I 💙 the 90s
Jockey Slut Returns, ATCQ NFT Scams, Sonic Youth Fitness Fits
The UK has a long history of producing music mavens as beloved as the acts they champion—scene-defining characters like Tony Wilson and John Peel, who manage to exude both insider aplomb and anoracked fandom.
Johnno Burgess could be added to that list. The creator of both seminal music mag Jockey Slut and legendary club night Bugged Out, he embodies a certain late-90s / early-00s cool that is as undeniable as acts like Erol Alkan, Hot Chip and Felix da Housecat—all of whom received adamant support from Johnno and friends.
More than 25 years since birthing both of his babies, Johnno is still keeping the spirit of “Disco Pogo For Punks In Pumps” alive, running semi-regular Bugged Out events and various specialist festivals across the UK. So we decided to check in with him on the state of British events post-lockdown, and how Andrew Weatherall’s passing brought about Jockey Slut’s rebirth.
What’s the current status of events in the UK?
It's been a difficult year indeed for events and hospitality, especially for venue staff and events crew, many of whom may have fallen through the cracks in terms of financial assistance. The UK was supposed to have had all COVID restrictions removed on June 21, but it's been delayed by five weeks because of the rise of the Delta variant.
I had to cancel all three festivals I’m involved in from 2020 (Wide Awake, Mighty Hoopla and Cross The Tracks) and reschedule all my indoor club nights. We can't get COVID insurance for the festivals now either, so that's making everyone nervous. If any festival site got built and then the local authorities didn’t let them open at the last minute they would face bankruptcy, so a good number of festivals have decided to sit out another year. There may be some good news on the horizon though that if we do lose most COVID restrictions on the new ‘Freedom Day’ of July 19, the government has said that they may underwrite whichever festivals are left standing this year.
Our Bicep live show at Brixton Academy has been moved three times now. We originally re-planned our festivals for June this year, then moved into September. Now I think they've got a good chance of going ahead. But there's still been no guidance from the government — for festivals or clubs — as to whether people would need to take lateral flow tests before they enter the site or venues. Everyone's just still waiting.
It's going to be a lot of last man standing, and that favors the corporate events with deep pockets.
I mean, to be fair, Melvin Benn of Festival Republic / Live Nation has been one of the most vocal in terms of trying to get things open again and the various ways and means to do so. They have Latitude Festival scheduled for July. The government will let it go ahead as another ‘test event.’ There's been quite a few of these now. Fifty-thousand people attended various test events in April — in football and music — and only about two dozen positive COVID cases came out of all those events. So this is what is making me hopeful for our shows in September.
So outside of events, you’re busy with Jockey Slut again. Was that planned before the Andrew Weatherall tribute book?
We'd already started a Jockey Slut Facebook and Instagram account in early 2019, where we just used to post all the old covers with some text. It was pretty ad hoc, but we were quite surprised by the love people still had for it.
We revisited Jockey Slut when Andrew Weatherall passed away in February last year. He was a real supporter of the magazine and regularly featured in it. Our first idea was to publish a special magazine of all his Jockey Slut features. But when the pandemic really took hold and we were locked down, it was like, we’ve got time now to make this something much more. So it evolved into the book and I had time to compile a 10,000 word oral history, interviewing some artists I hadn’t spoken to in years which was a really lovely thing to be able to do considering the state of things.
When we announced the book, it went pretty viral. Obviously because it was the first thing to come out about Andrew Weatherall since he passed away, but also it was the return of a Jockey Slut publication for the first time since 2004.
There seems to be a real appetite for all things ‘00s.
There's a magazine called Faith that has started up again too — which writes about house music. And I've also noticed quite a few old school club nights from the 90s have started fan pages and are planning reunion shows. I just think the pandemic has been a bit of a time for reflection. Cause there wasn't much to look forward to.
We are actually reactivating Jockey Slut in spirit because the book did so well. We did a survey with our 5,000 person mailing list and who follow us on social media, and half of them filled it out. We couldn't believe it. Usually you get about a 5% response to a survey, but we have 50% And the responses were really passionate.
So we are planning a bi-annual magazine with new writing, lots of long articles and oral histories on legendary artists and club nights with a timeless fanzine approach to it all. Our main readership is like 40 to 50. So content will be focussed on artists like David Byrne, Soulwax, DJ Harvey — all the kind of artists that they definitely would want to read about, but also with some interesting new acts that would have been in Jockey Slut if it were still going today.
How hard is it to print and distribute a magazine compared to back in the day?
We’re going to do a Crowdfunder to raise money for the first issue so we can pay photographers, writers and get it off the ground.
But interestingly, we're not going to call it Jockey Slut because we don't think we can use that title in this day and age. It’s been hijacked over time and doesn’t feel appropriate now. The original meaning was basically a DJ trainspotter, usually male. The Manic Street Preachers used to write “culture slut” on their bodies and we kind of took it from there. Now, if you Google it, there's an urban dictionary that literally says “women who sleep with DJs.” The new name has a definite link to Jockey Slut though. So watch this space to see what we evolve into!
The most salient statements from this week’s news.
Crypto cons and clickbait keep coming for our hip-hop legends.
Takeaway: Tribe rapper Q-Tip confirmed Muhammad’s statement, tweeting on July 6 to ask publications to retract stories saying A Tribe Called Quest sold an NFT.
The company’s latest report paints a positive picture of it’s two-billion dollar buying frenzy.
Takeaway: Hipgnosis’s net revenues grew by 66.1% to $138.4m that year, with the company recording a profit after tax of $38.9m. As for acquisitions, by the end of March Hipgnosis had spent around £1.94bn ($2.69bn) on 138 catalogues comprising more than 64k songs.
What’s next? Zoom parking lot musicals? Roblox raves?
Takeaway: Singer Liv Harland says she can make more than three times as much money from her live streams compared to what she gets on the street.
If only their live archive on Bandcamp could stream to my Fitbit.
Takeaway: Nothing says No Wave like a moisture-wicking tank top.