Earlier this year, I interviewed The Quietus co-founder John Doran. Soon after, I emailed the website’s other co-founder, Luke Turner, to see if he’d be up for a chat too. In addition to being a driving force behind one of the most vibrant and genuinely exciting music websites in the world, Luke is a writer. His book Out of the Woods is a “memoir about the irresistible yet double-edged potency of the forest, and the possibility of learning to find peace in the grey areas of life.” He also freelances for a variety of music publications.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
For better or worse I grew up as a devotee of the mid-to-late 90s British music press, going to the newsagents every Wednesday after school for the latest NME and Melody Maker, or to stand reading it off the shelves when I couldn’t afford to buy them. Even though music changed my life and saved me from small-town, lower middle class England, I don’t think I ever consciously wanted to be a music journalist until I went to university and quickly became disillusioned with studying literature—I felt that the critical theory that dominated the course sucked the joy from art, killing my love of reading. Writing about music, though, had no such restrictions on personal enthusiasm and creativity. I started writing for the student newspaper out of boredom but quickly realised that I loved it, and went on to be the music editor.
When I graduated I had hoped that experience would open doors, but journalism seemed like a closed shop unless you had rich parents who could afford to send you on work experience. My first job was doing data entry for a company owned by Jeremy Hunt, a gurning fool who later went on to be a senior UK Conservative politician and health secretary. It was a terrible time—cleaning the indescribable wrongness of the toilets at my all-boys state school had been a more rewarding job than working long hours spreadsheets for a pittance and I started writing about music again, largely out of frustration. I had very little confidence so I was just doing it for small websites, but I guess that’s where my writing started to improve. I was (and still am) terrified of pitching, and had one knock-back from a very respected editor that I can still remember by heart that absolutely flattened my confidence for a very long time—I have always made sure never ever to do something so toxic myself.