A young guy from Chicago that had dreams of becoing a teacher, found true love in writing.
Adam Shay was born in a suburb of northwest Chicago and throughout his 23 years has picked up an array of musical tastes from all the important people in his life. Shay mentions that both of his parents are Deadheads and so he had a lot of Grateful Dead influence growing up, especially on road trips.
Aside from those extended jams, Shay’s parents were also excellent at passing down bands like The Who, Tom Petty and Shay’s ultimate favorite, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. He recently wrote about the impact the band’s Stadium Arcadium album has on him.
On the flip side his parents also showed him a love and appreciation for what he describes as “Motown, funk, soul and the occasional doo-wop.”
Regarding his diverse musical taste, Shay explains that “For the most part, I genuinely listen to every genre avidly except for metal.” Can’t blame him, metal isn’t for anyone.
Shay is a huge fan of alternative music, which is where his love of The Red Hot Chili Peppers stems from. He says, “Music really is everything in my opinion.”
Whether he’s listening to Sinatra or a rare little country tune, Shay feels “Music can bond anyone together.”
Shay did end up with a degree in Journalism, with a concentration in sports, another passion topic. But since graduating he’s come to realize finding a job directly related to sports is tougher than at first glance.
“My desire to become a music journalist is my next step in becoming a better writer. I used to have a blog where I wrote concert and album reviews, so I kind of had background experience going into this course.”
Going to The Weeks concert shortly before joining up with College Media Network that gave him that little extra push. “After seeing The Weeks in concert and writing a review and seeing it published online, that made me incredibly proud and happy and set my mindset of pursuing this career.”
I wanted this interview to be more of a cumulative life story of Shay’s and not just a question and answer session. But, I did still want to ask some specific questions, so I kept it fun and relatively short:
Deni Wray: When you went to college, did you outright know that you wanted to pursue journalism?
Adam Shay: I did not actually, I went to Eastern Illinois University to become a high school English teacher with Journalism as my minor, but soon realized I didn’t want to teach, I just wanted to coach high school baseball. I needed sports to be my number one so I started covering sports for my school paper.
DW: How do you feel the way people view music now is different from our parents time?
AS: I don’t know if there is any difference. Aside from lyrics being different like rap songs, people will always view music as a crutch and lifeline and I don’t see that ever changing. The mainstream genre is clearly different from our parent’s time, but people still relate to songs that only themselves understand.
DW: If you could interview anyone, who would be top on your list and why?
AS: Oh shit I have no idea. My first option would be Anthony Keidis because RHCP. But if I had anyone, it would have to be a rock legend like Elton John or Pete Townsend of The Who. I don’t know for certain.
DW: Is there a certain band or artist that you just can’t stand and why?
AS: Hmm, see I don’t listen to like “mumble rap” because I cannot stand that genre so maybe a rapper in that category. For awhile I couldn’t stand Imagine Dragons because of how pop oriented they are, but their song “Believer” is a jam, so I’m like “Okay maybe not that bad I guess.”
DW: What is your preferred way to listen to music? Spotify? Apple?
AS: Spotify 100%. I have discovered so much music from their Spotify Weekly, like Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, two of my favorites. Also, Release Radar is amazing I check it everyday for my favorite band and artists new releases.
Shay did throw in this little observation after I had told him I went to a Harry Styles concert last summer: “Harry Styles kicks ass. His solo album was fantastic.” (You’re not wrong, Adam.)
Whether it be sports or music Shay writes about, he has diversity in his background and I have no doubt he will go on to accomplish whatever he sets out to do.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.