Ted Gordon’s ’08 future in music seemed inevitable from the start. As a child, Gordon used to travel with his musician father from his hometown of Tenafly, N.J., to gigs in New York City. His dad played the French horn and found work in everything from Broadway shows to television commercials. Gordon took up the viola, but he now seems too practical to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Being a musician is the hardest life for anybody,” he says. “People don’t get you; people don’t respect musicians.”
Instead, Gordon has taken his passion for music in a different direction, spearheading the expansion of Yale’s music scene as a co-founder of Gunslinger magazine, which developed into Volume magazine in 2004. He describes Gunslinger as an “indie-rock ’zine” intended to both shed light on and poke fun at the pretentiousness of indie-rock aficionados.
“No one wants to read a preachy magazine,” Gordon explains. “So there was always that undercurrent of ‘we’re kind of kidding with that whole pretentious thing.’”
Sitting at a table across from me at Book Trader cafe, Gordon appears the same as he has every Tuesday and Sunday in my avant-garde film class. He fits the profile of a standard California hipster — flannel button-down shirt, dark skinny jeans, short beard. But I learn more about Gordon in two minutes of coffee-shop banter than I had during the entire semester, as he passionately explains the focus of his senior essay: contemporary avant-garde-music composition in New York.
Throughout the interview, Gordon mentions his co-editors numerous times, eager to credit them for their share of the work. But this earnest modesty belies his commitment to the magazine.
Anne Nguyen ’07, founder of Gunslinger, makes no attempt at modesty in describing Ted.
“Ted is a really great guy, and he was integral to the transition from Gunslinger to Volume magazine,” she says.
Volume Features Editor Benjamin Lasman ’10 said he’s grateful to work with Gordon.
“He’s an excellent editor and has the uncanny ability to write on potentially inaccessible topics,” Lasman says. “Rarely do you meet someone with such a broad range of knowledge.”
Gordon’s knowledge of the music industry is unique among musicians, a fact he attributes to his extensive internship experience. He rattles off a list of his former employers, such as the New York Press, Lower East Side music venue The Stone and Web magazine NewMusicBox. He hopes to secure a grant for the study of avant-garde music in Berlin next year.
But Alexander Benenson ’08, a senior editor at Volume, believes wherever Gordon ends up in the music world, he will always be a success.
“I’ve gone with Ted to noise shows in basements, Carnegie Hall, jazz clubs and everything in between, and he always seems to be in his element musically and critically speaking,” Benenson says. “He’s also a great performing musician, who constantly embarrasses me with his preternatural skill at Rockband.”
Perhaps, then, as much as Gordon discounts it, there is a future for him as one of the next great musicians of our time.