Toby Creswell is one of Australia’s most prolific music and popular culture writers and producers. He was the founding editor of JUICE magazine and former editor of Rolling Stone Australia; has written several books – including Too Much Ain’t Enough: the Life of Jimmy Barnes; The Real Thing (with Martin Fabinyi); 1001 Songs; 1001 Australians; Notorious Australians; Love Is In the Air; 100 Greatest Australian Albums (with John O’Donnell and Craig Mathieson) and 100 Greatest Albums of All Time (with Craig Mathieson) – produced and written a range of films, TV series and documentaries, and won a swag of industry awards.
Open Journal caught up with Toby to talk inspiration, music and to find out what he’s currently working on.
1. What is a current or recent influence/source of inspiration?
Julia Gillard: She doesn’t blame others for mistakes, is unafraid to be different, unafraid to take on the touch choices and the tough jobs, behaves with grace and is witty under pressure.
2. And a past childhood influence? What early memory do you have of first being interested in music?
Standing in Spit Junction record bar and first hearing ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’.
3. When you meet somebody you don’t know at a party, how do you answer the question “What do you do?”
I find this a very disturbing question and always have. My intention I suppose is to downplay what I do and get on to a more interesting topic, so my response varies. Sometimes I will talk about what I am doing at present or say something like, “I write stuff about music.”
4. What does a typical work week look like for you?
Typing, procrastinating, typing.
5. If you weren’t doing what you do, what other field could you see yourself working in?
6. An industry secret or myth you’d like to bust?
The idea that ‘independent’ records have some special integrity or that artists make the best albums, when given complete creative control. The best records are made by artists with consultation and sometimes direction from a group of people – record companies, publishers, PR, media etc.
7. Defining career moment or story?
The first times: my first review in a national magazine when I was 17, but probably the Jimmy Barnes cover of Juice in 1993 which I think captured the zeitgeist, was banned in many newsagents.
8. What are you currently working on (or next)?
The History of JJJ; A History of Australia in 100 Objects and a reboot of 1001 Songs, plus a doco on the Church.
9. Last film or album that grabbed you?
U2 Songs of Innocence (not a popular choice but a great album).
10. Favourite moment in music of 2014?
Probably going to Splendour in the Grass. I don’t usually like music festivals but this was so well run and well curated from Courtney Barnett to the Hoodoo Gurus.
11. If you could change one thing…
12. If you could give yourself one piece of advice to your 21-year-old self, what would it be?
Stay free of petty jealousies, walk unafraid.
By Lisa Cugnetto