The Spill Magazine, a Toronto-based online publication dedicated to covering the independent music scene, brings readers up to date with entertainment news focusing on local Toronto talent. A team of volunteer writers feature musicians, concerts, festivals, and album releases, getting an inside scoop on the latest from the front lines.
Stephen Lussier from Spill Magazine gave [Space Is] the lowdown on how it all operates with artists, bands, concerts, and festivals. Primarily, Spill Magazine is a journalistic endeavour - so what system is in place to make it all happen with a team of volunteers? “Realistically, we’re in an industry where money is hard to find and hard to give - so it’s really a love endeavour on both parts - were happy to help artists that really deserve to have a voice; and in turn the artists involved really respect what we do and bounce back to give us a voice through their fan base. It’s all about connectivity and getting into the public eye more so.”
How does Spill Magazine operate?
Spill Magazine is a fully volunteer based organization; which relates back to to the lack of money in the industry. That being said, the magazine gives their writers and team members a voice that can be heard. “A lot of our team is in flux, we tend to gain people and we tend to lose people. There are a few diehards that stick around for years; some of our team has been around for 10+ years. And then there are the ones that are more temporary. We take on interns as well, so they’ll pick up a project for about an hour here and there. It’s an interesting dynamic, we’re in a position right now without the financial part. A lot of volunteer journalism is an understood situation within the music industry, which is sad and beautiful all at once.”
For Spill Magazine, the festival coverage over the years has been a great success. The writing projects have constantly evolved year after year, to the point where relationships are solidified with promoters and festivals. “The writers go to local and international festivals in teams of fleets of writers and photographers, and the experiences that they have just blows my mind. Getting them in the door is one part, but then the fact that they contribute and come back with some wicked material is a win-win. The evolution of our relationship and experience within the festival world is pretty positive.” Some of the festivals graced by Spill writers include NXNE, Canadian Music Week, Osheaga, and Bonnaroo. Previously, Spill Magazine only focused on local and independent festivals, but many years ago, they decided to broaden the umbrella and appeal to an audience that wanted a more global music perspective.
Describe your ideal or favourite event space. Have you found it? What are some features of different spaces that you have enjoyed?
“I have a handful of ones I adore; I fell in love with The Opera House years ago because of that intimacy it has. For me, if you can get a big band into a tiny venue, that’s a phenomenal experience. I used to have a love hate relationship with The Phoenix, because I disliked the galley style that they have there, but things seem to have changed - so I’m actually a fan now. If you want to have a local vibe, the Rivoli and Horseshoe Tavern mentality always come to mind. When you’re in a tiny box and you can really connect with the band - I’ve done it as a journalist, I’ve done it as an onlooker, and it’s just a great experience that Toronto offers with so many of these small venues like the The Drake and Gladstone.”
What are your perspectives on the music industry - where is it headed?
“The live music scene expanding and coming back - I thought we had lost our way with the public sense of music. A lot of kids were losing interest it seemed in the last ten or so years; but I think now there’s an excitement about festivals and live music in general. People are looking at the back of NOW Magazine to see what’s local. Toronto doesn’t have a lack of venues or artists - it’s a mecca. You can see there is an excitement based on the fact that artists are still putting themselves out there and so many people are still flocking to these venues.”
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