John Doran is the co-founder and editor of The Quietus, one of the most essential music magazines in the world. I say essential because they cover things that few others do, and they cover it in a way that no one else does. This is a special interview, as John provided a funny, critical, and extremely personal 8k+ words in response to my questions. I'm very grateful that he took the time and energy to put all of it down.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I became a music writer at the age of 32 and an editor at 35. I drifted into both jobs. In grossly oversimplified terms it went like this: I can remember writing about music three times prior to turning 32. Once for the Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme (an essay about Brian Eno), one summer spent as the sole writer on a northern fanzine called The Scene and then one band interview for my student newspaper before getting kicked off my course and my life going south for several years due to chronic alcoholism, mental health problems, homelessness and so on.
I don’t think I really wanted to write about music back then. I sort of liked the idea of hanging out with musicians and getting into gigs for free, and being unable to afford an instrument and not being short of opinions on whatever I heard, I had a few cursory, dilettantish stabs at it but I didn’t feel any kind of affinity or aptitude for it. Certainly when I hear peers talking about obsessively watching and logging Top Of The Pops, or making detailed notes during the Sunday chart run down on Radio 1 or producing rudimentary DIY music magazines as kids, it’s clear theirs was a very different experience to mine. I actually produced a lot of DIY magazines as a school kid but, if memory serves, none were about music; they were solely about Smurfs, Dr Who and the travails of being involved in espionage.