Ignoring the mainstream, spreading enthusiasm for difficult music and sustaining sonic subcultures: Colin Marshall talks to Chris Bohn, editor of The Wire

Chris Bohn is the editor of London-based monthly music magazine The Wire. Subtitled “Adventures in Modern Music”, the magazine has covered the alternative, the underground, the experimental, the avant-garde and the generally non-mainstream since 1982, featuring a span of artists from Ornette Coleman to Björk to David Sylvian to Jim O’Rourke to field recordists like Lee Patterson to emerging Chinese sounds artists like Yun Jun. The magazine is also well known as a rarity in its industry for both its profitability and its loyal, growing readership. Colin Marshall originally conducted this conversation on the public radio program and podcast The Marketplace of Ideas. [MP3] [iTunes link]

Wire1 I was reading a slightly older profile of the magazine in the Telegraph. It had a quote from you saying that The Wire is best thought of as a magazine that does not cover certain types of music rather than a magazine that does cover certain types. So I'll put the question to you: what does The Wire not cover?

The stuff you could consider heavily featured in the mainstream media. Obviously there's some crossover with the mainstream media and the underground, noncommercial media, but generally we have no interest in covering stuff you just see on — if you go to a newsstand any see a range of magazines, be it music, culture, fashion, whatever, you see certain names cropping up over and over again. We just have absolutely no interest in being part of that interchangeability of faces, names, et cetera, et cetera. We'd rather focus on the music that interests us, and that most frequently is “non-mainstream” music, “underground” music, whatever that means.

That's kind of a very slippery word, you might say, because “underground” in a political sense is a whole lot different from “underground” in a Western sense. In London or, I should imagine, where you come from, almost anything goes. You can do anything without consequences. But last November I was in Leipzig for a festival of underground culture from the German Democratic Republic period, the communist period in East Germany that obtained between '48 and 1989 before the wall came down. Then, underground culture had a totally different meaning. It's a salutary reminder to know that sometimes music is as serious as your life, and you can end up in jail for playing it. That's not often he case here. Every so often I have to take one step back from the word “underground” and remind myself that it can be a far different thing to what perceive.

Since The Wire is read all over the world and targeted toward an international readership, does the concept of what is “not mainstream” take on different resonances to people of different regions of the world? The mainstream is obviously going to be different in different places. Are you against the mainstream whatever the mainstream may be in any given nation?

To say we're “against the mainstream” is — yeah, okay, it probably did sound like that. It's just that we're not interested in it. Not against it. Speaking personally, there's very little in mainstream culture generally that fascinates or interests me. Of course it changes from country to country, but, for instance, are Sonic Youth mainstream now? I would argue not, even though they had a long period of very successful activity signed to Geffen records. But the music they made and all their interests went way beyond what you'd expect of a group signed to a mainstream label. Geffen could accommodate Sonic Youth, presumably either for the kudos that went with having a group like Sonic Youth on the label and for the kind of other artists Sonic Youth would attract to the label, or because they somehow covered their costs and made some profit for Geffen. I don't know what their relationship was with Geffen.

Obviously you can't discount anything just because it's mainstream. But to go on back to your question, yes, the idea of the mainstream does shift from country to country. If it's new and interesting to us in the magazine, we presume that it might be of interest to our readership too. We accept that we have a very intelligent and informed readership, and that's our starting point. If we pick up on things from a country where the music is considered mainstream but it has something of musical interest and it resonates beyond that, in a different way, by the time it's reached our shores, we try to approach it for what it is, a piece of music, and then build up an article from there, taking into account its success or otherwise in the country of origin.

We should be clear about this, then: it's not as if you're looking at a London newsstand, looking at the copy of Mojo or what have you and saying, “We'll be the opposite of this.” It's more that that's orthogonal to what you want to be, because you're driven entirely by the desires of the readership and the staff, correct?

Yeah, in that sense it's a kind of community, you could say. Within that community there will obviously be a lot of argument. There will be a degree of agreement, but there will also be a lot of discussion and dialogue going on in that community about what is worthy of our attention.

We don't judge ourselves against Mojo or Uncut or other magazines, and every so often there might even me some crossover with those magazines in terms of areas of interest: Krautrock or whatever. Pierre Henry making records with Spooky Tooth might get reviewed in both magazines, but our interest would come primarily from Pierre Henry's involvement.

The border cases are fascinating, where the mainstream touches it but The Wire touches it as well. I always think of Björk as that kind of figure. She's been on the cover of The Wire, but she's also been in some of the most mainstream venues one could think of.

For sure. It's a portal for us in terms of bringing in people. If they see Björk on the cover of The Wire, people who are not familiar with The Wire but are interested in Björk might find that it brings them to love other interesting musics, which Björk herself would do, since her interests go beyond the mainstream. Likewise with Radiohead and Sonic Youth. Below the deceptive surface of what they do are a lot of fascinating interests that feed into their music — you don't always hear it.

That is useful for the kind of musical culture we cover, because it does introduce a much larger audience, perhaps, to some very interesting, conceivably difficult musics, to a public that would not otherwise arrive to it. Hopefully, though, if they come via The Wire, they'll get introduced to a lot of other different interesting, weird, fascinating areas. In that sense, it's great to have people like Björk and Sonic Youth and — from my personal point of view — a group like Radiohead, to a lesser extent. They also have a lot of interests beyond the average rock group. These people are obviously important to musical culture for that reason.

I would imagine, though, that there's some contingent on the reverse side that, if you talk about somebody like a Sonic Youth or a Björk or a Radiohead, they will write in and say, “How could you talk about somebody so well known as Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Björk?”

Wire2 Of course it does. There's a lot of holier-than-thou or hipper-than-thou people, you could say, in any area you work with. Some people are going to be totally disgusted by the fact that we might feature Björk or Sonic Youth in the magazine, but you don't have to scratch very hard at the surface of what they're doing to arrive at the depth of their interest in this music, so we happily stand by the covers we've had of these people. We don't have to defend it. We don't feel like we're defending it; we kind of celebrate the difference in music, and Sonic Youth and Björk embody that, to a greater or lesser extent.

It seems like the relationship is a closer one, probably a much closer one, than most music magazines have with their readers. You can tell by the flavor, by the tone, of the letters page. They're willing to engage on a very high level with the magazine. Am I just being thrown off by the letters that are selected, or is that level of discourse the norm?

You're right, the level of discourse with our readers is pretty high. A lot of that we experience personally, when The Wire has a stand or something at various festivals around Europe and America. Just by meeting and talking and discussing and getting engaged in pretty deep, heavy conversations or arguments with our readers in public — yes, you're absolutely right. We have a very intelligent, passionate, highly argumentative readership. We love 'em for that. We're not seeking agreement or accord with our readers; we're seeking dialogue and debates with them in the same way that, ideally, we feel about the musicians and artists we talk to.

It does seem as well that, in addition to there being a closer relationship with the readers, there in fact is a closer relationship with the artists. I get the impression that an artist who maybe wouldn't want to talk to a Mojo, say, would want to talk to The Wire. Is that at all the case?

It's difficult to say; I don't know what Mojo's relationship with their artists is. Of course we get turned down by artists and musicians every now and again, but we do have a good relationship with musicians. A fair number of our writers are also musicians and artists, so we don't see it as us against them. Far from it. It's a fairly broad front against mainstream mediocrity, I would say. I would like to think the musicians feel the same about us, even though we do have our fights, our struggles.

Spending some time in the world of The Wire, which I do whenever I read an issue, I notice that there tends to be — not a doubling-up of roles, necessarily, but — for example, a musician may also be a journalist may also be a reader. There's this exchange between the roles people take in the music The Wire covers. How much does that actually go on? I get the impression that people do move from subsphere to subsphere quite frequently in this realm.

Publisher and former editor Tony Herrington said it very well: there's always been, in music writing, a passion, especially in marginal, subcultural, underground — however you want to describe leftfield, non-mainstream music — a passion on behalf on individuals that starts sometimes with them selling records in the back of a barrow in a marketplace — that happened especially with reggae — to wanting to get this music across and what it's all about more. That would lead them to write about it. Also, sometimes the musicians themselves would be similarly engaged and have enough interest in other music as well to want to write about it and keep a discourse going, to keep all channels open about the culture they're a part of. It's all to do with a passion for music and sharing that passion with other people, whether it's selling obscure records, writing about it, writing about the artists who are making it or the artists themselves engaging with the music they love. Not only their own, of course, but the other musics — talking about, discussing, writing about that because they have something to say.

Or like myself, I got into music writing to try to understand and work out what it was I was liking about what were perceived as difficult or antisocial musics way back when I first started. To try to explain to a virtual partner why I was interested in a group perceived as deadly asocial, destructive or whatever. What was it about that music that interested me? Was it because it was destructive? Yeah, maybe that would be an initial attraction. But what is it about that music that holds you there? Surely not just the destruction. Of course not just the destruction. What was it they were constructing out of the ruins of the music — the leavening effects of what they were doing with noise, et cetera, et cetera. What were they constructing among the ruins? Trying to explain that is what got me involved in writing about it, and that's what sustained me here now, probably because I don't feel I understand right now what it is about the music that holds me. I'm still trying to get to it. I would imagine that's the case whether

Davy Keenan, one of our major writers who has been in a number of groups in the past and also runs Volcanic Tongue — David embodies all those things I'm talking about. He sells a lot of difficult-to-get-hold-of, obscure records out of this Volcanic Tongue web site. He writes about music and he's also appeared in a number of different groups, from Phantom Engineer to Tight Meat Duo, so we're not so concerned about boxing people in particular roles as maybe other magazines might.

How much of your own passion for the world of difficult music is simply the fact that you enjoy listening to this type of sound — purely the sound waves and you, you like to have an art experience with those — and how much of it is that you like the culture that surrounds difficult and experimental music?

The first thing is, yes, you're attracted to the music, so somehow it only starts appearing to be difficult when you're trying to explain it to somebody else. The difficulty in itself is not the thing that attracted you to it. It's appealing somehow to you, and you're trying to explain that appeal to a third person. You're trying to open up the excitement generated by the perceived difficulty in that music to a third party, or to the reader, or to your partner or whatever. Sorry, what was the question again, Colin?

The extent to which your own love for the world of difficult music is to do with the music itself, which of course is going to be a substantial part, but is some of the love also from the type of culture that surrounds difficult music, the sort of people and they way they engage with it as a miniature society.

You can't separate them. It's a culture — it's a community thing, isn't it? For sure, one is attracted to community. They're utterly inseparable, I think, the people who make it, the culture out of which it arises and the culture which it feeds back into. I can't see any difference, to tell you the truth.

I'd like to touch back on this phenomenon that, in the type of music The Wire covers, there still exist recordings that are hard to find, things that are tough to track down. There still exist rarities in a musical situation worldwide where it seems to many that, because of the internet, because of the distribution channels, because of filesharing or what have you, there are no more rarities. It seems to fascinate people that, in the type of music The Wire covers, there is still a lot of that searching to be done.

Wire3 There always will be. There's always a holy grail just beyond — you think you've found it, and something else is there. I'm not an avid collector personally, but obviously there's certain kinds of musics that obsess you, and you start chasing it down and you really want to get hold of it because you've read about it or because you have a particular interest in that artist and it seems to be the key to something.

Of course, these days, with the blogosphere, it is much easier to get hold of some things that seemed way beyond reach years and years ago. Bet even so, I am of an age where actually having the physical object has some significance. Also, I do feel that artists, musicians or whatever should get paid for what they do. The idea of just downloading stuff free from the internet — okay, when it's very rare and impossible to get hold of, that's very, very useful, but I do kind of like, one, that the artist gets paid, or two, that I'd like to have the thing, the whole thing, in front of me, whether it's the album, the CD or whatever. I just feel that it makes it that much more real.

An example of something I've been looking for for a long time was Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi's album A New Sense of Hearing. I had an MP3 of it somebody had given me; it was only so satisfying to hear it on a computer in digital form. Somehow I managed to get hold of the album, and it meant a whole lot. It made much more sense to see it in front of me, to see the artwork, to get some impression of what Kosugi and Suzuki were up to from the photos on it. It just made it that much more real. The physicality of the, in this case vinyl, made the music for me that much more palpable.

Tell me if I'm correct in this impression: the artists that The Wire covers don't seem as bothered by the whole internet-ization of music as, say, more mainstream artists might be. I flip through the pages and see a bunch of creative things artists do — they don't seem to be as bothered by the fact that people are doing filesharing, perhaps because they weren't selling as many units to begin with. One doesn't get the sense they're ringing their hands.

Of course not. Don't get me wrong; I think the internet is really valuable as a way of spreading information and ideas about music, and I think The Wire is very much part of that. We pull together a lot of things that it would take people days to find independently on the internet by following links and whatever. I think The Wire has benefited enormously from the internet, and I think a lot of the musicians that The Wire covers also use the internet very, very well to get across their ideas, to get their music out. It doesn't diminish in any way their standing. It has had an impact on the number of records certain people sell, and that I think is a shame, but at the same time I think people use the internet more than they get damaged by the internet in Wireworld, in the world of The Wire. Some musicians use it very, very well.

Records aren't the be-all and end-all in the world of The Wire. In fact, it's the opposite. Live improvisations, one-off site-specific performance and installation work — none of these things is about documented recordings per se. When they are documented, quite often they can only be a very diminished souvenir of that. How can you get across the three-dimensionality of playing in a cave, for instance, like Suzuki or John Butcher have done? You can get across something, but it's never going to have the same impact as being there and experiencing that. Or a sound installation by Rolf Julius with tiny speakers buried by a lakeside. These things are all very, very site-specific, and through the internet, people can get a good sense of what Rolf Julius is doing or why he wants to do it through his own site or through discussions around it.

It's not all about recording, it's not all about CDs, it's not all about records. Far from it. It's about performance. What we The Wire are doing, what people on the internet do, is document the performance or the ideas the artists are dealing with or why they might be wanting to perform in very particular locations, what sound art is all about — and it's not about recordings, DVDs, whatever. It's about something that happens in the moment or in the space. How can you document that? They only way you can document it is through photographs, discussion and possibly the recording that gets across the sound element or maybe a 5.1 DVD — you could get a greater sense of music played in a particular space, but you're never going to get the full physicality of that space, what people are seeing when they're experiencing it, the atmosphere in the room, the temperature. All these things make it a one-of-a-kind moment, and once it's passed, it's passed. It's great to document it as best one can, but these things are what's really important. The records might be a little more permanent, but in the end they're just calling cards.

Records conceived as records, of course that's a totally different matter. But in the culture that we work in, because it's a commodity culture for everybody, they're allowed far too great an importance. I think that's one thing we fight against. To try to get across that it's not all records. Even though that's a very important part of it, it's not all about that. It can be about the moment, it can be about a site-specific place. It can be about something that's been and gone and is never going to come back again and the only way it'll be recalled is through description, through memory, through talking to the artist about it, or even just writing something.

In this current issue, where we have Ken Hollings writing a very individual take on Edgard Varèse as seen through Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus. The best thing is to read it rather than have me describe it to you. Edgard Varèse is a very good case insofar as his recordings can probably be experienced in an afternoon. There are a lot of things that came and went, or were specific to his expo installations that cannot be reproduced on record. It's not all about records and commodities even though, of course, I'm sitting in a room surrounded by thousands of things. Sorry. You've caught me out.

It is fascinating, though, that the artists in Wireworld, they're good at using the internet, good at using physical spaces, good at using the moment, good at using non-reproducible happenings to further their own cause. But they do also seem to be better at making physical records. I think about USB drives made out of wood with the name signed on it, or I think about handmade CD-Rs that go out in editions of 250.

Absolutely. And they personalize something that's become cheapened and coarsened for mass production by doing it in this limited edition, creating artworks out of something that has become cheapened. I fully agree with you. That's why these people are not affected by all this talk about declining record sales. The kind of artworks they create through handmade CD-R covers or these USB sticks now — it goes way beyond. It takes it into an art market, possibly, but the hands-on involvement makes it that much more desirable, much more valuable, because some heart and soul has gone into each individual item.

It's a fantastic aspect of the world The Wire covers, I think, that people will take the time to do this. That's why people gather around the merchandise stalls at live concerts. They're going to see something that's only going to be there for a moment and possibly gone. There's obviously a deep interest in seeing what, say, Aaron Dilloway might have brought with him, because it's going to be incredibly individual, very personal, and representing a very personable form of music production as well.

It seems to me that, in a way, The Wire itself is successful in the way that an artist covered in The Wire is successful. Like we just described, it's kind of a success by super-specificity. It's mentioned often that The Wire gives you journalism that you can't even find on the internet, no matter how hard you look — some of it is that obscure. What are the similarities, do you think, between The Wire itself and the people it focuses on?

I can't really answer that. Sorry, Colin, you defeated me with that question.

But I do see a bit of correspondence there. The fact that the artists of Wireworld are not so worried as maybe more mainstream artists are — you can also see that The Wire itself does not do as much hand-wringing as mainstream magazines do about, you know, what has happened to their distribution system. The way I think of it is, if I read The Wire, it's because it takes advantage of the actual, physical magazine medium, and I'm guessing that's a big priority there.

It is, yeah. We think it's very important that it's actually on paper, rather than online. It's the time people allow for something in physical form — they read it properly. I think it's much easier, for instance, to read a lengthy article, essay or review as opposed to just three or four lines saying you should buy something or not. It's very important to us that this is actually a physical object, that it comes out on paper and in print, as old-fashioned as it might sound to some people.

The writers do stretch out quite a bit, if need be. They have the space to get into a lot of detail. As the editor, you'll be well-placed to answer this: how much space do writers — not like word count, but — what is the
sensibility about how much space a writer should have? As much as they need to get something done?

Realistically, you have to give some rough guidelines, just because we only have so much space every month. Articles very rarely run longer than eight pages. Sometimes, when we have special themed issues, pretty much the whole issue might be devoted to the realization of that theme. What we do, if we give guidelines to writers for reviewing CDs, we always make it clear that, if it takes more space than those guidelines allow to get across what's in the record, if it cannot be discussed within that, then they should let us know and just write it to — it's negotiable, basically. We will allow, when necessary, the review to run until the idea is fully realized.

The areas The Wire covers, they can't be very easily summarized in a snappy sound bite. It takes a little bit of unpacking the ideas that have gone into the making of the record, the ideas that the artists are dealing with. It's just natural to us that pieces have to be allowed the space for those ideas to be fully unpacked.

I imagine that policy is a fairly large draw for a writer, for example, thinking, “What magazine do I want to write this for?” The Wire's got an advantage, natively, because they're going to allow the space one needs to get something actually explained.

Yeah, but it depends on the ambition of the writer in particular. The team of writers we have, they relish that aspect. Other writers who are in it, I don't know, to be media celebrities or as a stepping stone to getting onto radio or TV, the last thing they probably want is to spend a lot of time writing a Wire-type article, which can be incredibly demanding. I'm a writer, and I would hope at the same time it would be really rewarding for the writer. Of course, once it's printed, for the reader too, and hopefully for the artist covered. Everybody feels that the best has been brought out of the subject for all people concerned. That's the magazine: the writer, the reader, the artist, the subject of the piece.

How much knowledge of the experimental music world should be assumed on the part of the reader? It seems like anybody could just start reading and catch up on what they need to know by going through and picking up what they can. How much is it assumed the audience is going to come in knowing?

Wire4 We assume that the audience is intelligent and informed, but we cannot immediately assume that they have some knowledge about, I don't know, Keiji Haino or something, or the culture he comes out of. What one tries to do is fill in all the information necessary for an intelligent and informed reader to get the best out of the article. I think we've got to the point now where we do realize that everybody knows that Miles Davis was a trumpeter, Coltrane played saxophone, et cetera, et cetera. We don't have to keep repeating this information, even though that's not necessarily a bad thing, like when broadsheet newspapers always refer to Obama as “President Obama” just so everybody knows who he is. That's not talking down to readers.

What we don't want is so that people have to feel that, in the middle of reading something, they have to look somewhere else to fill in some bits of information. Obviously space means we can only get so much into an article, but we assume that our readers have enough knowledge to find their way through pretty much anything. What we're trying to do always is open up the subject rather than close it down. We're not trying to make things more difficult. We're trying to get across the excitement of that difficulty, or wherever that music's coming from, or what it is that makes it unique, special, individual, idiosyncratic. Some people will know more than others and some might think, “Well, why are The Wire telling me this?”, but we do acknowledge that there's going to be other people coming to the subject pretty much new. It's going to need a little bit more explaining to them than it might to your average college professor.

There's a core mission to, shall we say, make the inaccessible accessible?

Make the inaccessible exciting. We don't assume that everything is for everybody. Not everybody reading The Wire is going to love everything in it. Some people will get turned off by, I don't know, a Critical Beats column. To certain readers, it's complete anathema to them that there's music that has heavy 4/4 beats in it. Sorry, flip the page. You'll find something else that will be of interest to you.

The Wire is not for everybody, but everybody who comes to it should be able to enter at any point and understand what's going on and be stimulated, one would hope, by something they might not otherwise have thought would be of any interest to them whatsoever. That's our mission, really: to excite people about what we feel passionate about, whether it's the Stooges, or whether it's Akio Suzuki or whether it's Basic Channel. This is our mission, the way we perceive it.

I want to get an idea of your own journey to The Wire. The first chunk of your music journalism career was at New Musical Express, correct?

No, it was at Melody Maker.

It was? Why did I think that?

Because Melody Maker's disappeared, for one thing. I'm originally from Birmingham, in the English midlands. I came down to London in 1977, after spending six months in Germany. This was when reading about what was going on in Britain at the time, the punk music and everything — it just seemed like the wrong time to be in Germany. It got to the point where I wanted to be back in Britain, because the music scene was really flowing.

When I got back to England, I worked for a record company, Polydor Records, working with groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Richard Strange, Doctors of Madness. It became very unsatisfying, working in a press office; you just wanted to cut the middleman out and write about this stuff yourself. I found a job at Melody Maker, then from Melody Maker to NME. From NME, went freelance in about the middle of the eighties.

From that point, you found your way to The Wire how?

Richard Cook, a colleague at NME, became editor of The Wire when it was much more devoted to jazz, free improvisation and contemporary music. Richard started broadening it out a bit, to take in marginal rock, or however you'd like to describe it. That's when I started writing for The Wire.

Since you've been involved with The Wire, have you seen it change in any serious ways? Of course there was the big change from being more about jazz initially to widening out, but since you've been involved on a more heavy basis, what have you seen change of the magazine's culture?

The most significant changes happened just before I became a staff member. That's when Tony Herrington, the publisher, took over editorship. That was when the magazine was struggling to find its own direction again after a very strange period in the late eighties, early nineties, when nu-jazz looked like being a fairly dominant form. It was very much an idea of jazz. It never felt that natural. When that started peaking out, and also when the magazine was going through some difficult times — this was a long time back now — a period of trying to interface a little bit more obviously with mainstream culture, with that lifestyle, blah blah blah, when this nu-jazz in Britain partly seemed to be reflective of an upwardly mobile lifestyle choice, jazz being a sophisticated lifestyle accessory.

This is being highly reductive, and there's a lot of good music that came out of this period. We're not talking about free music; we're talking about a very specific kind of British jazz revival. When Tony Herrington took over the editorship, he made a decision: “Okay, let's just be part of a very particular culture and not aspire to anything else, not aspire to this lifestyle choice or whatever, just focus on the artists, the culture that it was part of and not try to be part of something else.” Just determining what it didn't want to be part of, and then work out what it did, and then just pursue that. Since then, we've just pretty much followed that way. To be no part of it, in terms of the greater mainstream culture out there, just to pursue those obsessions and those areas of interest that we consider important, significant or whatever, and just stick with those. And obviously be alert to the changes in the cultures that obsess us, and follow the passions where they lead us.

I like that you phrase it in terms of culture and not simply music. Of course, it is known as a music magazine, it's got “Adventures in Modern Music” right there under the title; your show on Resonance FM is Adventures in Modern Music as well. But at the same time, I have always felt — and tell me if this is too grand a statement — that The Wire contains within it a certain very specific world. It's kind of the gateway to a world made out of a lot of subcultures. In a way, I don't even approach it as simply a music magazine, but I really can't describe how I do think about it. It is, of course, ostensibly about music, but maybe it's more a magazine about a sensibility toward art, and maybe toward life, if I want to get really grand about it? Does that make any sense?

Yeah, it does, it does — it's difficult to express it without making it sound pompous, but fundamentally I'd agree with what you're saying. It's difficult to say it like that without sounding too grandiose. We've devoted 14, 15 years of our lives to this, and we'd like to continue. It's difficult to shake it off. It's a drug, you know. It's an addiction and we love it.

It's one of the few magazines that is very optimistic about being able to stick around, being able to do it for all the foreseeable future.

Obviously we like to think so. The cultures that we cover, they're very resilient. The artists and all the people involved in it, they're not so prone to all the ideas of recession. Obviously we're all affected by it, but it's always been a struggle. The aim is not to make millions, even though nobody would complain if they did. The aim is to make the music and to get across that music, to get that music or that art or whatever out there, get it heard, get it seen get it experienced. For those very reasons, it's not recession-proof, but it's fairly resilient, the culture. I think The Wire is always optimistic because of that. It's survived some difficult times. We will continue to do so.

All feedback welcome at colinjmarshall at gmail.