Dr David Coleman Interview: The GP music editor

Olivia Blair spoke to Dr David Coleman, founder of an independent online magazine.

Tell us more about your online music magazine, No Ripcord

I started No Ripcord in 1999. I was in the sixth form and clearly had a bit too much time on my hands.

I'd like to revise history and say the initial goal was something impressive and worthy - to improve the quality of music criticism or shed light on avant garde works -but if I'm honest, I just wanted to get hold of as much free music as I could listen to, score some free tickets and occasionally, get some interviews.

I grew up in a little town in Cumbria - there was no record shop and the internet was terribly slow. It was difficult to discover interesting music back then, but No Ripcord changed everything in an instant.

Initially a one-man show, No Ripcord has evolved and now has a team of about 30. I've been working with some of these contributors for more than a decade now and it's been great fun.

Highlights of working on the site have included meeting some fascinating artists, gaining free admission to festivals and, in particular, photographing festivals from the photo pit.

Michael Stipe from R.E.M. apparently admitted to a writer that he read the website from time to time. Perhaps he was just being polite, but I'll take that.

There has been some controversy, too, which I have also enjoyed overcoming, in retrospect. One manager threatened to sue us for a review they claimed was defamatory. There have been a few explosive breakdowns with some more maverick contributors and we have been victims and perpetrators of plagiarism at various points.

How do you fit in editing a magazine with being a GP?

With growing difficulty, it has to be said. The increasing workload in general practice, combined with family commitments, makes it tricky to do as much as I would like. I still oversee the major collaborative features and contribute articles very occasionally, but my role now is very much about delegation.

I am fortunate to have an excellent editorial team - for the past two years, our managing editor in LA has handled the bulk of the editing work and looked after the day-to-day running of the site.

I still look after the technical side. I also use my commute and admin time to enjoy new music and will typically listen to about three to five new albums every week.

Are your patients aware of your interest in music?

I don't think so. Medical students are usually the ones who bear the brunt of my music obsession. They're a captive audience on home visits and we usually end up talking about music.

Is there a particular genre of music that you prefer?

I used to be very genre-specific, only indie rock or singer-songwriter stuff, but I think your tastes broaden and your mind opens as you get older.

I like the best bits of everything nowadays, be it pop, rock, hip hop, electronic, metal or jazz.

That said, my wife still thinks that I listen to the same boring music I did 10 years ago.

Three favourite albums so far this year are Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly (groundbreaking hip hop), Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell (beautiful songwriting about the death of a parent) and Father John Misty's I Love You, Honeybear (a colourful, entertaining set of songs from the former Fleet Foxes drummer).

My all-time favourite changes all the time, but more often than not, it's Big Star's Number 1 Record, which is power-pop perfection.

What's next for you?

I'm determined not to let the rigours of general practice take everything away. My vision is for a quarterly PDF magazine, dedicated to long-form features, alongside the website.

This would be easier to fit in with general practice and if I could edit that, I would be happy to pass all website duties to other team members.

We did one issue for our 15th birthday and the reception was great - I think there's a place for something like this, an antidote to the tedious clickbait that dominates the internet these days.

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