Etta Friedman.

Etta Friedman.

Whether they have accomplished big things, or are just super passionate about what they do, my friends have given me the encouragement to pursue my own goals, and I look up to them more than anyone else. I interviewed a few fellow teenagers in my county (and a few just beyond), and asked them a series of questions about what it’s like to grow up at this very moment, what their passions are, and how they are influenced by their friends.

Etta Friedman, 16, is the girl behind New Radio Interviews, a Tumblr blog (it’s also on YouTube) where she interviews the musicians she likes. She also makes music through her solo project, Momma.

BRIANA: What does growing up as a part of this generation mean to you?

ETTA FRIEDMAN: Growing up in Los Angeles has exposed me to a lot of the major and minor events that have impacted my life and molded who I am. I admire that I get to live in this generation, even though malt shops and drive-in movie theaters are practically extinct; I have to appreciate what I am exposed to now. I have a vast amount of knowledge that I can carry in my back pocket (thanks to the geniuses at Google), and I have built some my best friendships and relationships through social media and going to local events in Los Angeles—some of my relationships would be impossible without technology. This generation has had so much created for us, and so much to be created by us.

What occupies your time? What are your talents?

Most of my friends are very creatively stimulating, meaning that I feel very inspired when around them. Their talents include being in bands, showing art in their own galleries, creating nonprofits and helping underprivileged kids—whatever their passions are, I am thankful they rub off on me.

I combined my passion for film with my curiosity for people and those who make up the underground music scene in Los Angeles. Last summer, I started a compilation of video interviews called “New Radio Interviews,” originally for my own enjoyment and for the record label I intern for. Ripping off the name of a Bikini Kill song as my title, I was nonstop going to shows and festivals every weekend to try to get great interviews. Throughout my involvement with the underground scene and starting my own video series, I realized that everything fluctuates. I couldn’t depend on getting one band, or every member of that band, and I couldn’t even depend on myself to finish editing the interviews or video compilations that I made for other labels. After coming to that realization, I decided that I need to always be on my toes, meaning that I should always leave my house prepared with questions at least. This form of preparation paid off earlier this summer when I saw a show presenting R.L. Kelly at Space 15 Twenty in West Hollywood, and when I went to the Elvis Depressedly and Eskimeaux show presented at the Echo in Echo Park. Those happened to be some of my favorite interviews, and I created a new visual concept allowing the artist to draw a self-portrait at the end of the interview. By creating this little video series to have something to do, I learned a lot about myself and about the people around me, and I am truly thankful for that.

Does any of this interfere with your daily life?

Going to school and balancing my extracurricular activities has always been challenging for me. I had to stop going to as many shows during the school year so I could focus on my work. Although that most likely stunted the development and potential popularity of New Radio Interviews, I still try to make time for them as much as I can. I think it is important to not be completely school-oriented to better allow yourself to evolve passions and discover who you are. While I am in school, I typically focus on my other interests, like painting or music.

Do people take what you do seriously?

I don’t think that age should ever stop someone from doing what they want to do. Many young people have proven to be inspirations for people of all ages. Age has been a bit of an obstacle for me, but I am lucky enough to be surrounded with so many young folks doing so many great things. That helps me persevere. Even the bands I interview are quite young, and, as people in such an accepting community, I am not too overlooked because there is some mutual understanding between us all.

Are there any downsides to being a young artist?

There is a lot that we have missed out on thanks to technology. I find it strange that our generation has become more socially inept due to technology—I would think it would be the opposite! But I’ve been in a few social situations where things that would otherwise not be awkward have become awkward, and people have a certain popularity due to their social media presences. I feel like I’m making it sound impossible to socialize as a teenager in today’s generation, but I think I’m just envious of a time that was a little more relaxed: Shows were purely for dancing, parties were purely for socializing, and it wasn’t taboo to ask a stranger how their day was on the train.

Are you influenced by what your peers do?

I am influenced entirely by my peers—my friends, and young people who accomplish what they are truly passionate about. For example, I have a friend named Genevieve who takes brilliant photos (some have been featured in local galleries). Earlier this summer, she was asked to photograph sets at FYF Fest at the end of August—she’s only 15. My friend Reed developed an entire label, Danger Collective Records, with the help of a few friends, and is constantly signing bands, releasing tapes, and putting on local shows in Los Angeles and New York—he’s almost out of his teenage years. It is inspiring and motivating, to say the least.