Public Relations(2)

By: Katie Heaney


Joanna.



I got to the end of the email and shook my head, feeling both terrified and incredibly flattered that Joanna Girard had referred to me as a “music person.” I looked back over to Harper.

“You are so lucky,” she said.

“How do you figure?” I asked, but of course I knew what she meant. Joanna was terrifying, and the other three were even worse. I was about to be in way, way over my head.

But I was also about to meet Archie Fox—effortlessly charming, famously flirty, boyishly handsome Archie Fox, international pop star and the number one crush of, oh, about a billion or two women worldwide. I typed up a quick reply to Joanna’s email (I’m sorry for my delayed response. I understand, and I’ll be there.), and before I could back out of the whole thing altogether, I pressed SEND.





What I knew about Archie Fox before walking into the meeting was as follows: He was twenty-four years old, British, and blew up about five years ago when an amateur video of one of his open-mike-night performances got a million views on YouTube within thirty-six hours. Unlike many YouTube sensations, however, he actually had the goods to support a career, and before the world even had time to process what was happening, his dimpled smile and shaggy hair were everywhere. Not that I could complain about that; he had one or two songs that I really liked—maybe not the kind of tracks I’d ever put on a party playlist (not if I was trying to impress people with my eclectic tastes, anyway), but the kind of thing I’d happily sing along to in the car. He seemed charming in person, speaking in a slow, deep drawl—though there was less of that now that he was ducking out of interviews, avoiding paparazzi, and blowing off red carpets. And that was kind of the problem.

“Okay, wait, remind me where he is in the tour right now,” I said.

Harper sized me up with her arms crossed, and then reached over to unravel the black velvet ribbon she had just wrapped around my neck.

“He just finished up in Europe. Oh my God, you didn’t see that Vine from his last night in Madrid? With the hip thrust?” She tossed her head back in feigned ecstasy. “It probably killed about ten thousand girls in that stadium.”

“No, somehow I missed that one,” I said while she held her leather jacket up against my chest. “I need you to stop transferring your entire outfit onto me before you’re naked, okay?”

“Listen, don’t blame me when Archie’s like, Oy, right, I’d quite fancy the brunette if it weren’t for that totally shapeless dress, mate.”

“Did he just become a pirate? Is that what the meeting is about?”

“Shut up.” She shoved me, laughing. “Just put on the jacket. It’ll look cool.”

“I don’t need to look cool, Harp. Fancying me isn’t exactly the goal here.” I put the jacket back in her hand. “Wait—what’s the name of that song of his that everyone likes, off the last album?” While I was obviously familiar with Archie Fox’s debut—there couldn’t be many people left worldwide who weren’t—I wasn’t exactly a fangirl.

“You think he’s gonna quiz you?”

“You never know.”

“You’re not even supposed to talk!”

I looked at my watch—9:47. I ran back to my computer and quickly scanned the other emails from Joanna. When I found the song, I choked on a laugh.

“‘Kiss Me, Kill Me,’” I told Harper, miming a knife to the chest.

“Be nice!” she shouted to me as I dashed down the hall.





2.


MY JOURNEY TO PR WAS indirect, slightly arbitrary, and catalyzed almost entirely by Joanna, though I’d never told her as much. I grew up in the Bay Area, certain I’d be a music journalist, I guess because no one thought to warn me the industry was dead. In the defense of my parents, teachers, childhood friends—anyone whose proximity to me meant listening to my tales of future rock journalism stardom, really—the industry was putting up a decent fight back then. People were still reading (and writing about) Joel Selvin’s column in the Chronicle, and you could find copies of music monthlies and biweeklies (real, tangible zines!) stacked at coffeehouses and record shops. I passed summer afternoons cycling through my parents’ records (Jackson 5, Blondie, and Hall & Oates were on heavy rotation) and, as soon as I started getting one, I spent my allowance on my own growing collection, sourced mostly from Amoeba. (My first: Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn…, whose lyrics sailed way over my nine-year-old head, but which nevertheless stirred in me a confused but steadfast and righteous sense of angst.)

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