MISFiT | Lily Carr-Gomm. Social media, surviving work-experience, and bits of baguette with brie.
"Be willing to be quite shit at things initially but open to learning... Be a sponge. Be inquisitive!"
This week, I caught up with the founder and editor of independent publication, Last Bus Magazine. We talked about the daunting experience of trying to get your foot in the media/journalism door, the perils of balancing social media usage, and she told me about her favourite interviews.
Enjoy and see you next week,
Images courtesy of Lily Carr-Gomm.
Lily is a journalist keen to make her mark on the scene. Her gap-year became her “gap-life” after she decided to decline her university offer and she made writing her full-time stint. And as a Londoner, she has an eye for emerging nightlife.
If you’re looking to delve deeper into the independent music scene, Last Bus is the place to look. I’ve loved reading about bands such as Japanese psychedelic Kikagaku Moyo and young brits such as Caitlyn Scarlett. Despite a strong focus on music, though, Last Bus also dips into many other cultural facets.
Ranging from interviews with Pandora Sykes & Dolly Alderton (the High Low hosts) to Instagram takeovers from vibrant young creatives, Last Bus is a refreshingly digestible collection of people, places, and things which Lily thinks deserve some air time. Writing is clean, fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“I’m trying not to pigeon hole myself yet…”
D: Tell me a bit about your motivations behind starting Last Bus Magazine. What was your aim with it and is there a specific focus?
L: I started LB just over a year ago after discovering journalism on my 'gap year' (that then sort of became a gap life as I declined my university offer). I did a short stint writing for a few music publications and for VICE, but wanted to write for something I could fully get behind and support, so after a while of searching, applying and re-applying for different mags I decided to make my own!
It started off as a smorgasbord of everything I liked, whether it be people, music, art etc. Over the past year I've realised that the musical aspect excites me the most, so has leant more in that direction recently (especially over lockdown) but really want the content to remain diverse so I’m trying not to pigeon hole myself yet...
D: How did you get into writing in the first place?
L: At the start of my gap year, I decided to email a bunch of multi-media publications asking for any form of work experience. I had very little to offer them, as I had just left school and had no real experience in journalism... I remember saying, "I would love to come in and make you coffee or even clean your windows". That's how desperate I was to see how it all worked behind the scenes and soak up whatever knowledge I could. I think I probably sounded like a crazed superfan, but hey, it worked.
VICE replied almost immediately and set me up with a week of work experience in their London office. It was pretty cool from the start. From writing about The Great Gatsby at school a few months prior to having (somewhat) free reign over pieces on sex, drugs and Supreme... as an excitable 18-year-old I felt like all my dreams had come true. They also had 'Beer Fridays' - the cherry on the cake.
“Be willing to be quite shit at things initially but open to learning whatever nuggets of information you're bound to pick up on the way. Be a sponge. Be inquisitive!”
D: I can only imagine how exciting this opportunity must have been! You’re clearly pretty ballsy and I really appreciate that - I think it’s a key trait in industries which can be pretty brutal… But I’m sure a lot of young budding writers would have found this daunting too.
Do you have any advice for other young creatives who might find shooting for huge opportunities like this quite anxiety-inducing, and therefore might not even apply in the first place?
L: It sounds obvious but I think you just have to jump in with both feet. It helps to have someone push you in, but you just have to do it without thinking. There's only so much planning you can do before it starts to hinder you - learn on the job. Be willing to be quite shit at things initially, but open to learning whatever nuggets of information you're bound to pick up on the way. Be a sponge. Be inquisitive!
As my mum says 'Feel the fear & do it anyway' - the worst-case scenario is that it all goes tits up and you come away with a good story and a clearer understanding of what you want from a job.
D: What is it about journalism and media that excited you over other mediums? For me, it's been the accessibility of writing - almost anyone can publish something online; whether that's for better or worse, I'm not sure!
L: Hmmm, I think the only experience I had of writing/journalism before had been one with a very strict guideline of do's & don'ts, it had always felt like a bit of a chore at school. Finding my writing 'voice' (yuck) really excited me after that. Tearing up the rule book and starting from scratch felt very liberating.
There are also so many avenues you can go down with 'media' as a profession and I'm still finding out about new roles every day! That's very exciting. In the long run, I plan on LB becoming a multi-media platform, as I love film & photography and ideally would want that to feature just as much as the written word.
D: Recently, there's been a lot of dialogue surrounding the idea of 'freedom of speech' and the concept of the 'freedom of ideas' - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about freedom of speech in regards to journalism and media. I personally have very mixed views, but I love the saying that goes "A truly great library has something in it to offend everyone".
L: What a good question! It's a tricky one as I do tend to lean more towards the idea of a varied library being important - we should be able to pick and choose what we will and won't read rather than being drip-fed like wee babies - but then on the flip side you have the gremlins at the Sun or the Daily Mail being able to write whatever they want and not only getting away with it but having an audience that accepts it as scripture.
I think there's a shared feeling, in our digital 21st Century world, that everyone has a right to a little virtual square metre of web space and thus can fill it with whatever they want. In an idealistic world, this is a wonderful idea that should culminate into a rich tapestry of ideas and arguments and provide an open forum, whereas, in reality, it's a lot more dangerous than that...
“I don't think we are meant to be knowing what everyone is up to every second of the day, and I think whilst the amount of endless information at our fingertips is wonderful, the constant overload is overwhelming and slightly suffocating at times.”
D: You make a very good point - everyone certainly does have their own space on the internet to voice themselves which is obviously great, and I really love how you describe it as "a rich tapestry of ideas". But where we start running into trouble is people spreading genuine hate or misinformation. And we want to silence these people of course, but then we run into the trap of censorship and policing… where does it end!?
What are your thoughts, then, on the idea that social media/the internet is simply a tool and it isn’t inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad', it’s how we use such tools?
L: I think you're totally right. It's difficult to know where to stop. I think it's much more than a tool, but it's not a question of being good or bad, it's just unnatural. I don't think we are meant to be knowing what everyone is up to every second of the day, and I think whilst the amount of endless information at our fingertips is wonderful, the constant overload is overwhelming and slightly suffocating at times. I think treating it as a tool is the healthiest way as there is so much 'good' to get out of it but we have to learn to limit ourselves and not give it the power to turn into something really nasty and bigger than all of us.
D: I always ask my interviewees to recommend some things they’ve been reading, watching, listening to, or indeed some people/creatives they want others to check out. Can you give us some recommendations of what you’ve been enjoying right now?
L: To kill two birds with one stone, I recently watched Searching for the Sugarman on a rainy day in Norfolk and fell in love with Rodriguez, so have been listening to his album Cold Fact non-stop. I think he's just the ultimate cool dude and have been recommending both his music and the film to everyone I meet... that and Aldous Harding.
There are so many wonderful, informative, creative things that have blossomed out of lockdown. One of the pages that I've been focused on recently is Everyone's Invited, which is a movement started to educate people about/combat rape culture. It is SO impressive and important and has garnered so much attention in such a short time, so that's something I've been sharing with all of my friends recently.
D: What’s been your favourite interview/piece? It’s okay to not have a favourite, of course. But there must be one that you were especially excited about…
L: I think it changes weekly but right now it has to be a tie. Our Medicine Cabinet interview was a stupidly fun day, spent in Eva's lovely sunny studio listening to Blondie and eating starbursts, carrots and bits of baguette with brie (a very normal mixture). It just felt like 5 best mates hanging out...the Med Cab girls are just so enigmatic and on the edge of glory - you can really feel it when you're around them and can't wait to see where their music takes them.
They're up against my interview with Carlotta from Hinds. I think it was probably one of my worst interviews but purely because I'm pretty sure I was dizzy and lovesick the entire time. I've loved Hinds since I was about 16 so when I got the chance to interview them during a rather grey period of lockdown, I felt suddenly high. Re-watching the recorded zoom call back is sort of like watching a slo-mo car crash but will treasure it forever!
Cold Fact by Rodriguez // listen here
Searching for the Sugar Man // watch on Amazon Prime here
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