What did you want to be growing up?
A cartoonist! Or the host of Desert Island Discs. Neither dream has quite subsided to be honest.
After graduating, your career began while interning on the It’s Nice That editorial team. What did you take from that experience? How important are internships?
In my third year of being a Graphic Design student at Kingston, at a time when I really did not have a clue what to do with my life, my tutor, Zelda Malan, wangled me a one-week placement at It’s Nice That. The job in hand was to find cool artists, stuff, zines, comics, music videos – anything really – and just write about why I liked it. Dreamy stuff for someone who is a hoarder/collector/enthusiast like myself. When I left university and was panicking about what the hell I was going to do with my life, It’s Nice That offered me a 10-week internship, which I joyously accepted, and I ended up staying there for four years, learning even management, journalism, public speaking, podcasting, people skills, magazine making – everything really.
"It's Nice That was like a blissful finishing school."
It was like a blissful finishing school. I took away so, so much from working there, but really what I learnt most was that without that initial leg-up from Zelda, and the support of the team at It’s Nice That when I was 21 years old and pretty clueless about the world, life would have been very different. Helping young people find their way in the world is one of the most important things anyone can do in their careers, and I urge anyone who has the ability to help someone with potential who hasn’t quite found their way, to do it.
"Helping young people find their way in the world is one of the most important things anyone can do in their careers, and I urge anyone who has the ability to help someone with potential who hasn’t quite found their way, to do it."
From founding Rough Trade magazine through to working as Contributing Editor of Riposte, much of your career has since been spent immersed in the world of indie and print magazines. In an increasingly digital world, why should we champion the craft of print?
They just mean so much to people. They’ve only ever been tools with which to define eras, therefore I really doubt their value will ever truly subside. I get such joy in picking up and flicking through a 2003 issue of Dazed, or a Vogue from 1992, or a copy of Vice Magazine from the Noughties…they tell you so much about a time. The best writers, photographers, illustrators and editors and everyone else are all present on the pages of magazines, it’s like a directory of amazing people writing/doing/thinking making amazing things. As physical timestamps of an era. They are so important and such a constant source of joy.
"The best writers, photographers, illustrators and editors and everyone else are all present on the pages of magazines, it’s like a directory of amazing people writing/doing/thinking making amazing things."
We are in the midst of the rise of the podcast – something in which you’ve also had a part to play – which is only expected to continue. Why did you first get involved with podcasting, and what is the best thing about it?
I started it at It’s Nice That in about 2011, when Rob Alderson, my fantastic editor at the time, insisted we had a weekly podcast. He was very ahead of the game in terms of knowing podcasts were on the up. It was brilliantly chaotic: we’d record it in the meeting room under a sheet. I began an intense love affair with speaking into a mic back then; there’s something so naughty and funny about the tension in a room when you know you’re being recorded. I love putting on the headphones and listening to people’s voices in my ears. When you’re interviewing someone on a podcast there’s this intimacy that I’m now slightly addicted to. During my time as editor of Rough Trade when I recorded the podcasts for them, the pleasure in sitting in a dark room speaking into a microphone across the table from someone and having a deep conversation – often with an artist or musician I was a huge fan of – was intensely pleasurable. When I lost my job and began working from home, alone, I turned to my microphone and began a podcast as it was the only thing I really felt I could do.
"I love putting on the headphones and listening to people’s voices in my ears. When you’re interviewing someone on a podcast there’s this intimacy that I’m now slightly addicted to".
What one thing do you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
That’s hard because, if anything, I think I had a clearer idea at the start of my career about my own dreams and the path that I wanted to be on, than I do now eight years in. As you get older, things become murkier. You find yourself working on projects that you don’t enjoy, or find yourself being sucked into worlds you don’t belong in. You lose sight of what got you into the industry in the first place. It can be hard to avoid being jaded, and to be able to glance back and tap into that initial, desperate, joyous drive you had when you were 21 and the world of work was just a fascinating new territory to explore.
What would you like to do next?
I want to start my own magazine. I just need to get some money. And grow a pair of balls to just say fuck it, that’s it, I’m doing it!
"It can be hard to avoid being jaded, and to be able to glance back and tap into that initial, desperate, joyous drive you had when you were 21 and the world of work was just a fascinating new territory to explore."