by Ben Shine
Local Mix Masters is a series where occasionally I introduce people who are mixing it up, making stuff happen and holding down the decks in music around Indy. This time I'm chatting with Abby Goldsmith, who does a slew of things that seem to have one singular theme –- she’s connecting local folks to cultural excitement. And she’s doing it all in a way that is reshaping how music and art has historically made its way into our city’s eyes and ears.
Abby Goldsmith is busy. And it’s entirely likely that her packed days and nights could help you discover your next favorite song, artist or book. With her day job at LUNA music, she’s organized the shop’s Record Store Day celebration for the past two years and buys the stellar sideline products in the shop -- everything from buttons and kids books to hipster greeting cards and great periodicals. As a cofounder of General Public Collective, she curates music, runs events and pays the bills (someone has to make sure the lights stay on). She’s a member of the Musical Family Tree content team, books shows at her house and helped organize Cataracts Music Festival. And she’s about to launch Not Nothing a biweekly resource that includes listings of music and arts events alongside a contemporary work of visual art.
Sky Blue Window: At just 25, you’re already highly connected to the expanding cultural scene, and very, very busy. How’d you end up with your hands in so many things?
Abby Goldsmith: I moved to Indianapolis [from Anderson] when I was 18 to attend Butler University for Psychology. At some point during my freshman year I became interested in the Recording Industry Studies program at Butler and eventually switched majors. The summer after my sophomore year, I became one of the first interns for My Old Kentucky Blog and Laundromatinee. My main duty was to schedule and organize Laundromatinee sessions. I also assisted at MOKB shows along with all the regular interny sh-- like flyering and band running.
I was lucky enough to find the local music scene early on and began attending house shows, gallery shows and in-stores, as I wasn’t 21 at the time. Shows were parties and parties were shows, and we were all having a lot of fun and appreciating our friends' work simultaneously.
It wasn't until moving into Debbie’s Palace of Noise and Laundry that I began booking, [shows] myself. Unfortunately we've had to cut back a ton on hosting shows from our house out of respect for our neighbors and landlord. General Public Collective is the first space in which I've been the primary person in charge of booking music.
SBW: What's your motivation for being a part of the projects you're working on? It doesn't seem to be driven by money or traditional ideas of success.
AG: This is a question I've struggled with for years. To me, it's sort of like dancing and stopping to ask yourself, “Why am I dancing?” but maybe that's lazy. I don't remember a specific point at which I decided to live a "creative life," but I think surrounding myself with creative people has made it nearly impossible to do anything else. I've spent the past seven years meeting young creatives in the city -- working with them, living with them, admiring them.
Unfortunately, I noticed many of these people moving away for better opportunities in cities like New York, San Francisco and Austin. Though I understand the desire to move to a city with a more established arts community, I also see an opportunity here to be a part of establishing a culture that is all our own. Though I'm not driven by money or traditional success, I suppose my motivations are still a bit selfish. I want to help foster a community in which my creative peers are able to stay, make art or music, write, be successful or at least be fulfilled. And anyway, I'm very close with my family and it would pain me to live far from them.
AG: The most exciting thing has been watching those around me feel empowered and motivated to start their own projects. My peers are opening businesses, starting record labels, self-publishing and succeeding on their own terms. There's a sense that something special is happening here and it's energizing. Resources like Musical Family Tree are helping to draw local bands out of the woodwork and bring them together, which helps to create a healthy and thriving music scene. Spaces like GPC offer a comfortable environment for people to experiment and explore unfamiliar mediums -- rappers making books for the first time, visual artists playing instruments for the first time, and even those who didn't previously consider themselves to be creative are trying their hand.
AG: To me, at this point, the greatest challenge to living a creative lifestyle in Indiana and for the communities I work with is the struggle to be recognized as a legitimate asset to the city. The arts often take a backseat to more lucrative industries. Even within the arts and music communities, I see the efforts of less-established artists being dismissed and reappropriated by those with money and influence. I don't want to delve too deeply into the class struggle issue or sound too negative, but it seems the biggest challenge to my peers currently. I've recently been reading a lot of material on “decriminalizing DIY” so I've been thinking about that a lot.
SBW: OK, so the final question I need to ask, and everyone gets this question: What are your top 3 all-time most-influential albums?