It’s hard to imagine a world without the internet, but a mere twenty-five years ago, the internet was in its nascent form, running via phone lines at speeds that made using it for anything beyond the barest text unimaginably slow. Music journalism was, by and large, a professional pursuit, with a small number of authors appointed gatekeepers of a given scene via the handful of print-based magazines that were readily accessible.
For those writers who could not find full-time employment, the route to music journalism was essentially via starting a fanzine, publications that were (more often than not) printed cheaply and distributed through the classifieds found at the back of mainstream music magazines. Like today’s webzines, fanzines were variable in quality but were, nonetheless, owned and operated by individuals driven by a passion that was not quenched even by the technical difficulties of accessing new music (all of which was distributed in physical form) or distribution.
Today, everything has changed. The internet allows greater communication than could possibly have been envisaged back in the 90s. Webzines offer opinion, interviews and content to eager fans and the speed of modern connectivity allows bands, labels and writers to reach a far greater audience. Nonetheless, writing for a webzine remains a challenging pastime. The necessity of juggling the pressures of everyday life with the requirement of a busy site puts many would-be writers off, and it remains a pursuit that is engaged in by a passionate few – music fans and artists who want to share their love and enthusiasm with their readers and open doors for their favourite bands in the process.
In a rare glimpse into the mechanics of being a webzine author, we are pleased to present this exclusive interview with Carla Morton whose interviews with a wide range of artists have been widely distributed via Antichrist Metalzine and Skullbanger media to name just two of the sites for whom she works.
First of all, how did you first become passionate about music? What album or artist particularly inspired you?
Well, since I was very little I used to hear what my dad was listening to. He had video tapes with different bands like Ozzy, Pantera, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater etc. and when I grew up I discovered metal myself more and I was into bands like Rammstein, Cradle Of Filth, Kittie, Dissection and many others. Since then, everyday I’m discovering new bands. If I have to mention bands or albums as inspirations, there are too many to mention.
How did you get involved in writing for webzines, it can be quite a closed off world before you make connections of your own?
It all started in 2015, somewhere in March, when the visual artist Nader Sadek asked if I could do an interview about his music project and I was like ‘’me?” I had never done it before, and I was not sure I was good enough to make it, but with a little help I composed some questions and he liked them. Back then I was not with any zine yet and I had to find a zine to publish that interview so, later, I got in contact with the SkullbangerMedia owner who accepted to post my future stuff (if there would be more). And it happened, because, once Nader asked me, I started then to ask a few people that had bands if they would accept an interview and they did not refuse. Months later I got in touch with Carlo from WormHoleDeath records and then was a BOOM! That after he made a status about me that I’m looking for bands to interview, most of the bands from the label rooster contacted me and they wanted an interview and that was very nice. Then I joined Antichrist metalzine, which today I am the most active with. In 2016 I joined the MetalWani zine team, did a few interviews for them and for the moment I’m the newscaster for them… and to this point, I have no idea how to thank all these people that helped me into this!
Is it difficult to make selections for the type of material you want to review? I guess you must get a lot of material that simply can’t be covered due to lack of time…
I do not focus on reviews so much because I have to admit I am not so good at writing, and that is why I focus on interviews most. But I did a few reviews and when I decide, I usually do a review to an album that I really enjoy and I try my best to write a nice review.
What role do you think net journalism plays in the music industry these days?
I think this all depends on the bands, labels, PR’s I mean I can say from my experience that many times my work is not shared by the bands or labels, then yeah I think there won’t be such a great audience for the zine as well. This is my opinion, but indeed, an interview or a review or any other kind or article about a band or artist is good.
You work for multiple sites, do you employ a different writing style for different audiences or do you write primarily for yourself?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are 3 zines I am into, for one I handle the news most, but for both Antichrist and Skullbanger zine I keep the same writing style and for both I’m free to do and arrange everything how I want and publish when want as well.
How much preparation do you put into interviews?
Now, that depends what bands I have to prepare. Sometimes it takes me even weeks to finish the questions for the interview and sometimes I feel like I have still missed some stuff; sometimes it’s prepared in 1-2 hours or even a few minutes if I get inspiration and this happened yesterday when I think I prepared one of the longest interviews and I was so inspired (this will be soon online), It can also happen that I am busy with school and then months can pass before I send an interview, but in the end I will do it.
Are you ever nervous when you have to interview a subject?
I’m mostly nervous when I do live interviews (face to face with the band) and I can get lost in ideas and what I want to say, but I keep myself calm and it’s usually fine. But when I’m about to interview a specific subject, no.
What are the five albums that have particularly impressed you this year?
5, hhhmm. Well a band to mention, but they do not have the album released this year (but last year) but I’ve listened to their album this year, is Kvalvaag- ‘’Malum’’ (black metal from Norway) and it’s an amazing album, and releases from this year, I can’t say there’s been much that’s impressed me enough to say “omg wow!” but I can say are good albums and to mention the new albums of: Decrepit Birth, Six Feet Under, Born of Osiris… I think that’s all I can think of at the moment, but there are others too…
What’s the best interview you’ve ever done and what makes it particularly special for you?
I consider the best interview I’ve done so far was the one I had with Warrel Dane, that went so well (was a live one), without any emotions – it went perfectly. I can mention also the ones had with Hate, Obituary, Nervosa, Nargaroth, Mortuary Drape, Absu, Overkill, Necromass, Decapitated etc. I have around 300+ interviews so some of them are more or less good.
To what extent is it a challenge to balance your everyday life with the amount of time you have to spend on your various sites?
It’s all easy and I handle with the zines when I can, then I also handle and ‘’managing’’ 2 bands recently and I help them a lot: Sarpedon (Norway): https://www.facebook.com/SarpedonNorway/ and Dimension F3H (Norway): https://www.facebook.com/dimensionf3h/ . Of course, it all keeps me busy, especially when I have to answer mails, handle the zine from time to time, post news, prepare interviews, and so on. I also handle the Antichrist metalzine online compilation and I have to look for new bands and you know, I like what I am doing, in this way I discover new bands and so on. I cannot say it’s hard or tiring at all.
The predictions made at the start of the 00s were that the internet would see the balance of power shift away from the music industry towards more independent artists – do you think the internet, and webzines in particular, has allowed that shift to take place? Is it easier to find good music than before, or is there so much material that people aren’t able to find what they’re looking for?
Music on internet is a subject that can be discussed a lot. In my opinion, nowadays I can say the internet is good because people have access to a lot of music and information about the bands and artists and sometimes you find a lot of things. Rarely, but rarely happened to me, it can be difficult to find the music I want or an artist because they’re not that well known, but in general I find what I’d like to. Then there is this topic about music being downloaded and people not buying the CD’s, it’s a subject I do not want to get more into detail about, but yeah, I think now almost everything is up on the internet and people can find what do they need, so they are easily able to search for what they want.
What are your plans for the future? Are you hoping your journalism might serve as a gateway to a musical career? Perhaps in PR?
To say so, I kinda collaborate with a PR agency which I just spread the infos about their offers and I do promo myself for some bands, for free, but maybe yeah, I hope so in the future I can do much more, I was actually thinking to create something my own but at the moment I wait and see. Time will tell!
Any final words?
Support the metal scene as much as possible, support the underground scene as well, then to say a big thank you to everyone that supports me back also and helped me to be here and do what I’m doing today, being involved into music area, also to thank to the 2 bands that let me be their help and that they trust me, thx to the people that read and share my work! Cheers and thank you Phil for this interview!