Donning his signature Scottish cap and red plaid pants, Nardwuar the Human Serviette graced the stage at South by Southwest early Saturday afternoon. But instead of dealing out his gifts and strange questions to a famous artist, he instead gave out advice to those looking to carve their own personal niche in the world of music journalism.
As a media personality known for his humor, unconventional questions and interviewing style, Nardwuar said his job as a music journalist is to expose people to thoughts they haven’t heard before.
The Canadian radio personality said the inspiration behind his style is to elicit interesting responses from subjects who might otherwise repeat what’s already known or boring.
“You can’t say ‘oh, they were really boring,’” Nardwuar said. “No, you were really boring.”
Nardwuar said one key to his success as an interviewer is being able to say whatever he wants to at the radio station he works at.
“You are in total control of what you do,” Nardwuar said.
But even more important than freedom to do what he wants with his show, Nardwuar said what inspires him to create very personalized and unusual questions is sheer nervousness about speaking with some of the music in.
Nardwuar said this nervousness is what drives him to do a week’s worth of research for each and every subject he interviews in order to find things to talk about. He said there’s always something new out there to be talked about
“You should quit when you think you know everything,” Nardwuar said.
That being said, Nardwuar said interviewers shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he said they should embrace negative feedback as a critique on how to be better and accept it as affirmation that at least someone out there is listening.
“Your friends tell you what’s wrong with you,” Nardwuar said. “Your enemies let you rot in hell.”