Alice Austin is a music journalist focused on the intersection of politics and music, subculture, club culture and youth culture. She also has a monthly radio residency on Refuge Worldwide. Alice caught up with Clara Löffler to share her journey to becoming a music journalist.
Attack: How did you become a music journalist?
Alice: I’ve always wanted to be a journalist, but I didn’t study it. My first five years of working were in marketing and PR, which had nothing to do with music. As a young woman in a creative environment, I felt very disrespected. I felt like such a joke in these male-dominated spaces. In one of my design agencies, there were no women above the management level at all. One of my bosses would hold his fingers up when a woman walked into the office to rate her out of ten. When I stuck up for myself, I was told that I was boring and I need to lighten up.
The environment around me was extremely oppressive, so I decided I couldn’t cope anymore and moved from London to Berlin. I just absorbed what was going on there, the creativity, the music and the enthusiasm of my friends. I then started to write for free for a music magazine and that’s how I would get on the guestlists of festivals all around Europe.
In Albania, at Kala Festival, I met the editor of Mixmag. I sent him an e-mail when I got back and he sent me on my first assignment to Portugal. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it. Most of the people who’ve given me opportunities in music have been men. When I got into music journalism in 2017 it was a bit of a turning point for editors. Laura Aha from Groove Mag had just called out sexist remarks from Giegling, and I think the feeling male editors had was –if we’re here in the top jobs, we at least need to start making sure underrepresented writers are getting opportunities. The industry woke up to this even further in 2020 after the Black Lives Matter protests.
Is it more difficult to be a female than a male writer in this industry?
It’s hard for me to tell because I’ve never worked full time inside a music magazine, but I’ll give you an example from the other week. A well-established house artist wanted a music journalist to write the press release for his new album. I was set to interview him when I got an e-mail from his manager. And guess what? They’d decided to go with a different journalist.
My first thought was I bet they’ve gone with a man. One that’s written about techno and house music for years, a man who has this punchy style that they like. Maybe they even know each other. I might be wrong and I hope I am, but if not then that’s where the inequality comes in. Women haven’t had the opportunity to write about these things for years, because they haven’t been selected.