EMP Pop Conference 2013 - Seattle

Begging to Differ: New Visions, New Sounds


In a city where people will argue with passion and rigor as long as they’re not in the same room, EMP encourages a vigorous, face-to-face exchange of ideas and opinions about popular music.

Seattle's daylong Pop Conference included one-on-one, two-on-two, and three-on-three debates, and five-minute-long Ignite talks where presenters were armed with 20 PowerPoint slides to make their case.

View author Douglas Wolk's five-minute tour-de-force Ignite talk above on the beauty of micro songs,“Keep it Short, Stupid,” one of 17 Ignite talks to take place at Seattle's Pop Conference at EMP Museum. See more of the Ignite talks at youtube.com/EMPmuseum.



    Registration and Check-In

    Group Entrance


    Ignite Talks

    JBL Theater

    “The Union” vs. “The Battle of Manassas,” by John Shaw
    The author tells the story of two Civil War-era pianist-composers, Thomas Wiggins and Louis-Moreau Gottschalk, and the greatest answer-pieces in musical history.

    Bob Dylan, Brave Combo, Santa, and Symbols of the Season, by David Gaines, Southwestern University
    In 2009 Bob Dylan covered nuclear polka band Brave Combo’s 1991 cover of Hal Moore and Bill Fredericks' 1960 “Must Be Santa,” which had been a hit for Mitch Miller. The history of this German drinking song—from Miller to Dylan through Brave Combo—provides insights into Dylan’s religious beliefs, magpie poetics, and marketing instincts.

    K-Pop Goes Global, by Youngdae Kim, University of Washington
    A South Korean pop music critic and ethnomusicologist explains how “non-nationality” transformed Korean popular music into a global sensation.

    My Vagina Makes My Musical Decisions, by Ma'Chell Duma LaVassar
    Joan Jett said it best: “Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all.” A self-proclaimed professional sass mouth discovers that her personal taste has been completely formed by records that rang her “lady bells/balls.”

    Oops We Did It Again: Manufacturing Female Pop Star Brands in the Modern Music Industry, by Kristin Lieb, Emerson College
    A former music industry executive examines the packaging process that transforms female artists into pop stars.

    Yoko Ono Can Stomp Your Ass: The Artist at 80, by Litsa Dremousis, The Believer
    Musician, visual artist, activist, and investor: How Yoko Ono has succeeded spectacularly and prevailed over sexism, racism, and now, ageism.

    Doing It Ourselves, by Beth Warshaw-Duncan and Andrienne Pilapil, Vera Project
    What happens when a scene grows so big that it becomes a nonprofit? It has a chance to combine the immediacy of all-ages DIY with the perks of a legal venue.

    Keep It Short, Stupid, by Douglas Wolk
    Brevity is the secret soul of pop; in the era of ringtones and Vine, smart artists know how to get their point across and get out. Over the course of this five-minute talk, the veteran critic will play at least 15 excellent songs in their entirety, and discuss, in detail, how their concision makes them rule.


    Sean Nelson

    Litsa Dremousis
    Ma'Chell Duma LaVassar
    David Gaines
    Youngdae Kim
    Kristin Lieb
    Andrienne Pilapil
    John Shaw
    Beth Warshaw-Duncan
    Douglas Wolk

    Begging to Differ Debates

    JBL Theater

    Which Beatles Album Is Actually the Best?, with Tom Kipp and Devin McKinney
    Two critics square off and provide definitive answers about the Fab Four’s best LP devoid of Baby Boomer presumption, Gen X obnoxion, and Rock Crit orthodoxy!

    In Lieu of Therapy: Power, Performance and the Media, with dream hampton and Sandra Jackson-Dumont
    From hip-hop lyrics and social cameos to twitter rants and YouTube movies, how are artists using these platforms as substitutes for therapy, and how are consumers and fans stand-ins for media. Sandra Jackson-Dumont and dream hampton will discuss how various presentation vehicles are portals for negotiating power, intimacy, exposure, flaunting misogyny, and side-stepping critical issues.


    dream hampton
    Sandra Jackson-Dumont
    Tom Kipp
    Devin McKinney

    Lunch Break


    A variety of options are available at POP Kitchen + Bar located inside EMP Museum. Additional food options can be found at the Seattle Center Armory, located west of EMP Museum. Please see volunteers at the Pop Conference table for more information.


    Ignite Talks

    JBL Theater

    Searching for Nirvana, by Jacob McMurray, EMP Senior Curator
    The curator of Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses explains how to create a culturally sensitive music exhibition (without pissing off too many people).

    Spanish Castle Magic: Kurt, Jimi, Ann, Nancy, and the Streets Beneath Us, by Charles R. Cross
    The best-selling biographer (Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll) tells stories about several streets around EMP and their place in rock music history, from “Rape Me” to “Spanish Castle Magic.”

    These Streets: Expectations and Effect of an Unconventional Collaboration, by Gretta Harley
    The co-creator of These Streets, a rock ‘n’ roll story about the women of grunge, shares the process of collaboration between creators and community and told history; and the making of an addendum to that history using a multi-dimensional art piece.

    Building a Killer Brand Narrative, by Kristin Lieb, Emerson College
    A former music industry executive turned scholar explains how to assess what makes your brand different, what makes your target market tick, and how those things can be cobbled together to create a killer brand narrative.

    How to Pitch Your Band’s Awesomeness, by Chris Kornelis
    Seattle Weekly's music editor explains how a music section is put together, and how your band can be a part of it, guaranteed or your MONEY BACK!

    The Afternoon Show, by Kevin Cole, KEXP
    KEXP’s Senior Director of Programming shares stories about hosting a daily show that delights, educates, and enlightens listeners of a community public radio station.

    How to Survive a Firestorm, by John Roderick
    After lobbing a grenade with his Seattle Weekly essay “Punk Rock is Bullshit,” John Roderick heard from hundreds of readers who tapped into their punk roots and responded online with acidic vitriol. Roderick shares what he discovered about his readers, himself, and the dangers of begging to differ.

    Old Sounds Make New Visions, by Chris Estey, Big Freak Media
    It’s fun and productive to think of reissued albums that have changed modern tastes and also to consider the social and cultural forces that have made them welcome again. From how garage rock compilation Nuggets ignited the punk movement of the 70s, to the comeback story of Rodriguez and his “unknown classic” first LP, the writer and reissuer will show alternate histories of popular music and how important these reissues can be to music fans.

    Banging Your Head Without Losing Your Marbles, by Rachel Flotard
    The singer-songwriter-guitarist talks about the art of finding humor and balance for you and your band traversing a shit-bombed musical landscape, and handling your fleeting successes and disappointments with grace, flair, and new records.


    Sean Nelson

    Kevin Cole
    Charles R. Cross
    Chris Estey
    Rachel Flotard
    Gretta Harley
    Chris Kornelis
    Kristin Lieb
    Jacob McMurray
    John Roderick

    Begging to Differ Debates

    JBL Theater

    Who’s Got the Best Music Scene? Seattle vs. Austin vs. Portland, with James Keblas, Jim Butler, and Cary Clarke
    Two city officials from Seattle and Austin—James Keblas and Jim Butler—and one former arts and culture director from Portland (and founder of PDX Pop Now! Music Festival) face off to argue about why their city has the most vibrant music scene, with the audience picking the winner.


    James Keblas
    Jim Butler
    Cary Clarke

    The Joys and Burden of Record Collecting

    JBL Theater

    To celebrate Record Store Day, this panel of avid record collectors, including Kevin Cole of KEXP, Mike Batt of Silver Platters, DJ Valerie Calano, and Ken Barnes will share their stories about amassing a collection and living with it.


    Ken Barnes
    Mike Batt
    Valerie Calano
    Kevin Cole

    Stream Pop Conference New York Keynote Conversation with Amanda Palmer

    Rec Room

    View exclusive footage of Amanda Palmer's NYU Keynote as it streams in EMP's Rec Room all day. Available to Pop Con attendees and visitors to the museum.