Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel on Pitchfork’s New Digital Cover Story


I’m usually asked the same few questions when someone learns that I’m the editor of Pitchfork. “How are album review scores decided?” Well, we choose an editor at random, blindfold them, spin them around three times, and have them throw a dart at a chart that is numbered from 1 to 10, meticulously, by tenths of a point. “Can you go to any show you want?” When I buy a ticket! “Do you really think ‘Love It If We Made It’ was the best song of 2018?” It was definitely one of them, neck and neck with Snail Mail’s “Pristine.” “What is it like being a woman of color leading a publication like Pitchfork?” Exciting as hell. An impossible dream come true.

When I had my first conversations about taking the helm of Pitchfork last spring, it was as a wave of overdue reckoning was just hitting the music industry. Kesha had performed “Praying” at the Grammys, a powerful anthem for silenced, wearied women everywhere. She stood on stage flanked by musical icons who, like so many others, believed that her claims of abuse against Dr. Luke were true. In the following months, it seemed like new, horrific stories came to light with a disconcerting rhythm, and necessary conversations that had once been readily swept under the rug were suddenly laid bare. Women abused by R. Kelly spoke out, which reenergized journalists to report on the singer’s alleged crimes from decades before. Label executives and music media honchos were outed for harassment, and the webs of complicity they built from manipulation and fear were exposed.

It felt like a sea change, as if women in the music industry were finally being heard, as if archaic systems were crumbling under the weight of purposeful action. I was the editor of a different music publication at the time and wanted to create stories that would make an impact on a larger scale. I knew that Pitchfork was uniquely positioned to deal with the balance of thoughtful music criticism and this new landscape that was swiftly coming into view, and I knew I could help forge that path.

It’s our mission at Pitchfork to serve as the “most trusted voice in music,” and doing so means doubling down on what matters to our readers. We will elevate original reporting and in-depth feature writing, create editorial packages that highlight the intersection of music and culture, raise the voices of innovative artists, and peel back the curtain on our social media. We’ll also bring the same thoughtful analysis that has made our reviews section so powerful to the daily conversation around music’s biggest stories. Music is a universal language in part for how it echoes social issues, community, and identity—music shapes the way we engage with the world. This era of Pitchfork will strive to reflect that.

To that end, the decision to feature Sky Ferreira for our new quarterly digital cover story was an easy one. She’s so beloved by fans and critics that the years of musical silence following the brilliance of her 2013 debut album, Night Time, My Time, felt deafening. There’s a reason for that silence, of course—there were the personal dramas, ones that stemmed at least in part from her adjacency to the behavior of bad men, men she was then asked to account for. There were label struggles and ongoing creative tensions, daily walks down the invisible tightrope strung between anxiety and perfectionism. Sky, now 26, is returning to the spotlight cautious and resilient. As you will see in Camille Dodero’s cover story, Sky is a woman who is adamant about pursuing her work on her own terms, no matter the hurdles or industry obstacles that come her way.

I’m excited to bring this story to Pitchfork readers. It’s a sign of the reporting and visual storytelling that we plan to bring to the site in the future. The story was a massive effort, requiring the collaborative energy from nearly everyone who works here, and I encourage taking a moment to watch the videos and explore the social stories for the full effect. I hope it’s as fun for you to read as it was for us to make.