I’m sitting at my desk, writing this piece wearing a Vehlinggo sweatshirt and drinking coffee from a Vehlinggo mug, looking out at some sturdy pines as they wave in the wind. There is a give and take between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains when it comes to weather, and we’re all left trying to navigate it.
We have so many such Vehlinggo logo mugs of various sizes and designs in our house that we don’t even notice them anymore, but the one I drink from is special. My wife, Allison, had it made for me for the site’s first anniversary in November 2015 — this was back when the view from my desk was the back of rows of walk-ups in Hamilton Heights, Harlem, NYC. Like the site itself and yours truly, the mug has taken on a fair amount of wear and tear over the years; but I’ll never get rid of it. In a practical sense, Allison’s gift allowed me to dream of doing fun things like merch that perhaps I never would have considered.
However, more importantly, the fact that we were celebrating the site’s first birthday meant that I had overcome an important hurdle. In 2014, when I started Vehlinggo (well, this iteration of it, anyway), I was pretty convinced that I’d just be writing a few reviews here and there for probably no one to read and at some point in a couple months I’d tire of the practice and move on to something else. I’d come off a yearlong volunteer gig for music site Mxdwn and wanted to write more specifically about the material that really moved me, rather than the typical practice of reviewing all key releases coming out in a given week. I’d been thinking about starting a music “blog” since 2009 or 2010, but I was taking my sweet time. I wanted to do it the right way to the point where the right way ended up as doing nothing at all.
In late September 2014, just as I was moving in with Allison into her apartment a few buildings down from mine, Electric Youth released their masterpiece debut, Innerworld. I love the band and wanted to live in their album and review it, but I didn’t have a platform. I think I ended up just posting on my Facebook feed something about it being a “can’t miss record from the people who brought you “A Real Hero” from Drive.” Nevertheless, I was hurtin’ to do something.
Finally, on or around Nov. 10, 2014, College (the other person who brought you “ARH”) released his Save The Day EP. You know the one: It has the catchy title cut featuring Nola Wren on vox and the Alexander Burkart-crafted artwork that recalls thrillers from the 1970s like Klute and When a Stranger Calls. I was so pumped I couldn’t take it anymore and I decided to pull the trigger on my own music blog/site/publication. Encouraged by Allison, I used the name Vehlinggo, which I had first come up with in 1990 to use for a zine called Vehlinggo Power. (I was a big Nintendo fan.) There was nothing about the name that would help me with SEO or branding, but it was unique. It was novel. It was mine.
The thing took a little bit to catch on, but by March 2015 I published a two-part interview with College (AKA David Grellier). By the time I was celebrating Vehlinggo’s first year, I had published interviews with Disasterpeace about his It Follows score; with composer Gregory Jenkins about his work on The Final Girls; with Night Club about their score for the Nagel-vibin’ Comedy Central show Moonbeam City; and also with a host of big-time synthwavers, including FM-84 (his first-ever interview), Gunship, Timecop1983, Kristine, Futurecop!, Maethelvin, Lost Years, Highway Superstar, Betamaxx (after his infamous retirement announcement), and Code Elektro; not to mention a bunch more interviews and tons of reviews in the techno, house, synth-pop, and score/soundtrac space. Notably, I also hired Burkart to create the Vehlinggo logo that would adorn that mug from Allison, along with several dozen other mugs for readers and about 300 shirts and even some beer glasses and notebooks in subsequent years.
So, basically, over the course of that first year it was pretty obvious that Vehlinggo wasn’t going to be some passive exercise in which I dumped my thoughts on often niche music into a vacuum. The mug — in its endurance, its air of cool because of that unforgettable logo that made my awkward Germanic name interesting, the sustenance the cup brings — was a suitable metaphor for a year that proved me terribly wrong. Vehlinggo was becoming an institution and the mug runneth over with opportunities for interviews with captivating people and the ability to provide readers with some good writing about their favorite musicians.
The middle years (2016-2020) are well-covered and most of you were probably there for some or most of it — the big Drive soundtrack piece; the countless composer interviews; the erstwhile Vehlinggo Podcast; the live events; MondoCon; Vehlinggo Presents: 5 Years and the related Vehlinggo Presents vinyl collab with the former BWR; the Valerie Stories; the COVID livestream with The Midnight and friends; the end-of-year posts with some compelling contributors; the premieres… and everything else that came about during those peak years.
The past three years have still seen some pretty cool developments — if I do say so myself — even if the character of things has changed. I’ve leaned into hiring freelancers to help with interviews and reviews. Since 2020 the inimitable Rachel Reeves has filed Q&As with some pretty notable heavy-hitters, such as Fabio Frizzi, Mark Korven, Charlie Clouser, and Dara Taylor (among several others). Jerry Smith continued the trend of Vehlinggo interviewing Carpenter affiliate Daniel Davies. Those are just some examples. Oh! And thanks to my pal Andrew B. White (AKA Diamond Field), I had a deep conversation with Linus Roache about his Jeremiah Sand character from Mandy.
(Thankfully, Vehlinggo has never been a one-man show and going forward it will be even more of a collaborative affair. I appreciate each and every one of you who have contributed something to this site — whether you’re a musician or writer or a reader, or even just someone who has wanted to help out.)
Allison and I ended up moving a couple hours north to the Hudson Valley, a place we’d admired for a decade. Our house is in a quirky, lovable town in Ulster County that is both close enough and far enough away from NYC to create a truly delightful balance of the urban and the rural.
Correlating with the move, and no doubt the momentum-altering COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve slowed things down a bit in Vehlinggoland. Sure, we still have interviews with big-timers like Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Ida No, formerly of Glass Candy and currently of Fawn. (If you know me at all, you know those two interviews from this year are a big fucking deal and I think I’ve given you all something great to work with when reading them.) But, as I mentioned a few months ago, Vehlinggo will spend its 10th year kicking off the new, more magazine-like quarterly publishing schedule. There’s so much noise out there now that it makes more sense to publish the various pieces as more of an event worth waiting for.
And so the mug shall forever sustain a few more nicks and scratches, its logo maybe not as shiny as it once was; but it’ll always be full. Finding something to fill it will never be a problem.
You’ve made it this far. You might as well read the other ninth-anniversary piece, too.