The Insiders: Mark Robertson

Here’s the second part of our Insider’s guide to the music industry. Enjoy, lucky people.

Full name: Mark Robertson.
Age: 34.
Hometown: Edinburgh via Paisley
Job title: The List music editor/deputy editor.
How did you get your job? Came to The List for three weeks work experience and never left. I kept finding things to do until the Hannah McGill, music editor at that point, left for another job and then stole her seat.
Did qualifications or experience help you get your job? I was doing the work experience as part of a post-grad course at Napier University so it gave me the impetus to ask for work experience. I learnt some thing useful things on the course but nothing more important than building up the courage to go out and ask people for work.
What’s the best part about your job? I get to engage with a subject I’m incredibly passionate about on a daily basis and get to champion exciting, creative people. The free gig tickets and CDs don’t hurt either.
And the worst? It has its frustrations like any job. It is a job after all.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job? That it’s easy (just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you can write), that you meet famous people (well, now and again but in Scotland its mostly interviewing on the phone), that it’s particularly glamorous (for me it is 85% admin, 10% opening envelopes and 5% getting really excited about a new band or song and raving about it).
Who is the most famous person you’ve met while doing your job? I’m still not very good at ligging after all these years so tend to avoid small talk with famous folks I might encounter at gigs or wherever. I’ve interviewed some incredibly cool people – Jack White, Nick Cave, Dave Grohl, Mark E Smith, Noel Gallagher and Bill Drummond – but end up getting extra excited about nerdy rock boys like Omar form The Mars Volta or Ian from Battles. The best was probably Jack White, though. He was a total gent and really insightful. Courtney from The Dandy Warhols was extremely entertaining. He had spent all day getting jaked in a hotel room doing phone interviews and by the time I got him at five o’clock he could barely speak but was having a whale of a time. Made a great feature, though. I still get very star-struck – I asked for Samuel L Jackson’s autograph at a press conference once. A proper star that your mum knows. Actually, Kirstie Allsopp from Location, Location, Location was pretty great too. I was flirting like a 14-year-old schoolgirl the whole time.
How long would it take for someone to be trained to do your job from scratch? I’ve been doing this for nine years and am still learning, adding to my knowledge and understanding of music. I get cynical from time to time – hello Pete Doherty, hello Razorlight – but then you hear something that’s just bloody mindblowing and it’s like starting all over again. Like the first time I heard Battles or Kanye West or Fiona Apple. Or The Xcerts this afternoon.
Complete this sentence: The amount I make for doing my job is… a lot less than you’d think. Not a king’s ransom but maybe enough to spring a member of Camera Obscura from a perilous hostage situation.
Whose music is making you most excited right now? The new albums on constant rotation for me currently include: Lupe Fiasco, The Twilight Sad, Dillinger Escape Plan, Nick Cave, Vampire Weekend, the new Rough Trade annual thingy and a compilation of bonkers math metal my pal Andrew made for me. Plus a nutty Irish guy called The Niallist from Glasgow, he’s a hoot. And Sixpeopleaway is an amazing songwriter from Edinburgh.
What’s the next gig in your diary? The Mars Volta at Carling Academy, Glasgow.
Anything else you’d like to add? I’ve probably said too much already!

4 Nick Cave – Breathless
4 Sixpeopleaway – Next Time Round

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