UNDERGROUND / OVERGROUNDThe Changing Politics of UK Music-Writing: 1968-85Fri-Sat 15-16 May 2015 Birkbeck University of London
It was a success except not enough people came on the day :(
But for people who missed it it will be broadcast all day on resonance fm on 25 may (Bank Holiday Monday in uk)
(slightly edited version, 12 hours of conference to be fitted into a ten-hour timeslot)
details for those not up to speed: http://marksinker.co.uk/birkbeck_under_over.htmlhttp://marksinker.co.uk/birkbeck_panels.htmlhttp://therockwriteproject.tumblr.comhttps://www.facebook.com/events/441455952678166http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2015/05/rockwrite-uk-its-roots-and-discontents-its-early-evolution-and-its-latent-potential
― mark s, Monday, 18 May 2015 12:46 (four years ago) link
apologies i shd have promoted it more here but i only just discovered i still had a password :D
― mark s, Monday, 18 May 2015 12:47 (four years ago) link
I went to the whole thing and it was tremendous; I've no doubt that there will be many hours of worthwhile listening. I'm amazed Resonance will have time between now and the Bank Holiday to edit out all the swears.
― Tim, Monday, 18 May 2015 12:50 (four years ago) link
That was more of an observation than a question, by the way.
― Tim, Monday, 18 May 2015 12:51 (four years ago) link
― TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Monday, 18 May 2015 14:08 (four years ago) link
Nice, would like to hear Charles Shaar Murray, B. Hoskins and others
― curmudgeon, Monday, 18 May 2015 14:26 (four years ago) link
"Pub rock was a DIABOLICAL LIBERTY"*
― sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Monday, 18 May 2015 20:41 (four years ago) link
I was also there for the whole thing, and it was excellent. Day One nudged towards a consensus, which Day Two dismantled: gently at first, then forcefully (the Laura Snapes Icy Thousand Yard Stare Of Death is one of my abiding images, and you won't get *that* on the radio). Elsewhere, Charles Shaar Murray was a total rock star, the extraordinary Penny Reel came in from the cold to heartwarming effect, Val Wilmer was a fascinating revelation... and I asked the punk panel a question so overloaded that none of them understood it, yaay.
― mike t-diva, Monday, 18 May 2015 22:22 (four years ago) link
I'm amazed Resonance will have time between now and the Bank Holiday to edit out all the swears.
I'm sure there will be an army of editors working round the clock on this.
― xyzzzz__, Monday, 18 May 2015 22:37 (four years ago) link
I really regret not going to this but work and weekend both got ahead of me. Glad it's all been recorded (and if there's any way of chopping it up and archiving it in podcast-size chunks that would be excellent).
― Matt DC, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 08:49 (four years ago) link
― r|t|c, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 09:43 (four years ago) link
Hilarious. Not surprised, she had a fairly bruising encounter (which you may be able to hear) as one of the audience tore into her over Pitchfork 'work for free = more exposure' (she denied but the old male person said he had an encriminating screen shot from the Pitchfork site so he is clearly reading the bits of online he wants to) towards the end of the 2/3rds female panel.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 09:55 (four years ago) link
Weirdly enough I also came across this today:
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 09:58 (four years ago) link
The bruising encounter was with Mark Pringle from Rock's Backpages (who is equally outspoken about it on Facebook).
― mike t-diva, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:24 (four years ago) link
It must be pretty shitty to be the sole representative of the present day in front of an audience full of better-in-my-day giffers, especially one harbouring a lot of unspoken maybe-we-didn't-really-matter anxiety. I don't really blame her for that response.
― Matt DC, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:32 (four years ago) link
(Okay maybe most prominent representative rather than sole representative)
― Matt DC, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:33 (four years ago) link
I agree with some of Laura Snapes's frustration, though I think it seems a bit much to attack a conference which was explicitly about the history of music writing for being retrospectively focussed. It was fascinating to hear about the history of UK music writing, and I didn't think "the old days" were very much used to bash the now or the future. There was a bit of that in Laura's session but overall most of the bashing was of (a perceived) Q / Mojo tendency.
"Enough with conferences that focus on music journalism's past" / "Enough with giving the old British rock writer hegemony the platforms to dominate these events" really does make it sound as though there have been loads of these - have there? This was the first I've ever heard of. One might be enough, of course.
― Tim, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:51 (four years ago) link
Hazel was also a representative of that present day. Shame that Kodwo didn't turn up.
idk if Laura was there from the beginning of the day (and the 2nd day is all I attended) but every panel had a woman (who contra that piece from Grace Dent) were hardly token or esoteric (if anything that goes to Penny Reel although he actually was never that, felt there was an affection for someone who has never felt to be in a 'canon' of music writing).
The 1st Panel was effectively not a panel but an interview with Valerie who was writing about a sometime popular sometime not popular black music at a time when almost no woman was in a overwhelmingly conformist male, racist, class-bound country.
Throughout there was a bigger range of topic than music writing and certainly one of the take aways from the panels were that the music was the conduit for doing other better, more worthwhile things. LOL @ attempt to overthrow the state.
xp = possibly the first conference, so yes that she would like to do more is a pretty positive outcome rather than 'conferences are boring'.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:54 (four years ago) link
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:59 (four years ago) link
I don't think Mark Pringle is right about the necessity for paid journalism / a rockwrite career structure being necessary for "good" music writing; I don't see the correlation between paid and good when so much proper paid journalism over the decades has been so bad.
I do think Laura Snapes is right that there's more good, inclusive music writing available now than there ever has been before.
I also think that the reduction in opportunities for brilliant people to be paid a decent wage to produce brilliant writing for us all to enjoy is a matter of some regret, though I've no idea what to do about that.
― Tim, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 11:00 (four years ago) link
Think the whole 'work for free' issue operates v differently when it gets to writing about music. Digital is putting a new spin on what I feel to be a very old problem. Hard to tell whether it has made it worse (i would want boring things like peer reviewed studies covering this topic, boring shit like that).
Most of Mark's POV was garbage. But his interaction w/Laura was complicated by what the facts might or might not be at Pitchfork.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 11:21 (four years ago) link
Whether Pitchfork is an honourable exception or part of "the problem" (as he perceives it) is beside the point, I think, and even if it was not beside the point, it is hardly LS's job / fault if her employers have chosen a route which Mark doesn't like. IIRC he was rather more ready to excuse The Quietus for not paying writers the day before.
― Tim, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:01 (four years ago) link
Isn't LS an editor at PF? In any case LS denied they carried that practice Mark was accusing her and PF of, as if she knew what was going on..
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:07 (four years ago) link
Agree its not her fault, its a much wider problem.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:09 (four years ago) link
She said, from an apparent position of knowledge, that Pitchfork pays its writers. Mark claimed, IIRC, to have a screen cap of something from Pitchfork soliciting unpaid contributions. Either way it's a side issue to the broader point of how we should balance celebration and lamentation in respect of current economic conditions around music writing.
I thought LS made the most convincing case in that panel, FWIW, I'm sad she perceived herself as "scapegoated".
― Tim, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:49 (four years ago) link
and now for a break
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 14:02 (four years ago) link
Also note: http://www.cjr.org/analysis/what_is_the_role_of_the_digital-age_arts_critic_superscript_hopes_to_have_answers.php
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 14:19 (four years ago) link
That said, anything framing itself in part with a Ted Gioia 'how dare you all not be like me' complaint...
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 14:20 (four years ago) link
has anyone banging on about the good old days actually READ pre-digital age rock criticism in the harsh light of today, because i have read a lot of it for school purposes and there is a lot of awfulness. not like there isn't crap now but good lord, the clueless dude hegemony all over the place is a sight to behold.
― maura, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:14 (four years ago) link
i still use “Buzzfeed” as a pejorative
― salthigh, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:19 (four years ago) link
Maura OTM, one of the reasons people get so excited about the high points of Ye Olde Rock Journalism is that they shone out from seas of mediocrity (and worse) inside and outside the music press; sadly even some of the old high points can look fairly crap now.
I think all of the underground press era people we heard at the conference are more or less horrified at the casual sexism and "clueless dude hegemony" of those times; I got the impression that they can't really understand why they didn't know better.
As an increasingly middle aged (and consistently clueless) dude I am sorry to say that I feel the same way about many of the unexamined nonsenses of my own 1980s youth; I guess that is something which will come to all of us unless we give up thinking and learning.
― Tim, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:34 (four years ago) link
yeah i mean that's part of why i think the old guard is reacting so negatively to the way things are now — they know they can't get away with a lot of the unexamined bullshit they used to. this includes tsk-tskers like austerlitz and gioia, too.
― maura, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:47 (four years ago) link
imo framing this as a young (female) writers vs. old (male) writers thing is a huge mistake, given how many young writers are being pushed and/or starved out of the democratic new industry
― katherine, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:54 (four years ago) link
and I'm not just talking out my ass here, the statistics back me up: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/newsroom-diversity-a-casualty-of-journalisms-financial-crisis/277622/
― katherine, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 16:57 (four years ago) link
So from just reading that headline this was certainly discussed as an effect of "work for free". The only people that can afford those periods of doing so have family support, so only people of a certain class and race can get there.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 18:15 (four years ago) link
a couple of the panelfoax at my thing are (a) past retirement age and (b) by no means well off
at some level part of the point was/is to bring them back to public mind as worth knowing about
― mark s, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 18:45 (four years ago) link
hi, it's laura. i double checked after getting home from the panel and i was definitely right, mark was 100% wrong. and no such advert ever existed.
― snake, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 19:40 (four years ago) link
i feel i need to stress that the mark that is 100% wrong is another mark and not me :(
― mark s, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 21:04 (four years ago) link
Lets all chill now.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 19 May 2015 21:12 (four years ago) link
Know nothing about this yet, but just came to say- Revive the Sluglords podcasts!
― Lemmy Cauchemar (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 May 2015 21:46 (four years ago) link
RESONANCE FM broadcast reminder: 10am-8pm BST tomorrow (25 May)
― mark s, Sunday, 24 May 2015 15:45 (four years ago) link
It's just started. The first panel has Charles Shaar Murray in full flow, recommended.
― mike t-diva, Monday, 25 May 2015 09:02 (four years ago) link
quality of writing generally much higher now imo but the internet echo chamber results in long and very good pieces who publication could not have been conceived by the old guard, careful and very good pieces, which repeat and cosign one another infinitely and interest mainly the people to whom they are responding. which may have been the case anyway idk
― Joan Crawford Loves Chachi, Monday, 25 May 2015 12:01 (four years ago) link
Just now started listening: Jefferson Airplane suggested as punk spirits, Grace Slick in particular. Female commentator says Slick is now fat and grey-haired and makes bad art and no bones about it, so still punk. Male says he interviewed Abbie Hoffman, also punk in spirit, and "punk was the revenge of the hippies."
Presentations from Underground/Overground: The Changing Politics of UK Music-Writing 1968 - 85, programmed by Mark Sinker at Birkbeck, University of London, 15 and 16 May 2015. The first panel dicussion in entitled The trades meet the underground and features Charles Shaar Murray, Richard Willams and Mark Williams. It is followed by How well did the mainstream press deal with rock music in the 60s? What alternatives did the undergrounds offer? with Tony Palmer, Jonathon Green, and Mark Pringle, chaired by Esther Leslie. Then bringing us up to lunchtime is Handling rhetorics of outsider style in a commercial context — the implicit politics of critical stance with Barney Hoskyns and Jonh Ingham, chaired by Toby Litt. More follows throughout Bank Holiday Monday till 8pm. [Does not repeat.] BST 7 hrs ahead of EST
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 15:00 (four years ago) link
Paul Gilroy talking about early influence of Leroi Jones, Ralph Ellison ("People are still plagiarizing him"), hard to get into "tired of same old arguments about what you can say or not say about black culture in this country," mentions MC5 and Funkadelic on same bill, racial complexity of rock etc history and its relation to rock writing not sufficiently addressed often enough, difficulties he encountered in finding UK music editors interested (I gotta read his Black Atlantic).
Several writers from different backgrounds talking about influence of Charlie Gillet, DJ, TV presenter, reviewer, editor, author of the illuminating Sound of the City
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 15:58 (four years ago) link
"hard to get into" misplaced and meant to be deleted, initial attempt at what became "difficulties encountered"
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 16:00 (four years ago) link
Simon Frith dance music central to history of popular music in Britain, but often under-represented in histories, he and other panelists mention Davit Sigerson as rock writer with unusual emphasis on dance music, before Simon Reynolds (Vince Aletti was another, in the early 70s)
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 16:07 (four years ago) link
Frith: UK editors didn't care, just published what he sent 'em, unless an extra ad, they'd cut last graf, so had to make sure it was always inessential. Then started writing for the Voice, would get "these terrfying Transatlanctic calls from Robert Christgau for 21/2 hours, asking 'What does this part mean, why do you say it like that?' " Various writers on learning to be aware of "the conventions you had in your head."
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 16:19 (four years ago) link
Frith says a lot of writing about dance is your basic compulsive insider baseball, no sense of what the music sounds like or what the dancing is like; mentions Simon Reynolds as one who does try to describe those things.
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 16:32 (four years ago) link
Had to switch players, came back to long discussion of working for "exposure" taking a turn: guy indignantly mentions Pitchfork ad looking for new writers, fine print re no pay, disputed by someone who works for Pitchfork (gotta find podcasts, captures of this whole thing)
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 17:59 (four years ago) link
That is, I believe, the Mark Pringle-Laura Snapes spat referred to upthread.
― Matt DC, Monday, 25 May 2015 18:10 (four years ago) link
Hazel Robinson's response to Laura Snapes: http://piratemoggy.tumblr.com/post/119350594961/enough-or-my-experiences-with-the-middle-aged
― mike t-diva, Monday, 25 May 2015 18:19 (four years ago) link
Resonance in their wisdom omitted my killer incomprehensible question to the punk panel! I wrote it up and tweeted it anyway - turns out nobody on my timeline understands the final para either, OH WELL...
― mike t-diva, Monday, 25 May 2015 18:22 (four years ago) link
― snake, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 2:40 PM (6 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink ended at 7:10 BST, not xpost 8. Cool, listening to dynamic Asian music on there now.
― dow, Monday, 25 May 2015 18:23 (four years ago) link
I listened to this whole thing today, too hungover to get out of bed. drifted in and out but I can safely say that I too have had ENOUGH of the first and last conference about the history of uk rock journalism from the 60s to the 80s
also it really sounded to me like that one woman said "I'm not from manchester, I'm from tumblr"
― So You've Been Pubically Shaved (wins), Monday, 25 May 2015 19:05 (four years ago) link
haha i think hazel did say exactly that :)
― mark s, Monday, 25 May 2015 21:47 (four years ago) link
and then plan a six-day follow-up next year
― mark s, Monday, 25 May 2015 21:49 (four years ago) link
there's also a discussion of it on the freaky trigger comments thread: http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2015/05/a-great-big-clipper-ship/
― mark s, Monday, 25 May 2015 21:52 (four years ago) link
Ha, assumed I had misheard it in my addled state but couldn't think of where she might actually mean
― So You've Been Pubically Shaved (wins), Monday, 25 May 2015 21:55 (four years ago) link
i keep seeing the TT as:
Mark S. Rockwrite!
which is a great name. and reminds me of the time that i wrote a review for a magazine that shall remain nameless and they made me re-do it over and over and finally i told them to use the name Rick Rockrite instead of my own name on the review. they didn't think that was funny.
― scott seward, Monday, 25 May 2015 22:36 (four years ago) link
^^^for the time being at least, the broadcast elements are up on the resonance mixcloud
― mark s, Thursday, 28 May 2015 14:31 (four years ago) link
mark's followup post: http://dubdobdee.co.uk/2015/06/02/whalers-on-the-moon-curious-despatches-from-an-old-dream/
it good writing
― where the sterls have no name (s.clover), Thursday, 23 July 2015 02:07 (four years ago) link
mark is kickstarting a book of related stuff.
ppl should back it.
― R.I.P. Haram-bae, the good posts goy (s.clover), Monday, 11 July 2016 02:15 (three years ago) link
He also started a separate thread for it.
A HIDDEN LANDSCAPE ONCE A WEEK: the kickstarter for the book of the politics of rockwriting conference
― curmudgeon, Monday, 11 July 2016 14:10 (three years ago) link
is this online somewhere?
"Frith says a lot of writing about dance is your basic compulsive insider baseball, no sense of what the music sounds like or what the dancing is like; mentions Simon Reynolds as one who does try to describe those things."
i have a lot of time for SR but am honestly tired of him being seen as the token only person who can write well about dance music in the 21st century. though perhaps frith meant SR is the only person who can explain it to old rock critics.
― StillAdvance, Monday, 11 July 2016 14:18 (three years ago) link
the purpose of the kickstarter -- linked above -- is to get transcripts of the panels published (alongside a bunch of other excellent stuff): this is my primary focus right now :)
― mark s, Sunday, 24 July 2016 15:08 (three years ago) link
I knew you couldn't keep away :)
― Cosmic Slop, Sunday, 24 July 2016 15:51 (three years ago) link
obviously for maximum impact i should have structured my appeal as some kind of POLL :D
(actual ilm & ile structures below)A HIDDEN LANDSCAPE ONCE A WEEK: the kickstarter for the book of the politics of rockwriting conferencerunning a kickstarter in a time of plague and panic
― mark s, Sunday, 24 July 2016 15:54 (three years ago) link
Especially as you only came back to partake in the metal poll thread though you forgot dj martian this time YOU PLANK!
― Cosmic Slop, Sunday, 24 July 2016 23:13 (three years ago) link