FEATURE: The Garden Fence Rituals: Building a More Ambitious Musical Platform



The Garden Fence Rituals


ALL PHOTOS (unless credited otherwise): Unsplash 

Building a More Ambitious Musical Platform


I am looking at my site and the number of posts…


I put out on a ‘good’ week. Tomorrow, I will write about The Beatles and how their music has impacted me – as a reaction to the (long-overdue) knighthood given to Ringo Starr during the week. I think about the band and images come to mind; flashes of their music and when it first came into my life. I think about the band and they, really, opened my eyes to the possibilities of music. I have written about The Beatles but, as I think about them, something more full, impactful and thorough is warranted. Everything I do is written and textual. It is convenient writing everything down and not having to travel about: I get to put up a lot and it is nice and quick. I guess, in a busy week, I can produce twenty-five pieces, give or take! It is rewarding seeing so much go on my site – I wonder how far my work is going and who it is reaching. That is an understandable nagging, I guess! I want to share my love of music and what it means to me. My hankering for connection and a more visual site has led me to make a deceleration: I will take the blog in a new direction and make it more ‘cosmopolitan’. By that; I want to bring in more filmed interviews and do documentaries. It is exciting thinking about where I can go and what gaps can be filled. One of the things missing from music journalism is the visual/filmed element.


You get video interviews and the odd bit: nothing consistent, broad-minded and expansive. It would be good to put out a regular podcast/series that looked at classic albums and charted the progeny/development of the record. It can bring in other artists and their take on that work. For instance; I could look at Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours – having seen a documentary about them last night. Instead of, how I normally would, write about it and have photos/songs embedded: it would be more judicious putting a video up that explores interview clips (from the band) and plays the tracks; brings the work to life and shows my face – something that has been lacking from my blog. I do not want to abandon the written aspect altogether. What I do want to do is cut back on the written interviews/features and introduce something recorded. Interviews will take the same assortment of artists – recording them in a ten-minute interview; making it more full-bodied and interesting. I will still write some features but, for the most part, turn towards visuals and audio – creating a more physical and personal blog. This is not only about me and my ambitions, mind. I worry music is losing its social edge and sense of connection. I titled the piece as I did – The Garden Fence Rituals – because I want that sense of leaning over the neighbour’s fence to have a gossip about the goings-on in the street.


It sounds like a 1960s soap set in the North – early Coronation Street, perhaps? – but it is a romantic ideal. I worry I have been too insular and detached the past six years. Rather than concentrate on speedy posts and getting content out there quickly: taking time and producing something stylish and striking. I have been thinking about other documentary ideas and investigating various angles of music. Most of the journalism we see out there tends to have written articles - and that is about it. I have written about the subject before: the way journalism lacks visual/filmed aspects and can break ground. I realised, when I had my realisation, is that we are all in a rush and want something digestible and fast. How many of us will sit down and watch a video interview or documentary? One of the best things about music is meeting an artist and discovering more about them. The process of going to a gig and being among like-minded people is an experience you cannot better. It is great being in a  ‘church’ where everyone agrees and there is a genuine truth. Going forward; I am eager to play more of the music I love and mix the older with the new. Radio is, really, one of the only forums where we can get that blend of the brand-new and old. I look on streaming sites and they focus on the fresh – overlooking what has come before and, because of, endangering the preservation of classic sounds.


There are some great radio interviews but, look at music journalism, and we are still dominated by the printed form. Maybe the journalist will go and speak to the artist and record what they are saying. That gets transcribed and the reader views the interaction. I feel much more connected to artists, and music, when it is audio/visually-based. The same goes for features. The journalist writes about a subject – whether it is sexism debate or a look at the best albums of the 1960s – and it is good to see it written down. I can learn a lot but, I feel, the best way of making something stick and reaching a wider audience is providing something in audio. Think about a subject like, say, music videos. It is something explored in music journalism occasionally – I have not seen a piece that vividly and explicatively looks at the declining forum. I worry there are fewer knockout videos and stunning examples. I think back at legends like Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry – my favourite director – and the work they have created. One can do their own research and see those videos: having a feature that puts them onto the screen and interviews fans/fellow directors would be much more effecting and long-lasting. There are so many other features one can see in music journalism. I know there are podcasts out there – mixed in terms of memorability – but a site like mine could interview musicians, older and new, that talks to a musician and asks them about upbringing and tastes; their path through music and bring in something light-hearted – mixing Desert Island Discs and Room 101 elements with a more traditional interview series.


IN THIS PHOTO: Michel Gondry/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Music journalism is far less sociable and engaging than music itself. I wonder, actually, whether music itself is human and physical as it could be. Streaming services and the way music is marketed means we rarely get to hear about the making of that music and hearing from the artist. There are videos put out there but that the industry is so fast-paced and busy – how often do we get to bond with that artist or learn more about them?! The reason I want to reinvent and develop my blog is the potential of the audio and visual mediums. Not only can all the possibilities (I have mentioned already) come to the fold: there could be handy guides for people; covering a number of subjects. It might include P.R. tips for musicians and how to get a booking agent; a look inside venues and the best around; a concentration on the music of the North and how it has impacted the popular scene – there are so many other options! I wonder how far I can take my own site and what can become of music journalism. At any rate; I feel like something more interactive and adventurous needs to unfold. Even if we have little time to read pieces – and prefer things on-the-go – the only way we will bond with music, current and past, is to slow things down and provide something much more engaging and ‘human’.


Creating that direct link between the public and the music is paramount. I love promoting the artists I do but feel I can do more. There are so many options available to me. Whether that involves creating my own audio-visual environments - regular features/podcasts and filmed interviews – or connecting with other stations/platforms; I am keen to explore the limits and potential available in journalism. Radio is, still, the most effective and direct way of bonding the people to music: bringing more of that into regular music journalism would not only create greater interest – it would revitalise a flagging field and get more people interested in pursuing it as a career. Of course, being sociable and adventurous takes money and time. It does require a slight overlay: the benefits and advantages of taking that leap is hard to put in terms of currency and profit. That is the realisation I have made. I love my blog and it provides an escape and fulfilment I desperately require. Whilst it is fulfilling seeing artists benefits from my words and time…there is a part of me that wants to get out into the open and actually SEE the people. Being stuck behind a laptop fosters isolation and disconnection that is prolific in journalism. Getting among the people and putting up those conversations; recording features and bringing people more into things – THAT is what we need to see. I will go about my changes and developments: I hope others follow suit and change the way music journalism is presented. If we can, all, create a more vivacious, deep and multi-platform discipline; it will bring music to more people and capture the imagination at the same time. I am not suggesting it is as heartfelt and intriguing as that conversation over the garden fence! It is, however, a great way of making music journalism, and sites like mine, a much more sociable and…


EXCITING medium.