When you ask Grayson Currin ’05 about his transition from being a CALS major at NC State to a music journalist, he laughs at not having thought about biology since he graduated.
“I don’t think about agriculture and life sciences enough to catch that you said ‘CALS,'” he says. “I thought you said ‘cows.'”
For Currin, who is also the co-director of the Hopscotch music festival held annually in Raleigh, biology bought him time at NC State. He came to the university with a passion for science, something he liked because his mother was a biology teacher at the high school he attended in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
Currin wanted to be a doctor, but he quickly found he wanted to write more. So he used science, something he says he could do rather easily, to give him the freedom and time to explore his passion for words. He soon began to marry that passion with something he’d long loved — music.
While he was in college, Currin admits, he was a fan of the Dave Matthews Band. And it so happened that Matthews’ lead guitarist, Tim Reynolds, was doing a solo show at the Lincoln Theatre. “I just wanted to hang out with the guy,” Currin says. “So I got in my mind that I should interview him, and I set it up with his people.”
The problem was that Currin wasn’t writing for any publication. So he went to Technician, got an application and received the benefit of an expedited selection process when he told an editor he already had secured an interview with Reynolds.
That gig led to a career. “I really just wrote ,” Currin says. “I would just write as much as I could.”
When he was a sophomore, the Independent Weekly contacted Currin about covering Raleigh’s music scene. He started writing a column for that publication and has been there since 2003, now serving as its music editor. He’s also a contributing editor for Pitchfork, a national music publication.
Currin says the best part of the job, while at the same time being one of the most deflating, is always discovering just how much music is out there, just how much he’ll never be able to hear. “I’m always learning that there’s something I didn’t know,” he says. “It’s constantly unraveling. It’s a picture that’s larger than you ever thought it would be. That’s one of the joys of the job.”
Those writing duties led directly to Hopscotch, which will be in its third year when it takes place September 6-8 in venues across Raleigh. He says he and his partner went through some growing pains at the festival’s outset, losing $80,000 the first year. But the pair soon found that success was in spending more money and aiming higher with every subsequent festival. Last year, they turned their first profit. And now the festival helps him satiate his appetite for all music all the time.
Currin tells the story of the first time music really meant something to him. He was on a bus with 30 other kids heading cross country on a summer trip his parents had signed him up for. He pulled out a Case Logic binder that held 256 CDs. He only had 30 or so in there, but he remembers a kid pointing to it and saying, “Look at how many CDs that guy has.”
“I was like, ‘Yeah,'” Currin says of the self-satisfaction he felt. “That to me is still a genuine feeling. I still want all the CDs. I want all the music.”
Currin will speak tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. about his education and Hopscotch in D.H. Hill Library as part of the Amazing Alumni series. The program is free, open to the public and presented in collaboration with 88.1 WKNC.