Jen Thomas

Radio Presenter, Journalist, Blogger

Music Journalism

Earlier today I rediscovered a box full of printed interview questions, backstage passes, photos and more from my busiest time in journalism. Back in the dim and distant past, in the days of 10p a minute dial up internet, 13 year old me taught myself basic web design and set up the Geocities wonder that is to interview and review the bands I loved.

I forget sometimes just how much things have changed in the last 15 years – I didn’t have a mobile, there was no Facebook, no Twitter. I built up a list of contacts with PR’s, interviews were arranged via email and you just had to turn up at the right place and time and hope it went to plan (waving a print out at the beleaguered door staff, as “proof” that you were legit and weren’t there for nefarious purposes, in the hope they’d go and fetch a tour manager, or one of the band would wander past.)

Persistence and writing constantly, buying tickets for gigs and reviewing them for my own site and building up a portfolio meant I ended up writing for The Fly, the Milton Keynes Citizen, Big Cheese, Play Music, AOL,  Rock Sound and others in my teens.

If you’re considering getting into journalism or writing, don’t wait for it to fall into your lap. Write, write, and write some more. Listen to Spotify, review an album for the hell of it. Buy gig tickets (don’t try and blag constantly, the PR’s won’t appreciate it!) review shows and festivals whenever you can. Chances are you’ll look back and hate everything you’ve written, but you learn and develop. Some of my first interviews were about an hour long of utter gibberish while I figured out what on earth I was doing! Fortunately the bands in question were utterly gracious and patient with me.

My camera was a point and shoot film one (no digital ones at a reasonable price yet!), and I was always feeling awkward about asking for photos. I was concentrating hard on being taken seriously as 14/15 year old girl, and couldn’t help but feel that asking for a photo with the band would undermine it. I now really wish I had, I interviewed System Of A Down, Queens Of The Stone Age, Funeral For A Friend, Paramore and more but never asked for a photo as I was too embarassed! It makes such a difference now having a camera phone and taking 5 seconds to take a selfie. I have a few photos though, bear witness below to my terrible hair – thank god for hair dye and GHD’s!

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