Davy Minor is the brains behind the massive musical/literary/artistic conglomerate known as Deer Bear Wolf. Part lit zine, part art showcase, part record label, Deer Bear Wolf’s all-encompassing vision is a collaborative force on Atlanta’s arts scene. The fledgling endeavor, which got its full-blown start just a few months ago, has already prompted intrigue from locals and critics alike. Spanning multiple genres, Deer Bear Wolf—whose zoological name, Minor explains, came about as a sarcastic allusion to the large number of current bands with animal titles—is a unifying force amongst the city’s creative class.
Minor, himself, is not a native Atlantan, but he has deep Southern roots. After moving to the city at the end of the ’90s, he got his footing by establishing and proliferating the now-deceased music blog Ohmpark. Dabbling in music in his youth, Minor got his footing on the local scene though his popular journalistic blog posts and promotion of local bands both online and by hosting good old-fashioned house shows. Back in the Myspace days, Minor even organized a platform for often-ignored start-ups to get exposure in front of digital and physical audiences. After six years, in January 2013, Davy Minor ended his stint at Ohmpark.
However, the conclusion of one project provided the time and space for Minor and his contributors to start something truly ambitious. Deer Bear Wolf has already attracted attention from local talent, press and residents. The inaugural edition of the magazine and the first two EP releases by Deer Bear Wolf can currently be purchased online through the DBW website.
Common Creativ: In January of 2013, you called it quits with Ohmpark. Did you have any idea that the end of that venture would give way to something bigger?
Davy Minor: At the time I was just completely burnt out from writing about or evaluating music every day of my life for six years. I thought I might eventually end up doing something else similar on a much smaller scale, but I had intended to focus solely on writing fiction. I always view my projects as temporary, and I felt I had accomplished everything I wanted out of Ohmpark.
CC: When did you first come up with the idea for Deer Bear Wolf?
DM: After being away from the blog for about six months, I started to have lots of ideas of how I could support the scene in a much more significant way. Because what I did with Ohmpark could roughly be categorized as journalism, there were a lot of ways I felt restricted by concerns about conflicts of interest in the ways I could support bands. Also, Ohmpark was very much about my own personal perspective, and that always limited the scope of what was possible. So once I was unshackled from the blog, I realized I could be much more effective working in a different format. I also realized that there were so many other arts scenes in the city that were each as vibrant as the music scene, but all of it—even inside each medium—was very fragmented and disconnected. I decided the ultimate goal of this project would be to try and connect all the dots and present the infinitely sprawling creative scene of Atlanta in a comprehensive and accessible way.
CC: You made a lot of connections with the music community through Ohmpark. Did that open doors and introduce you to artists in other disciplines?
DM: Being involved with the city’s music scene for so long definitely opened a lot of doors. I don’t think as many people would have trusted me with this project if it hadn’t been for the success of Ohmpark. I’ve also been lucky enough to be involved with the city’s literary scene over the last several years as it’s blossomed. I was part of a writers group called Kill Your Darlings, and so many of the writers who were involved with that years ago are all doing cool things right now. But I also really enjoy digging around and discovering new artists. I haven’t been as involved with Atlanta’s visual arts scene for very long, and it’s fun and exciting to explore and learn about it.
CC: Who were the other influential folks who helped you pull Deer Bear Wolf this together?
DM: I really only play the role of facilitator. Everything that’s part of Deer Bear Wolf was created by someone else. If it wasn’t for all of the talented artists involved, no one would care about this project. With the Deer Bear Wolf Magazine, Brian Egan from the Mammal Gallery put it all together and made some really great artistic choices in the design that turned it something special. And ATL-expatriot Jean-Pierre Chery has done some amazing design work, especially with the website; without his help, I’d be lost. It’s also been awesome to get the blog back together, recruiting former Ohmpark contributors Kevin Griggs, whose photography was a big part of Ohmpark’s success, and Joe Ennis, whose story in the first issue of the DBW Magazine is incredible.
CC: Do you think a project like Deer Bear Wolf would be possible in another city or do you think this is something that’s uniquely located in Atlanta?
DM: I’m sure there are several places where a project similar to this would be possible, but there’s something unique about the conditions in Atlanta. Because this city doesn’t have a defined identity yet—because most people who live here are from somewhere else—it creates this feeling where anything is possible, where anyone can find their niche and find success here quickly if they’re doing something cool. And there’s just so much talent and creativity in this city right now.
CC: It might be easier to list the things that Deer Bear Wolf isn’t rather than all it is. Atlanta’s arts community is fantastically collaborative, but did you ever have a moment where you felt daunted by the scope?
DM: Every day. I had originally intended to launch the magazine in the fall of last year, but it took much longer than I thought to get everything going. There are so many elements to this project and people involved that it constantly feels overwhelming to keep up with it all. But I love the challenge of it, and I just try to stay disciplined and accomplish one thing at a time, and then move on to the next thing.
CC: What have you got planned next?
DM: A lot. July 17 at the Goat Farm, we’re launching a new monthly variety show called Natural Selection that will be hosted and co-curated by Elizabeth Jarrett. The second issue of the magazine is slated for August. Also in August, I’m putting together a music festival at 529 to showcase local electronic and experimental musical artists. The record label has some exciting releases planned for the fall, and the first book from the publishing press branch should come out in September.
CC: What do you think is the most promising thing going on in the city right now?
DM: The fact that so many people are doing so many cool things. What the guys at the Mammal Gallery have been able to accomplish in less than a year is remarkable. The Goat Farm continues to support and help grow the city’s arts scenes. Local literary institutions like Vouched ATL and Write Club Atlanta have helped foster the burgeoning local lit scene. The multitude of awesome people coming together and trying to make something happen is so inspiring to me. I think there’s something really special happening in this town right now, and I just feel lucky that I get to be a small part of it.