Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dance music writing: dancing about architecture

I have just finished off a feature on Terry Church (editor of djmag.com). Hopefully some budding writers will pick up on it and get in touch. Are you one of them?

Until the article goes live, I thought it might be interesting to get the raw Q&A published too. It was a good interview, although I’m not sure about his thoughts on blogging. What do you think?

An interview with Terry Church

First of all can you tell me a bit about who you are and what you do in your own words.
I'm a music journalist for DJ Magazine, and editor of the mag's website DJmag.com. I'm also a sleep-deprived DJ and clubber who burns the candle at both ends.

Are you a DJ who writes or a writer who DJs?
Both. At school, English was my best subject, and rather strangely, I enjoyed writing big essays on politics and history. But since the age of 14, I've been DJing and it's something of an obsession. I'm very lucky that I get to write about my obsession - I love my job, and not many people can say that.

How did you get into writing for DJ Mag?
I blagged it. I bumped into the editor of DJmag (Lesley Wright) at an awards bash once, and hassled her for a job. She told me to piss off, but the next week I spotted her again, and begged for work experience. After six months of hassling and bumping into each other in nightclubs, she eventually gave in, and offered me some work experience. During the placement, I wrote some club reviews and news articles, and that became a regular thing. Then eventually DJmag asked me if I'd like to be website editor. At the time I was training to be a journalist, and all my university mates couldn't believe that I was working for this cool music magazine already.

How long have you been writing?
Professionally, for four years.

What other writing have you done?
I've worked for local newspapers, doing news and political stories. I got to interview MPs in the House of Commons, and do crime reporting, but ultimately I found music journalism more challenging and much more fun.

Have you got any tips for people trying to get into dance music journalism?
There are very few professional dance music media outlets, so if you're not a good writer, you won't get a job. Having passion for dance music is not enough. Be prepared to do work experience for a long time.

Whose writing do you enjoy?
Hunter S. Thompson, Dan Brown, and Chaucer are brilliant. Academically, I always find Anthony Giddens and Jean Baudrillard fascinating. And at DJmag, I always piss myself at the latest Spank The Monkey column.

What do you think about blogging?
Blogging is great, but ultimately it is a bit useless. The first casualty of today's 24/7 globalised communication system was context. There's too much information, and too many blogs on the web to ever be taken at face value.

What about podcasting?
I love new technology, and podcasting is cool. But most of them are too amateurish and badly produced. Anyone can make a podcast, and so that means a lot of them are rubbish. Over time, hopefully investment will lead to more professional-sounding podcasts.

What are the other hot issues in clubland at the moment?
There are a few hot issues at the moment, like how the smoking ban will affect clubland. The new digital DJ license is causing a stir amongst DJmag's readers, and the relaxed licensing laws have meant a strange shift in clubland towards the perpetual. Now in London, you can go clubbing practically 24 hours a day, from Thursday to Monday.

What are your ambitions?
To be happy.

How are you going to achieve them?
By doing whatever it takes. We're all in charge of our own destinies, Daniel son.

What is the most important rule of writing on the web?
Writing for the web is exactly the same as writing for newspapers. Write clearly, concisely, and thoughtfully. Amateurs write a lot of dance music journalism on the web, and it shows.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I get in to most clubs free, sometimes get free booze, and get to hang out with superstar DJs. I love my job, but I don't sleep much, and don't earn a fortune.