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Go Back"WE TAKE CHEATING VERY SERIOUSLY" - DJ mag's Lesley defends accusations of voter fraud in the Top 100 DJs poll the Wright way

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A music-led publication, DJ Magazine is now in its twelfth year, and has long earned respect amongst DJ’s and clubbers alike. With a reputation as honourable media, championing the true cause of global dance, it’s cutting edge press on music, club culture and DJ technology served fresh every two weeks.
Walking the line between underground existence and commercial survival, DJ mag has credibly remained two steps ahead, with a team of quality technical and creative minds.

DJmag is one of the most respected in the industry, it’s fully committed to dance music, from covering the best clubs to the latest record reviews.” John Digweed.

DJmag has been an important part of culture, as well as for me personally. I’ve followed it closely and, without kissing ass, it’s remained my favourite magazine. I can’t think of any other magazine that’s covered music so well…”
Danny Tenaglia.

Editor of London based DJmag, Lesley Wright, recently took some time out of her (incredibly busy) schedule to kindly answer some Spaced questions. Between those painful fortnightly deadlines, Lesley cleared up many issues Loco was previously confused about, including the popularity of the Top 100 DJs, freedom of speech and reading without a screen. Read between the lines now with Space, as we investigate with Lesley how DJmag has stayed tuned into the right frequency since 1991...

Can you tell the readers a little about how you first became editor of DJ Magazine?“By sleeping with the publisher. Nah, that’s bullshit! I was previously editor of M8 Magazine in Glasgow, and before that worked in tabloids for over two years. I’ve been a journalist for thirteen years and have simply worked my way up. The previous editor, Chris Coco left and I applied for the job. I think my Scottish accent may have baffled the interview panel actually!”

You celebrate DJ Magazine's thirteenth birthday in May 2004, that's quite a while to be publishing, will you have a cake?
“Don’t know about cake, I’ll probably have a nervous breakdown.”

I enjoyed your October feature ('Sleep Is For Losers Tour') with the DJ Magazine Tour in Prague and Zurich. You obviously still get out there yourself to uncover those nitty-gritty stories?
“Mate, why wouldn’t I? How can you know what’s really going on, if you’re not out there on the dance floor? I suffer from cabin fever if I stay in.”

You're pro-active on the underground scene and continue to break new, as well as support established talents, is that always a precedent?
“We pride ourselves in supporting new acts, new DJ’s and new music. We go on gut instinct. If we think someone is good, we’ll let the readers know.”

DJ technology is a considerable component part of your magazine (T-Scan Awards) and you do great informative features. Would you say you're one of the more serious UK titles on the dance music subject?
“Serious as in informative… But we like to think we can be funny bastards too!”

As an editorial team, do you think it's your place to present moral values in your media?
“We’ll gladly take a stance on certain issues relating directly to the dance scene. For example, we took a stance against the gun crime that was sadly attached to the garage scene. However, we’re not here to preach on world issues.”

How does it feel to have 'freedom of speech,' when many NYC dance webzines now have 'disclaimers' and warnings about so-called ‘drug speak?’
New York is pretty screwed all round as far as the dance scene is concerned, which is a terrible shame. Freedom of speech is paramount to the success of dance music magazines. It would be dumb for any UK government to try to impose drug disclaimers and warnings, particularly when “drug speak” is so common amongst the youth of today.”

Did you recently redesign your cover, use different photographers or just go 'glossy' because I think its visual impact has increased?
“For the past twelve months we’ve been using a UV varnish on the cover because it has a higher visual impact. We’re also lucky to work with some great photographers, and the designers here are always coming up with new ideas to further enhance the impact of the cover. First impressions last, after all.”

How do you decide on your cover star and photo shoots? Do you collaborate with your art director a lot?
“We really work as a team here at Djmag, and generally thrash things out with a bun fight.”

I thought the 'DJ Magazine Arena' was cream of the crop at the Space-Ibiza Closing Party, were you 'out there' yourself this season?
“Sadly not. I had my flights and accommodation booked but a very, very important meeting came up on the Monday, that I simply couldn’t cancel or move. I was gutted, but it wouldn’t have been wise to go to Space and catch a flight straight to my heavy-duty meeting. I don’t think even I could have styled that one. I was sick that I couldn’t go. In some ways it felt like I was there, a load of people were texting me from the DJmag Arena all day Sunday. Yeah, thanks for that guys. I’ll be there next year with bells on, for sure.”

Do you imagine magazine publishing will ever be replaced by webzines, or do you think people will always love the feel of paper and being able to read without a screen? Does have any plans in this respect?
“I like to think that people will always want to buy a magazine. Thankfully not everyone has access to a screen all the time. However, we’ve recently re-launched to compliment what’s in offer in the magazine. Hopefully, the website will drive people to the magazine and vice-versa.”

Regarding the Top 100 DJ's Poll, how would you argue the case that it's more than a hyped popularity contest?
“Since I’ve been editor, I’ve shifted the emphasis of the poll away from ‘Best DJ in the World’to ‘No. 1 DJ in the World’. It’s impossible to lay claim to being the Best DJ in the World, there are so many factors - passion, tune selection, mixing skills, technical ability, etc. The Top 100 DJs poll is an indication of a DJ’s popularity in any one given year. It’s really that simple. But the Top 100 Poll really does matter to a great many DJ’s. Their position in the poll can determine their bookings - and their fee - for the next twelve months… Don’t forget it is voted for by the public world wide, with 61,529 votes cast this year. It’s the punters who shape this poll each year - not the staff at DJmag.”

Could you tell us a bit about how the voting works please?
“This year people could vote by text message, by e-mail or by filling out the form in DJmag – listing their top five DJ’s in order of preference. Only one vote is accepted from the same e-mail address or mobile number. Any multiple votes from the same e-mail/mobile number are disqualified. We catch people trying to cheat every year, which always makes us laugh. I’ve even phoned people to tell them that they’ve been caught. But we pay a team thousands of pounds each year to go through the votes with a fine toothcomb to catch out any would-be cheats. We take cheating very seriously and do everything in our power to stop it. It’s extraordinary the lengths that some people will go to, to get into the Top 100.”

The dance music market is changing, tilting toward hard house and trance more than ever before. How will DJ magazine respond, and would you re-position your place in the market to cater for this?
“No, there are other magazines out there that cover trance and hard dance thoroughly and we’ll leave them to it. Obviously we tip a nod to these genres now and again, it would be wrong to ignore them completely, but our core readership is not into “big room” sounds. DJmag has a niche in the market, and by sticking to our niche we’ve weathered the storm that has seen other magazines go to the wall.”

What's been the weirdest thing to happen to you whilst you've been editor of DJ Magazine?
“The time someone once came into the office dressed as a pantomime pony to deliver a CD. Or Danny Tenaglia kicking off at me on my mobile while I was on a bus, on the way to a mate’s birthday party - That was a bit surreal!”

What has been the trickiest situation you've had to deal with as an editor?
“Tricky situations only arise if you allow them to. Being level headed and calm when a problem arises always makes it easier to find a solution.”

Any more news, or anything you'd like to mention here?
“Yeah, my favourite drink is whisky and diet coke so if anyone wants to get ’em in…”

Here’s a couple of 'Editor's Corner' Questions if you don’t mind…

"What is the greatest misconception people have about your job?" – Jim Tremayne (Editor DJ Times, NYC)
“That’s easy. People forget that DJmag is fortnightly, and that’s a shit load of work. The deadlines here come thick and fast. People see me out socialising and reckon it’s all about going out and having a good time. What they don’t see is the hard work, and very long hours put in to make DJmag a success. I kinda live by the ‘work hard, play hard’ motto. But my work takes priority.”

"With all the negativity surrounding dance music at the moment, where do you personally see it going?" - Nick Darby - Editor (Update)
“Last year was a shit year for dance music, no doubt about it and it took a great many people by surprise. Sadly we saw a lot of good clubs and labels go under. But hopefully we’ve seen the worst and the decline in dance music will level out. I do believe it will pick up again, in time - but the rise of dance music will be a much slower process second time around. Those who think dance music isn’t cool can jump onto the ‘next big thing’, but for a great many people dance music is a way of life. It’s those people who will now be allowed to reinvigorate and recreate the scene.”

Viva doing things the ‘Wright’ way – If you can’t get into their pages, then read DJmag online at

DJ Magazine, Highbury Nexus, 53 – 79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TW Tel: +0044 0 207 331 1000.

Words by Lisa Loco, not Chris Coco