary film ‘Dub Echoes‘ – what inspired you to trace the origins and influence of Jamaican dub on modern-day electronic and hip-hop music?

The love for dub music, period. Chico Dub, the doc’s researcher, and I are big dub heads, and we always felt outraged for how little recognition it has gotten for the important role it has played in contemporary music history. With that in mind we just picked up a camera and went on a journey to interview everyone we thought was relevant to tell this story with no budget or proper production.

We talked to almost everyone we aimed for. Turns out that mentioning the word “dub” and “Brazil” in the same sentence is some sort of magic key to open those heavy doors. The film made it into a lot of respected festivals and eventually got a DVD release by Soul Jazz Records (a label we love), which cemented the whole journey quite well. My dream is to have a director’s cut on its ten year anniversary, with all the archived BBC footage we couldn’t afford back then – to make it perfect.

As a contributor to high-profile magazines such as Vice, Spin, Urb, and XLR8R, what counsel would you give to up-and-coming writers and content curators looking to pursue their passions further?

As a journalist, above all, I have always written about things I care about. This is one of the perks of being a freelancer; you get to pick your stories (to a minimum degree, at least). Researching and writing about what you like can make for better stories and it eases out the hard work in a way.

After deciding what story you want to tell, the next step is finding which publications to pursue. This is very important, both to not waste anyone’s time (yours and the editor’s) and also to be able to come through with something you like without having to “re-shape” the story too much in order to fit somebody else’s needs. With that sorted out, you would be surprised how far a simple email can go. Pitching the right story to the right editor in the right publication takes the luck factor out of the equation – but most of the times, you will always need a bit of luck.

What are some of your favorite websites or resources for finding fresh music, ideas, and film?

I like reading blogs, hundreds of them. By going directly to them instead of using RSS feeds, I then dig deeper when I see something I like. Also, I love to use Soundcloud and Spotify to be kept in the know in terms of new releases. Bandcamp is another great source, but nothing beats getting that odd tip from someone you know. That’s when you get to find sounds that no algorithm would be able to suggest to you.

Do you have any exciting news for upcoming projects?

I’m totally focused on We Demand now, and things are starting to happen. It’s very exciting times for us!

We Demand - Fluence Blog

You can send your media to Bruno on Fluence here, and don’t forget to add it to the Fluence network here to kickstart your feedback and exposure with digital media experts and curators on Fluence.

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