ON WAX: Q&A with exec editor Janene Tate
By SGZ Staff
“Nothing is (more) authentic than music on wax (vinyl) playing on a record player. That’s us” – Janene Tate
A branding and marketing whiz by day, Louisiana native Janene Tate handles the business of communications, public relations and marketing at The University of New Orleans. But when duty calls, much like Clark Kent, Tate sheds the glasses and exchanges one suit for another – a pair of headphones.
Tate, also the owner of her own public relations company, is the executive editor of On WAX magazine, an online and print publication focusing on underground and mainstream music, and cultural and newsworthy topics. The magazine, co-founded with college friend Kivoli Thomas, has covered artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Raheem DeVaughn, Birdman and others.
Tate, who describes herself as a buppie (black urban professional) with a hippie’s heart, said while she and Thomas were in college, they saw an opportunity to showcase their unconventionality and their love of music in a way that separated them from the norm. They let the masses know “music is alive and well, sometimes right in their own backyards” with On WAX.
Question: Did you set goals early on to extend your career with ON WAX this far?
Answer: Definitely. I knew it was going to go far even when I was the only writer and Kivoli was the only designer and photographer. I always balance my time so I can keep working on the magazine in some capacity.
Q: Why do you focus on the topics you do, such as underground music, etc.
A: While we do cover “big” artists, we don’t think that up-and-coming artist or the one who has been on an indie label forever should have a smaller voice. Someone can have the best album in the world and you’ll never hear about it. Our online edition has viewers in Africa, the U.K., all over the U.S., and elsewhere. MTV and other popular outlets also republish and redirect to our articles.
Q: Tell me about a memorable moment with On WAX, i.e. an interview or its growth. Reflecting on that moment, how did you feel about it?
A: The most memorable moment I ever had interviewing someone was when I talked to Lupe Fiasco. It was right after his fans staged a protest at Atlantic about the release of Lasers. I’m a huge Lupe fan, so I was very excited to get to know him beyond the lyrics. My first generic question was: “Who is Lupe Fiasco?” He responded (very nonchalantly): “Well, I’m a rapper. I’m from Chicago. I’m a rapper from Chicago.” Then there was dead silence. I froze on the other end of the phone. … While this is racing though my head, Lupe cracks up laughing on the other end. It turned out to be a very insightful and enjoyable conversation. I respect him as an artist and person even more. His lyrics are not just for “show.”
Q: Who do you look up to, musically, and what influence have they had in how you present On WAX?
A: I admire the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Nina Simone, Common and so many more. These influences have definitely played a part in how we cover a huge range of artists that show nearly every aspect of life.
Q: Where do you see On WAX in five years?
A: In five years, I definitely see On WAX continuing to grow.
Q: If there was one piece of advice to give, what would you say to the average black girl?
A: Be yourself at all times and listen to that little voice in the back of your head that tells you to turn right instead of left. It knows what it’s talking about.
Get to know more about Janene Tate, click here