Talking to Shirley Braha, Creator of MTV’s “Only Exclusively Indie Music Video Program,” Weird Vibes

08/11/2011 11:32 AM |

Shirley Braha, cool vibing
  • Shirley Braha, cool vibing

It happened. As of 6:30am today, MTV officially has an indie-centric video music program in their repertoire. Behold: the premiere episode of Weird Vibes, now streaming on MTV Hive (and also at the bottom of this post). This installment delves into the dark side of being a buzz band (cyberbullying, being tagged “chillwave,” mothers who are still holding out they choose dentistry as a career path) with quippy interview clips by the likes of Best Coast, Beach Fossils, Tanlines and Small Black interspersed with music videos from Vivian Girls, Shabazz Palaces, WU LYF and more. It comes at the hands of producer Shirley Braha, who first gained notoriety with her seven-year stretch running the locally obsessed music show New York Noise on NYC TV. We shot Braha a few questions about how she got involved with MTV, how Weird Vibes differs from New York Noise, and who would win a fight between Twin Sister and Twin Shadow.

How did you get hooked up with MTV Hive? Did they approach you with the idea for Weird Vibes or did you pitch it to them?
I was lucky because there were some cool people involved with MTV Hive who were fans of my previous show, New York Noise, and wanted to see about doing some video things together. So a few months ago I started making some funny short clips for them (called “Jury Doody”), vibed it out here, and then I pitched my idea for Weird Vibes, which was something I knew I wanted to eventually do after New York Noise ended. They’ve been really supportive the whole way.

Are you involved in all aspects of it as you were with New York Noise — from producing to editing to casting the hosts?
Yup, I run the show. I do all the producing, editing, graphics, picking the bands/videos myself. I get a lot of support and input from a handful of people here, so I can’t take all the credit, but creatively, yes, I have full control in all aspects.

What has been the biggest difference between producing a show for government-access television and producing a show for the Web?
Working for the government was actually pretty cool up until the end of my time there. They essentially let me do whatever I wanted, but there’s really a limit to how wild and crazy you should be when you’re using tax-payer money. I always kept the subject matter pretty clean because you never want to upset the voters too much. Now doing Weird Vibes, I feel like there are less rules, and I can be “as crazy as I wanna be.” Also, this isn’t necessarily a “New York” music show, it’s more of a general indie show.

MTV calls it their “only exclusively indie music video program.” Do you find that strange, considering the genre’s (if you can even call it that anymore) mainstream popularity these days?
I do! That’s why I wanted to start Weird Vibes, and its awesome that they were up for it! I’m also psyched they brought back 120 Minutes, which is much broader than an indie-music show, but it’s got some in there. Weird Vibes is the only video show that is 100 percent bands on indie labels.

For a lot of bands, “being on MTV” has become the ultimate sign of crossing over into a wider audience, which can cause somewhat of a stir with their indie-core fans. Have you experienced any reluctance from bands when asking them to take part in the show because of this? (Granted, I imagine the large majority are stoked to receive the attention, and, for many, this so-called MTV stigma doesn’t even exist.)
No, it’s been incredibly easy. It’s probably helpful that I have a lot of relationships from doing New York Noise where labels, bands, PR people, etc. know that I’m probably not going to do something wack or make them look super lame. Anyway, bands do really lame things for exposure every day, so whatever, no big deal. But there is one guy I have been dealing with for a music video, and I can tell he is suspicious of the forms I need to get him to sign, like I am secretly trying to ‘eff him over with the wording.

With episodes airing monthly, you must always be sniffing out up-and-coming talent. Is there any blog/critic/venue/promoter/etc. you hold as a particularly reliable source?
I guess my resources for music discovery are probably pretty standard — Hype Machine, Last.fm, Spotify, etc., but I think they key is to “optimize the functionality” of those services to work according to your preferences. There’s too much music out there to only rely on a few blogs/critics for music, so I try to follow a lot of stuff, but it’s hard to do that without some “helpful apps.” Feel like I don’t even look at who is posting what, I just find what I like, and I’m like cool. I’m sure that’s what a lot of people do.

Twin Sister vs. Twin Shadow: Who would win in a fight?
They’re both chill as hell. They’d probs just be like, “You can win. What’s up? I like your hat!”

Watch the first episode right here, right now:

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