As creatives, we often feel more comfortable telling other people’s stories rather than our own. What facts should you include? How do you ensure you sound humble, articulate and interesting without seeming egotistical?

Just like any art form, there’s a combination of art and science that goes into writing your bio, and our guest, No Depression editor Hilary Saunders, has mastered the combination through years as a journalist and editor for one of the world's most well-respected music publications.

Listen in as we demystify the process of how to uncover the lede in your personal story, to assemble a bio that is compelling, and 100% you. 

About Hilary Saunders
Hilary Saunders is the Managing Editor at No Depression, the leading source for roots music since 1995. She manages the quarterly print publication, where she strives to highlight under-represented voices in this niche musical community. As Managing Editor, she also serves as the liaison for the publication’s nonprofit publisher, the 501(c)(3) FreshGrass Foundation.

With more than 10 years accruing journalistic bylines and two-and-a-half years in arts administration, Hilary is well-versed in writing and editing features, marketing copy, social media posts, business plans, artist biographies, style guides, and pretty much any other product you can creatively conjure using words.

Hilary is a proud alumna of The U, member of the National Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists — NYC Chapter, and un-ironic believer that rock and roll can save the world.

Follow Hilary on Social Media: 
No Depression
Presented by Folk Music Ontario
Hosted by Rosalyn Dennett
Produced by Kayla Nezon (Folk Music Ontario), Rosalyn Dennett (Folk Music Ontario), Tim Fraser + Tanya Fraser (Murdoch Entertainment)
Recorded by Kayla Nezon, and Jordan Moore of The Pod Cabin
Edited by Jordan Moore of The Pod Cabin
Theme music “Amsterdam” by King Cardiac
Artwork by Jaymie Karn
The ReFolkUs Project is made possible through the generous support of the Department of Canadian Heritage

What is ReFolkUs?

Introducing ReFolkUs, a new podcast by Folk Music Ontario, where we talk to artists and music industry professionals about building sustainable careers as creative workers, with a focus on folk.

[00:00:00] Rosalyn: Hello and welcome to Refocus. Our guest today is Hillary Saunders. Hillary's the managing editor at No Depression and her previous work has appeared in Paste, ESPN Next City, the Jewish Daily, forward and More. She's a proud member of the National Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists and an alumni of the University of Miami and Anon believer that music can save the world.

. Welcome Hillary. How are you doing?

[00:00:24] Hilary: Hi, friend. It's good to see you. Hear you. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:28] Rosalyn: Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. So, you're an, an ironic believer that music can save the world. Can you explain that?

Do you still think music can save the world?

[00:00:38] Hilary: I have to I wrote that in probably about 2015 when I left my day job after grad school and set off on my own to either be a journalist, run out of money or die. And luckily I was able to fund being a journalist and have journalism and storytelling. be a career. And so as I was going through, building my website, making a new bio for myself, doing all of that self-promotion and stuff I really asked myself earnestly what is it that I wanna do and how do I tell people and show people who I am?

And I have to believe that art and culture in a general sense, but music in a very specific sense can bring people together in ways that other forms don't necessarily facilitate that kind of community. And so, I use rock and roll as the, as the most cliched Form of phrasing, but uh, I work in roots music now.

Obviously F m O has folk music in the name. It's all kinds of music. It's all kinds of people all over the world. And we live in such a hellish existence these days. One of my, phrases these days is we live in hell and we're clinging to joy. and I would argue to most people, music is joy.

And we should lean into that and we should see what we can build with that joy together.

[00:02:04] Rosalyn: Well, you play a big part in spreading that joy and sharing that joy through my hands down favorite music publication that exists. No depression. you know, you've interviewed some, pretty heavy headers, John Pride and all sorts of, big name folk folks.

And most recently, you stood me up for the best reason, though. For the best reason. we were supposed to, hang out in New York City, and you couldn't meet me at the last minute because you had to go on a flight to Cuba. Can you explain yourself, Hillary.

[00:02:37] Hilary: Yes, I will do my best. I. Must also elaborate that for Canadians it's very easy to get to Cuba, but for Americans it is still frustratingly challenging. And I begged and bullied my way into joining Trombone Shorty, the Trombone Shorty Foundation and SEMA Funk on the second annual Havana Funk Expedition, which is a cross-cultural musical exchange highlighting the shared roots between New Orleans and Havana, and was able to cover that trip, which.

Four nights on five days filled with music from all of these professional musicians, including the ones I just mentioned, and so many other guests from New Orleans and from Havana, as well as student musicians from New Orleans who were able to come down through the Trombone Shorty Foundation as well as an entire music school full of students in Havana.

And they learned from each other with each other. Most could not speak each other's languages. And it was truly one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I lived in Miami a long time. Miami is basically home. And so I had been wanting to go to Cuba and see this and learn about this and experience this for a very long time.

But because of. Politics. It really wasn't possible or it was so incredibly challenging and compared to various points in my career, it just wasn't professionally possible. And so, to be able to, to do that and to report that story with the curiosity, the care, the dignity, the open-mindedness, but the presumed ideal of objectivity that we strive for in journalism, it was just, one of the highlights of my.

And that story literally went live this morning. check it out and also subscribe to no depression so that you can get a different version in print, in the journal with all of my original photos as well.

[00:04:50] Rosalyn: the artwork in, the journal is incredible. I have a whole section in my living room on my wall of art that's been in no depression. I like to say it to my husband, although I do read it, but I'll be like, I just get it for the pictures. That's

not true.

[00:05:03] Hilary: Oh, I love that. And also, I probably should have mentioned in my explanation of no depression and pitch on why everyone should subscribe is because we're published by a nonprofit.

the Fresh Grass Foundation. Canadian audiences probably won't know or care, but it's a, in the US I'd say 5 0 1 designation, which just shows it is a not-for-profit, it is independent journalism. And that means for people outside of media that we're not beholden to anyone or anything, or any sort of funding.

It means that we can solely on, the story for the sake of the story and the mission of the foundation, which is to preserve, protect, create, share, innovative grassroots music.

[00:05:45] Rosalyn: I uh, highly recommend it. Speaking of the story, we were so lucky to have you in to speak at the 2022 Folk Music Ontario Conference. It was a real pleasure to have you there. And you spoke on a workshop called what's the story Uncovering the Lead in your bio and like, lead, l e d e I looked up the meaning of it just for the

[00:06:09] Hilary: I noticed and I was impressed.

[00:06:11] Rosalyn: Thank you. Thank you. You know, writing workshop titles is like 30% of my job.

[00:06:15] Hilary: It's hard,

it's like writing headlines and stuff in journalism, and thank goodness for our assistant editor because she is very good at that.

[00:06:22] Rosalyn: you explain to me what a lead is and what that means to like uncover the lead.

[00:06:26] Hilary: So the lead is your intro, your hook, the thing of your story that really grabs people and makes them interested in whatever you're about to say for, you know, 300 to 3000 words. And the spelling is like an old school print news journalism thing from like, printing press days.

In terms of like media lingo the lead in your story as a folk musician needs to be why I and other media members and other listeners should check out your music. Because the sad state of it is that in the music industry these days, you not only need to have like music that slaps, you need to have a great story.

And so the purpose of the panel was to try to connect those dots and offer some, some tips on how to get to the root or the heart of your own story as a musician.

[00:07:32] Rosalyn: it's definitely applicable to every single musician out there. But I even, like, even there's broader implications I think for this kind of discussion because it applies to, industry folks writing their bios for a panel. It applies to like, even like thinking about, a cover letter or if you're a coffee roaster and telling the story of your roastery, you know, like many industries at least, it's really helpful to have that story.

[00:07:55] Hilary: Absolutely.

[00:07:55] Rosalyn: What do you think gets in the way of people telling an authentic story for themselves?

[00:08:01] Hilary: My immediate answer was fear and ego.

[00:08:04] Rosalyn: good. That


[00:08:04] Hilary: Overwhelm, I think is another And compromise in trying to compare oneself with who's already like, deeply embedded in popular culture.

[00:08:17] Rosalyn: So like, let's look at those first two words you said, fear and ego. Are those complimentary or are those conflicting things? Gimme an example of, how fear can, can hold people back from, telling a good story.

[00:08:27] Hilary: I think particularly with musicians or creative folks. Creative professionals and I think particularly Among women and other people whose identities are often marginalized we can start to feel small about ourselves and that can manifest in the way that we talk about ourselves or the way that we take up space when we are on stage.

And so that kind of external fear becomes internalized. And it's hard to talk about ourselves in big, proud, complimentary ways.

[00:09:05] Rosalyn: And then ego. how can the ego affect.

[00:09:07] Hilary: You obviously have to think you're the shit to write a good bio about yourself. It's why so many people outsource their, bios because of a combination of fear and ego, I would argue if your ego is too inflated, then your bio, your story will become too grandiose and no one's gonna believe you.

[00:09:26] Rosalyn: Like would you say like people using you know, language like the best guitarist that has ever lived, is that kind of what you're talking about?

[00:09:34] Hilary: Absolutely. Or just like how many times are we gonna see comparisons to. You know, like Prince, like no one is Prince, only Prince is Prince. Like, you do not get to be like the purple one. find a new description.

[00:09:47] Rosalyn: That's interesting cause you do say that a lot in bio. So like, sounds. X, Y, Z. Do you think that that's a helpful thing to include?

[00:09:53] Hilary: it can be sometimes, and I know that there's kind of, varying opinions on this. To take it back to the folk world, not everyone is going to be the, you know, fill in the blank adjective Bob Dylan. It's just, it's not. But because as an industry we are usually still beholden to the concept of genre. it can be oftentimes beneficial to list. Your influences or what other people have told you, your music sounds like just as reference points so that you can go on to tell your story in, in greater detail.

[00:10:25] Rosalyn: Let's say we were to map out, like, I'm thinking like when you were assigned in, high school for the first time, like how to write an essay, you know, and there was like, here's your, intro and then your three blocks and then your conclusion. You know, for, obviously there's short, medium, long bios.

would you describe a certain flow or kind of structure that you've seen that really works?

[00:10:48] Hilary: So first to clarify, I went to a pretentious private school in the United States and my first serious writing classes were in sixth grade, not high school. Which also meant that I was writing for the student newspaper since about then and for the daily newspaper since middle school. So, this goes back to like, you gotta have some sense of ego, but you gotta keep it in check.

There are multiple forms and styles of structural organization when you write. So, I mean you did just bring up the five paragraph essay, which is great for, research papers and, and in fact often works well in journalism, but the standard journalistic structure, if you will, is, is an inverted pyramid.

That's very journalistic lingo. So you start very, very broad and then you work down and get more and more specific until you're at the very end of your story, which is like, If someone just stops reading the news at, you know, in the first two paragraphs, you're gonna get the overall gist of what the whole story is about.

And that's also a structure that could work quite well for, for a band bio. I'll also say that I write band bios, so I'm quite familiar with, doing this. And when I am on the writing side of, that process, what I like to do is talk to the bands, talk to the the makers themselves, but also talk to, if I have the opportunity, if the musicians have this network around them, the label or the manager or the PR team, and really see kind of what they want me to know in advance.

And then I can ask the musicians, the makers more specific and pointed questions. And Yeah, a lot of those questions are, are not just like, well, what's the inspiration behind this song? It's like, who are you? What was going on in your life when you were writing these songs? Where did you make these songs?

You know, did you record them in a place that was really special to you? Why was that special? And it's always an interesting balance because a lot of musicians want to, for very good reasons, protect a lot of their own heart, a lot of their own privacy, and, you know, really establish those sort of boundaries between work and life.

But at the same time, for readers, for listeners, for audiences, the art becomes that much more when we have even just a window. into that authentic representation.

[00:13:21] Rosalyn: That's interesting. I find, and this is something that, that's come fairly often when I've, worked with people on, on bios where the lead is buried the part where, there's that little spark and you go like, oh, that's the unique thing is like, you know, is buried deep, deep, deep down in the, bio when it should be on top.

And I say should, but like, sometimes, You just don't have that objectivity of knowing, like, What's that interesting bit like uh, an example that's tied into the show that I can think of is king Kodiak, who recorded our the theme song, which is from his song Amsterdam.

And when he was releasing, I can't remember if it was the song or some other song it was mentioned like way down at the bottom that he had recorded it while living on a boat. In, you know, on the river Tims in London, it was featured on Q with Tom Power. And like that was, you know, there was like a one line thing and like that was the one line that they chose to use to describe it. And, I was like, oh, okay. I guess we buried the lead or whatever it was, you know, I

guess that was, that was the bit that was that made it unique.

So, how can people that? Like, how can people uncover that little sparkle in their own story?

[00:14:25] Hilary: it's kind of a hard one. my normal response is for musicians who have a team around them, infrastructure, if you will, around them. That's what their jobs are, is to help you as a musician. Isolate and share that. But I also understand that, like I said earlier, we live in hell and it's really hard to, financially speaking, make a living as a musician.

And so not every talented, amazing, brilliant, genius musician is going to be able to afford to have those kinds of people around them to be able to compensate them for their expertise. So in that case, I would just recommend talking to your friends, talking to your band mates. You know, if you're writing this yourself, if you're telling your own story, fine, great.

I know so many people who are so multi disciplinarily talented but make sure that other people read this bio, this summary, read your story and be like, oh hell yeah, that's exactly who you are and what you do. And if you get people who are like, What, or bro, that's boring. Ask yourself more questions. Again, I'm a journalist, so that's typically a good way to, to do things is ask yourself questions. It's the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

[00:15:38] Rosalyn: I wonder also if it's, sometimes taking it even like outside of

the, industry, you know, can be sometimes helpful because we're so wrapped up in our own,

bubbles in our communities. whereas, Sometimes, you know, doing the wacky thing is just normal cause we're all doing the wacky thing.

but to the public, something that, might be, a part of your daily life or, you know, it might be something really unique to somebody else.

[00:16:00] Hilary: Ask your friend who works a quote unquote, typical nine to five. I don't, I don't know what that means, but some people do.

[00:16:07] Rosalyn: Yeah, absolutely. and again, I think that can go across, any genre or industry or whatever, you know, just to like thing, outside the box, what are some other things that folks can try to avoid when,

promoting themselves?

[00:16:21] Hilary: Man, don't be boring. Like don't suck. Your music is interesting. You wouldn't be doing art for a living if you didn't care about it with your whole heart and body and soul. And maybe that's just because like I am a really earnest person, but I typically think that's a shared characteristic among most people who make something from nothing.

And that energy comes through when you tell your story almost like it's life or death. That sounds very cliche, but it's real in a way of like, I joke in all seriousness with myself that like, when I stop loving music and loving words and loving storytelling so much, it's time to like get out of both of these freaking industries and like go make a lot more money doing corporate comms for someone who doesn't give a single shit.

and I have to believe, and, and I know that many of my friends and many of my colleagues on the musical side of things feel the same way of like, when it stops bringing my soul joy, when performing, when making, when writing stops being my reason for living. Then like, you go do something else.

You know, or you, don't do that as your source of income. so rather than like, what should. Musicians not do when writing their bio, when telling their story. I would kind of flip it of like what you should do, however that manifests for you is you should give a damn and your bio should explain Why your music means so much to you.

[00:17:48] Rosalyn: I think it was in the, pre-interview chat that you mentioned the word imposter syndrome, which is one that kind of comes up a lot in conversations typically with women working in the, industry. Do you think that that comes into play as well when folks are, are writing about themselves?

[00:18:04] Hilary: Absolutely. I'm sure it also comes up when writing songs too. I mean, I was a classically trained harpist before I was a writer, and going back to playing music these days, when I spend more time in front of my laptop than my instruments, the imposter syndrome is so real. But even when I sit down to write especially after editing for so long, there are different skill sets.

You know, it's, it's like, oh my God, do I even know how to do this anymore? So I absolutely think that a lot of musicians will feel those feels of imposter syndrome while writing and sometimes I think the most important thing to do is write through it. Just put pen to paper or, you know, use the, the very old school pointer finger top, top, top on your keyboard and just get like letters on a page. And that's where my editing brain kind of comes in, is like once you have something you can shape it into, the David sculpture that it needs to be.

And you, again, it's the same in songwriting too, like, you know, you're the primary songwriter of your group, for example. And you work out something and you got, all your verses are down and your chorus is still like, kind of funky and you bring it to the rest of your band and they're like, oh yeah, well I would change, you know, this phrasing in the verses, but it's pretty much there.

How about this idea that I've been working on for the chorus? And then it's like, holy shit. Like we just made it like genius song happen. And that's why I think it's really important to involve your community as well as, like you said earlier to get perspective outside of your bubble in your community.

[00:19:39] Rosalyn: Yeah. And maybe that, speaks to the ego a bit too, in like letting go of some of that ego to ask for help. Like, Hey, can you, can you look over this

[00:19:46] Hilary: Oh. So we're going into therapy now. Cool, cool, cool. Yeah. Yeah. It's the Refocus podcast slash therapy hour.

[00:19:54] Rosalyn: cheaper than therapy.

[00:19:55] Hilary: Hell yeah.

okay. But actually maybe that is a good transition because so many musicians need therapy, but there it's becoming more and more commonplace to talk about these sorts of things. And more and more organizations are Being founded and becoming more vocal about health, healthcare, mental health in the music industry.

So like Backline is a great example. Sweet Relief is another one. And I don't, I think Sweet Relief is, is US based and US centric, but I think backline is pretty international. Mostly just offering resources for like mental health and like self care and some types of therapy and like cognitive behavioral, like tips and tricks for musicians.

[00:20:39] Rosalyn: uh, up here, we, we have the Unison Benevolent Fund, which is a great resource free resource for musicians and folks working in the industry to

access, self-care, mental care relief in, whatever way, they need it. And but do you think that your coverage. Has focused more on mental health recently. And we talked about, sometimes there can be like a, a stigma around it and, and it seems like mental health is more a part of the conversation.

have you found that in your own coverage?

[00:21:05] Hilary: Yeah. So. To go back a little bit. So no, depression was actually founded in 1995 and was published monthly and it was like a glassy magazine, kind of like Rolling Stone or Spin used to be, and kind of helped usher in this degree of credibility for alt country music. it went out of print in 2008, went online only, and then was revived by the not-for-profit Fresh Grass Foundation in this current format, quarterly in print and daily online in 2015.

So no depression as a brand has been around for a long time. And in the nineties, I was a child, so I wasn't there. But apparently it made a lot more sense to people because Uncle Tupelo had just released their record called No Depression, and they were using that, term, that title as an homage to the Carter family who had written their song.

There's No Depression in Heaven about the Great Depression. So bringing it back to your actual question I get a lot of weird press releases and just like questions to my face of like, oh, so. you're the editor of No Depression, so you write about mental health. Right. And I kind of have to be like like yes and no.

Because I do think that it is very important to talk about there is still a stigma and it fucking sucks and there shouldn't be. But as I have reported before, there are studies out there by the Ska Institute, I hope I'm pronouncing that right in Sweden, that show that creative professionals, particularly musicians are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression alcoholism and all of those kind of correlating mental health issues than other people outside of creative fields.

And so if our job is to report on the music industry, offer cultural criticism about music and tell stories about Ruth's music and Ruth's musicians. This is a big story that we need to acknowledge in everything that we do. So, for example, I've had to write a number of obituaries for some of my favorite musicians whose mental health struggles contributed to their untimely passings.

And that's been part of why I've dug into these sorts of statistics and stuff, because that shouldn't have happened. But everyone we know knows someone who shares these same struggles, whether or not they're admitting it. Maybe they admitted it to themselves. Maybe it's just not a public part of their story that they want to share.

That's okay either way. But it's important for, for us to talk about. So I'm really proud that no depression has been and will continue to be as long as I hold my physician a beacon of support through our storytelling for these kinds of issues. And yeah, I mean, some of the stories that we've published have been first person essays from musicians talking about getting sober, were talking about their own mental health struggles like during lockdown, during the plague, Anna Eggy, for example, recently wrote about taking a trip to. Poland to learn about antisemitism, which is not her background. And so learning about other forms of discrimination and stigmas that, people have against each other, these, these ways that we are pitted against each other as humans and learning how music can be a source that, reminds us that we are more alike than different.

That's something that I'm very passionate about in my work. And through no depression.

[00:24:43] Rosalyn: Music Ency of the world, man.

[00:24:44] Hilary: There we go.

[00:24:45] Rosalyn: So, you know, another side of, what I'm sure like a part of the, the work at No Depression is that you get lots of pitches from folks wanting to be covered I was wondering if we could just, you know, Look a little bit into when you're pitching to media trying to promote your music to media.

what are some dos and do nots that, that people can keep in mind?

[00:25:08] Hilary: Sure. So unfortunately, it goes back to are you an independent musician doing all of this shit yourself, or are you able to hire someone else who has a bigger name or brand attached to 'em that. In effect is championing you on your behalf. So let's start with like the independent musicians because at the panel at F M O, most of the folks who were asking us questions seemed like they were in that boat.

So, In your subject line, cuz that was a big thing to start off with say that it's a pitch. Say if you are sharing new music, if in fact you are sharing new music, say that it's, a video or it's an ep, or it's an lp, or it's a.

Single on Spotify. Tell me what it is

in the body of the email. Spell my name right? Or whoever you're pitching, and tell me why you think my outlet slash the outlet that you are pitching is the perfect fit for you and your music. You can either attach like an e p k, an electronic press kit that has, your band bio, some songs, some high res photos and photo credit.

That kind of stuff. Or you can just put it in the email. Either way is fine. That being said, you don't need to like attach a Word document. To your email, if all you're doing is sending text keep it short and sweet. Get right to the point.

Everyone in the music industry and the media industry, we are all overworked and underpaid. So be kind, be concise. I would say follow up up to three times because again, we are all overworked and underpaid. And many times things just get lost in our inboxes. your follow up can be as quick as, . Hey, so and so just making sure you got this look forward to hearing from you've soon.

It does not have to be more, do not be snarky. It's almost the same advice I give in terms of like how to write your bio. Like just tell the story

and be concise and be kind.

I would say

it is often easier if you want to include an e PK to create like a secret page on your website so that it's just a link to somewhere rather than, Something that the writer, the editor has to download and then find in their downloads folder and then open, and then, you know, if it's not a good fit or whatever, then you have to go back and find those files and then you have to delete them and da, da da.

So a link is helpful, but we're not all technical geniuses, so it's fine.

[00:27:40] Rosalyn: do you have anything to maybe comment on then you know, taking it, real small scale, like for something like social media and how people kind of present their story on their social media feeds. does that play into what we've been talking about when sharing your story in, in your bio?

[00:27:56] Hilary: Definitely, man, social media is hard these days. I like have barely used my Twitter because it's been such a shit show lately, Twitter used to be my platform. I was like, I got that blue check mark years ago, and now it's like, anyway, I take your rest. Yeah, I, social media is such an interesting one because it is now a source of revenue.

It's now a source of like going viral, but going viral doesn't necessarily equate to record sales. I would argue that it's similar in concept to what I was saying again about the storytelling of it, of using your social media to offer a slight personal window into your own world and your own reality, but offering enough of.

A buffer and a boundary that you don't lose yourself in the vortex and in the superficiality of it all. And also just like your own time. Like not in a time as money kind of way, but in a time as self-care kind of way. This is a bit tangential, but hopefully relevant. I was talking with a friend who's a musician and a touring musician the other day, and they were telling me about, how joyful it is to just like, be on the road, grab their instruments.

It's like just musician and tour manager, not even in a van, just like in a sedan and just like going, and there's so much freedom in that, but there's also. That shit's hard, dude. So I've driven across the United States twice, I've spent almost the Lego, about two months driving cross country doing like, the feminist Jack Kerouac dream.

And it's, the adventure of a lifetime and it's also so challenging, like so, so hard So in talking to my friend, they were trying to remember and remind themselves to make that space, to have that voice in the back of their head. Be like, did you sit down today? did you take a break? being on social media all the time, detracts from that time to yourself to recover from the grind, the grueling ness of the road.

So that's my, my tirade on social media.

[00:30:15] Rosalyn: I think that that's a really interesting point to make that when you have those like precious moments of, me time, I think that's a hard realization to make that a lot of people don't not to sound preachy, but you know, if you're on social media during that me time it isn't now.

It's like, time comparing yourselves to other people and consuming other people's content and being advertised to, and all the stuff, you know, it's definitely not like reflective

[00:30:38] Hilary: Or it's just giving more and more and more of yourself to the faceless void and maybe they don't need that of you. And, how can you kind of refill your own? creativity and your own sense of self to keep writing and keep performing if you're always giving, giving, giving, giving.

[00:30:57] Rosalyn: Well, one of the things that I'm, privileged to know about you through our friendship is that you're just kind of a, like a constant learner you know, your apartment's filled with all sorts of instruments that you're learning.

You're always taking lessons. how do you keep that, creativity going and that love for learning and creating?

[00:31:11] Hilary: Thank you. First of all, I, I do try to do that. And so when it is noticed, it is

appreciated. I think it goes back to kind of like why I am a journalist and why I'm a storyteller is I love to learn.

Like there are eight and a half billion people on the spinning rock in space and everyone has a story. Isn't that wild? Isn't that cool? It's really overwhelming and sometimes I have to, you know, sit down and shut up and like, ugh. But again, it all kind of feeds back into this idea that like, humans are more alike than different.

And so if I can, you know, improve my Spanish and communicate with that many more people, or if I can, learn piano after being classically trained as a harpist for. 14 years. Then I can, you know, I can hang with like the coolest piano players on earth. You know, if I read, I'm like, I don't know.

What am I reading right now? The last book that I bought is called How Basketball Can Save the World, and it basically takes lessons from basketball and then adapts it to like, real life. So whether it's like specific schemes of playing sports or big, kind of like sociological concepts.

And we can just love on Kyle Lowry

for going from Toronto to my Miami Heat.

[00:32:22] Rosalyn: yeah, and you and I were brought together through our love for Kyle.

[00:32:25] Hilary: exactly.

So yeah, I just I love to learn. I love to learn.

[00:32:29] Rosalyn: are there any practices that you do in writing that? That, that keep you kind of flowing

[00:32:34] Hilary: Oh, I'm a bad example there. when I was listing out my, kind of like my, I have another friend who has this beautiful practice and tradition of at the end of each year writing one list that says, you know, this year was rich in, and then filling in the blanks, and then I want this next year to be rich in.

So, we were like working on this exercise together and it's been a recurrent goal of mine to establish a better free writing practice. I feel like I tend to journal when I'm filled with rage or, grief, and I would like to. Honor the moments of existence a little bit better, and I think that will help my own storytelling, my own reporting. so a lot of people have better writing practices than I do. And that's fine that I'm, I'm also working on that kind of self-acceptance of like that's fine.

The one practice that I am doing a pretty good job of this year so far, it's only kind of early mid-March is working on my language.

Honestly going to Cuba in early mid-January and spending about three weeks in South and Central America last fall, winter really reminded me that one of my bucket list goals, if you will, Is not to be a mono linguistic American shithead as I like to say jokingly, but entirely seriously.

So I, I was lucky enough to study in Spain and live, like I said, in Miami a long time. So my Spanish is okay, but it's the closest I will get to being bilingual at least. So I have in fact kept up a daily du lingo practice and I took a Yiddish language class for the first time online, the end of last year.

and I have also been keeping up with daily Yiddish language practice. So Duolingo may not be the best platform, but hey, if you wanna sponsor me or F m O, you definitely should. I say that because nothing can replicate the practice of speaking with someone else who is native, who is fluent.

But that is a routine that I am working on and that I am not failing at so far.

[00:34:41] Rosalyn: What's your favorite Yiddish word?

[00:34:43] Hilary: So right now, Duolingo is the chapters or whatever are a lot about food. And so right now I've got like, practice sentences that are like, the Baca is very soft, and I'm like, that this is what I need to, like, this is the important language. So now I'm really excited to be able to go downtown in Manhattan and like ask for a very soft vodka in Yiddish.

[00:35:08] Rosalyn: my favorite Yiddish saying, which I might butcher right now, but it's Thompson Ove, which is, you can't dance at two weddings with one butt.

[00:35:19] Hilary: Yes.

I was like, I got the , tansen, I got the, and then something else.

[00:35:24] Rosalyn: I'm not a Yiddish speaker, so, but I, that's one of my favorite sayings that my mom always says to me.

[00:35:29] Hilary: to bring it back to music though one of the stories that I'm most proud of having written in this role is about the, rise, if you will, the resurgence of Yiddish language folk music. Because everyone says most people don't know what Yiddish is. It's a transient, diasporic language of the Jews of Eastern Europe from, centuries ago.

And it's basically dead now. But I got to write about these young musicians going back to these texts and then going back to their own musical teachings and classical trainings and trying to make something of the two together like these old words and these new stylings and reclaiming that sense of identity in a very.

Rootsy, folky, you know, music of the people kind of sense. And what I learned is that so much of this music doesn't have anything to do with religion or faith or whatever. It has to do with culture, with values, with ideology, with humanity, with assimilation with unions, with, labor rights.

That goes back to a couple questions that you were asking of like learning things. How do we keep up practices of learning? and what is the power of music?

hope that answered a number of questions.

[00:36:47] Rosalyn: Absolutely. again, I highly recommend people check out no depression, both, online and in print. Where can they find you? Where can they s.

[00:36:55] Hilary: to subscribe. No You can also go to no It is a tax deductible donation because like I said, we are published by the Not-for-Profit Fresh Grass Foundation and social media mostly just no depression. Facebook, Twitter. Instagram, Spotify each for as much as we butt heads with Spotify no Depression. Has a monthly playlist of our favorite roots music songs of each month. And it's a great way to, learn and listen because there's so much music out there and we do our best to cover what we can. And yeah, it's a great way to highlight musicians that we don't get to cover in depth.

And then, you wanna follow me hillary saunders or Hillary underscore Saunders on socials

[00:37:44] Rosalyn: Perfect. Well,

Hillary, thank you so much for, for joining us here today.

[00:37:49] Hilary: Thank you so much for having me. Truly. I was so excited and so honored to come to London, Ontario and participate in F M O and always just delighted to speak with you, hang out with you and try to make our little Ruth's music, folk music bubble a better place for all of us. So thank you for the opportunity.