We’re nearing the end of first production week. The Wire is monthly and content is prepared and commissioned for two weeks and then produced for two weeks. Though we always try to commission all features and reviews (we review over 80 albums/gigs/books a month) before the production starts, there’s always a few that are commissioned during press time.
This month a few are still outstanding, among them the most timeconsuming, the cover story. Matmos, a San Francisco electronic music duo, whose entire catalogue is made up of samples – everything from war drills to plastic surgery – are our September cover stars. They are currently supplying the beats and bleeps for BjÃ¶rk and prove hard to track down on her tour. We find a gap of one night they have in London between playing in Russia and leaving for Japan.
Today is the scheduled interview, but we hear, last minute, that they are delayed in Russia and have to leave straight for Japan. We decide together with the writer (who has met Matmos recently on BjÃ¶rk’s UK tour) that the interview can happen on e-mail and telephone. Not ideal for a 4,000-word cover story. It’s further complicated by having to set up a photo shoot remotely. We decide to fly our NYC photographer to San Francisco to meet them after their Japan visit.
We have a weekly radio show every Thursday evening on experimental radio (London’s only) Resonance 104.4 FM, which takes some preparation just to get the tracks in order.
Invisible Jukebox, a monthly feature, needs preparation. In it we ask an artist to identify tracks blindfolded.
It’s one of the most popular features, and great for getting artists to talk about aspects of music they otherwise wouldn’t necessarily discuss. David Byrne is this month’s jukeboxee, and a writer in NYC is meeting him tomorrow.
A lot of the day is spent on the phone to the writer deciding on tracks to play Byrne. The latter half of the day is spent surfing for good websites for my monthly website column.
Second week of press starts here.
Pictures of Matmos are being done today, the duo have apparently gone out and rented 18th century costumes on their own initiative. I spend most of the morning trying to obtain archive photos of Mike Kelley for an eight-page feature in this issue.
Though a visual artist, Kelley has strong ties to music and founded a noise group, Destroy All Monsters, in the mid Seventies, as well as long-term collaborations with groups like Sonic Youth behind him. In our correspondence I ask if he’d like to design a T-shirt for The Wire, which it seems he will. A coup. Rest of day is spent tracking down a particularly elusive writer who is doing a story on “blogs” (selfpublishing sites) becoming a new sphere for music writing. Sites such as Pill Box, Blissblog, K-Punk and A Naughty Bit Of Crap, authored by high profile music writers free of all editorial rein, acts as playgrounds for personal stream-of-consciousness music criticism.
05.08.03 Twice a year we manufacture a covermounted CD compilation (The Wire Tapper, now in its 10th volume).
It’s my responsibility to manage the whole process from beginning to end.
I started the work a week ago by contacting record labels and requesting specific tracks I would like.
I always end up with more tracks than there’s room for (this time it’s a double CD – approximately 30 tracks in all), so today’s big job is deciding who makes the final cut. I hear from David Sylvian’s own label they’re interested in giving us an exclusive track from his last recording session.
Today contains something slightly tangential to The Wire work. I have, with a colleague, set up a touring exhibition of installations dealing with sound. Today we go to Liverpool to have a meeting with FACT, an arts centre which will host the exhibition opening in late 2004. It feels strange and luxurious to plan things so far in advance when everything else here works on a monthly cycle. It’s the hottest week of the year, and trains are delayed due to (the wrong kind of) heat.
We can undertake this sort of project due to the small and dedicated team behind the magazine. The Wire is a 100 per cent independent operation: three years ago the six full-time members of staff at the time decided to do a management buyout.
We used to belong to the Namara Group of publishing houses, including The Literary Review, The Oldie, Quartet Books and The Women’s Press, under the ownership of Naim Attallah.
Despite having full editorial freedom even at that time, we decided we would be better placed running our own ship, and for the first time since 1985, The Wire is run by its staff alone.
Checking my e-mail during the day I hear that the cover pictures of Matmos haven’t come in yet. Dread.
Headphones on all day today.
The final sequencing of The Wire Tapper is underway, all day tomorrow has to be spent in the mastering studio and everything must be ready for then. We go to press on Monday so I foresee a hard working weekend ahead. It’s not helped by London’s hottest weather in 13 years (35 degrees and counting). Cover shots finally turn up at 7pm. The designers do a quick layout for the cover: a relief to behold, it looks great.