(Image source: Taylor Glasby)
Ever heard of Taylor Glasby? If not, what have you been reading lately?! Known as UK’s most prominent K-Pop writer, Taylor is a freelance writer, covering all genres of music, especially the South Korean music, for major UK and US youth titles such as i-D, Teen Vogue, Dazed and much more. Her style of writing has landed her interviews with the best of the best in the K-pop music industry, which include… wait for it…. EXO, BTS, G-Dragon, Zico, SHINee, Girl’s Generation, 2NE1, Red Velvet, to name a few, as well as American artists like Jared Leto, Far East Movement, Demi Lovato, My Chemical Romance, Muse, The Killers and…. the list goes on and on! We all want to be her right now. Taylor dishes to me everything you’d possibly want to know, from how she became a K-pop writer, what BTS are really like in person and her thoughts on journalism. Prepare to be inspired!
Taylor, can you tell me more about yourself and your professional career? Who is Taylor Glasby?
I started writing about music because I’d been obsessed with it since I was about 6 years old, and found myself editor of a young magazine called Disorder when I was in my early 20s and I knew fuck all about running a magazine! I had to learn by making mistakes and lots of them. I’ve been freelancing since 2012 and now, primarily, write for Dazed, i-D, Paper and teenVogue. It’s been a very long journey to get here but I still don’t feel like I’ve achieved all I can. I’m pretty hard on myself!
You’re known for covering not only fashion and design but also all genres of music, specifically K-pop, which seems to be immensely popular nowadays, and you’re currently UK’s most prominent K-Pop writer. How did this come about? When were you first interested in this genre and of course interested in writing about it?
I stumbled onto K-Pop around 2010/2011. I had been covering rock, punk and indie but my roots are in pop music and I was ready for a change. YouTube randomly suggested a K-Pop MV so I watched it out of curiosity and was hooked instantly. I wanted to write about it because no one else in the West was, at least, not for high profile magazines.
When Interviewing K-pop stars, do you usually have a translator available or are you, by any chance, fluent in Korean?
I’m not fluent, no. I have a translator with me.
“I interview artists because I find them interesting and I’m a curious person.”
It’s interesting how Korean music’s popularity is increasing. As a music journalist, why do you think so?
It’s just a natural progression. One person in the West gets into K-Pop and they tell all their friends. Out of those friends, maybe one or two tell more people. The circles just widen and widen. Plus K-Pop videos and choreography generally surpasses what’s on offer in the West. People can’t help but pay attention.
You recently interviewed BTS, South Korea’s most popular K-pop boy band. Can you tell me more about it? Was it what you expected it to be?
I’ve been covering BTS for several years, writing about their releases for Dazed, and I’ve kept up with all their Bombs, which really shows off their personalities, so it was exactly how I expected. They’re a genuinely lovely group of guys.
Who was the first artist or band you’ve had the opportunity to interview?
What, ever??? I can’t remember, it was too long ago! In K-Pop, it was G-Dragon. I really dived into the deep end with that one.
From all the bands you’ve interviewed, which K-pop band or solo artist stood out or left a great impression?
RM (BTS) because he’s funny as hell, kind and super intelligent. Bang Yongguk because he’s a fighter and, from as far as I could tell, pretty complex. I recently interviewed Keith Ape and he shattered every preconception I had of him. He really impressed me.
Is there anyone you’d like to interview that you haven’t?
I always wish I got to interview Bowie. Actually most of the people I wish I could interview are dead. Oh wait, Stevie Nicks. I really want to talk to her, she’s spectacular.
How do you keep yourself cool and collected when you’re assigned to interview your favorite band or solo artist? What’s the best way to be professional at the same time stay calm internally?
If you’re trying not to scream and jump on them, you’re probably not doing journalism for the right reasons. I’ve had nerves before interviews, but mostly I’m pretty relaxed. I interview artists because I find them interesting and I’m a curious person. It’s always just a conversation, but one that has to be created, crafted, steered and refined before, during and afterwards. It’s easy and difficult at the same time.
What’s your personal style when it comes to writing?
I’ve always been influenced by fiction writers in finding my voice. Hopefully, these days, you can tell my writing from a mile off! I don’t know how to describe it. Immersive? Cinematic? I like to create this visual widescreen feel, but pack in the action as well.
On your website, it states that your personal style has lead many of your subjects ‘offering up exclusives that were reported worldwide’. What’s your secret? What is the process you take to prepare questions?
Research until my eyes bleed and never take anything for granted.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout the course of your career?
There will always be someone better, hungrier or more ruthless than you. Unless it’s your singular desire to beat them, you will fall apart from stressing over them. Just stay in your own lane, make goals that work for you, always keep learning and striving on your own terms, and don’t second-guess yourself.
Based on your years of experience in the industry, do you think journalism is dying?
There will always be stories to be told. Journalism will not die but the quality has certainly decreased. The rise of the blogger has lowered the bar significantly, and people accept terrible writing because it’s all they know. We are in the age of instant gratification and while I love that, it does mean intelligent storytelling has suffered. When even acclaimed magazines employ bad writers, you know things are pretty fucked.
Do you have any advice or other tips you’d like to share with us and/or other aspiring journalists?
Never assume anything. Read everything. Never be afraid to ask for feedback. Your final version will never be the actual final version. A good editor will be constructive and want to help you make your piece better, so even if their words feel brutal, don’t dismiss their advice. Try not to engage with internet trolls though you’re tempted to defend yourself. It’s a waste of energy and data allowance!
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Image Attribution – Photo by John Lin, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0 (BTS)
note: all answers are original and unaltered