Q&A: Weird Vibes Mastermind Shirley Braha On MTV, Recycling Centers, And What Went Down With NYC-TV
A nation (or, at least, a city) of music dorks called a day of mourning when the long-running indie-oriented video show New York Noise was unceremoniously cancelled by New York City's NYC-TV last year. But you can't keep a good fan down for long. Noise creator/curator/editor/producer Shirley Braha has returned with Weird Vibes, a similarly indie-skewing music show that mixed expert taste with whimsical between video interludes. The first two episodes of Weird Vibes are streaming on MTVHive currently, and the thirdfeaturing Holy Ghost!, their dads, and Nancy from LCD Soundsystem#&0151;will premiere October 25. Tonight Vibes teams up with Popgun Booking for an official CMJ showcase at Cameo Gallery. Sound Of The City recently met with Braha, 28, at her new fancy MTV workplace to talk about her grandparents, creative differences and starting over.
How did Weird Vibes come about?
After New York Noise ended, I knew I wanted to start another show at some point, and it was just a matter of figuring out when and where. There were some people who work here who were in charge of MTV Hive who were fans of New York Noise, and when they started Hive they asked if I was interested in doing some video stuff for them, and I said I was. I started doing some short video content for themnot Weird Vibesand we started talking about a long-form music video show, so I shot a pilot at South By Southwest. They liked it, and they gave it a shot.
What was the transition from working at NYC-TV to MTV like? In your mind, is there a significant difference between the two shows?
I did New York Noise myselfI did all the editing, I picked all the videos, I picked all the bands. Because that show was all me and this show is all me, I think they're very similar. In my mind [Weird Vibes is] almost a continuation of New York Noise. I'm really excited that I have so much creative freedom here. Sometimes you think it's such a big corporation, there's no way you'll be able to pick the videos you want and the bands you want.
Was that a fear you had before you started working at the network?
Yeah, definitely. I didn't want to get involved if I was going to create something where all these people were suddenly going to come in and start changing it, and having my name attached to that and having to play videos that I can't really stand behind is something that I definitely didn't want to happen, but they've pretty much guaranteed me from the start that no one is going to be fussing around with my videos. So that was a huge relief.
So no one has been like, "There's so much noise and these guys can't really sing. Are you sure you don't want to play Mumford & Sons?"
Yeah, no one's been like that all, which is awesome.
Do you mind talking about what happened with New York Noise?
Oh, not at all. I'm out of there.
What went down?
I guess the reality is that most shows, no matter how good they are, don't last that long, and I think I'm lucky that it lasted six years. Basically what happened was new management came in and took over the whole station because there was a little bit of a scandal, so they had to do a clean sweep, new management. And new management comes with their own agendas. I guess I just wasn't part of their new agenda... and we had creative differences. They wanted me to work on making two-minute pieces about changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescents and painting your roof white, government initiatives, and I just don't think that was what I wanted to do with my life.
I'm sure Animal Collective would have been happy to talk about fluorescent lightbulbs.
Totally. So, we parted ways.
Did they not realize it was one of the most popular shows on the network?
I think at first they didn't realize that the show had a following, so they had no intention to let me continue to do that. Then someone started a petition to bring it back, but by that point...
You were done?
I was done. And they were done with me. Because by that point I had been doing lightbulb pieces for six months.
What sort of stuff did they have you doing?
I did an episode about recycling for this show called The Green Apple, and we visited the sanitation department and we went to a paper mill. It was actually a fun learning experience, but it was definitely not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.
It must have been a heartbreaking experience after putting in all that time.
Yeah, but listen. Most people don't stay at whatever job they're in for seven years so I'm very, very grateful to have been there for seven years. That being said, it was the first time in my adult life where I suddenly didn't have a job and so much of my identity was tied in with New York Noise because that was what I had devoted seven years of my life to and was what I had built my life around, so not having that and not having a job at the same time was a little destabilizing, but I think we all have that when we transition to a different job.