Hello, my name is Sarah Lay and I am the editor of storge.
I think some of you already knew that, and those that didn’t might not care. Either way the time feels right to introduce myself properly, write a little more about the site and explain why it’s been anonymously written for the first seven months of its life.
Starting storge seemed like a natural thing to do.
I have been a freelance music journalist since the late ’90s (alongside another career) and am currently editor of Louder Than War, as well as freelancing at a couple of other publications. But it was in Derby as a teenager that I first wrote and published my words about music in several short-lived and ill-conceived fanzines. Why wouldn’t I want to write, and read, about the bands and scene I call home? storge is a return to where I started, about a scene I love (even when it doesn’t make it easy to do so).
And I’m half of Reckless Yes, the independent record label based in Derby which was born of both a frustration and passion shared by myself and Pete Darrington; an urgent need to rid the phrase ‘nothing ever happens here’ from our hometown’s vocabulary. In the 12 months we’ve been going we’ve seen a load of amazing local bands play in ace spaces around the city and we’ve put out records by a few (but by no means all) of the best. We’ve seen them get radio airplay and coverage in the national music press, and their beautiful vinyl is in record shops in the UK and US. We know people are now looking to Derby with curiosity rather than contempt, are discovering and being inspired by our scene.
We’re far from the only people doing great things in the city and by last summer it felt like something was starting to catalyse in Derby; people were energised, working together, celebrating what we did have rather than snidely looking down the A52 at what we didn’t. I wanted to play a greater part than just what I was doing at LTW and with Reckless Yes. As I was inspired by the creativity happening in my city I was also agitated that coverage here on home turf was patchy (not to be remiss of the efforts put in by a few fellow journalists and others to get our creativity acknowledged) and when it did cover it often bolstered the myth and misguided opinion that we are a barren backwater a ‘cultural desert’.
For me, Derby was missing something; an independent music press which not only understood the scene but wanted to actively support it and to amplify the creative work happening day in, day out. One that recognised our shortcomings but was far more interested in discovering and sharing the vim and vigour of our scene than in parroting a lazy line.
Last summer myself, Pete (yeah, I’m outing him too for his part in this endeavour) and some occasional contributors slowly started to write pieces about Derby bands. Lack of time meant storge never really got the attention it needed or deserved from me in 2016. I couldn’t reconcile myself to that so at the turn of the year I renewed my commitment to challenging the ‘nothing ever happens here’ way of thinking and decided to publish something every day in January about music and culture in Derby.
And here we are a month later. At least one article went out every day in January; I was never short of something to write about. I covered indie, and rock, hip hop, punk and metal, garage pop and noise rock. I wrote about art, books and heritage funding. I wrote about bands I knew but also discovered new ones – an absolute joy to find there are still surprises waiting for me on my local scene. Without being sycophantic or blindly optimistic I wrote about hugely positive things going on in our city; things that should make us proud and excited and fired up for more. I looked back a little, but mainly I looked around me now, and looked forward because that is the most exciting part of the Derby scene; what is yet to come.
I think a few people suspected it was me behind the site but I wanted anonymity at first. I didn’t want it to be read just because people know me, or Pete, or Reckless Yes. I wanted you to read it purely because you liked reading about Derby’s scene, were curious about our shared culture, and enjoyed how I portrayed it. But undercover journalism is not really for me. While storge soothed one form of agitation, the anonymity evoked another; I haven’t liked being elusive when asked about the site and I’ve become increasingly frustrated I couldn’t speak openly with others on the scene about what they were up to, nor fully chase stories by going and having conversations with the thinkers and doers.
It was more than time to put my name to this endeavour, and make a fresh committment to dedicating myself to reporting Derby’s scene.
So, we’re out and we’re being read. What next? We grow.
I think Derby deserves quality music journalism written from a variety of voices, so I invite you to join me now. The team is already growing but we can all be storge; I might have editor next to my name but this is OUR scene. I can’t – and don’t want to – do this alone. We’re open to contributors joining us and pitching to us bands, artists, venues, festivals, galleries, shows and anything musical and cultural you want to write about.
I think Derby has a lot more going on than I’ve uncovered in this first month of focus, in fact I know it. Submissions are open too – if you’re a band or an artist get in touch. We want to write about you.
And Derby, I wish I didn’t have to say it, but Girls To The Front – we need more women involved in this scene.
So, the mystery of storge is revealed. Maybe it’s no surprise, maybe this news elicits nothing but our city’s trademark apathy in you, maybe you’re annoyed I kept it secret for so long. It doesn’t really matter (unless you’re annoyed in which case I am sorry). What matters is that alone or with help Derby’s creative, cultural and musical contribution will be recognised, celebrated, critiqued and shared here at storge.
Find me, Sarah Lay, editor of storge:
Find Pete Darrington, assistant editor of storge:
- on Twitter.