Arts Desk

How All Our Noise Became One of D.C.’s Best Music Blogs

At first, Victor Alejándro Aguilar and Raul Zahir De Leon didn't mean for All Our Noise to take on its own life. "We had this DJ night we were trying to promote," says De Leon. "We had this idea we would have this blog mostly to promote this night." Their Marquis party at Napoleon may not have lasted, but over the last four years All Our Noise has become one of best curated local music blogs in D.C., in no small part thanks to its stream of high-quality, gorgeously shot original videos.

Aguilar, a Web designer and programmer, and De Leon, a videographer, recently redesigned the site to better highlight the video content, and they're celebrating this Saturday with a showcase at Montserrat House. Sun Wolf, Buildings, and The Plums are set to perform.

Those groups give a decent sense of what you'll find on All Our Noise—a lot of their coverage of local and national bands rests at the intersection of indie rock, noise, and more experimental sounds. “Our taste in general kind of runs the gamut," says De Leon. "The site does kind of tend toward indie rock, but that’s not necessarily because our tastes are limited to that. We’d love to feature more hip-hop. It’s a matter of access."

Access is important to All Our Noise because a lot of the videos arts get up close with the music, often via backstage interviews and on-the-fly performances. And when De Leon shoots a show, local venues often let him record through the soundboard for higher-quality sonics. "We were trying to distinguish ourselves from, ‘Hey, this is an mp3 from this new band’," De Leon says. "We wanted to be able to spend a little more time with the bands. We wanted to lean more toward originally produced content." In addition to the original sessions, blog posts on All Our Noise curate other songs and videos that catch the eyes of De Leon, Aguilar, and the handful of contributors that have worked on the site over the years.

With All Our Noise, Aguilar and De Leon seem to oscillate between prolific spurts and dry spells. “We definitely have a priority of quality over quantity," says Aguilar. "I know personally, I think if I can’t produce something to the best, most 100 percent level of excellence, I won’t do it.” (To their credit, the videos always make the wait worth it.) With the relaunch, Aguilar and De Leon say they're hoping to maintain a better pace. For starters, they're talking to some potential new contributors. Coming up in the short term is some cool stuff, like an interview with Perfume Genius and some footage of Plans and Animals. One of their goals, they say, is to focus on more events in unusual spaces.

One of their favorite videos is one of the most recent: De Leon captured the North Carolina indie-folk band Bowerbirds performing at a word-of-mouth concert inside a massive installation by the artist Monica Canilao, which currently rests atop the Lightbox, a warehouse-cum-party spot in Anacostia.

Aguilar brings up All Our Noise's first video, footage of the hip-hop group Time Machine. "I thought [the Bowerbirds video] turned out incredible, I was just dumbfounded, it was so awesome," he says. "That was nice as the piece that we relaunched with. I still look fondly back at that first Time Machine video—comparing the two, we’ve come a long way I think.”

I asked the All Our Noise dudes to share a few more of their favorite video sessions.

July 18, 2011: Diane Cluck, Swamp Fox, Susan Alcorn & Janel Leppin, Macaw, and Cigarette at Million Man Tires

Britton Powell, of the local psych-prog band Hume, organized this one-off concert and cookout in a tire yard off of Georgia Avenue NW featuring a couple of local experimental and indie acts, plus the singer Diane Cluck. The tire yard hasn't hosted any more shows, but All Our Noise's document remains. “It was great to have that sort of memento of the event," says De Leon.

Sept. 1, 2010: Lou Barlow Backstage at Rock & Roll Hotel


"He's a musical hero of mine," says De Leon.

March 22, 2010: Warpaint at Ottobar, Baltimore

“They were just really fun, very open," says De Leon. "It was just a very mellow. It just felt very unofficial and very casual. They were scatting at one point.”

July 12, 2010: Tabi Bonney at Commonwealth

"That was a really fun one to shoot," says De Leon. "There was just this good energy. It felt very fun, very electric.”

Jan. 26, 2010: Fan Death Records

I brought this one up for obvious reasons. In an interview with contributor Denman Anderson, the local label Fan Death Records declared that every band in D.C., except for two, sucked. A shit storm kind of ensued. "It’s kind of an infamous sort of post," says Aguilar. "I don’t know about a greatest hit, but it was a hit." Aguilar and De Leon admit the post was an uncomfortable fit on a site that's mostly about putting forward art about which they feel positive. Nevertheless, "we’re not out to edit anyone’s opinion," says De Leon. "Those guys put out quality music, I think they’re an important label for the area." At the very least, he says, Fan Death's interview sparked some dialogue.

The show takes place Saturday at 9 p.m. at Montserrat House, 2016 9th St. NW. $12.

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