Kontext als Schlüssel

Der britische Musikjournalist Anton Spice war sieben Jahre lang Redakteur bei »Vinyl Factory«. Im Februar 2020 hörte er dort auf und sah sich gleich doppelt mit einer neuen Realität konfrontiert. Wir haben mit Anton über Pop- und DJ-Kultur gesprochen – und ihn um einen exklusiven Mix für uns gebeten. |English Version|


Anton Spice

Anton, by the beginning of this year you stopped working as an editor for the Vinyl Factory after seven years. Which factors led you this decision? 
I joined VF when I was 26, so have spent a good portion of my working life in the same place. It was really exhilerating to establish the magazine, build an audience from scratch and oversee some really exciting feature and film projects. After seven years, I felt like I’d seen the site through several cycles of growth and was ready for a different perspective. I also found that my relationship with music had changed and I wanted to connect with it again in a more personal way.

I was always slightly wary of the tendency for music to be diminished by the pursuit of the newest, rarest or coolest thing. That’s partly where this mix comes in. It’s the first I’ve done since leaving VF, and instead of agonising over what to include, I thought I’d go back to basics and just put together an hour of some all-time favourites. 

Just after stop working at VF the lockdown came along. How did you deal with it? 
Haha yeah, it’s safe to say the year didn’t really pan out as I expected. I left VF at the end of Feb 2020 with a plan to spend two months on a small island in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. Even then, the severity of what was to come was not yet really clear. Anyway, within three weeks of getting to the island, everything was in lockdown and it felt like our self-isolation was quite well-timed. I’d hoped to take a bit of time off, so it didn’t actually change an awful lot for me. We ended up staying on the island for five months. 

I am now back in London and reconnecting with work on new terms. I am writing about music, art and culture again in a freelance capacity with time to get into subjects in more depth. Being in Scotland was also formative in so far as I have begun working with field recordings and have become interested in exploring links between sound, music and the environment.

In the last years we have been living in a super politicized world, dealing with a crises after a crises, in which ways do you think this affected the music industry? Are the new releases tending more to reflect this reality? 
I think it’s probably important to make a distinction between talking about musicians and the music industry. Artistsoften sense and transmit societal ills before they fully rise to the surface. For me the most powerful and urgent music has always been that which seeks in some way to contend with the times, and so I think it’s only natural for musicians to take a more politicized role. It’s worth saying though that although BLM really pushed the anti-racist agenda to the front in 2020, these issues are not only nothing new, but have been confronted and challenged by musicians for generations.

In terms of the industry at large, music has a lot of catching up to do towards racial and gender equality and representation at all levels. This goes hand in hand with the pressing need for a fairer system of redistribution, whereby tech corporations masquerading as arts organisations are siphoning profits from artists through unsustainable streaming models.

Record culture is pretty vivid in the last years and definitely has become more than a »DJ thing«. Do you think that contemporary record culture has become once again a big part of todays »pop culture«? 
Something that we always tried to do with VF was make so-called obscure records feel more accessible and non-exclusive. And although it may seem counter-intuitive to say so now, I think one way of doing that is probably dropping the idea of ‚record culture‘ altogether. Context is key really – if records can encourage a more meaningful connection to music, whether through its artistic intention or historical significance, then that is a positive thing. I never really bought the argument that vinyl sounded better, or that records contained any inherent value beyond that which someone might bring to them.

I think it’s nice to be sorrounded by things that remind us of what we enjoy and who we are, and I hope this sentiment can exist without the need for popular validation or excessive commodification. If it means something to you then that’s probably the most important thing.

Interview: Hermes Villena