Tone Deaf Jeff is one of the pillars of the IMF Discord community. He’s one of the first people that welcomed me to the discord when I joined. Whenever someone new logs in to the discord for the first time, whoever is hanging out in chat will go out of their way to welcome the new person, and invite them to share some of their music so everyone can hear it and get to know them. Now this sounds like a small thing, but it’s one of the things I really noticed. Most servers will just ignore a newcomer, and you sort of have to find a way to insert yourself into a conversation, which puts the burden on the least comfortable person in the room. IMF is hospitable, and Jeff is one of the people that keeps it that way.
We launched our new IMF Community Playlist last month, and it’s turning into something pretty cool that I’m excited about. But that playlist is far from the first (and far from the only) in the IMF community. Tone Deaf Jeff created another playlist near the beginning of 2020 that was part of his effort to soak up the creativity of IMF and share it with others, and it turned into something really organic and special.
I asked Jeff to spend some time in chat with me to talk about the playlist and the story behind it, and what it meant (and still means) to him. Our lightly edited interview is below.
I’m a whole album kind of guy…I’m a discography kind of guy
This post is dropping today because Jeff’s new album also drops today, and I wanted to get this story out to help get out the word about the album on release day. The album is really good, so go press play on it while you read this interview.
Why did you create the playlist in the first place?
So Pax has the Indie Music Feedback Radio playlist, which she features a ton of people on. She added me to it back in Feb.
From the subreddit? This was before the IMF Discord even existed, right?
Yeah, before the Discord by a month or so. I think pretty much most people posting to the reddit ended up on it. I liked several artists on it, but I’m a whole album kind of guy. Actually, I’m really a discography kind of guy. So I added a bunch of IMF artists’ albums and full discographies that I wanted to hear.
I’ve always loved Somewhat Incognito’s tracks, so I added his ep first, then all of AVDRAV, a couple L.O.H.M. albums, Trex’s album, couple from A False Dichotomy, some other stuff. These were all regular IMF users like I was, but I assembled all their music I wanted to hear in one place. I wanted all this stuff to be easy to find, and at the same time, was broadening my listening to figure out what everyone else was doing.
Would you play it for yourself like all the time? How did you listen to it?
[ed. note: we were doing this interview in the #general channel on the IMF discord during a lull in traffic, but we were interrupted at this point by a new user logging into the discord, and we went through the welcoming ritual for that new person for a bit…IMF life.]
For a while, yeah I played it pretty regularly — and I still do when people add new stuff. I have critically listened and commented to just about everything on the list. Sometimes in the discord feedback channel, other times just telling the person, either in #general or in a DM, “hey, I like so and so. And the x on y at so and so times ..”
For you was it more about wanting to connect with those people, or about hearing new music that inspired you? Or something else?
For me, it was just listening to ALL the things. Like I’d heard Somewhat Incognito, but I hadn’t listened to his EP, so I added it to the playlist. I had listened to a bit of LOHM on SoundCloud, but not not his LoHM Industries stuff, so that went on the playlist. T-Rex had a song he did at open mic, and I wanted to explore more of his stuff, so onto the playlist, and so on.
So you were trying to get in the heads of the creators? To understand what they were about?
I’m just a completionist. When I play a game, I have to get all the trophies. If I like an artist, I listen to all their tracks. Every album. Every B-side. Rough cut demos. IMF is a gold mine and seeing material evolve over time is a neat bonus feature of hanging out around here.
But I don’t know if it’s really about getting in the heads of the creators. I’m just following artists I like, consuming content as they create it. I do like when there is a story. And it’s nice to see people try different things and grow as artists.
OK — so you had this playlist, and you were hyped about it,
and you started sharing it with folks, who were also hyped…?
Pretty much. People liked it, and started to use it. Av pulled from it for his DJ sets, and Duri started to play it on his twitch streams while he was gaming — Duri was always telling me he was using my playlist.
And then I opened it up to make it collaborative.
Why did you do that?
I knew I was biased toward the IMF regulars, wanted people to be able to add tracks they felt were missing. I’ve had a bunch of other people add tracks so far, mostly people adding other people’s tracks (not their own). There have been a couple self-adds, but that’s OK too.
Is the playlist still a living thing? Do you want people to keep participating in the list in that way?
Yes, I add new releases as they come out and pique my interest. But I can’t catch everything. And Dreams of Lasers added his new collab with Somewhat Incognito a couple days ago.
IMF people are welcome to add their stuff or other IMFers to it.
So your playlist is sort of a library a listener could spend the day in, maybe browse a shelf or two, then dive in wherever they’re interested…am I getting that right?
Yeah, it was meant to be a deeper dive for artists, say someone likes a track on IMF radio, they can find all of that artists’ tracks on the IMF Classics playlist, including collabs and other things that might not be listed in their releases.
OK — last question: What is the most special thing for you about this discord?
It’s been amazing to network all over the world. And I’m lucky that there seem to be enough people into my brand of weird, so that keeps my creative drive going. But more than that, being able to talk to people any time of day. It’s black magic, and more than a little addicting. I’m thankful for it.