Flood Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Pali High Graduate Nate Rogers Shares Some of His Past and Current Favorites
By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
Louis Armstrong Rogers.
That’s who would have been the subject of this interview, had Nancy Levens not challenged Paul Rogers in the naming ceremony of their son.
Settling on the first name Nathaniel, they agreed to incorporate a musical homage by way of a classy middle name, Ellington, after the great jazz giant Duke Ellington.
Thus, Nathaniel Ellington Rogers is the subject of this interview. Except he goes by Nate.
Even before he graduated from Palisades Charter High School and even though he was a rather quiet kid, Rogers found expression and purpose in music.
“I discovered Nirvana at age 12, grew my hair out, the whole thing … ” Rogers told the Palisadian-Post with a smile. He was, and still is, an outrageous fan of Kurt Cobain’s MTV “Unplugged” session.
After that came Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and naturally, The Beatles. “Nothing that good should have ever existed,” Rogers said, referencing the latter.
It was then that he realized the sounds of soft rock could be as good as hard rock. Better, perhaps.
Encouraged by his dad to “listen to everything,” Rogers would buy CDs at Borders (rest in peace) in Westwood. “I looked for music with cultural significance,” he explained, giving the example of some Bob Dylan records.
Like many children of the ’80s, Rogers enjoyed making mixtapes and burning CDs on his overheating laptop. “There’s something cool about presenting music to other people,” he reminisced.
When he hit age 18, Rogers began a daily ritual of reading record reviews on the Pitchfork music blog that launched in 1996 and has been going strong ever since.
He went on to study literature at UC Santa Cruz, a city that is, in Rogers words, “very different to the Palisades.”
In his spare time, he indulged in the collective pastime of the city: skateboarding.
(Asked what kind of skateboard he rides, Rogers curiously couldn’t recall, yet he was quite sure it resembled “the one that Marty McFly rides in ‘Back to the Future.’”)
His time in Santa Cruz coincided with a “dangerous phase” where he was buying lots of used records. “I now have a stupidly sized record collection,” he admitted.
Rogers went on to do publishing internships at Chronicle Books and McSweeney’s in San Francisco. “That first step in the editorial world showed me that I was capable [of doing the work],” he said.
After brief detours as an on-set production assistant in the film world and at a start-up company, Rogers joined Flood Magazine as an editorial intern. In four years, he became editor-in-chief.
It’s a small team of culture enthusiasts, but the magazine covers everything from interview feature stories, premiere song posts, op-eds and scores of reviews. As well as music, film/TV and art are all in the wheelhouse. Twice a year, they publish a glossy print magazine.
On top of all that, Flood offers a music festival that occurs multiple times a year in different cities, one being Austin, Texas, during the famed SXSW.
Two of Rogers’ favorite recent stories are a profile about film director Gus Van Sant, written by Flood’s Managing Editor Anya Jaremko-Greenwold, and a feature about controversial American rapper Nas, by freelance contributor Pete Tosiello. “Both are great profiles of mysterious, complicated figures.”
As for Rogers’ own writing, he contributes as much as his schedule allows. He enjoyed writing about Australian singer Courtney Barnett and sang her praises. “Her last two records are amazing,” Rogers said, matter-of-factly.
He also said he can’t get enough of unsigned Boston singer Sidney Gish, who dropped a full-length album via Bandcamp on New Year’s Eve.
Another left-field musical obsession is U.S. Girls, specifically their new album “In a Poem Unlimited.” “It’s a progressive girl pop art rock experimental record,” Rogers said, giggling at the surprising nature of it all.
And who could forget Superchunk, the indie rock staple who have been going steady (sort of) since the early ’90s? (The answer is: a lot of people.) “[But] the new Superchunk record is great,” Rogers said, breaking into a laugh.
(Indulging my Australian origins, he proceeded to inform me, “All the best rock music is coming out of Australia.” The Kevin Parker-led Tame Impala band looms large.)
Rogers shared that his optimum music listening time is the morning, “when my senses are sharp,” and in the car during unavoidable commutes around LA.
According to Rogers, “Stereolab is the ultimate best band for traffic.” In fact, he wouldn’t mind a Stereolab reunion. “[Founding member] Laetitia Sadier is still actively making music, so you never know … ”
(At this point, I suggested to Rogers that he, as the editor-in-chief of a music magazine, contact Laetitia himself and suggest it. Rogers seemed open to the idea.)
Acknowledging that 2018 is a precarious state for media, Rogers is not thrown off by the hoards of competitive music outlets, such as Fader and Consequence of Sound, vying for the spotlight. “I see them as ‘brothers in arms,’” he explained, adhering to the belief that competition is healthy. “We keep each other challenged.”
That’s not to say that Rogers doesn’t want to lead the pack sometimes. His goal with Flood Magazine is to “maintain a publication that is very distinctly our own.”
When Rogers isn’t planning the next editorial feature, he can be found playing guitar in a garage rock band. Undeniably, he’s all about the music.
At the time of his interview with the Post, Rogers listened to the metal band Deafheaven, which he appreciates for being “very distinct,” though he’s not totally on board with their sound.
Coinciding with Drake’s release of “Scorpion,” Rogers went back to consider some of his earlier records. While he isn’t quite a fan of him either, he understands the mass appeal.
“That dude can put a hook together like no one’s business.”
Visit floodmagazine.com to view the stories talked about in this interview, and Spotify/Bandcamp to check out the eclectic music Rogers raved about.