What’s your job role? What does it entail?
I am a digital editor. I initially started off as just a writer for a music magazine called Tap The Feed and after a year of writing I decided I wanted to be a bit more than just a writer. I felt like I had carved a path and made good relationships and done some contact building by going to gigs and stuff. So, I emailed the guy who owns it, who is an absolute sweetheart, and I was like ‘would you consider giving me more responsibility? Is there anything I can help out with behind the scenes?’ and he said ‘funnily enough, I’m looking for someone to do x, y and z. Let’s have a meeting about it’. We discussed what I was interested in, what he needed and how my assets could be of use to the website. So, yeah, I landed that role from having that meeting and had I not asked I would still just be writing. What I do know is a lot more intensive. So, I do live reviews, album reviews, interviews as well as features, which is like, Bristol related music news that’s happening. So if someone has released a new single, if someone has pressed an album onto vinyl that’s a limited run, I’d write about that. Also I’d do a feature if anyone is doing an EU tour, which is really big news. I do all the social media as well, the instagram, facebook and twitter. The digital editor role is a lot more intensive. I’ve proposed some new features too. One thing that we’ve recently done is ‘gigs of the week’ on instagram stories. I noticed when I took on this role that we weren’t using instagram stories at all to promote anything and I thought it’s just such an easy way to consume what’s going on. So every Monday at 1 it goes live, so that’s another feature that I brought to the table.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I mean, free gigs are always pretty sick. Seeing new talent, discovering new people is amazing too. Had I not taken on this job I wouldn’t have been able to widen my interest. I really enjoy speaking to people as well, especially at jams, especially at the Gallimaufry, there’s a few really cool people who run that. I really enjoy feedback from people, so like, if I did a review on someone and then they would then get in touch or share it on facebook or retweet it. That means the world to me. All of this is unpaid, which can be difficult but I’d much rather some comes back and thanks me for the review. I’d much rather get that than a quick £50 because it’s much more meaningful. They’ve taken time out of their day to share it or contact me directly, so that’s really nice. It’s really valuable.
When you go to a gig to review, what’s the process? Do you drink when you go to gigs, do you write notes there and then?
Oh my god, the amount of times I’ve gotten pissed at a gig and then looked over my notes the next day hungover in bed, thinking why the fuck did I write that? It’s just all in caps ‘YEAH SICK BAND’. Yeah, I usually have just one pint, maybe just water. So the protocol is, I get on my bike and cycle to wherever the venue is. ‘Hi I’m Amy Grace, I write for tap the feed’ and then I’m on the guestlist, which is really fun. That novelty hasn’t worn off yet. If I know the venue quite well, I’ll take my notebook with me and sit and write some stuff down if it’s somewhere like rough trade or the Old England. It also depends on lighting as well, if it’s bad I write notes on my phone. I structure it: first support, second support, main and then anything in between like their presence and on stage relationship with each other and the crowd as well. I usually like to mention things like that especially if the crowd does some heckling I think that’s really funny to put in. I type the notes up, research some of the songs, listen to the songs back to try and put myself back there and then in a few hours, its done.
Do you think your fine art studies have influenced your writing practice at all?
Oh yeah totally. Had I not done Fine Art, I would have never gone down this path. A lot my artwork itself is surrounded by text and wordplay and awkward slippages in conversation. A lot my practice is surrounding that type of thing. Through that I discovered my enjoyment of writing. There’s this part of the course which you could sign up for, where you could write a 3000 word essay about your practice. I did this 25 page epic about Lasagna and Only Fools and Horses, I was really interested in pop culture and kitsch iconography as well as, working class subcultures. The music writing now has definitely influenced my work and vice versa. I do a lot of performance stuff and spoken word, so it just came naturally that writing would be the next progression.
Compared to some other cities in the UK, Bristol seems to be really saturated with creatives. Do you think it’s a good thing? Do you think it makes it harder to get noticed? There’s a bigger network but it also maybe that means there’s more competition.
It’s a double edged sword. There are so many people surrounding you and influencing you so, yeah, there’s a vast number of creatives and so trying to get noticed and get opportunities. It can be a lot more difficult. I think if you’ve got a certain style and you’re really focused and independent you can succeed. It’s down to your attitude and work ethic too. I live with 4 other ex fine art students and we’ve all got different things going on but we always influence each other as well. We used to have group critiques in the kitchen which was really helpful so I feel as if I’ve always got really good influences around me, personally. It’s a lot harder to get noticed but equally I was brought up with the idea that if you don’t ask you don’t get. Had I not asked to get a bigger role within music writing I wouldn’t have got it. So, you can’t wait for opportunities to find you, you have to go and get them.
How has it been since graduating? What do you miss about studying?
I miss new stationary. I miss the studio space. I miss a cohort of people who are all as like minded as you are. I miss the tutors and lecturers that we used to have. I did myself a massive favour in terms of preparing myself for after I graduated, I started writing when I was studying and working here (Mokoko), so it’s not as if I graduated like ‘shit, I have no interests I have no job I don’t know what to do’. So, in that respect, I did myself a massive favour by solidifying what I wanted to do. I just really miss all of it, I miss the Arnolfini and Spike Island. I don’t miss going to Bower! That place is awful, it’s so cliquey! The canteen is nasty. I think it really helps to be present when you’re studying, I’m still in good contact with my tutors. They’re really interested in what I’m doing now. I really miss student discount too. Oh that sweet 10% off.
Interview conducted by Marta Celio, Andrew Sofianos and Emily de Aguilar
Amy Grace is a writer, critic and digital editor for the music magazine Tap the feed. Amy started as a writer for the music blog and after a few years of writing, network building and experience acquired the role of digital editor. Amy also recently graduated from the University of the West of England with a degree in Fine Art. We spoke to Amy about how she got her role, her writing process, how her fine art studies have influenced her writing work and her opinion on how Bristol operates as a creative city.