The Wire magazine on surviving the pandemic’s catastrophic impact on culture

Curious about how a whole year under the pandemic conditions have been affecting them, we reached out to a number of editors from various music publications based in different parts of the world, and asked them to share their different experiences, approaches, feelings. Their answers provided us with some good insight and more good questions to think about. 

Chris Bohn, Editor-in-Chief of The Wire magazine based in London since 1982, answers us below.

“This won’t make me popular with my Wire colleagues opening with The Grateful Dead, but have to say, what a long strange trip it’s been this past year! We’ve been producing the magazine remotely, each of us working in isolation or among family from home since March 2020, and it looks like we won’t be returning to our office for a good few months yet. With music shops and venues shut down for much of that time, the pandemic’s impact on the culture has been catastrophic, both socially and economically. Just as many shops are surviving, some of them even thriving, through online sales, The Wire too has successfully survived the decline in passing shop trade through online orders and digital subscriptions, even as we have had to adapt its inside contents to cope with restrictions of movement, meeting with and interviewing musicians and artists face to face, and so on. The free, improvised and experimental music scenes in which The Wire is historically rooted constitute essentially live, in the moment experiences. Many postponed or cancelled festivals have substituted online livestreaming events in their place. These paradoxically allow our writers and contributors to take virtual travel trips around the world to review events that in normal circumstances would be beyond their reach. We’ve also modified our Invisible Jukebox section. As a blindfold test in which we play music to the subject, who is then asked to identify and discuss music close to their own work, this is the one interview feature that would be otherwise difficult to conduct via phone, zoom, facetime or whatever. In its place we’ve been inviting artists who live together as families or partners to challenge each other’s musical knowledge, among including AGF and Vladislav Delay, Moor Mother and Rasheedah Phillips, Femi and Made Kuti, Gudrun Gut and Thomas Fehlmann among others, and the results have been fantastic. Business-wise, our Publisher and Director Tony Herrington has been performing miracles negotiating the pandemic crisis conditions. These have been complicated and compounded by the UK leaving the EU, meaning ever more protracted rounds of form filling, customs issues, etc while seeking ways of navigating The Wire’s two way passage through borders no longer freely open to us here in the UK. In a word, venceremos!”

This interview is originally published in Turkish in Bant Mag. No: 74, our special music issue.