Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Local Artist Speaks: JOAN HILLER

Riot Act Media is a boutique publicity firm that expertly launches creative, communication-based campaigns for clients in the independent music, film and arts worlds—as well as for non-profit and corporate entities—through its office in Portland, OR.

I recently zipped over a few questions to Joan Hiller, owner/publicity director of Riot Act Media, to get to know a bit more about her and her life in music.

Meet Joan Hiller...

How long have you lived in the Portland area?
I moved to Portland in August of 2008. Before that, I lived in Seattle, Chicago, and Houston.

Give us a brief history of your project:
Riot Act Media was started in 2005 in Chicago, IL by my friend David Lewis. He and I worked together at Hopper PR in Chicago for a handful of years (acting as in-house publicists for Jade Tree, Neurot Recordings, Tigerbeat 6 and DeSoto, and doing PR for a number of other labels & bands). I'd moved to Seattle in 2003 and began working at Sub Pop as a publicist until Dave offered me partnership in the company in 2007. A bit later, he went on to teach music business at Columbia College, and I took ownership. Publicist extraordinaire Nathan Walker joined me at Riot Act in 2009. We've gotten to work with a humbling array of great labels & bands (Kill Rock Stars, Mt. Fuji, Don Giovanni, Local 638, Crossbill Records, K Records, Mint Records, Rough Trade, Narnack, LA's Fine, etc.) in the past few years.

What’s the first song you ever learned to play?
First song I ever learned on bass was "We Are 138" by The Misfits. I was 14. First song I ever learned on guitar was "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. I was 13. Some important stuff happened between ages 13 and 14, clearly. I started my fanzine, "Out of Order", around this time, and learned that through that, I could get to interview and learn more about people I was into, like Milo from The Descendents.

What’s your favorite local venue to see other bands?
Portland is not lacking in great places to see bands. The trophy goes to The Woods, where, incidentally, I am fortunate to have had my paintings hanging since November. It feels like home in there, and sounds great, and is run by kind people.

Speaking of other bands, who do you like on the Portland music scene?
We're thankful to get to work with lots of local people--right now, we're working on Dave Depper's Ram Project (out on Jackpot May 3rd), with Rebecca Gates (she has dates coming up!), Archeology (their new songs are amazing), with Good Night Billygoat (they've been on tour and are just mindblowing), Quiet Life (just got done touring with Moondoggies, and have an amazing new record out), and Hurtbird (whose new stuff is wonderful). Outside of Portland folks we're working with, I think that this year belongs to the incredible Laura Gibson. It also belongs to Wild Flag. It also belongs to The Decemberists. I am also so happy for Loch Lomond right now.

Tell us about a recent “Only in Portland” moment you might have had:
Saw a guy waiting at a crosswalk the other day, struggling to keep himself erect on his unicycle. That made me want to barf. Both the scenario and my usage just now of the word "erect".

Finish this sentence: “I cannot live without_____”
....finishing this sentence.

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