Jake Galli has never played an instrument. He can’t read a sheet of music. All he can do is watch, listen and enjoy, which is more than enough for him.
But the Phoenixville, Pa. native, who is in his third year studying journalism at Temple University, was recently assigned to cover local musicians and bands in the surrounding neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Galli took on this beat with an open mind, and is eager to discover the city’s unrecognized talent.
- What made you choose local music/bands as your beat?
JG: Philadelphia is a hub when it comes to art, music, things of that nature. A lot of the times, the most interesting, the most relevant, the most poignant stories don’t come from the big, huge acts that you see coming into the Wells Fargo Center or wherever it may be. Sometimes it’s the lesser known, lesser listened-to artists that give you the best content, the best stories. It’s a good way to explore Philadelphia and learn what it’s all about and learn what these people are all about.
- Do you have any musical ability?
JG: I do love music. I intentionally follow some bands and some musicians. I like breaking down music, thinking about the lyrics of songs, ones that are more impactful and tell stories. Specifically instruments, no. But I would say it almost gives me a better look at the industry because I’m unbiased. I don’t know anything other than the journalistic tools that I have bringing into this, so I think it’ll be an authentic experience covering these bands and these people because I don’t have any knowledge of their situations.
- Do you have any experience reporting on music events or bands?
JG: I don’t, which is why I thought it would be the most interesting thing to cover. Being that I don’t have a background in it, I’m always trying to expand as a journalist. I’m always trying to learn more about things I don’t know, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to do so.
- What made you choose journalism as a major, and why Temple University?
JG: Well, first off, I was pretty bad at math. But I loved sports — that was my main focus. I loved writing. I love getting my opinions out there. As far as Temple, it was local, it was affordable. I only applied to Temple. I didn’t apply to any other school. Kevin Negandhi, the Temple alum who now works on ESPN, is actually from my hometown. He went to my high school, and I talked to him as a junior and senior when he visited. He talked highly of Temple, obviously, and now I’m here.
- What makes Philadelphia’s local music scene different from other cities?
JG: It’s a very dense area of musicians — we can turn around any corner. A lot of my friends, a lot of people that I know go to these underground shows and it’ll be in a house a block or two away from me that have bands come through there every week. These are things I find extremely interesting that you don’t really hear about. I don’t think Philadelphia is necessarily different than any other city. I’m sure other cities have highly dense areas, but Philadelphia’s punk scene is expanding. I know a few friends of mine were following a local band that had recently expanded and is now getting played in venues not as big as Wells Fargo Center, but still bigger venues, and I find it very interesting. I think it’s very interesting that these stories come from essentially nowhere, or what we perceive as nowhere.
- What is your opinion on the coverage these bands and events already receive?
JG: You kind of enter this hipster paradox. When you’re talking about local or underground musicians, and they start getting covered and talked about and publicized by media outlets, they kind of strip that underground title from them. So it’s kind of hard to find an “underground” local musician that gets covered a lot. But that’s what I think is so interesting about it. There’s so much out there to be covered. I just find it intriguing.
- Is there a particular band or musician you would recommend, or are you entering this beat unknown of what’s around?
JG: That’s a good question … I don’t know. Unfortunately, I don’t have that prior knowledge. But I think that’s what makes it so thrilling.
- Do you have any friends involved in music?
JG: Three of the people I live with are actually in different bands, so I guess I do know a little bit about the local scene because these guys do play in it. They’ve brought me out to a few of their shows, so I do know the atmosphere.
- Is there any musical talent in your hometown that you have learned of?
JG: Not really any “real” talent. Two of my friends back home were in a band, but they were just a garage band. When you think about Temple, for example, Hall & Oates — who are obviously famous musicians — were once in this underground pre-fame stage. And that’s what is so riveting about it — you can catch musicians or bands who are on that stage.
- What are you expecting to get out of this beat?
JG: I’m expecting to learn something I had not previously known. I think that’s a given. I’d like to hopefully shed some light on some under-appreciated talent and the scene as a whole, which by nature doesn’t get enough coverage. So it should be refreshing.