The Masthead

2021 was the year things were supposed to start getting back to normal, but we are learning that normal is not there any more. Gigs are planned as vaccines are rolling out across Europe, but as Jeroen van den Bogert of booking agent BLiP notes in his Global Ear piece, new virus variants are causing profound uncertainty, and any event might be subject to change at any moment. The Akamu organisation explain in their own piece how the narrow windows of opportunity forced by Covid-19 mean that visa bureaucracy for musicians entering or leaving the UK has to be sorted more quickly. If complex arrangements are being made in small timeframes, we might reasonably worry that opportunities and fair working relationships are undermined.

Meanwhile, livestreaming online gigs, one of the few bright spots in this dark time, remain under threat of levies from the UK’s collection society PRS For Music if they make more than £500 (not so much for larger ensembles). There are also potential charges on the horizon for British artists moving their merchandise and equipment across borders, which might restrict one of the key revenue streams of independent artists (as anyone who’s worked a merch table can tell you).

Here are some of the ideas and responses in the air with booking agents as they try to get their artists moving: limited tours taking place along travel corridors and in transnational bubbles; groups, especially outside the EU, focusing on gigging locally for the present time; musicians who make any kind of dance music changing direction so that they might be more suited to gigs in seated venues. As Fielding Hope, Stewart Smith and Mariam Rezaei stated in a co-written piece “Solidarity Beyond Borders” for The Quietus, it’s more important than ever that local interests do not undermine the solidarity that has always been part of the ethos of the international music underground.

Me, I’m starting to miss and worry for those live music experiences of fortuitous encounters,

overheard snatches of conversation, and music unexpectedly forcing its way into your consciousness, that are so vividly remembered by Maggie Nicols in her discussion of the 1960s Soho entertainment scene of her childhood and youth. It makes me value all the more the brief chats I’ve had recently on doorsteps with our photographers when cycling envelopes of pictures to and fro while putting together this issue. As I said to them, as a listener and as a culture, I think we’re missing those catalytic moments that live music can bring, where an artist has to come up with a new way of presenting their music or a fresh angle on their work. Those brainwaves, stunts, gambles and concepts give a way to mark time, to elicit responses, to feel dialogues emerging and measure cultural temperature. Live streams of gigs are becoming better by the moment – in this month’s On Location, Robert Barry reviews an extraordinary Morton Feldman programme by Apartment House at London’s Wigmore Hall that was almost better than being there – but a lack of shared context and a diffuse electronic footprint for online events make it hard for narratives and serendipitous encounters to emerge.

How do you manufacture those collisions and encounters at home, often alone, in online spaces that are segmented by our own personal timelines and search terms? Through trial and error, I’ve come up with my own ways. When faced with a virtual pile of music to listen to, I try and start with what I would usually choose last, to take my own tastes out of the equation. I find likeminded souls who share interests on social media or Bandcamp, and try and find out what they know that I don’t. I gamble on a label and attempt to check out everything they do, so as to manufacture an unmediated encounter with the music and not just listen through a familiar lens. Deep in the middle of it all, you find a connection or a coincidence that seems to show you are on an interesting track. And meanwhile, I wait and hope for change. Derek Walmsley


News stands

UK, Europe & Rest of World (excl USA) Seymour Distribution 2 East Poultry Avenue London EC1A 9PT Tel +44 (0)20 7429 4000 UK Export

USA ANC Tel 1-866-466-7231


Worldwide Central Books (Magazine Dept) 50 Freshwater Road, Chadwell Heath, London RM8 1RX Tel +44 (0)20 8986 4854

Independent record shops

UK Shellshock 10 The Hub, St Marys House, Duke Street, Norwich NR3 1QA Tel +44 (0)1603 626221

USA Forced Exposure 219 Medford St Malden, MA 02148-7301 Fax 781 321 0321

Rest of World Contact The Wire direct Tel +44 (0)20 7422 5022 Fax +44 (0)20 7422 5011

4 | The Wire | Masthead


Print Subscription

12 issues UK £56 Europe £80 Rest of World (Air) £94

Digital Subscription

12 months Worldwide £36

See page 96 for details, or go to

The Wire is published 12 times a year by The Wire Magazine Ltd. Printed in the UK by Walstead Bicester.

The Wire was founded in 1982 by Anthony Wood. Between 1984–2000 it was part of Naim Attallah’s Namara Group. In December 2000 it was purchased in a workers’ buy-out by the magazine’s then current staff. It continues to publish as a 100 per cent independent operation.

The views expressed in The Wire are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. The Wire assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations or promotional items. Copyright in the UK and abroad is held by the publisher or by freelance contributors. Unauthorised reproduction of any item is forbidden.

Issue 445 March 2021 £5.95 ISSN 0952-0686

The Wire William Pitt Room, New Wing, Somerset House, West Service Yard, London WC2R 1LA, UK Tel +44 (0)20 7422 5010, fax +44 (0)20 7422 5011 @thewiremagazine Subscriptions Events listings

Publisher Tony Herrington Editor-in-Chief Chris Bohn

Editor Derek Walmsley Deputy Editors Emily Bick Joseph Stannard

Advertising & Licensing Manager Shane Woolman Advertising Sales & Media Partnerships Astrud Steehouder Advertising Sales James Gormley

Online Content Editor Meg Woof

Listings & Newsletter Editor Phil England

Subscriptions & online shop

Art Direction Ben Weaver Design Gareth Lindsay Ben Greehy Photo Editor Amy Gwatkin

Subscriptions & Systems Consultant Ben House Online Development Dorian Fraser Moore

Archivist Edwin Pouncey

Contributing Editors Anne Hilde Neset, Rob Young

Words Jennifer Lucy Allan, Steve Barker, Mike Barnes, Dan Barrow, Robert Barry, Tristan Bath, Clive Bell, Abi Bliss, Britt Brown, Philip Clark, Byron Coley, Lara C Cory, Julian Cowley, Raymond Cummings, Laina Dawes, Geeta Dayal, Katrina Dixon, Phil England, Josh Feola, Phil Freeman, Francis Gooding, Kurt Gottschalk, Louise Gray, James Hadfield, Andy Hamilton, Adam Harper, Jim Haynes, Ken Hollings, Maya Kalev, Kek-W, Biba Kopf, Matt Krefting, Neil Kulkarni, Sam Lefebvre, Dave Mandl, Howard Mandel, Marc Masters, Noel Meek, Bill Meyer, Frances Morgan, John Morrison, Brian Morton, Joe Muggs, Daniel Neofetou, Louis Pattison, Emily Pothast, Edwin Pouncey, Chal Ravens, Tony Rettman, Simon Reynolds, Bruce Russell, Sukhdev Sandhu, Claire Sawers, Dave Segal, Stewart Smith, Daniel Spicer, Richard Stacey, Greg Tate, Richard Thomas, Dave Tompkins, David Toop, Rob Turner, Zakia Uddin, Val Wilmer

Images Sofie Kjørum Austlid, Andile Buka, Dana Boulos, J Fisher, Gabriel Green, Alexis Gross, Go Itami, DeLovie Kwagala, Kamila Lozinska, Da’Shaunae Marisa, Daphne Oude Geerdink, Savage Pencil, Max Pinckers, Gerard Rouy, Clare Shilland, Donavon Smallwood, Sophie Stafford, Stephen Tayo, Kai von Rabenau, Val Wilmer