Category Archives: Music

The Friday Listicle: Stuff We Liked From Across the Internetz


Finally the unofficial start of summer will commence this weekend. While you’re partying and basking in the sun, here are few links to help you enjoy the weekend to the fullest.

The Friday Listicle: Stuff We Liked From Across the Internetz


OML… Oh my Listicle! Here are some fun links we came across to brighten your work week.

Music Blogger Turned Foodie Filmmaker: Amrit Singh’s Dosa Hunt

DOSA HUNT Trailer from amrit singh on Vimeo.

Recently, Scratch attended a showing of Stereogum Editor Amrit Singh’s debut film, Dosa Hunt. We appreciated his taking the time to talk to us after the screening and a delicious dosa lunch. Read on for more about Dosa Hunt, and be sure to check it out! 

What do you get when you dare a bunch of indie rockers, a jazz pianist, and a music blogger to determine NYC’s foremost dosa? Luckily, you get Dosa Hunt, a 22-minute short film documenting the seven-man crew’s journey from Curry Hill to Queens in search of the finest in South Indian cuisine.

Born from a three-word tweet by Vampire Weekend’s – Rostam Batmanglij (“Eating a dosa”), the concept for the project developed as Stereogum Editor Amrit Singh inquired about his friend’s meal of choice. When he found out that Batmanglij’s version of “the Indian crepe” was filled with arugula and jack cheese (as opposed to a traditional mix of potato and onion), Singh decided his pal could use a dosa education.

Joining the party were Das Racist’s Himanshu Suri and Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu, Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder, Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer – all of whom piled into Singh’s brother’s tricked-out Sprinter van on an eight-hour quest for the best.

Rather than approaching the project with a clear end product in mind, Singh said the process was “very organic.” He gave the group little to no instruction, maintaining that an important facet was simply “allowing [the film] to become what it wanted to be.” The chemistry between castmates is half the fun; the gang varies in age, dosa knowledge and experience with each other, and it’s clear that this self-titled “brown indie rock fraternity” gets a kick out of getting to know one another.

Having grown up with few iconic Indian faces in the music scene, Singh appreciates the fact that there are more role models today for Indian teenagers than ever before – and believes his film is a testament to this. “I’m encouraged by the fact that there is diversity in the arts, I’m encouraged by the fact that there is diversity in points of view,” says Singh. And about Dosa Hunt’s very existence: “It’s a very 2012 project…there is an aspect to the fact that this cast can exist.”

And in response to the haters? “I understand why it might strike some fires in some people’s bellies with respect to authenticity, and I think that that’s part of what’s at the heart of the project.”

Whether you’re an indie rock junkie, a foodie, or just plain curious, attending a Dosa Hunt screening is definitely worth your while. Singh marries his passions for music and his own heritage in such a way that you’ll forget you’re actually learning something – and then they’ll feed you!

Friends of Scratch: Gillian Grassie

Gillian Grassie @ Scratch from Scratch Vimeo on Vimeo.

We recently invited singer-songwriter and virtuoso harpist Gillian Grassie, just back from a five-week tour of the US, to perform for us here at Scratch. Gillian was kind enough to play the role of “surprise musician,” positioning herself in the cavernous stairwell linking all the floors of Viacom’s fifty-three story Times Square headquarters. Her haunting voice and seraphic accompaniment echoed throughout the vertical space, slipping into foyers and offices through cracked doors and usually quiet air ducts.

The classically trained Grassie has travelled across Europe and Asia to study emerging music scenes, and in the process has grown a worldwide fan base. Recounts Gillian:

“In 2009, I won a Thomas J Watson Fellowship grant. I brought my harp with me while I travelled [by air] through France, Germany, and India. But when I landed in Hong Kong I discovered that the airline had damaged by flight crate. So I finished the remaining six months of my trip on ground transport, mostly by train from Hong Kong, up through China and across Russia, two days on a boat across the Baltic Sea, then from Rostock to Berlin, where I  left my harp for a year before I could return with a new case.”


Gillian funded her forthcoming album, The Hinterhaus, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. “180 backers from ten countries and five continents helped me raise my goal in five days. It meant I got to work with my dream producer, Todd Sickafoose, an amazing jazz bassist who also played with Ani DiFrano for years.” A patient storyteller and skilled composer, Gillian expertly synthesizes a diversity of influences and styles to create her unique sound. “I do have a folk background in terms of my songs being literary and lyric heavy,” says Gillian, “but there’s pop song structure, and there’s also a strong jazz influence in both the vocal approach and the accompaniment.”

Gillian is a true independent artist who is currently managing all aspects of her career. We’re grateful to her for taking the time to come and share her talents with us, and we look forward to following her in the future.

For more about Gillian Grassie, check out her website at

The Friday Listicle: Stuff We Liked From Across the Internetz

Happy Black Friday! If you’re having a stressful shopping day, let our link round-up make it better:

Scratch Sidehustlers: Erika Lewis, Grits and Biscuits

 [image courtesy of Grits & Biscuits]

We at Scratch are an eclectic bunch – writers sitting next to tech geeks, business nerds calling on design fiends, entrepreneurs conspiring with ex-stand-up comedians… you get the picture. Collaboration is key to what makes Scratch Scratch-y, and spinning together our different skills and obsessions has produced some awesome results – which is why we try to celebrate our passion projects as much as we do our day-to-day.

With all this creative energy crackling through our offices, it should come as no surprise that a lot of us have “side hustles” running during our downtime. Out in the world, we call it sidepreneurism, and it’s a trend we’ve been tracking for a while now.

Hereabouts, we welcome our Scratchers’ side hustles, and we wanted to share some of the amazing projects our team members have created in a new spotlight series here on the blog.

First up: Erika Lewis, Director @ Scratch, and co-founder of Grits & Biscuits, an ongoing event series here in NYC and DC.

 [image courtesy of Grits & Biscuits]

S: Erika, what’s your side hustle?
E: I’m an Event Producer/Party Promoter for Grits & Biscuits.

S: When and why did you start it?
E: In 2010. My friend and I are both from the South and felt there was a void in the NYC party scene when it came to southern music.  We brought in a third partner and decided to throw one party to celebrate the south, and over 500 people showed up.  From there we were off…

S: Whoa, that’s nuts. Does this relate closely to a hobby or other pastime?
E: I’ve always enjoyed entertaining and hosting good parties. It’s something I really like doing so it definitely doesn’t seem like “work”.

S: Can you tell us more about your partners?
E: My partners are Alzo and Maurice Slade, brothers who grew up between Texas and Florida.  We go by the name E.Z.Mo Breezy.  I am the “E.”

S: Haha.. Has your side project helped you in your day to day job, and vice versa? Explain.
E: Absolutely!  It has strengthened my project management skills and expanded my professional network.

S: Do you make money? Is that an important part of why you do it?
E: We decided early on that money would not be our motivation and the brand would always be bigger than any one individual. That said, we’ve been fortunate that all of our events have been profitable.

S: What’s the future of your side hustle?
E: We’ve hosted numerous sold out events in NYC and DC.  We’re aiming to expand our footprint in the US and abroad.

S: Thanks for talking with us, and please keep us updated with any upcoming events.

For more information about Grits and Biscuits:

Scratch Loves: Bubbles in Space

3,000+ frames hand-drawn by more than 100 high school students from San Diego’s High Tech High International for Michael Andrews’ “Bubbles in Space.”

(via Nowness)

Big Sean as Principal for the Day for the Get Schooled Detroit Attendance Challenge

As mentioned previously on the blog, The Get Schooled FoundationUnited Way for Southeastern MichiganChevrolet (a Scratch partner), and Viacom recently joined forces to launch an amazing education initiative: the Metro Detroit Attendance Challenge aimed at improving attendance in 17 high schools in the region.

Dubbed the “Get Schooled Detroit Attendance Challenge”, the competition encouraged schools to focus on the number one predictor of graduation – attendance. Whether signing up for celebrity wake up calls or recognizing great teachers, students in the challenge earned points for their school both by participating in each activity and by going to school every day, all day.

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Last Monday, Big Sean, a Detroit native, acted as “Principal for the Day” at Lincoln High School, one of United Way’s “Network of Excellence” schools. Lincoln High School won the challenge’s top prize after improving its attendance by a dramatic 8.56% year-over-year during the competition – incredible!

As principal, Big Sean visited classrooms, co-taught classes and participated in an assembly of the entire Lincoln student body. It was an inspiring day – the students were pumped, the energy was high, and we were all pretty thrilled. Nothing wrong with mixing good and fun.

We’re so proud to be a part of this amazing challenge, but we’re even prouder of all of the students who participated in the challenge.

For more, check out the coverage from Detroit’s Channel 7 News:

Scratch Joins Forces With Lady Gaga

Today, Scratch is thrilled to announce our collaboration with one of our favorite artists: Lady Gaga.

Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation has named Viacom its lead media partner, and Scratch has been chosen to lead the charge.

The mission of The Born This Way Foundation is simple and powerful: Create a kinder, braver world. A nation of “Little Monsters” already know it’s possible. So do we.

Team Scratch is inspired (and extremely humbled) to have been chosen to guide this initiative.

Together with our many partners, networks and platforms, our work with the Born This Way Foundation will help empower young people to promote tolerance, acceptance, respect and support in their communities.

For more information, check out today’s announcement on the Viacom blog and the Born This Way blog. Stay tuned for more updates and for ways you can join the movement.

Ross Martin To Speak At TEDx

Scratch Executive Vice President Ross Martin will deliver his TED talk at TEDxEast in NYC on Friday, May 11th.  His presentation, entitled “The Poetry of Misunderstanding,” explores the “magical consequence” of creativity, how free verse liberates the rhyme and meter of media and business.

The event, headlined by The Roots, will take place at the New York Times Building, and will explore new ideas from 25 visionary thinkers across science, education, social activism, business and the arts.

Update (5/21): Check out Ross’s talk on ‘The Poetry of Misunderstanding’ here (skip to 37:45 on the first video).


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