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Fidelity High Allows Artists To Get Intimate, Discuss Records That Inspire Them Most

An illustration of Matthew Caws
Jess Rotter

An illustration of Matthew Caws of Nada Surf for Fidelity High.

Fidelity High will celebrate its first anniversary come January.

Over the past two decades, friends and brothers-in-law Brady Brock and Erick Jordan have bonded over their shared lifelong love of music. “Our relationship took shape because we would go to record stores together,” Brock tells Billboard. Last January, the two turned that passion into something more tangible, and Fidelity High was born. 

What started as an Instagram page -- which they filled with photos of their musician friends holding a favorite record, who then wrote captions describing why it resonates with them -- has since grown into a website that houses various elements such as illustrations, photo entries, and a podcast, which they pull from their own weekly radio show. To put it simply, in one year of growth Fidelity High has truly taken flight.

"Nothing has been really forced and we’ve just added different components as they naturally happened," Brock says. "But it’s all rooted in being record fans and record buyers." That highly relatable identifier is what has allowed Brock and Jordan to secure high profile subjects, such as: Steve Albini, Tom Morello, The Black Keys' Patrick Carney and many more.

Jess Rotter

Both Brock and Jordan hold full-time jobs in addition to Fidelity High; Brock has worked in the music industry for 20 years and is currently vice president of publicity at New West Records, while Jordan is a musician himself. Two years ago, they both made the move from New York to Nashville and haven't looked back since.

“There’s really something special happening [here],” Brock says. “I don’t know if it’s always been like this, but there’s a lot of serendipitous moments that just kind of naturally happen. It’s community-driven and it’s a pretty special place to be at this point in time.”

That sentiment proved true for the two in terms of taking their concept to the masses via radio show. In June of 2016, the Nashville-based radio station WXNA-FM was gearing up to launch and Brock caught word. "I just threw my hat in the ring," he says; he pitched Fidelity High.

They soon secured their own on-air weekly show, airing every Sunday. The first 15 to 20 minutes are dedicated to the featured Fidelity High subject of the week -- which they have since turned into a separate podcast that's housed on their website -- while the remaining time is more freeform.

“It’s been an interesting concept,” Brock says of Fidelity High specifically. “Because it’s not about their music or what they're promoting right now, it’s more intimate than that. Everybody’s a fan of something, everyone’s inspired by something, and we’re getting those stories.”

While they mostly hear said stories over the phone, when they have the opportunity to hear a story in person, “[It’s] great because you see the light turn on when [the subject] starts talking,” Brock says. Both he and Jordan cite Carney, whom they met at his home studio, and Morello, whom they met backstage at his Prophets of Rage Show, as being memorable moments in the podcast's history.

The most humorous recording they’ve had is with Shakey Graves, who they interviewed in a storage container with garbage in it so that they could escape the sounds of a music festival they were at. Even more laughable is that Graves chose to discuss Beck’s One Foot In The Grave while at the same time, Beck just so happened to be performing at the festival.

Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, who recently spoke on The Who’s Tommy, says while it can be hard to name a favorite album as "the list is likely ever-evolving," it's far easier to name a sole work that has had significant impact or meaning. He explains, “You don't have to search for it, it's always right there. It was a joy to be able to really dig into the context of my enthusiasm, how it affected me, how I saw it then and how I see it now.”

Most artists echo similar enthusiasm -- once they understand the podcast's concept. Brock says he thinks many artists are confused by it “because they’re in promo mode so often" and most familiar with discussing a project of their own. He affirms, “That’s not what we’re talking about, that’s not our mission.” Rather, Fidelity High sets out to divulge what inspired these artists. 

As a result of this approach, “We’re getting interesting and intimate details from everyone’s history and their connections with these records,” Brock says. “[Fidelity High] is proof that everybody has a real connection with music."