Alright, you guys: Mike Renaud is totally cool. Who is Mike Renaud? Well, he is the Vice President and Creative Director of the Pitchfork music empire. Lucky for us, Renaud will be giving a panel discussion on Thursday at the Sipyard for Pygmallion Tech. Renaud and I chatted about Music Festivals, Pitchfork, and his design panel discussion tomorrow at Sipyard.

Renaud graduated from U of I with a degree in Advertising, then, shortly after, began working for the Chicago Sun Times as a Marketing Coordinator. He wore several hats at the Sun Times, including working in graphic design and as the Arts Director.


Pitchfork Festival 2014, photo by Tres Awesome.

These were areas he had extensive interest and experience in during his undergraduate career as a writer for the Daily Illini and a designer for Parasol Records in Champaign-Urbana. His interest in editorial writing and creative/graphic design began early and flourished after he begin his own design consulting business in Chicago. Can you guess who one of Mike’s earliest clients was? Yep, you guessed it: Pitchfork consulted Renaud for design work early on, and the rest was history.

Some are familiar with Pitchfork from Pitchfork Music Festival, a festival that has been bringing awesome acts to Chicago for ten years. That festival has grown steadily to become one of the best festivals not only in Chicago, but in the Midwest/anywhere. Five years ago, Pitchfork began hosting a festival in Paris. And this is even more insane than the Chicago festival and goes until 6 a.m. (man, those Parisians sure can party.)

But all awesomeness aside, Pitchfork is not just a festival, they are media gurus. They are, and have been, on top of the game reviewing the latest and greatest artists, albums, and films and keeping today’s consumer up to speed on music/media news.

Pitchfork is such an accurate authority on music, that I had to ask Renaud, “How do you always know what’s good? How is Pitchfork able to hone in on the newest and best music in an era when there is SO MUCH music to sift through?”

Renaud jokingly answered that his team “are secret government agents with access to music intelligence from across the world.” But really, he says, “Our team lives music. It is a compulsion to them. They have friends that are musicians and who are connected to the scene and they are constantly listening to music, they are at work with their headphones in, and outside of work on the weekends, they are still seeking out new music.”

At this point in our chat, Renaud and I got into a rather deep discussion about the state of media consumption in modern society. I asked him, “how do you think the one-click, download/stream anything you could ever want in music, film and books, has shaped out society?” And here, ladies and gents, is why Mike Renaud is so awesome. He answers that, “In a way, it has always been a dream of mine to be able to see independent artists releasing music so freely. But there is a drawback, and that is that people are not thinking about music as deeply. They are just streaming playlists. As a result, younger generations have a more broadened sense of their interests. It’s not so cut and dry as it was in my era, where people liked and certain genre and disliked another. They like everything. But I think that this is a reflection of our culture and musicians are using these media outlets to inform their art. And we ought to be giving more thought to music, and listen to a whole album, back to front”.

Well said, Mike. Well said.


Pitchfork Review, photo from It's Nice That.

Reanud will be giving a panel discussion on Creative Design and Engagement at Urbana’s Sipyard on Thursday, September 24th at 5:30 p.m.

So, come hang out with Mike and others there for Pygmalion Tech, and enjoy. Importantly, the talk is free, and he'll be joined by Cate Kompare from Pixo for a one-on-one discussion. Check out the full schedule here.

Top photo by Loren Fiedler.

Find your newest favorite artist via Pitchfork Music reviews here. Want study music? Listen to Pitchfork’s 100 Best Songs of 2014 here.