BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT: Jay Encina (Noise Barrage)

The Haulix blog was founded as a way to support the people who make it possible for us to do what we love. A service like ours only succeeds if both the clients and their customers/contacts are happy with the platform we provide. Word of mouth means everything in a buyer’s market, and we believe it is only fitting that we do our part to promote the dreams and releases of those who support our own ambitions. Establishing a career in music is hard enough as is, so we figure it’s best if we all stick together and help one another whenever possible. 

Jay Encina, founder of Noise Barrage, is someone who didn’t necessarily start writing about music with the intention of making such work his career. Jay knew of a friend from another hobby who needed some contributors to further develop his own music blog, and Jay reached out to help. One things lead to another, and before he knew it Jay had fallen in love, but finding a reliable outlet for his writing proved to be harder than initially thought. The first site he joined eventually fell apart, as did the one he joined after that. Frustrated, but still wanting to make a name for himself in music, Jay ultimately settled on doing his own thing, which came with the added bonus of becoming his own boss. Now Jay could control the flow of content, as well as the longevity of the site itself, and that is what he continues to do to this day.

I first encounter Jay’s writing on a whim. Every now and then, whenever we have time to seek out new talent to highlight, I scour the music blogosphere using various Google phrases to seek out sites and writers whose work I’ve never read. On one such occasion several months back it was Jay’s name that came up, and I immediately made a mental note of the clear love for music that radiates from every post he makes. I believe Jay is still very much developing his own voice, but he has a clear passion for writing that will carry him until he hammers out any professional refinement his craft may need. As far as the future of music bloggers go, Jay is one of the brightest minds I’ve come across, and I feel in time his ability to connect with readers will become better still.

Recently, Jay accepted an offer from us to appear here on the Haulix blog. You can read highlights from the conversation that followed below. Afterward, visit Noise Barrage and add the site to your bookmarks.

H: Hello, Jay. Please introduce yourself, the site you call home, and your role at that publication to our readers…

J: My name is Jay Encina and I run Noise Barrage. I pretty much do everything on Noise Barrage. News posting, interviews, writing reviews, running the social media accounts… you name it, I do it.

H: We are thrilled to have you on the blog. I’ve been following your work for a few months now and I like the content your outlet is creating. When did you originally take an interest in music writing, and how long was it before you stepped out with a site of your own?

J: You know I really wouldn’t be able to pin point when my interest in music writing began exactly. I love writing in general. I used to write poems, short stories, etc. That kind of stuff. Music has always been a part of my life and I used to play in bands when I was a teenager. I guess I could say my interest in music writing began when I started getting into music magazines like Alternative Press and Revolver Magazine. I remember, I have always been drawn to the music review sections of those two publications. Those sections inspired me so much that one day, I just started writing my personal views on whatever albums or artists I was listening at that time. It started off as just some sort of private thing I do and I have never intended to post it online. I started doing it “professionally” when a friend of mine from another online hobby started his own music blog. It was called Butcher’s Block Entertainment and he needed some help in doing music reviews so I volunteered to do it. BBE closed a few months after I joined so I looked around for sites that was needing some sort of help. I was still so green so I never went after big publication jobs so I jumped in on another smaller one named What Counts Media. From my time there is when I met my good friend and New Jersey-based photographer Steph Malfatto. As I did in BBE, I was a music reviewer on What Counts Media. Just like BBE, What Counts closed down after a couple of months of me jumping on board. Frustrated, I just started doing my own thing. By then, my life was getting a bit hectic so I’ve had a series of starting up and closing down before I settled on Noise Barrage.

H: There are a ton of music blogs in existence right now, so why not join an already established site instead?

J: This might come out as something negative, but I’m a control freak. I’ve always wanted to be in charge and I figured, if I want to be able to cover and write whatever I want without any site owners or editors vetoing it, I need to put up and run my own site so I can have complete creative freedom with it.

H: What do you feel separates your site and its content from other blogs and zines covering the same areas of music?

J: It’s based on my own musical taste. This may sound harsh but I listen to every single music that is e-mailed to me by publicists or labels and if I don’t like it, you will not see it up on Noise Barrage. I do Noise Barrage for my own happiness and not for anyone else. Noise Barrage is 100% me and it also shows in the style and quality of music I feature on the site.

H: If you had to pitch Noise Barrage to someone who had never seen or heard of the site before, how would you describe it?

J: It’s the best of both worlds. Noise Barrage features your favorite mainstream bands alongside some of the best, obscure, up-and-coming bands out there. It is also a work of passion and dedication from a music fan who chose to give back to the industry that has pulled him out of some the darkest moments in his life without asking anything, not even monetarily, in return.

H: What are your goals for Noise Barrage? Please feel free to tell us those that are both short and long term in nature.

J: I really don’t have any long term plan for Noise Barrage. The site was conceived out of passion and, at the moment, I see the site as a hobby, an outlet to express my musical views and not really a career. I think I’m just blessed and lucky that my hard work on it are being recognized and that people in the industry are approaching me to have their artists on the site.

H: How big is your contributor pool? Are you looking to add to your ranks?

J: Right now, it’s just me, myself and I. I tried getting some help before but it didn’t worked out so I decided to just keep it as it is for the time being.

H: What type of coverage brings the most traffic to your site? I imagine anything that gets shared by artists probably goes over well, but in terms of features, reviews, news, editorials, etc – what brings in readers?

J: Since I’ve started Noise Barrage, I have noticed that the articles that features smaller bands gets viewed more than those articles that features “bigger” bands. I’m not really surprise with this trend as these bands are the most aggressive when it comes to sharing any press they get. Not saying the bigger bands aren’t but these smaller bands are hungrier to get wherever they get and every press coverage matters so much.

H: There are no ads on Noise Barrage right now. Do you have any monetization plans?

J: I’ve thought of it but I went against it. I mean it would be nice to make money out of this but at the same time, I don’t want to lose the integrity of why I started the site in the first place. It’s a work of passion and a way for me to contribute to the music industry. I’ll probably explore the option down the road but for now, it’s not really something I am aiming to do.

H: How can we expect to see your site evolve over the next year?

J: As I’ve said above, I really don’t have any long term plans for the site. I think if there is one thing I want to do with the site is expand it to cover more than music. I have always wanted to cover some aspects of the nerd/geek culture like comic books, movies, video games and maybe pro wrestling but right now I am very satisfied of how the site is and will just continue on what I’m doing with it.

H: I see you cover a lot of unsigned artists. If someone reading this now wants to pitch you new music, how should they go about it?

J: I am very easy to approach. They can tweet the site’s Twitter account, message the site’s Facebook page, email me on the site’s email account or even get ahold of me on my personal social media account. As long as you’re cordial and not being rude, I will do my best to accommodate you.

H: Where do you see you, Jay, 5 years from now?

J: This is something that I haven’t figured out yet. I’m currently in college so hopefully by that point, I’ve already graduated. I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost 6 years now so I foresee, by that point, we are on our way in starting our family. That’s where I see myself personally. Professionally, what I really want to do is to be an A&R for a record label. I want to be able to help up-and-coming bands and help shape up the future of the music industry. I think that goes in hand-and-hand with my ideals of giving back to the industry that has given me a lot.

H: If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring industry professionals, what would it be?

J: Just do it. No ifs and buts. If people shuts you down and say you can’t do this or that on their publication, start your own. Just throw yourself out there and don’t hesitate. Also, be nice and respectful. When I first started, people told me that the industry is so cut throat and so I have to be ruthless and cut throat too. I went against their advice. I was nice and cheerful and cordial in dealing with people and I think it helped me get to where I’m at right now. Also patience. A lot of them. It’s a busy industry and sometimes an answer to inquiry can take days, weeks, even months to get a reply. Don’t bombard people with emails about your requests or inquiries. That is a surefire way of getting into an industry professional’s bad side.

H: I think that covers everything. Before I let you go, is there anything you would like to add?

J: Nothing to add but I just wanted to thank you guys for giving me this huge opportunity. When I first started Noise Barrage, I have never ever imagined being featured by another outlet for my work on the site but it’s just really nice to be recognized for the hours of hard work and dedication you put into giving the best content for your readers. It’s something more valuable to me than any monetary compensation.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.