Forthcoming book chapter on anarcho -punk fanzines and their transfer to the digital age.

I have recently completed and submitted a co-authored book chapter on anarcho-punk fanzines with my colleague and PhD advisor Prof Tim Wall. The chapter is for a forthcoming book Punk, Politics and Resistance: Fight Back edited by Matt Worley from Reading University.

 

 

Punk Fanzines– ‘symbols of defiance’ from the print to the digital age

 

In September 2011 I presented a paper on punk fanzines, and their migration from print to the online environment, at The Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change Conference hosted by London Metropolitan University. After the conference Matt Worley of Reading University, who hosted the punk panel at the conference, approached me and a number of other academics, who presented punk based research at the conference, with a proposal to get our work published in a book. Over the past year or so Matt has secured a publishing deal with Manchester University Press for a forthcoming book called Punk, Politics and Resistance

 

I decided that after my chapter on punk documentaries didn’t quite make the final print of Ben Halligan’s book “Sights and Sounds: Interrogating the Music Documentary”, and as an early career researcher with little publication experience, I would enlist the help of fellow research colleague and head of our centre for research Tim Wall to co-author the chapter as he has much experience in getting articles and chapters published. I also  recognised that Tim would not only bring a wealth of experience but also a c corpus of knowledge around popular music culture and the digital age from his work on Jazz in the digital age and other research projects he has been and is involved in.  We have recently had confirmation from Matt Worley that the chapter will make the publication and Tim and I are in the final stages of making some minor alterations based on comments from the editor and peer reviewers.

 

The chapter is titled “Punk ‘zines – ‘symbols of defiance’ from the print to the digital age”

 and as I mentioned at the beginning of this post is based around an exploration of the development of punk fanzines from the late 1970s to the present, exploring the role of these music fan-produced publications in giving meaning to the experience of a music community. Our aim was to consider and analyse the fanzine as a discursive practice.  In doing so we set out to encompass the usual emphasis on fanzines as channels of communication and symbols of wider punk practices, but to ensure we recognised that it was the fanzine which was one of the key ways in which punk and anarcho-punk was made meaningful. In doing so we argued that

·        fanzines became one of punk’s many ‘symbols of defiance’, not just in the way that they visually and verbally represented punk’s DIY ethos and activism, but also in the way they embodied the labour of ‘fan-eds’ as organic intellectuals undertaking ideological work in which discourses of defiance and opposition are constructed, signified and reinforced.

To enable this we focussed on two particular instances of the punk ‘zine; two moments in which the specific meanings of specific fanzines could be explored in a little greater detail than those offered in the grander narratives of the punk fanzine. In the first instance we conducted a case study of one early 1980s anarcho-punk fanzine and examined the way that such publications operated at the intersection of political activism and DIY music criticism, constructing idealised notions of music, politics and community against which the actual activity within local punk scenes were judged.  

 This for me was particularly interesting and nostalgic as I referred to copies of anarcho-punk fanzines from my personal collection from over 30 years ago. Many of these such as ‘Acts of Defiance’, which formed the basis of our case study, ‘Mucilage’ , ‘Guilty of What’ and ‘Necrology’? I hadn’t looked through for at least 20+ years. Without getting too nostalgic the experience brought back many fond memories from my youth and also made me consider how those fanzines informed and developed my own political position. More interestingly it also made be consider and reassess how those politics now inform my life as it could be argued that being in academia is being part of the ‘system’ that I was very much rallying against in my youth.

Anyway I digress so back to the chapter. In the second instance we examined the idea of the punk ‘zine as used in contemporary websites with a focus on punk from the 70s or 80s, or music or artists that continue its ethos and/or sound.

 Without giving too much away, as we would like you too read the chapter when the book is published, we argued  that simply focusing on the characteristic visual deign of the print fanzine limits our understanding of its cultural role and the position of its ‘fan-ed’ cultural agents. This important point also allows us to understand the extent to which webzines replicate the discursive practices of the print fanzine. Overall, while many web sites or blogs may include visual references to fanzines, and may even use the term in their titles or primary banners, they do not include the sorts of editorial organisation, the cultural practices or the discursive constructions of identity and opposition which characterised print fanzines.

 

I am really pleased with the chapter and really enjoyed the experience of co-authoring, the support it enables and the different perspectives that another author can bring to the ‘mix’. This work on examining anarcho-punk fanzines has led to me developing some of those core ideas further for another chapter called “From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk fanzines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance”, which will appear in a seminal book on anarcho-punk called “The Aesthetic of Our Anger: Anarcho-Punk, Politics and Music, 1979-84” co edited by Mike Dines and Matt Worley due for publication by Autonomedia In early 2015.

 

Trip to Eurosonic Noorderslag2012 Groningen

The Eurosonic Nooderslag Music Festival takes place in the northeastern town of Groningen in The Netherlands in the second week of January. The festival is Europe’s main conference and showcase festival for European music which was set up  to create an international platform for the European music industry and to promote the European repertoire. The festival is a combination of a music industry based conference during the daytime, consisting of various talks, demonstrations and chaired panels from music industry and related experts/businesses, and musical events showcasing as many as 250 musical acts from a variety of musical genres and European countries, in numerous venues around Groningen.   During my time there i saw some really good music in some really varied venues from purpose built concert halls, outdoor stages to even a small independent art gallery (of which I will return to later). My overall impression of the festival was that it was very industry focused (which sounds obvious considering the nature of the event), by that I mean it was a place for music based businesses and performers to meet and network. There were some really interesting panels discussing recent developments in the industry from such people as Will Page (Spotify) and Jeff Price (AAIM). There was a daily workshop on an education exchange programme called Musication  which unfortunately we couldnt attend as it was invite only. This workshop looked at building a network between 30 professionals in charge of educative activities in modern music where they would develop a teaching toolkit and exchange programme. This seemed focussed on the musicological and composition performance aspect of music and was probably the only panel that had a direct interface with education. Many of the other panels and presentations were quite tech-based or very music industry/business focussed, none the less there was some interesting insights into the developments within the industry regarding, streaming, ticketing, touring, festivals and streaming live, health and safety. There were also many panels that were Dutch speaking only which due to my poor knowledge of Dutch were out of my remit. What I did find out was that a lot of students from many colleges and the University in Groningen play an active part in the festival by getting placements working with professional stage managers/directors/techies on the various stages/venues, working as part of the production office team, marketing and promotions team etc etc thereby giving them real industry experience.

What I found fascinating and impressive was that a city the size of Groningen, with a population of around 190,000; could successfully accommodate the festival. It seemed apparent that there was a lot of local support from the municipal council and other public bodies in ensuring that the city retained this festival and made it integral to its economic and strategic planning. The local population were seemingly very accommodating and no doubt could appreciate what it does/might do for the local economy. Here was a really good example of commercial enterprises and public authorities working symbiotically for mutual benefit. In conversations with Jez Collins we both considered why a city like Birmingham, with a population 10 times that of Groningen has not managed to attract a major international music industry conference/festival like Eurosonic to take place in the city centre, rather than way out of town at the NEC. Organisations like Capsule have successfully put on similar small scale festivals such as Supersonic, which has gained a phenomenal international reputation, but I am left wondering how much Birmingham City Council (BCC) have been behind them, supporting their events to the point where it becomes part of BCC’s economic and strategic planning policy to put Birmingham on the international musical map. Only BCC can answer that but in my 8 years of working in Birmingham I have been to many meetings to discuss such issues and try to create a music policy for Birmingham and haven’t seen it happen yet. Perhaps BCC need to send a representative next year to get a flavour of Eurosonic as these types of events are really useful in supporting and indeed developing cities as sites for music, music heritage, music industries and music education.

One of the most interesting meetings I had was with theIMMHIVE project partners where I caught up with more inside knowledge of the project and current progress as it reaches the climax of its final year. One of the attendees was Jan Peer who is the Course Director for the undergraduate International Pop Culture bachelor degree at Hanze Minerva Art Academy, located in Leeuwarden. Jez has/will be posting up the video Jans discussion with the project group up on this blog however is my summary of what interested me about his course. The course has been running for 10 years and is focussed around the idea that popular culture is reflected in many disciplines and many pop culture artefacts /products are a combination of many art/media/cultural forms. With this in mind the course is about students developing a new skill set that combines music with art and culture. It is a 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree programme that combines 2 degrees-a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Design. The course has approximately 240 students (60 per year group) so compared to our Media and Communication programme (600 students) it is very small but this course has to be as I will explain later. The academy understands that most students on graduation start as or become freelancers and the academy is developing students to work both inside and outside the mainstream music industries, where music and the creative industries interface.

Interestingly there is no fixed curriculum, at the beginning of the first year students have to create a learning programme of their own based around what they want to create whilst at the academy. What they are presenting is an environment where the learning is negotiated by the students so it is self determined-a bit like post grad style teaching and learning at undergraduate level. This is where the small course numbers becomes important; the students are put into working groups based on the similarity of things they want to produce or skill sets that can be shared as benefit to all in the group-it was stressed that the group dynamic is very important and staff spend a lot of time before the start of the course that the students are well placed in a group as peer collaboration and peer teaching/learning plays a central role in the teaching and learning culture in the academy . All students get a 20 minute lecture twice a day from different lecturers who bring to the course a specific set of skills and knowledge that they share and then the students go off in their groups to work on their projects. This sense of freedom helps in developing the students sense of personal responsibility to their own learning. Every 10 weeks there is an interview between group lecturer/mentor and each student in their group to check on student progress and to evaluate and assess the students progress, work to date and their learning goals. At this point each student has to produce a critical evaluation of their progress, learning and development and then extra tuition, resources etc are achieved through negotiation.

The development of students as creative entrepreneurs resonates with some of what we
do in the Birmingham School of Media but not as advanced or flexible as the academys approach. I think having smaller numbers certainly helps manage such a course and would be difficult to replicate across our Media and Communication course at Birmingham City University where we have 600 students on the programme each taking a specialist pathway. Jan has kindly invited me and Jez to come and spend some time at the academy and contribute some of our knowledge in an academic exchange programme. There was also the suggestion that we should take a few of our students with us to experience this method of teaching and learning as the academy also offers a student exchange programme. Visiting and experiencing the academys philosophy and environment will be beneficial as we would be able to see how it works, get to speak to some of the other staff and students and see how we can potentially combine some of their methods and philosophies into our teaching and learning practice. It was very inspiring meeting Jan and we experienced firsthand some of his students work later that day/evening at the Sign Gallery where they were performing and exhibiting at a show called Soep (Dutch for Soup) where quite believably we got served free soup whilst we walked around and looked at the art and listened to the bands. It was great seeing the fruits of the students hard work during their studies at the academy. The next day they also held a Dayparty where they had live music and this time free beer. What I liked about it was that I got to hang out with the cool kids of Groningen, heard some great music and saw some really interesting art.

Despite Eurosonic being a festival by the industry for the industry it was still a very informative and enjoyable experience and I look forward to returning to Groningen to meet Jan Peer, Ard Boer and the whole bunch of lovely new friends I made whilst out there.

Revisiting my PhD Research

Next week the Birmingham School of Media (BSM) is having its biannual round of IPR’s or sometimes known as job appraisal reviews. As our research center is so closely tied in with the collegiate environment at BSM as part of the IPR we, as both staff and researchers, also get to discuss our Personal Research Plans for the coming twelve months. Without going into too much detail, what could be seen as an arduous task of form filling has infact been a useful activity for me. After spending the late part of the summer preparing for conferences and writing a book chapter (for a forthcoming publication) my research has to some degree has taken a side (not back) seat and progress has been slow.

By having to fill out the paperwork it has made me re-focus on what I have achieved so far, which I am really pleased with, and what I want and need to achieve in the coming 12 months. By this time next year I want to have expanded on the book chapter I am currently writing, and combined with my developing literature review, produce a substantial piece of work that will allow me to submit as part of my MPhil to allow for transfer to the PhD stage.

Along with this I want to be able to produce and submit a journal article and present at 2 conferences. I have also been approached by the organisers of the subcultures conference I presented at in September to contribute a chapter to a proposed  book about punk.

So as always business as usual-no sleep til bedtime!

 

 

Steve Ignorant discusses the emotion of performing the final gig of his The Last Supper Tour

Here is a link to Steve Ignorant’s (Crass) blog discussing his recent final performance of The Last Supper tour. Really honest and insightful piece of writing. I had the pleasure of seeing this tour in Sep2010 when he came to Birmingham. Seems so long ago. Gutted that I missed the final show as he was joined on stage by friends and former Crass members Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine.

http://steveignorant.co.uk/2011/11/shepherds-bush-part-1-19th-november-2011/

Documenting, interpreting and presenting intangible music cultures in public exhibitions and online

Here is a link to a presentation that Rob Horrocks, a colleague of mine from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research gave at Home Of Metal: Heavy Metal and Place conference, Light House, Wolverhampton, 3rd September 2011

 

http://popularmusichistorysowhat.posterous.com/documenting-interpreting-and-p…

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Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change-A cross disciplinary symposium

Thursday 15th/Friday 16th September I attended a conference about subcultures and subcultural studies at London Metropolitan University. I was presenting on a panel chaired by Pete Webb from Goldsmiths college, I am a big fan of his academic work especially around Bristol music making/Massive Attack/Smith and Mighty et al and Nick Cave. I still use his work on Bristol music milieu as one of my core texts in my Popular Music Culture module when discussing ideas about how global music influences local music making practices and then is uniquely developed and re-positioned back into the global music milieu. Great to have finally met him and looking forward to some future meetings and discussions with him. Anyway I digress. On the panel were 2 of my colleagues from the BCMCR Andrew Dubber who did a presentation on his ‘Monkey On The Roof’ project and Jez Collins who talked about Hip Hop as a force for social change in Colombia’s favellas, particularly in Medellin.

Keynote speakers were Dick Hebdige-writer of seminal book ‘Subculture:The Meaning of Style’ who did an interesting talk on punk rock, his time running a clubnight called Shoop in Birmingham in the late 70’s early 80’s, Japanese a popular art/manga and living out in the Mojave Desert.

Day 2 saw an excellent and at times moving keynote speech from David Hesmondhalgh about how music makes our lives better, improves our well being and that there is not enough love in the world. Clearly demonstrated by his use of Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ always a winner in my book.

It was an excellent conference and very diverse covering many areas of subcultural studies with presenters from research  areas such as criminology, philosophy, theology and more. Highlights for me included:

  • ·         The keynote speeches
  • ·         Paul Hodkinson presentation on ageing goth’s and goth  subculture
  • ·         Michelle Liptrot  from Bolton Uni on DIY punk as Resistance
  • ·         Dr Herbert Pimlott with a really interesting talk on music ephemera , cultural memeory and work around Raymond Williams and ‘structure of feeling’. Very useful for my work around histories/the canon and popular memory.
  • ·         Alex Ogg-DIY and Independence. Development of Independent record labels in the post-punk era. Wanted to have a chat with him but unfortunately had to run for the train.
  • ·         Jonathan Llan from the University of Kent-the criminality and commercialization of UK Grime music.
  • Melanie Schroeter. University of Reading. Discourse analysis of the lyrics of punk band Golden Lemon
  • ·         Andrew Bengry-Howell from University of Bath. Interesting presentation on Criminal Justice Act and the free festival/free party scene

 

I presented a paper on anarcho-punk fanzines which was a further development of the research I had done with Rob Horrocks that we presented at Oxford Brookes earlier in the year.  I have included the paper here on the blog without the powerpoint as the powerpoint kept freezing the blog page. It is available on request however.

 

Subcultures_Conference_Presentation.docx
Download this file

 

Also my colleague Andrew Dubber has blogged his thoughts on the conference, with accompanying photos/ videos etc- you can get it here:

http://andrewdubber.com/2011/09/subcultures-popular-music-and-social-change/

 

Has it really been a year!!

Well it’s been a while since my last post on this blog, in fact looking at the date it has been a year-how rubbish is that!! I could use the excuse of my teaching, family life, research etc taking up most of my time, which to be fair it does, but others manage to blog between all the other things going on in their life but apparently not so successful me!. Anyway looking to the positive here is a quick résumé of the previous year:

  • ·         Worked really hard towards the end of last year to get my PhD registration completed. It was a tougher task than I imagined-however the response from my supervisor (who commented on it as being exemplary) was positive and it needed very few amendments before submitting. I attended the University’s research committee panel to defend my application and they also commented on its clear and precise structure thus giving it approval for funded research! So now it is official I am on route towards a PhD. Firstly however I have to complete the MPhil stage and transfer to PhD status-more about this later!
  • ·         Have been slowly developing my literature review focusing on canonization in popular music and punk historiographies. In this research I have come across some interesting papers, books and websites- particularly Rich Cross’ blog for his forthcoming book on Crass and the anarcho-punk movement from 1977-1984 ‘The Hippies Now Wear Black’ Highly recommended and very informative. http://thehippiesnowwearblack.wordpress.com

 

  • ·         Attended a conference in April of this year called Shifting Ground II: A Symposium on Music and Publishing. Oxford Brookes University.  Me and a colleague Rob Horrocks, from our research centre http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/-centres-of-excellence/centre-for-media-and-culture-studies  and  http://interactivecultures.org/  , co-presented a paper on fanzines called Music Webzines: Acts of Defiance in a Digital Age? It was investigating whether the discourses of the print versions of fanzines are still apparent in contemporary online incarnations. We looked at some old anarcho-punk fanzines and indie fanzines, looked at the discursive constructs within them as arbiters of taste, authenticity and disseminators the scenes ideologies and then compared them to contemporary punk and indie webzines to see if the same discourses were present-to cut a long explanation short they were not entirely for various reasons which I will allude to later in this blog.
  • ·         I chaired a panel on  a Music Industry symposium in Birmingham called ‘Stream or Sell’ which was about how artists are making a living in the age of digital distribution, streaming audio and file sharing. Very interesting discussions but not much forward progress made in terms of whether an artist should sell their music or give it away for free as a marketing strategy to make money in other areas such as live performance and merch. Guest speakers included Matt Parsons from Ditto Music and David Adams from Soundcloud
  • ·         Finished writing and submitting a chapter that I co wrote with Siobhan Mullen, a colleague of mine from the research centre, for a forthcoming  book called ‘Radio and Society’ edited by Matt Mollgaard from Auckland University of Technology. Book comes out sometime this side of Christmas 2011. I was really pleased that at this early stage of my research career I have already had something published. The piece I co –wrote was about Radio for social inclusion-my contribution was about work I had conducted with the Gypsy/traveler community using simple radio production techniques as a tool for development to enable this particular group to produce their own media and counter point some of the negative press around the Gypsy/traveler communities in the mainstream press. Siobhan’s contribution was about Prison radio also as a tool for development and social inclusion. Although it has nothing to do with my current research it is something I have been involved in and remains a personal interest to me and has given me the opportunity to get some work published. 
  • ·         You may remember way back last year I presented a paper at a Music documentaries conference hosted by the University of Salford. http://mattgrimes.posterous.com/sights-and-sounds-conference-presentation-vid  There was talk of a book coming from the various presentations at the conference-which has now become a reality. I am currently re-working my presentation into an academic chapter for the book which is being published in 2012/13 (date yet to be set). I am really excited about this because it is linked to my research/PhD and is set to become a seminal academic text on the Music Documentary. I have a very tight deadline to meet so am stressing about it a bit but it should be OK-just means lots of late nights writing.
  • ·         Had my first annual research centre progress interview last week.  It went well, apart from the usual gripes about not having enough time to balance life/work/research commitments. Some productive and encouraging conversations though and the panel and I have set and agreed  a few deadlines including me completing the MPhil stage in 12 months time ready to transfer to PhD.

So as you can see all in all a very productive and busy year just a bit rubbish about live blogging it.

Steve Ignorant (Crass) and The Last Supper

 

Steve-ignorant-2010-tour-a5-flyerfront

On Saturday 25th September I went to see Steve Ignorant (ex singer/songwriter of Crass, Schwarzenegger and The Stratford Mercenaries) at the 02 Academy in Birmingham. This date was one of many on a tour that sees Steve perform (for the very last time) a collection of Crass songs that either he wrote or co-wrote.  Nostalgia is a strange beast and where there was to some degree a hidden expectation of this tour re-kindling the atmosphere and zeitgeist of the early days of Crass and anarcho-punk it felt odd watching a combination of both young and old (old enough to have been there the first time round) punks singing and pogoing to perhaps something past it’s sell by date.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying as Steve and his band put on a fantastic, visceral and passionate performance that left me in no doubt that he still has it in him. I think what I am trying to say here is that the power, the energy and the edginess of those songs has now been lost in translation through time. When Crass first came onto the music scene, and gave punk a real sense of purpose, their whole approach to music and politics was a rallying call to a whole generation of young people dissatisfied with and discarded by mainstream society overseen by a megalomaniac government that had no time for anyone that disagreed with them.

Crass were a real challenge to society’s accepted practices and with that engendered a lot of media and political attention. My memories of their gigs were ones of both beauty (passionate angry pleading lyrics, libertarian and liberating politics and commitment from a group of performers not interested in playing for profit) and the dark underlying tension (anger and the risk of skinheads and other groups of people storming and trashing not only the gig but the audience and band as well).

The times we are living in today are not that dissimilar to when Crass first started performing (war, high unemployment, disaffected youth) but that sense of coming together to challenge our ‘lot’ has been diluted. Hence the reason that, despite Steve Ignorant’s excellent performance, it seemed to be lacking in power and meaning.

I was hoping to get to speak to Steve after the gig about my research but, obviously not being the best time, didn’t even manage to get backstage to arrange a later date that I could go and speak to him. I did however get a copy of his book ‘The Rest Is Propaganda’ which I look forward to reading soon and I am going to endeavour to speak to him at a later date.

I did however, amongst the loudness of the gig, get chatting to a few old punks that said they would be happy to be interviewed at some point in the future-so all not lost!

Yesterday I also came across an interview Steve gave just before the beginning of this tour to Near FM an Eire community radio station. It gives some insight into some of the myths around Crass but also Steve’s rationale for touring this material. I have edited the musical interludes out but here is the link to the full interview.

http://steveignorant.co.uk/2010/09/radio-interview-from-near-fm/

Here is the edited version

Steve_Ignorant_Near_FM_2010-09-22_Edited.mp3

And here are a few photos i took at the gig on my phone (so not brilliant)

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UB40 Symposium

A colleague of mine Dr Paul Long, from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, is organising a symposium on and around the Birmingham band UB40 in association with Birmingham Popular Music Archive. This is in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the release of UB40’s album “Signing Off”
Although UB40 were not a punk band it would be fair to say that they came from the same era of Thatcherism, high unemployment and social division. Their lyrics at times reflected the same anger and frustration of those of the British punk scene so they deserve a mention here.
The symposium will take place on March 18th 2011 at Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University.
For further details follow this link:

POPULAR MUSIC FANDOM: A ONE DAY SYMPOSIUM

On Friday 25th June I attended a one day symposium on Popular Music Fandom. The symposium was at the University of Chester and organised by Mark Duffett from the School of Media at Chester. As I will be conducting some research around  fans as part of my PhD research I thought it would be useful to attend along with some of my colleagues from The Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Studies Prof Tim Wall, Rob Horrocks and  Nacho Gallego Pérez a visiting researcher from Madrid who has recently joined the centre for research.

 

The keynote presentation was from Matt Hills from Cardiff University who is one of the UK’s key thinkers in Fan Culture and Fan studies. I had worked with Matt in the past as part of a research team that conducted some research about audience/fan online interaction with the BBC Radio websites as part of a Knowledge Transfer Project.  Matt’s presentation was around considering new ways of looking at and researching fan culture based on three ideas of post-popular music, mnemic communities and intermediary fandoms. What I particularly liked was the area of mnemic communities drawing on the work of Bollas (1993) and how music has personal and/or community memory stored within it. He also touched on the idea of whether those memories are imagined and /or a community narrative. I thought this would be very useful to my research as my object of study centres around cultural/popular memory.

 

Mark  Duffett delivered an interesting paper on moving towards a new vocabulary of fan theory in researching and investigating fandom. He laid out a 9 step vocabulary model which due to my deep interest in what he was saying I failed to make any notes-doh!! I am hoping he will e-mail me his PowerPoint slideshow and if so I will comeback to discussing his ideas on a future blog. What was great about these two presentations was the fact that I am new to fan studies and it seems that I am at a point of entry where the ways of thinking about fandom are taking a new turn and I am getting current and future ideas from two of the leading UK researchers and commentators in the field.

 

Alexei Michailowsky from the University of Rio De Janeiro delivered an interesting paper about when the researcher is a fan and methodological points in carrying out research into your favourite artist. This was based on his experiences into researching Brazilian musician Marcos Valle. This brought up some useful strategies for me regarding my own research as a fan of British anarcho-punk.

 

I also met two very interesting people John Harries and Lisa Busby from a band called Sleeps in Oysters who have released music on Seed Records. John had attended to present a paper on David Bowie: A Case Study of the Established Artist as Fan and ‘Musical Conscience’ for the Mainstream which I unfortunately missed because it clashed with another presentation about Northern Soul from Dr Nicola Smith from UWI Cardiff which was really interesting and informative.  Lisa is not only a musician but also an academic who teaches music at Oxford Brookes University. We had some interesting conversations about their band and performing their music live and also the revival of the audio cassette (which was a topic in my previous blog posting) and interesting ways to package and market music in the digital age which is something that they and Seed Records really like to explore and develop.

 

We also talked about her course and she has said that there may be an opportunity to talk to her students about marketing, PR and promotion of music and musicians. She discussed a future conference she is organising and said that there would be an opportunity for me to present at it which will be a great opportunity.

 

A real coup of the day was meeting a fellow punk Michelle Liptrot from the University of Bolton. She is in the final stages of her PhD research into the longevity of anarcho-punk and hardcore. She hopes to submit in November but from our discussions we determined that some of her research and research findings would be really useful in informing my research. She has generously offered to send me a list of useful texts from her bibliography which I am really grateful for. I wish her the best of luck with the completing stages of her thesis and look forward to reading it once it’s published-if not before. We will definitely keep in touch.

 

All in all a really informative day that has given me some great ideas and very useful contacts. Thanks to Mark Duffett and his team for organising the symposium.

The Audio Cassette Makes A Comeback Thanks To Brave Or Invincible Records

On Monday 21st June I was invited along with some of my students to be interviewed for a pre-record by Paul Franks of BBC WM for his Tuesday drive time show. The basis of the interview was about a group of my current 2nd year students who aim to revive the audio cassette in the form of a release on their record label Brave or Invincible Records. The students Nick Moreton, Callum Joynes, Ryan Smith, and Chris Williams set up BOI Records last year based on some of the experiences and knowledge they gained in their 1st year Music Industries modules. They have successfully managed to combine their ongoing degree studies alongside running a business. I am really proud of their achievements and as they have gone ahead and put into practice one of the key principles I try to instil into my lectures-being actively involved in the music business and creating an exit strategy for when they complete their degree as well as demonstrating the possibilities of entrepreneurship. I as their lecturer do what ever I can to support their initiative in the way of mentoring, advice etc. With good time management skills and a commitment to work hard they have shown that it is possible to engage with the profession whilst studying. Hopefully more students will see this as a green light to do the same or similar.

 

Brave_or_Invincible_Records_on_BBC_WM_1.mp3
Listen on Posterous

What is particularly interesting about them re-inventing the audio cassette is that they have combined retro with digital and found an innovative and creative way to release music and get some media attention hence the interview and press coverage. I won’t give too much away as the interview is available to listen too. Strangely enough today (Thursday 24th June) there is an article in the Guardian G2 by Alex Petridis about how the audio cassette made him “love music more” and harkens back to the time of creating mixtapes which made you have to “work harder as a music fan” because you had to listen to the music and make judicious us of the record and pause buttons unlike today where it is a matter of drag-drop-burn.

This was exactly what Nick Moreton from BOI Records was saying in the interview about the cultural significance of the mixtape. I think Nick and the rest of the lads could be on the crest of a wave of the revival in the interest of the audio cassette-they might actually be onto something here! I wish them the best of luck with their release.

Sights and Sounds: Interrogating the Music Documentary Conference

Tim, Paul, Oliver, Sam, Rob and I went to the Sights and Sounds Conference which was held at Salford University last Thursday and Friday. I presented a paper based around my research into Anarcho-punk. I talked about the Alexander Oey film about Crass‘There is No Authority But Yourself’. The paper was around how the film could be seen as an intervention into the canons of punk history through the retrieval of memory. The Powerpoint slides can be viewed below though the embedded video may not play. The conference was also filmed so hopefully I will be able to post that up at a later date.

 

I felt , for my first academic presentation, that it went really well though i did get a bit tongue tied at one point but managed to retrieve my place in the delivery and continued. The feedback I received afterwards from the audience was really positive and encouraging. I was 1 of 3 on a punk/post punk panel, the other 2 contributors on the panel, Ailsa Grant-Turton and Erich Hertz also delivered 2 really good papers that complimented some of the issues I was addressing in my paper. I am hoping that I will find the time to finish writing the paper over the next few months and that it can be included in a forthcoming text on music documentary published on the back of this conference. The other delegates covered a broad range of subject/musical genres of which there was something interesting in all of them. Tim and Paul did an excellent presentation about Tony Palmers 1976 series ‘All you need is Love’ examining the impact of the series as a seminal documentary that established the form that most subsequent popular music documentaries have since taken. Sam and Oli also did a co-presentation examining how Sam’s audio documentary about David Bowie’s visit to New Zealand has been appropriated by fan cultures and re-versioned. The other delegates were very friendly and i made some useful contacts. I met with Mark Duffett a scholar who teaches at Chester University who’s website and blog I have been following with interest. He has done some great work on fan cultures and I am going to meet up with him later in the year to discuss my research and see how he can give me some solid insight into fan culture and cultural memory. Due to the conference programme we didn’t have much time to have an indepth conversation but I am excited at the prospect of spending more time with him to pick his brain and tease out some useful knowledge to aid my research.

 

What was really great about this conference was the opportunity to spend time with my work colleagues and I felt really proud to be part of a team that represented the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at the Birmingham School of Media in such a good light. We had the largest group from any institution present at the conference and arrived in a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ style.

 

Ben Halligan who helped organise the conference has asked my to present a paper at another conference he is organising in July titled ‘Noise, Affect, Politics’
-so I thought if I have time I would like to put a paper together about the political lyrics of bands such as Crass, Discharge, Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death and how they are mostly undecipherable in their lyrical delivery but central to their ethos and agenda.

Punk’s Underbelly.ppt
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Here are my conference presentation notes

Salford_Presentation_2.0.doc
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Ozzy Osbourne Award

As Degree Leader for Music Industries at the Birmingham School of Media, I have been thinking for a while about rewarding graduate students by giving awards to two graduating students on the specialist degree as recognition for their performance and achievement. I wanted the awards to not only have some resonance with the music industries but also have a local angle as Birmingham has a rich musical heritage. Ozzy Osbourne seemed like an obvious choice as he was born just up the road from the University where I teach, and is a global star, but I thought that it would be difficult to get him to agree-long story short I managed to contact his agent and manager (Sharon Osbourne) who put it to him and he said that he would be honoured to have his name linked to an award.
My second choice on the recommendation of a colleague, Jez Collins, was Brian Travers, founder member of UB40. Again a local and international music star who has been involved in collaborative projects with the School of Media and works with some of the students. He happily agreed aswell so now there is the Ozzy Osbourne Development award, for the student who has demonstrated the greatest degree of development over the 3 years of their degree; and the Brian Travers Achievement Award for the student with the highest degree rating at graduation.

Thsi is great news for the students concerned and great to have Ozzy and Brian linked to and supporting the Music Industries Degree at the BIrmingham School of Media.

The story was covered by the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail and is starting to get picked up by other international press.

Conference paper

I will be presenting a conference paper this coming Friday (June 4th) at the Popular Music Research Centre, Salford University for the ‘Sights and Sounds: Investigating the Music Documentary’ conference
http://www.adelphi.salford.ac.uk/adelphi/news/article/?id=62

This will be the first time I have presented a paper, set within the context of my research, at an academic conference. I was fortunate enough to present this paper in front of my colleagues at the Birmingham Centre for Media and  Cultural Research.
http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/-centres-of-excellence/centre-for-media-and-cul…
and
http://interactivecultures.org/who-we-are

I found the ‘practice’ run extremely useful and got some positive feedback from my colleagues about content and delivery. There were a few issues that needed adressing and with the kind help of my superviser, Professor Tim Wall, http://wallofsound.wordpress.com/, redrafted some parts of the presentation to make it flow better and get to the heart of some of the issues i wanted to cover.
I am hoping that one of my colleagues will film my presentation at Salford and if so i will post it up in the coming weeks.

My PhD Proposal

PhD Research Proposal.doc
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I thought I would post up my outline research proposal to give some insight  into what my research degree is about and what I will be investigating  This is a work in progress and will be re-drafted before it goes in for registration. However it gives some indication of my object of study and some of the methodologies that I will employ. I would welcome any comments or suggestions.

Welcome to my blog

Well here it is-my first blog. I have set this blog up for a few reasons. Firstly I feel that I should start communicating with people besides using e-mail. Secondly and most importantly I have set up this blog to aid me in my research. I am currently studying for a PhD where i am conducting research into British Anarcho-Punk and Cultural/Popular memory. This blog will take on many forms as a research diary and also a place for people to hopefully contribute ideas, comments, suggestions and other ephemera that will add to and aid in my research.

 

As well as my PhD i am involved in other research projects. I am awaiting the confirmation of a bid, that myself and some coleagues from Birmingham City University, for a pan-European project in using radio as a tool to explore issues around Domestic Violence (DV).

 

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/funding/daphne3/funding_daphne3_en.htm

 

The project involves working with survivors of DV in creating a set of radio spots to be broadcast on community radio stations and from this we will design and  create a DV radio production toolkit for community radio workers and organistaions involved in working with survivors of DV.