Dependably Unexpected—Finding New Music With Bandcamp's Andrew Jervis

We live in a time when adventure, spontaneity, and mobility are usually valued over comfort, dependability and the routine. I recently went on a five-week road trip and learned that, while setting sights on a different horizon every day is exciting, settling into a curated routine has its own merits which are usually realized in the form of delayed gratification. Setting goals and blocking off time to work on passion projects on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis is extremely difficult when you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping or eating dinner the very next evening. Lately, while staying in one place for a while, I’ve had the pleasure of cultivating a few weekly routines that have helped me grow in ways I couldn’t imagine while on the road. One of these routines revolves around maintaining a steady stream of new music from around the world.

Every Tuesday, I sit at my loom with a huge pot of coffee, plug my crumbling earbuds with the frayed wires into my laptop, and tune in to ninety minutes of highly-curated, culturally-embedded, and politically-relevant musical vibrations. On Bandcamp Weekly, Andrew Jervis never fails to deliver on a dependable and dynamic listening experience which keeps me grounded and productive for the rest of the week. Far from being predictable or monotonous, each show has a fresh tone, offering something new and different from the last, while providing an ambiance of comfort that makes my mobile office feel like home.

Since April 2013, Jervis has been delivering a selection of treats from Bandcamp’s vast tree of unique sounds in the form of this weekly podcast. When it comes to outsourcing your daily music selections, nobody is more qualified than he. From his long list of music-industry credentials, he highlights 15 years as Vice President of A&R for San Francisco’s iconic Ubiquity Records, nearly a decade as editor for On The One Magazine, and 16 years as a host and producer for KUSF. When it comes to recognizing talent and selecting the cream from even the most obscure crop, Jervis is an easy source to trust with your weekly musical digest.

With selections ranging from niche DIY producers employing battered instruments to established and world-renowned musicians, the show is unparalleled in the music industry today. Jervis is consistently on-point while remaining fresh, engaging and culturally relevant. What I like most about Bandcamp Weekly is that in spite of the host’s long resume of curating experience, the show remains extremely accessible and offers a little something for everybody. Jervis delivers his curated show in a tone that strikes a perfect balance between scholarly and unpretentious. He provides just enough colour commentary on established and emerging artists without alienating the uninitiated. It is this perfect balance which allows me to recommend this sometimes-eccentric show to both my parents as well as my geeky audiophile friend from college.

Each time I tune in to Bandcamp Weekly, I do so with a modicum of trust. We live in an age where we can listen to any song that we select with nothing but a few quick keystrokes. But every week, I dedicate ninety minutes to Jervis’s selections. I do this because the amount of listening material available today is intimidating, and without the right tools, it’s nearly impossible to quickly find obscure artists with a unique sound, regardless of talent. If left to my own music-selection devices, you’d find me paralyzed by indecision and looping the Toro Y Moi discography for eternity, leaving me bored and disenchanted with the rich world of music.

Instead, on a weekly basis, I can choose to outsource this decision making process, leaving me free to sit back and let the new music wash over me. When we relinquish the power of selection to a third-party curator like Andrew Jervis, we open ourselves up to a chance for unexpected discovery. Although Jervis continues to provide listeners with exactly what they want to hear, he is also at liberty to shock and surprise listeners with tracks that are completely unprecedented. In this way, on top of learning about great musicians in a specific genre, we come to appreciate music outside of the usual realm of listening. We become engaged in the process of separating quality from personal preference, and learn to appreciate talent regardless of whether we would have chosen it ourselves.

This week, with new music from Peru and an exclusive interview with Laetitia Sadier, Jervis gains one more notch in the trust column of my books. To be sure, I’ll be back again next week, looking for an experience that is continually reliable, dependable, and completely different from what I would probably choose to listen to without the help of Andrew Jervis.