Music Business

Music Gateway Meets The Editors - Jamie Muir from Dork Magazine

Photograph of the blog post author, Becca Smith

Becca Smith

24.3.2021

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We recently caught up with Jamie Muir, Contributing Editor for Dork Magazine, to talk all about his journey so far in the industry, which incredible artists he’s covered in the past and how you can get your own music featured in the pages of Dork Mag. Let’s dive in!

Hi Jamie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the industry? 

Now, there’s the version of that tale that involves the night I had to wrestle a giant turtle in an underground cave surrounded by what can only be described as very angry guinea pigs,  with the prize of victory being a career within music… but that’s probably a story for another day…

It kinda all started really a few years back while I was at University. Before that I was always a kid into music in various forms, especially going to festivals or gigs and discovering new sounds and artists. Can remember vividly listening in to Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show on a regular basis and always coming away with something, and from there I very much was hooked on new music being kinda at the core of everything I did.

It’s all lead me here. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to nudge my way into the door with jobs in Music and Festival PR over at Zeitgeist (a creative comms agency working with the likes of Reading & Leeds, Wireless, Parklife, All Points East, Sound City, Live At Leeds, Standon Calling, Dr Martens, Lyle & Scott, Nordoff Robbins and more over the years) and from there, working hard and catching the eye of the iconic duo of Stephen Ackroyd and Viki Sinden when they were set to start up Dork Magazine. The rest is history – being part of a fun ‘ol team talking about music, riveting lists that we can all disagree on in some capacity (cheers Martyn Young for that) and just generally being excited within a community of incredible writers and music lovers. It’s not too shabby eh?!

If you had to pick – who is your favourite artist that you’ve featured so far at Dork?

Blimey that’s a tough one. Think with the very nature of Dork we’re constantly looking at what comes next, but there’s definitely been a few acts that have become real Friends Of The Magazine and standout favourites over the years. 

I think seeing artists grow and grow from the very beginning into pretty bloody big deals is always great – so the likes of The Japanese House, Declan McKenna, Pale Waves, The Big Moon and MUNA are always special to think back on, going from those early days as notes in the magazine all the way to standing tall on the cover (in some cases multiple times). That mixed with having huge acts that have come to define the best 5 or so years in The 1975, CHVRCHES, HAIM, Lewis Capaldi, Foals, George Ezra, Twenty One Pilots and more on the cover is stunning, so to pick out just one artist would be an absolute ‘mare. 

New names at the moment like Baby Queen, Inhaler, Alfie Templeman and KennyHoopla are really standing out at the moment – and the numerous nights spent with Sea Girls, Circa Waves and Sundara Karma particularly spring to mind.  Alas, my memory is also an absolute shambles – too many nights at The Shacklewell Arms will do that to ya. Just discovering and being able to champion new music every single day is a pretty ace thing.

But in answer to your question? Yes. Sports Team. A trip to Margate, a band that walk on stage to Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Me Entertain You’ and I am forever in their debt now. Seriously. Help me.. 

Inhaler, Photo Credit – Sarah Louise Bennett

What do you think is the most rewarding part of your role and what motivates you?

I think seeing the magazine in its final form every month just packed with amazing content is always a rush. Once Stephen and Viki have worked their magic over it featuring work from an array of incredible writers, it’s always stunning to see how things have all slotted together once again. Getting that out there is always a buzz, and seeing people’s reactions too.

But I think it has to be a part that kinda happens really outside of what we physically do, in that moment when you catch an act in that big headline moment live. Where you’ve been talking up a certain act to anyone and everyone with ears (even those who don’t) and they’ve properly made it to this big live celebration – no matter how big or small (it doesn’t need to be The O2 every time). I think it’s that which can be the most rewarding, of playing just a tiny part in that journey and seeing an act kinda become everything you hoped they would be.

It all goes back to why I got involved in music in the first place really. Of those memories and the feeling that rushes through you when you’re around others and you’re watching an amazing show or you’re at an incredible festival. When you’re in the presence of an artist that you’ve been religiously listening to for years and now you get to see them in the flesh and have that memory with your friends. Being able to pinpoint those new sounds and those new artists who people need to be checking out, it is quite an honour and definitely a huge motivation for everything I do not just at Dork but beyond that too.

Oh, and the numerous gold-plated chairs that I keep in my cinema room. I’m an absolute capitalist who wants the biggest boat in the bay. In terms of sheer value, they’ve got to be worth a fortune by now – but don’t tell anyone okay… who said there was no money in music eh?! (enter maniacal laugh here pls)

Baby Queen, Photo Credit – Sarah Louise Bennett

What are the key things you look out for in the artists that you cover at Dork Magazine?

No matter what the genre, it’s all about personality for us. Everything we do is about having fun, because ultimately – that’s really what music is all about right? You could have created the greatest symphony of all time but if you’re not having fun with it all and not shouting about who you are as people or as an artist then I don’t think you can truly take things to new levels.

Our favourite artists and the ones that we continuously support are those bursting with it, and if it’s something we see and are drawn towards – then you can guarantee we’ll be there writing and talking about them till the cows come home. (Side note, do cows go out on the town that much? Is that where the saying is from? Answers and feedback always welcome).

That ability as well to be truly individual is also something that grabs our attention. Standing out from the pack is really important, even if it’s in the smallest way. If you’ve got amazing songs, a story that pulls you in and enough fizzing energy to power an entire city then it’s something us at Dork want to get behind.

It can be easy to get lost in the idea of being cool or trying to follow in the footsteps of others, but I truly think that throwing yourself into what you’re doing and being confident in your own voice can really go a long way – and it’s something we’re always on the lookout for.

Do you have any advice to give to upcoming, independent artists that are pitching their music to you – are there any do’s/don’ts?

Patience I think is quite underrated. Not everyone will *get* exactly what you’re doing from the beginning, so having that determination to push on and even grow I think is pretty important. 

If you’re getting your music out there, try and capture exactly who you are in the pitches you’re sending. Give us an idea of those key pillars of influence that form who you are as an artist and try to give us the full package. Whether that’s in music videos, imagery – hell, even if it’s just in the way you communicate, that personality shining through is really important. As you can imagine, we all get swamped with 100s of emails every single day, so standing out and making things easy to understand what you’re all about is crucial.

And don’t stop there! As I said before, things rarely click from the very first track you ever put out, so continue to see how you can adapt and morph what you’re doing into something even bolder. Ultimately, this is your voice – so let us know why we should be listening to it above anyone else’s in the style of music you make.

It’s something that should carry over into all elements of what you do as an artist. If you’re making this bright pop sound, then look at how other artists are using their social platforms and live shows as a basis into what you could do and what you could do differently. They all play a part in showing who you are, so give us everything. 

The Japanese House, Photo Credit – Sarah Louise Bennett

Are you working on anything new and exciting for Dork that you’d like to shout about?

As always, we’re constantly looking at ways we can make what we do better or trying out new things – so we’re very excited about launching the new Supporters Programme across the website and more. Giving early access to our magazine content each month, juicy extra articles/photoshoots and some special surprises in the near future, it allows us to put more into the world of Dork whilst still offering our full content online to everyone. We hope it’ll be the start of even more exciting avenues for Dork in the coming year.

Oh, and probably worth mentioning our weekly radio/podcast/thingy Down With Boring – which we launched in the middle of last year featuring our very own Jake Hawkes and unfortunately for you all – me – as hosts. We’ve been blown away by the response we’ve seen so far, with new shows out every Monday with weekly special guests popping by to try and bring up the standard of entertainment we deliver. Trying, because on aggregate we usually end up discussing some sort of food or query about the universe in-between playing our favourite new music. If you want some fun, tune on in – with more shows as a part of our audio arm already out there (Mez’s Sunday Lunch) and others in the pipeline.

Is there anything else that you’d like to mention whilst we’re here?

I think for anyone reading, whether you’re in a band or you’re wanting to get into music or music writing – I can only recommend to just go out and do it. Start off small, do writing where you can or make music for yourself and then grow it from there. Hard work pays off and ultimately, not being a dick helps too. Tends to go well that.

Also, support the music media and the artists that you love. If there’s a magazine you enjoy reading or seeing online, get a subscription. If they have an online supporter scheme, snap one up. Everywhere that you get your new music fix from, it’s now more important than ever to support them.

Give a shout-out to new artists you particularly love, a share of something you see that truly blows you away. And HAVE FUN. If it’s something that isn’t giving you butterflies or being a comfort during times when you need it the most or making you smile, then think about why you’re doing it. There’s a lot out there, and something for everyone.

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that Robbie Williams has over 25 toilets at his home. 25 TOILETS?! An incredible feat… like what do you do with that many toilets? Well, apart from y’know… the practical use but even then do you need that many? Sorry, just thought people should know that.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Jamie! It’s been a pleasure.

Dork Magazine is out every single month, with a monthly subscription available here. To join their incredible new supporter scheme from just £2.50 a month, head here

Their DorkCast audio ‘shenanigans’ are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and all your usual podcast homes – with new episodes of Down With Boring out every Monday, debuting on Dork Radio at 8pm

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