On September 4, former Seattle experimental musician Megan Mitchell*, who records under the alias Cruel Diagonals, posted a 38-second video on Twitter of her pounding rocks near Big Tujunga Dam in Palmdale, California's Angeles National Forest. What happened next was unexpected for such an esoteric subject (field recording) and such an under-the-radar musician—a 7.4 Pitchfork review of her debut album notwithstanding.
The tweet—which poked fun at techno producers who lazily use digital percussion sources for their tracks—has garnered 3,900 likes and 666 retweets so far, while racking up almost 100,000 views. Not bad for an artist with about 600 Twitter followers (now over 1,100 after that post) on a tiny indie label (Drawing Room Records).
I don't know many people whose tweets go viral, except for Dan Savage and that one time Charles Mudede dragged Fox News' Jesse Watters after his racist remark about "some guy from Zimbabwe's uncle." But Mitchell's was the most shocking among those folks in my circles.
When she was making the video (which was shot by Kevin Durr), did she think it would strike such a nerve and be so popular?
"I’ve never known a field recording video to go viral before," Mitchell said in an interview via the communication app LINE, "but I have also intentionally used the fact that I am not your typical introverted, nerdy dude field-recordist stereotype to my advantage before when posting about it on social media in the past. I think it helps push the art into a more mainstream or at least collective consciousness within the music-production community, and that can only inspire people to do more experimental sound design and field recordings themselves. Ultimately, I think this might lead to a more interesting musical palette at large, though this might be overly utopian of me to think so."
How has the tweet's virality affected your life?
"The responses have been surprisingly supportive and positive; I’ve always shied away from sharing my body on Twitter because of how many strangers get involved and how much cruelty can come into the fold. I figured there’d be a slew of 'fat bitch' comments about my body, but there haven’t been (yet), and I also haven’t been overly condescended to or mansplained to by other music producers or sound engineers, so that’s been pretty cool. I’ve even had a number of people say they found my album through the viral video and are now fans, so that’s super gratifying."
You can castigate Twitter all you want (I know it's many Slog commenters' favorite pastime), but the social media platform occasionally has its benefits, such as bringing much greater exposure to an obscure artist—often with fewer than 280 keystrokes.
*Full disclosure: Mitchell is my ex and I wrote liner notes for her album, Disambiguation.