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Hot Off the Press Interview with Students Working at Music and Politics Magazine in Ireland

Left: Joey Molloy. Copyright Miguel Ruiz. Right: Brenna Ransden. Courtesy of Brenna Ransden.

Brenna Ransden, an International Affairs major with a minor in Journalism, and Joey Molloy, Music and Communication Studies, are currently on co-op abroad in Ireland. The two of them are working for Hot Press, a music and politics-focused magazine based in Dublin. We caught up with them about what they do at Hot Press, how their time abroad has been so far, and what they hope to take away from this amazing experience. Read more below! 

Tell us about what you do at Hot Press!

Joey: Every day presents something new at Hot Press. Some days I’m doing promotion work with our marketing team around Ireland’s university campuses, and others I’m at the office with the editorial team writing stories, album reviews, and travel pieces. I also get sent off to cover gigs and conduct interviews.

Brenna: In just under four months, I’ve already published nearly 200 articles for Hot Press, thanks to the steady and diverse workflow. My day-to-day includes churning out news stories, shooting and reviewing gigs, and interviewing musicians, politicians, and cultural figures. Over the summer, the day-to-day also included attending numerous festivals to review. I was able to see the likes of Billie Eilish, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Florence and the Machine, Hozier, The 1975, The Strokes, Inhaler, Miles Kane, and dozens more perform.

What has been your favorite part about working at Hot Press so far?

Joey: I think my favorite part about working at Hot Press is the amount of opportunities the co-op presents. It’s definitely a job where what you put into it is what you get out of it.

It’s been a bit surreal to do work in a field I’m passionate about every day.

Brenna: Opportunities to write about what interests and excites me, like environmentalism and American politics. Opportunities to discover the vast pool of talented Irish artists and enjoy music I would’ve otherwise never listened to. Opportunities to meet inspiring artists, musicians, writers, and the like. And of course, the numerous opportunities to go to gigs. I’ve loved going to concerts ever since I went to my first one (Hannah Montana!) when I was nine years old, so being able to do this for a job is a dream I never knew I had.

Tell us about some of the projects you have worked on!

Joey: I had the chance to interview my favorite band, Big Thief. It was surreal getting to ask them questions about their writing process and new album. At the end of the interview, I totally geeked out and confessed I’m a huge fan.

Brenna: I’ve written numerous times for the frontlines section of the print magazine, including a four-page spread about environmentalism that was featured on the cover and a series on American politics including interviews with US Rep. Jim McGovern and former Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. I also produced a photo essay from the Global Climate Strike last month that featured a number of strikers alongside short conversations about why they were participating. More recently, I’ve started doing concert photography for some gigs, which has been challenging, but rewarding.

What have you enjoyed the most about being abroad?

Joey: Getting to acquaint myself with a new music scene! I’m always fascinated to see how other music communities interact and operate.

Brenna: This is my third global experience, so suffice to say it’s not particularly a novel concept for me to be living abroad again.

Every time I move, I gain a fresh perspective on myself, my home culture, and my values and opinions.

Having all of this challenged by a new culture is a fascinating exercise in not only self-exploration and personal growth, but also in the sheer volume of experiences I can’t get from the comfort of my home country. There are so many things I just wouldn’t know ­– languages, people, traditions, music, cities – if I had stayed in Boston all this time. All of this is encompassed by my favorite part about living abroad: the challenge. I learned quickly that simply arriving in a new place and expecting things to fall into place is naïve and ineffective. Challenging myself to fully immerse myself in the people, the culture, the language, and every aspect of where I am in each moment has been the most rewarding part about being abroad.

What are some things that you’ve learned in your classes at Northeastern that you have found to be helpful during your co-op?

Brenna: As an International Affairs major, I’ve taken a conglomeration of classes on everything from global politics to the climate crisis to peace-building. And because of this, I have a diverse range of knowledge of current affairs that have helped inspire numerous longform articles and inform the cultural and political aspects of shorter pieces.

Joey: My classes have taught me so much invaluable information, but the best preparation for this co-op has actually come from my on-campus extracurriculars. Doing media team and radio work for WRBB as well as Events and A&R work for Green Line Records has given me so much hands-on experience that I felt confident in whatever task I was presented with at Hot Press.

What are the most valuable things you have learned during your co-op so far?

Brenna: In the strictest sense, during my co-op, I’ve learned the importance of an expansive musical library. Before arriving at Hot Press, I had a comfortably curated collection of the music I had been listening to for the past few years: indie, alternative rock, and some pop. Little did I know I also loved post-punk, bedroom pop, synth rock… the list goes on. And the Irish hip-hop scene is incredible! Who knew? Music has always been an integral part of my daily life – if I’m not talking to someone or in class, my headphones are in. But taking an active role in seeking out new artists has been truly rewarding. In a more professional sense, I’ve learned the importance of self-initiative. Whether it’s getting sources for a story, researching a new topic to write about, finding up-and-coming artists to feature or review, or simply reaching out to a co-worker to lend a hand, going the extra mile before being asked is essential in journalism.

Joey: I’ve learned to make my writing more clear and to be more confident when I speak. Believe in yourself and remember that everything is a learning process.