How did you get where you are?
NME was my first proper job, which I landed by submitting reviews while I was a student living in Bristol. Luckily I didn’t mess up too royally and they eventually let me come into the office. I’d always been interested in the new music scene and was always out at gigs every night, so it wasn’t long before I’d wangled my way into becoming new bands editor. After a year of that, I became features editor and then when the deputy editor role came up at the start of this year, I thought I’d go for it.
What are the main skills you need to be a music writer?
An interesting way of saying something, an opinion and an insatiable appetite for new music. You don’t necessarily need an encyclopaedic knowledge of rock history, but you do need the enthusiasm and stamina to be able to go out to gigs every night and turn a report around for the following morning.
What’s the biggest mistake that people tend to make when they’re trying to be a music writer?
You tend to get a lot of reviews sent in that pander to what the person thinks a music review should read like, as opposed to actually having something new and original to say of their own. But the worst offenders are those who appear to have never picked up a copy of the magazine in their life. The kind who submit a 3,000-word essay on Tom Jones’s latest stadium tour and wonder why it never gets published.
What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Start your own blog or write for as many websites and fanzines that’ll have you.
Become an expert on new music in your region. We’re always on the look-out for people willing to give up their Saturday night to review an unsigned gig in Penge.