Jessica Roti, better known as Jessi, is a 22 year-old senior majoring in Communication and Gender & Women’s Studies. Jessi is this week’s Campus Celebrity because she is a writer for the local, Chicago music scene. “I have that one guy from that one band’s phone number, so that’s gotta count for something, right?”
HC (HerCampus): What piqued your interest in writing? Was there a significant moment/event?
JR (Jessi Roti): When I saw Cameron Crowe’s film ‘Almost Famous’ for the first time, I knew that writing was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be William; hanging around musicians and questioning them on what makes them tick. I want to be the type of music journalist that introduces the reader to her or his new favorite band.
HC: Is there anyone who you look up to, as a mentor? If so, who and why?
JR: I’ve always been a fan of Hunter S. Thompson and the pieces he contributed to Rolling Stone just for their explicit honesty and wit. He wasn’t afraid to ramble or sound a little crazy, which I can strongly identify with. I also LOVE Sarah Lewitinn, known as Ultragrrl, who used to write for SPIN, but now contributes to the music offices at NYLON magazine. You can also see her as a commentator on those VH1 countdowns like, “100 Best Songs of the ’90s.” Her articles were always so interesting and I wanted to be her (still do). I met her at a pre-Lollapalooza party sponsored by NYLON in 2011, asked her about it, and she blushed. Then I blushed when she kissed me on the cheek. It was a total fangirl moment.
Currently, I’m borderline obsessed with Jessica Hopper. She’s a local music journalist who works very closely with publications like ‘Rookie’ and is very conscious of feminism and equal representation. She’s just not afraid to put her feminism out there, much like Feministing’s Jessica Valenti. I adore both of them.
HC: Do you like to write about any specific topic(s)? If so, what?
JR: I write about music, more specifically rock and roll, pop, or hip-hop. My heart belongs to rock and roll. Music drives me and keeps me going every day. I just started writing for a blog called Local Loop Chicago, which celebrates local bands that are making noise in the scene. There are so many great bands to check out like Twin Peaks, White Mystery, Strange Faces, The Boxers, The Orwells, The Lemons, Nonpronto, Flesh Panthers and Landmarks. The Chicago scene is super inspiring.
HC: Have you ever had a related job or internship?
JR: I had a phenomenal internship at Time Out Chicago before it went completely digital and only the freelance writers stayed on to contribute to the blog. I owe my editors Areif and Erin so much for what they allowed me to accomplish while I was there. I got to cover the How to Dress Well + Sky Ferriera show at Schubas, which was unbelievable. I also got to write up pieces on the 2013 Grammy Awards, Pitchfork Festival 2013, and SXSW 2013.
The magazine also allowed for a lot of networking and I got to meet great writers like Brent DiCrescenzo (who also contributes to Pitchfork) and the Tribune’s music editor, Greg Kot.
HC: Have you ever met anyone famous from those experiences? If so, who?
JR: Before I started writing in a more professional sense, I won a contest through the website Buzznet. I got to cover Julian Casablancas’ of The Strokes first ever solo tour and ask him a question about his record. I was given a press pass and access to the show that I never had before. I met Julian before the show and it was one of the most important moments of my life, as I’m THE BIGGEST STROKES FAN EVER. He was an absolute sweetheart, gave me a hug and told me I shouldn’t be nervous ’cause I’m good. That was enough for me to cement my career as a journalist. (Pictured Above)
I’ve also got to meet and talk to people like Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys, Fabrizio Moretti and Albert Hammond, Jr of the Strokes, and Freddie and Justin from The Vaccines. It’s hard to keep your cool because you want so desperately to be professional, but boys in bands…come on.
HC: How do you feel about people saying that journalism is a dead career?
JR: I think people who believe journalism is dead are taking where they get their information from for granted. We live in an age where anyone can publish whatever they want at any given time. Yet, when something major happens and when people need to be reassured by a credible source, they turn to journalists. That’s our job. We have to tell the truth, we have to keep people in-the-know, and we have to entertain. That will never die.
That being said, if someone wants to make the argument that print journalism is dying -I’d definitely listen. I experienced that first-hand at Time Out Chicago. But, what are you gonna do? You have to progress as the technology does.
HC: What is your dream job?
JR: My dream job is to write for SPIN in New York City, it always has been. I don’t care if I only get to contribute one feature or one review. I want to see my name as a byline in that magazine. Then I can jet-off to an international festival like Glastonbury or Sonisphere and do it all again.
HC: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JR: In 10 years, I’ll be in New York and I’ll definitely be writing, just who knows where. In my dream world, I’m living in a loft in Brooklyn with Albert Hammond, Jr of The Strokes and our 2 dogs. His gold records and my Pulitzer Prize-winning features line the walls of our apartment. I’m always that person who obsesses over the future in order to escape from her current reality. But right now, the things I’m writing about and the music is so good that I don’t want to overthink and spoil the fun.
HC: If you had a celebrity best friend, who do you think it would be? Why?
JR: My celebrity best friend would probably be Lena Dunham. If you know me, you know why. But if you don’t, then I’ll explain. She’s this smart, yet anxiety-riddled woman who either has ALL the self-confidence in the world or none at all and she’s just great at pretending. She takes control and loves her shape, appreciates that she’s quirky and understands that not everyone will get it or like it. She shrugs her critics off with an endearing yet slightly annoying giggle, and on the premiere episode of GIRLS, she had a one-person dance party to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” which is basically me every night. But if we were best friends, we’d obviously be dancing together, duh.