#HowWeListen – Sam Ford / So Young Magazine

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.
Sam Ford So Young Magazine

Who are you?
Sam Ford

Where are you based?
Southampton, UK

Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m the co-founder and editor of So Young Magazine. So Young began six years ago and was created by myself and Josh Whettingsteel. So Young is a fully illustrated new music print and online magazine designed to champion new bands from the underground and just above. My role at the magazine focuses mainly on finding new bands and organising our features with these bands. We also curate shows at venues such as The Social and The 100 Club in London. I book and organise these shows. Anything packed and posted to you e.g. Magazines or T Shirts, that’ll also be done by me. After that, it’s keeping up with social media and being as regular on there as possible. Josh and I share this role…thank goodness.

What are you listening to?
It’s been a good couple of weeks for albums. On the So Young front, because of the stage at which we work with bands, it’s normally a lot of debut singles. However, Fontaines D.C. and Fat White Family have dropped new records and they’re both game changes. I’m listening to those on repeat at the minute. Each magazine we release tend to represent what we are listening to, so it’s no surprise that Fat Whites and Fontaines are on the current covers. Working Mens Club are a really exciting new young band, they’re on a lot too.

How do you find new music?
A lot of it comes from band managers or their press team, especially if the band have already established themselves or if we’ve worked with one of their roster before. I have a bandcamp account where I follow lots of smaller labels and make sure I get notifications of their new releases. I keep tabs on gig posters and look for names I haven’t heard before. Often, good bands will take their mates around with them and that’s a good way to get in before the ‘team’ does. Press obviously has a part to play, so keeping an eye on trusted sites, titles and writers. I also just keep an eye on social media, see what people are sharing. If they’re willing to put their taste on the line, there’s a good chance it’s going to have something. Radio plays a small part in this process but I do listen to Beats1 now and again on top of the usual 6music.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?
I’ll buy any record i love on vinyl but it’s never the first place i’ll listen. Vinyl is where you can add a band to your life scrapbook and make sure it’s there forever and i think that’s really important. That’s before we even mention the artwork and the ritual of studying that as it plays. Cassettes are ornaments at best aren’t they? I’ll always ask PR’s for promo CD’s as i’m always driving between Southampton and London so it’s a great way to take in a record for the first time.

On the whole I’ll use digital streaming services as they’re the most effective for jumping between and checking out new artists and new music. My laptop is where i do 90% of my work for So Young so it makes sense for my music to be there too.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
My listening takes place wherever it can. Digital streaming allows me to continue my listening on the go if i need to take it away from my laptop. I work a lot from home and the set up is just a bluetooth Sony speaker that sounds a hell of a lot better than the tin speakers in my laptop. I love listening to music in the car, no distractions (apart from the road) and it’s somewhere you can really invest your time and attention to each track. The sound is pretty good too.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Honestly, the majority is sent over to me. It’s a great feeling to think that people want us to hear it first. Obviously they’re looking for something at the end of it but nobody should resent being considered.

I don’t listen to a lot of radio. If I’m at a loose end, i’ll listen again to Wilko on Beats1 in the gym. Generally, it’s not a great source for new music. The importance of streaming figures to bands (out of necessity) has meant that premieres for singles seem to be reducing. If requested from a band, I often offer that we just embed Spotify on the day of release instead. It hits exactly where they need it. I do however keep an eye out on all of the main websites for their posts and new music features.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Most albums are sent over as a download or stream via Promojukebox or a major label equivalent. I’ll only download a couple here and there from artists i love. Streaming on those platforms is okay when you’re at a desktop but poor on the go. It’s hard to skip a track without the whole thing resetting. Soundcloud is probably the best on the go now as you can play private links within the app.

New music tends to come via email and we get a lot of those each day, full with new music. The tough thing is remembering it’s there and then where to find it. If I don’t listen within 24 hours, chances are i’ve lost it or forgot about it. I have a tab called ‘New music to catch up on’ now, that helps. Generally, I have no qualms with the sound.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
The tab I mentioned above is starting to help. We have a lot on at the moment so i’m writing a lot of ‘listen’ reminders in my diary too. Ultimately, I don’t keep track very well and I wish I could do it better. This is mainly for unreleased music. Playlists on Spotify etc are great for catching up and keeping track of released songs.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Hopefully the magazine and our website are one big tip off to anyone and everyone we can reach. We try and mention a band before they’ve released anything so that people may try and catch them at a show and if not, we will have their debut on our site. But if you’re talking about mentioning new bands and artists to other people working around us, of course. I send and receive regular messages which always look like this “anything good lately?”. People aren’t discovering bands by chance at the same time, people are sharing their favourite things all the time. Us included.

Anything you want to “promote”?
Our latest issue has sold out which is great but you can still read it online for FREE. It features chats with Fat White Family, Fontaines D.C., Nilufer Yanya, Squid, Sunflower Bean, Surfbort, The Murder Capital and more.

We also have a regular new band showcase night called We Are So Young. Keep an eye on our website for listings!

#HowWeListen – Sam Ford / So Young Magazine was last modified: April 30th, 2019 by Byta