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interview

Lesley Chow

Writer / Consultant

Lesley writes books and in-depth articles on music and film, as well as consulting for festivals and travelling for film festival juries. Lesley writes about music for Repeater Books and on film for Bright Lights.

Author of 'You're History: The Twelve Strangest Women in Music' - released on 9th March 2021.

Lesley Chow

Where are you based?

I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I write on music and film. For the past six years I’ve been working on my new book, You’re History: The 12 Strangest Women in Music.

What are you listening to?

I keep coming back to Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, Neneh Cherry, Azealia Banks and the inexhaustible works of Prince.

How do you discover new music?

I follow up on recommendations by writers I admire, such as Anwen Crawford, Craig Mathieson, Marcello Carlin and Mike Powell. I also love scouring YouTube for music that’s new to me, such as Japanese city pop, or finding some theme from a Hong Kong 80s sitcom that’s totally irresistible.

“I also love scouring YouTube for music that’s new to me, such as Japanese city pop, or finding some theme from a Hong Kong 80s sitcom that’s totally irresistible.”

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

It’s mostly streaming these days – it’s much easier to find, and when I crave a song I want to hear it straight away!

Where do you do most of your music listening?

At home I listen to music on the computer every morning before I start writing. It helps me to get immersed and shuck off my surroundings.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

There’s a constant flow of promotion from labels and publicists, mostly streaming and occasionally videos and downloads – streaming is probably the most convenient.

Sometimes I get approached by the artists themselves. But there’s such an overwhelming amount of new music these days that I don’t get to listen to as much as I’d like.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

It’s quick, easy and portable, but obviously there is the concern over whether artists are being paid sufficiently for their work.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I keep a running series of playlists with tracks that I’m excited about or have been recommended to me.

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I’ve only recently joined Twitter, which is like getting your ears pierced as an adult. I’ve been linking to some of my playlists there, under the themes of “the greatest oohs of all time” or “pioneering Black women in UK music”.

Anything you want to “promote”?

My new book, You’re History: The 12 Strangest Women in Music, has just been published by Repeater. It’s about women who have changed the game of popular music, from innovators like Neneh Cherry and Azealia Banks to undervalued stars such as Chaka Khan, Sade and Janet Jackson. I try to dive deep into the songs, rather than rehashing biographical stuff that might already be out there. It’s a chance to pay tribute to some of the music that has shaped my life.

"It’s quick, easy and portable, but obviously there is the concern over whether artists are being paid sufficiently for their work."

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