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|Editor||John Burgess/Paul Benney(1993-1999)
Rob Wood (1999-2001)
Paul Mardles (2001-2004)
|First issue||January 1993|
Vol. 7 No. 2
Swinstead Publishing (1999-2004)
Jockey Slut was a British music magazine which ran between 1993 and 2004, focusing mainly on dance music and club culture. It started as a self-published bi-monthly fanzine in 1993 before graduating to a monthly by 1999, following a buy-out by Swinstead Publishing. By 2004, it had gone quarterly, with a beefed-up web presence, a change which only lasted three and a half months before closure in late May that year.
Its readers tended to refer to the magazine as just The Slut.
The Manchester Years (1993-1999)
According to one of its founders, John Burgess, he and Paul Benney (the other founder of the magazine) intended Jockey Slut to just be a slogan for a T-shirt. The expression was born while both were studying at Manchester Polytechnic University (currently Manchester Metropolitan University) and enjoying the city's notorious clubbing scene, most notably the Haçienda. The two main inspirations for it were Manic Street Preachers' recurrent slogan "culture slut" and the increasing adoration DJs were getting from fans at the time. Regarding this one, Burgess adds: "Disc jockeys were attracting as many groupies as pop stars. Except, unluckily for the DJs, their groupies were usually after one thing; the name of the label that wicked tune was on".
Starting out as a bi-monthly fanzine, Jockey Slut soon started gaining a cult, largely because of the way it consciously set itself apart from its direct competition. With dance music and club culture steadily growing in popularity and the subsequent advent of superclubs and the cult of the superstar DJ, bigger and better distributed magazines like Mixmag, Muzik and DJ Mag started to focus more on the flashy, rock ‘n’ roll-like aspects of clubbing (namely the recurrent drugs features), while devoting less space to the music itself, much less championing more groundbreaking sounds and artists. Jockey Slut responded to this by adopting a much more music-centered coverage, coupled with a writing tone which somehow managed to harmoniously strike a balance between witty, opinionated fanzine-style writing and an irreverent, caustic sense of humour inspired by the golden years of pop bible Smash Hits. On the other hand, Jockey Slut also tended to be more risky in its choices and started to build its cutting-edge reputation early on. In 1993, the magazine gave The Chemical Brothers (around the time when they were still called Dust Brothers) their first interview. Two years later, around the time of the release of their classic and influential debut album, Exit Planet Dust, Jockey Slut gave them their first magazine cover. In 1994, Detroit techno luminary and Underground Resistance’s leader “Mad” Mike Banks not only conceded a rare exclusive interview, he was also given his first magazine cover . Daft Punk also got their first interview on Slut, in 1993.
Jockey Slut also wasn’t afraid to give space to some rock and indie, giving prominent space to bands like Nirvana, Blur or Beck as much as they would any dance or electronic act. In this aspect, Slut has arguably anticipated the indie/rock/dance crossover which is now common practice among dance magazines (a practice which, in truth, reflects the current state of affairs in clubland). In some ways, it was this open-mindedness which gave Slut’s now legendary tagline “Disco Pogo For Punks In Pumps” (a line stolen from an old Smash Hits review, according to Burgess) its full sense. Its coverage of Urban styles such as hip-hop and R&B was also above the average dance magazine of the time.
In 1995, American underwear company Jockey threatened a lawsuit, claiming the magazine’s name could be hurtful to their image. The suit was settled out of court, with Jockey Slut authorized to keep its name, but forced to remove the word “jockey” from its merchandising.
In 1996, Jockey Slut went through a redesign to incorporate full colour. But the issue which marked it had other firsts and lasts, which, with the time, became somewhat iconic. Daft Punk got their first magazine cover here, and also their last ever unmasked photographs since. A big problem with the issue’s printing left it looking like a low-rent pornographic magazine, prompting Daft Punk not to pose for any future photographs unless they were wearing masks or disguised themselves as robots, a decision they maintain to this day.
In 1997, Slut scored another first, by securing a full in-depth feature on German label International DeeJay Gigolo, arguably anticipating the short-lived electroclash craze which would happen four to five years later.
The London years (1999-2004)
In 1999, Jockey Slut was sold to Swinstead Publishing, to expand its distribution and take the magazine to a monthly format. With this change came a trip to set up shop in London and John Burgess's step-down as editor to become the magazine’s editorial director. Rob Wood essentially maintained the same tone and music coverage policy, but with added slickness in both writing and visual contents. It was around this time Jockey Slut cemented its somewhat trendy status. At a time when the superclub culture was hitting its peak, Slut doggedly chose to keep on staying ahead of the game. Boards of Canada got their first magazine cover ever in 2000, and The Avalanches also secured theirs a year later, almost four months ahead of the release of their now classic debut album, Since I Left You. Throughout these years, artists like The Streets, Erol Alkan, Junior Boys, Kasabian, Audio Bullys, Headman or Danger Mouse got very early support through the magazine, even at an age when the Internet was taking away the cutting-edge qualities publications like Slut undeniably had at one point
By 2002, however, a good number of old-guard readers started to complain the magazine was getting too self-consciously trendy for its own good, giving cover space to flavour-of-the-moment acts like The Rapture, 2 Many DJs or The Neptunes and beefing up the rock coverage, with big features on acts like Mogwai and The Polyphonic Spree, retro pieces on My Bloody Valentine or Talking Heads, and giving critical praise to acts like The White Stripes. The January 2004 issue even had Luke Steele of alternative rockers The Sleepy Jackson on the cover. Maybe as an indirect response, John Burgess started Jockey Slut's 10-year anniversary dissertation, "Blowing Our Own Trumpet", with the following line: "Paul liked the Pixies, I liked Prince, but - like most 22 year olds in 1992 - we had a shared love of 'dance' music, which meant anything from the poppy KLF to heavy Belgian techno".
In January 2004, with Paul Mardles at the helm since 2002, Jockey Slut changed its periodicity to a quarterly at the extent of beefing up its Internet presence, creating a webzine with daily updated content such as news, features and reviews. The print magazine would, from that moment, feature more in-depth material and selected highlights from the quarter past and anticipating some from the next, with its publication date dates carefully chosen to coincide with key periods in the music industry like the Spring, the Summer festivals, the Autumn and Christmas/Year-end. All these changes tried to reflect the fact that most of Slut’s primary audience was now online, wanting its fix faster and far more effectively.
Through its existence, Jockey Slut employed a group of staff and contributing writers which included some of the most respected British dance music writers, as well as providing excellent review and opinion columns to people who managed a career in many aspects of dance culture, such as producers, musicians, DJs or label owners. These include:
- John Burgess
- Paul Benney
- Kris Needs
- Rob da Bank
- Kevin McKay
- Steve Yates
- Chantelle Fiddy
- Chris Duckenfield
- Miles Holloway
- Elliott Eastwick
- Bill Brewster
- Frank Tope
- Jim Butler
- Rob Wood
- Richard Brophy
- Richard Hector-Jones
- Ben Mortimer
- Chris Wilson
- Mike Carhart-Harris
- Luke Cowdrey
- Chris Blue
- Kevin Martin
- Elle J. Small
- Emma Warren
- Martin Clark
- Lulu Le Vay
- Sarah Bentley
- Nick Doherty
- Jon Wilde
- Tom Magic Feet
- Cila Warncke
- Joe Maddon
- Tim Sheridan
- Ben Arnold
Slut Trax and Slut Smalls
In 1997, Slut launched Slut Trax, a record label which went on to become very short-lived, launching only two singles in a year. One of them, Christopher Just’s I’m A Disco Dancer, was licensed from International Deejay Gigolos and became something of an electroclash anthem and a dance classic, with remixes of it still being released as of today.
A year later after Slut Trax, Slut Smalls was launched and run by Richard Hector-Jones, with the aim of releasing split 7” singles with unreleased material from established and up and coming artists. This enterprise lasted until the demise of the magazine, with a total of 11 releases. Some of the pairings have included Barry Adamson with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Add N to (X) with Andy Votel and The Dirtbombs with Justin Robertson.
Parallel to this, the magazine would occasionally give away free CDs with an issue. This practice became steadier in 2003, during which Slut released 13 volumes of the Disco Pogo For Punks In Pumps series, which consisted of compilations mainly reflecting that issue’s contents. Artists like Mylo, The Go! Team, M.A.N.D.Y., Ricardo Villalobos and Justice all got relatively early exposure through this series.
- Jockey Slut's old official website - archived at Internet Archive's Wayback Machine
- Jockey Slut's covermount CDs - Discogs.com
- Slut Trax releases - Discogs.com
- Slut Smalls releases - Discogs.com
- Jockey Slut goes quarterly but beefs up web presence - Press Gazette
- Editors' shock at closure of Sleaze and Jockey Slut - Press Gazette