The latest figure to go from me not knowing who they are to hearing a bunch of things about them in a short period of time would be Tiffany Anders. She sings "Heartbeat" on Mike Watt's album Ball-Hog Or Tugboat, put out two records on Up, one of which was produced by PJ Harvey, and is the sister of director Allison Anders, who she now runs a festival of music films with. I share this with you in the thought that you didn't know who she was either, but now, in contemplating all that, are surprised that you didn't.
On a similar note: Do people know who Etger Keret is? This Israeli short story writer, whose book comes with Miranda July blurbs, who directed a film called Jellyfish, as well as being involved with Wristcutters: A Love Story, a film based on a short story that he also adapted into a graphic novel called Pizzeria Kamikaze, in collaboration with Asaf Hanuka, that was originally serialized in the comic book Bipolar? I've known about him since those issues of Bipolar came out, but I only read the first two of those, but it seems like I should pursue him further on the basis of his investigation of so many different mediums.
That Mike Watt album is kind of crazy, by the way. He mostly just plays bass for a group of alternative rock superstars. He wrote most of the songs, but the covers that are present are pretty notable- Sonic Youth's "Tuff Gnarl" featuring Carla Bozulich's vocals with most of Sonic Youth backing her up, Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" with J. Mascis doing the guitar solo. Until a week ago, this is a record I only knew for the humorous inclusion of a Kathleen Hanna answering machine message where she talks about how she doesn't want to be on the record with a bunch of alternative rock superstar dudes.
Isn't it weird the way you can stack the deck to try to generate some noise for yourself and still be under the radar, while some Youtube celebrity can become a ubiquitous point of reference? Not like any of these things are totally transcendent and amazing (to the best of my knowledge thus far), but they're all interesting enough- maybe they're a little generic, but there's plenty of generic things that have made a blip on the collective consciousness with less effort.