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Jessica Hopper Brings Us ‘The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic’

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Mercedes Zapata
Jessica Hopper is the author of "The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic."

Jessica Hopper started writing about music when she was still in high school. Her professional writing career now spans more than two decades in an industry that does not include many women at all.

As a pioneer in the field of music criticism, she examines the music of women — in many contexts, from songwriters to producers — through an intersectional feminist lens.

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Highlights from the interview

On publishing writing about music

It's like nothing else. It's an ecstatic sort of joy for me. And then the secondary joy of it is because, you know, my work is public-facing. I'm either publishing things online or in books or through things that I write for podcasts or other documentary stuff that I do. I hear back from people. I see how my work is received in the world or I'm in line at the Chipotle and somebody is like, "Hey, I read your book in that piece about dah, dah, dah..." You know, every once in a while... That just happened to me on Monday. So, that's an example of I get to be in dialogue with people about music and big ideas and what they believe in and what they hate and what they love. And it's like, I mean, I love talking about music with people. I love arguing about music. So it's just all of the parts of it, all the parts of it are really... It sounds hokey to say, but it's just a gift. I'm so grateful I get to do this. I'm so grateful I get to publish.

On music she's listened to during the pandemic

I mean, this sounds like a total joke, but there are many times during our epic pandemic where it's just the same kind of listening to music... There were times where I just felt very fried and very like delicate, tender. So I kind of listened to the same few things that would surprise no one, you know, Cocteau Twins, Galaxy 500, just like my-old-comfort-faves listening... But I got really into my... probably my number one most listened to record of the last 15 months is called Wind Chimes from the Australian Outback. And I believe it is a recording. It's like a field recording of wind chimes in the Australian Outback.

On The Linda Lindas, the all-girl, Asian and Latinx teen punk band from Los Angeles

I love that they got a record deal, like four days after everybody heard about it. You really can't deny them. You can't deny that, man. We needed them, but also, things are happening so fast for them. Part of me is like, "Protect The Linda Lindas!" That energy of The Linda Lindas and their sound reminds me so much of early era of Riot grrrl bands and teen punk basement bands that were everything to me as a young punk fan kind of trying to figure out where they fit in as much a hardcore punk world that I was in. And, you know, I'm so excited for The Linda Lindas and all that they're going to inspire and the people that hear them.

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Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.