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Mixed Media

The Curator of Cool

For indie music maven Brandon Stosuy, art imitates life

Brandon Stosuy. Photo: Jane Lea  

By Michael Flatt

At 13, Brandon Stosuy (MA ’01) began hosting music concerts in his father’s backyard in rural New Jersey. “We’d get an old hay truck and borrow a PA from my friend Ed,” he says. “We didn’t really think of it as DIY in those days. It’s just what you did if you wanted to have a show.” For his 18th birthday, he held a three-day festival there he called the Indie 500, featuring then-popular (but never mainstream) groups like Swirlies and Lilys.  

Now director of editorial operations for Pitchfork Media—the influential online music magazine—Stosuy is the “big picture” guy on the masthead, keeping the editorial voice consistent across Pitchfork’s ever-widening platform of websites, live events, online radio, videos and other multimedia experiments.

His boyhood love for underground music was just the beginning of an itinerant, sometimes irreverent journey to Pitchfork’s front door. In high school, he started an amateur magazine with a friend and called it “Nasal Spray,” because they thought it sounded funny. He moved to Portland, Ore., after college because his band had made a tour stop there and he liked the town. Then he followed his heart to Calgary, Alberta, to work some odd jobs and live with a girlfriend. A few years later, after getting his MA in English at UB, Stosuy moved to New York City, where he slept in a friend’s closet to save money and finally zeroed in on music writing. “I wanted to give music a go because it was how I started as a teenager, and I felt like it was the right path,” he says.

He began freelancing for Pitchfork, which is based in Chicago, in 2003, and started writing his monthly heavy metal column, “Show No Mercy,” in 2006, when Pitchfork was still focused on the indie music scene. As Stosuy’s star rose, so did the company’s, becoming larger, more popular—and more mainstream. Last fall, it was purchased by publishing giant Condé Nast.

For his part, Stosuy is still constantly reinventing himself and pushing at the boundaries of culture. His numerous side projects include co-curating Basilica Soundscape, an annual indie music, art and literature “anti-festival” in Hudson, N.Y., and collaborating on exhibits, publications and events with artists like the uber-edgy Matthew Barney. In 2006, he published a well-received anthology on New York’s downtown literary scene, “Up Is Up, But So Is Down,” and later this year—in yet another instance of a seemingly random career move that actually isn’t (especially given Stosuy’s newest side project: dad)—he’ll publish a children’s book, titled “Music Is,” with Simon & Schuster.