Jennifer Lucy Allan is a writer and broadcaster. She’s currently a freelance writer for The Quietus, The Wire, and The Guardian, among other places, as well as one of the hosts of BBC Radio 3's Late Junction. Her first book, The Foghorn's Lament, was released in 2021. She’s currently working on a second, due out in 2024.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I don't remember growing up with any grand ambitions or a burning desire to write. What I do remember was a feeling that I only got from music—a dropping away of the world around me. I have been chasing this ever since, and it's still what drives me. I also love knowing about stuff; learning things. The timeline of how I ended up where I am is blurry, and I've written freelance for various places in and around everything that follows, but it has always been about underground/experimental/avant-garde music for me. I began as the de facto "experimental"—which at that time meant electronica—reviewer for a thankfully now defunct website called Angry Ape based in Manchester (not my last job for a site with a zoological name, unfortunately). I can't remember who ran it, how I ended up writing for them, and I never met anyone there either. I covered promos from JagJaguwar, City Centre Offices, Kranky, labels like that. This would have been around 2004 I guess.
I went to university in Sheffield to study philosophy, and carried on contributing, then began writing for university newspaper The Steel Press. Ben Beaumont-Thomas (now music editor of The Guardian) was the editor a year or two ahead of me, and I took over from him along with a couple of others. We walked straight into nu-rave, The Klaxons, Justice and all that. It felt like I saw Erol Alkan every week. I probably wrote a lot of tripe, I can't remember much of it and I hope nobody else can either. Most of it was probably woefully uninformed. I worked Christmases at Borders bookshop and in the summer of my second year I did three work placements. I went to The Stool Pigeon, The Wire, and for some unknown reason, perhaps with some notion of keeping my options open, Reveal—a pink-top gossip rag.