15 Years of Joyzine: Prologue (1996 – 2003)

Hard as is it is to believe, come August we’ll have been doing this for 15 years.  In that time we’ve had the privilege to work with some wonderfully talented bands, writers, photographers and artists, and over the course of 2018 we’ll be looking back on some of our favourite moments and music from the past decade and a half, but today we’re going to go back even further to look at how the site came to being in the first place.

I’d like to say that there’s a revelatory story, deeply endowed with indie credibility about how I was first turned on to music outside of the mainstream.  Perhaps inadvertently tuning into John Peel for the first time and becoming an instant convert to lo-fi punk or the tutelage of a cool older cousin introducing me to their collection of Sonic Youth bootlegs, but if I’m going to be honest the band most directly responsible for the existence of this website, our radio show and all of the gigs we’ve put on over the years is Shed Seven.

Aged 16 at the height of the Britpop bubble, and having just aced my German GCSE oral exam, my dad took me for a congratulatory trip to Crawley market where I was told I could take my pick from a stall selling magazines.  My eye fell on a music magazine sessionscalled Sessions, which had a free cover-mounted CD featuring the Sheds, who along with most of the usual Britpop suspects (Ash, Supergrass, Pulp, Kula Shaker et al.) were favourites of mine at the time.

Once I got it home a whole new world of music was opened to me – the rest of the bands featured on the CD and within the pages were mostly unsigned, or on small independent labels and I was immediately drawn to the rough-hewn charms of The Dandys, Brubaker and Groupie, all of whose singles I immediately ordered by sending a cheque in the post to the mail order addresses in the magazine (my how times have changed).

Even better, The Dandys were playing at my nearest music venue, The Forum in Tunbridge Wells (still going strong all these years later), and I hopped on the train for my first ever gig.  When I arrived, dead on the time that the doors opened having anticipated the huge demand for tickets that a band of such obvious greatness would no doubt inspire, I was one of four people in the venue.  By the time The Dandys took to the stage, the crowd had swelled to twelve and I spent the thirty minutes of their set dancing like a maniacal octopus while everyone else hung around the bar.  Their singer AA010came out afterwards and bought me a glass of lemonade to thank me for my enthusiasm.

From from then on I was pretty much hooked, alternating my weekends between trips to Longplayer and Criminal Records in Tunbridge Wells and the excellent Beanos and Shake Some Action (still the greatest record shop of all time in my eyes) in Croydon, earning a few scars stage diving at The Forum (and from my first visit to the Reading Festival in ’98 at which my friend Adam and I decided it would be a good idea to claim a spot at the front of the main stage for the first band at midday and stay there until the end of Ash’s set around 11pm – needless to say it wasn’t) and building a deep and long-lasting affection for the likes of Subcircus, Stony Sleep, Mansun, The Junket, Ikara Colt and (still) my all-time favourites Urusei Yatsura along with a fervent desire to enlighten everyone I came into contact with about these bands’ brilliance.

Kaytronika

A few years down the line, having finished university and with a full year of mind-numbing part-time work ahead before training as a primary school teacher, I decided to put my time to Method Sentgood use and teach myself how to build a website.  Music was the obvious subject matter to go for, and so Kaytronika (named after an Urusei Yatsura track of course) was born.  It started out as a pretty basic fanpage with information and links about the likes of Black Nielson, Chicks On Speed and Six by Seven, but this all changed when on asking if I could leave some flyers at Shake Some Action, the guy working behind the desk passed me his band Method Sent’s CD, asking if I’d review it.  Which I did, commenting on its “chiming, interwoven guitars and understated drumming”.

Reviews became a regular part of the site from then on, and when reviews of KaitO’s debut album and of The Wannadies’ show at The Water Rats were picked up by a new twinstarzine with plans to burn down the music industry and rebuild it from the ground up, I joined The Twinstar Revolution.  We didn’t quite achieve our lofty goals, indeed there was only ever one issue printed, but I can trace back almost every person that I’ve come to know in the music world to those days, however indirectly.

As Kaytronika grew it soon became clear that to do everything that I wanted with the site, I’d need to enlist some help and get a website title that people could actually spell.  Flicking through my CD collection I came across the Mclusky track ‘Joy’ and the new site was born.

We’ll be continuing with a look at 2003 and some of our favourite music from the first year of Joyzine.  Check out a playlist of 15 tracks that inspired us in the first place below:

Words and Reading Festival photographs by Paul Maps

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