The male-centric blog is an elusive find. Aside from the big web portals, mostly from big mag leaders like GQ or Esquire, there are no strong men’s fashion and lifestyle blogs that manage to appeal to young urbanites with distinct tastes and modest budgets. That’s what makes Kenneth Courtney’s this.hearts.on.fire such a thrill to explore. It’s a collection of music, and pop culture and cutting-edge men’s fashion that define a growing segment of the 20-something guy. Running the website out of New York’s East Village since 2006, Courtney loves his ability to act as both a curator and blogger, showcasing a selection of his favourite things that he feels more people should talk about. He was one of the first bloggers outside of Toronto to write about newly minted music star The Weeknd as early as last March. Plus, the site’s name is as specific and telling as its content, which Courtney says is a nod to a Wolf Parade song and the double entendre of a burning heart being an obsession or burning desire to do something. You can dig it.
What or who inspires you?
It’s a boring answer, but living in New York inspires me: the environment, the people, my friends. I blog for people who know almost everything cool already. It’s my tag line!
You focus on menswear and lifestyle. What do you like to write about the most?
I like new things and well-crafted things. Quality and an eye for detail are elements that the brands I cover have in common.
Why did you decide to launch the site?
I thought the sites that were popular at the time were lacking cool stuff. The content within these top sites was 80 per cent the same as their competitors. I also had the realization that I knew a lot about fashion and music that most people didn’t know. I naively thought everyone knew the things that I knew, but realized when I talked to people about things I was into, very few people had heard of any of them.
Do you see yourself as a brand or business or just doing what you do?
A brand, for sure. I believe that the part of me that I convey in my blog is the brand. My blog is 100 per cent me, but I am more than what’s covered in the blog.
What has surprised you the most about blogging?
I’m surprised at how receptive people are to the site and to blogs in general. I get invited to fashion shows, to parties and to see bands play all the time, and have PR people from the biggest brands sending me images and press releases trying to get coverage on my site. For someone who is a relative newcomer to a relatively new medium, that’s pretty amazing.
How do you feel about the “print vs. web” debate?
There’s definitely room for both. People read blogs at work and when they’re in front of computers, but they still like physical magazines. I like magazines and, as tech savvy as I am, reading a magazine on an e-reader or smart phone just isn’t the same – yet.
How has being a blogger changed since you started?
There are definitely more blogs than when I started. I also wasn’t using Twitter or Facebook. Is it harder to get noticed? That’s a tough question to answer. It’s always hard to get noticed. Clearly with more blogs, it’s “harder,” but more doesn’t always equal better. If you’re good, dedicated, and know how to promote yourself, you’ll get noticed.
Do you think about your content and voice? Is blogging effortless or is there a science to it?
I definitely think about it. I don’t like to cover things that have been covered by everyone else, unless it’s something I really love. Why would you come to the site if everything on the site you’d seen somewhere else or would see somewhere else? I actively look for new things all the time. In a way, though, it’s effortless. I’m an information hound. It’s who I am.
Your ideal dinner date, past or present:
Kurt Cobain. He was a tortured, insanely shy, recluse who managed to become one of the most famous musicians in the world. I have a feeling he was a very interesting, insightful person to hang out with, and we may have had a lot in common.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring blogger?
Just do it.
SCARPBOOK: Ken’s favourite posts
ROLL CALL: Ken’s favourite digital inspirations
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