Since we’re redesigning…

Freaky Trigger is a UK-based website which consists of a bunch of themed weblogs. It started life in 1999 as a music site, edited by me, as a way to get my ramblings on pop music out of my head and onto the web. I’d always wanted to do a fanzine, and this was a lot cheaper.

On its first birthday I started New York London Paris Munich, a weblog. Weblogs were relatively new back then and I think NYLPM is one of the two or three oldest music blogs still going. Its mix of singles reviews and links was a huge success and it’s still the most visited part of the site. At the time my listening habits were changing dramatically, with single tracks and commercial pop winning out over albums and more ‘alternative’ stuff. NYLPM reflected this and Freaky Trigger got a reputation for being a site which pushed a pro-Pop agenda, taking modern pop seriously and celebrating it. This ideology carried over to the message board I Love Music, which eventually became an even huger success, even though most of its earliest threads were about the Wedding Present.

ILM, and its sister board ILE, pretty much did for Freaky Trigger as an essay-based site. Why spend ages composing a lengthy piece on something when you could post working notes to a board and find yourself in a freeform discussion with some of the sharpest minds on the net? Meanwhile, by 2002 and 2003 newer, better music blogs were turning up and I felt NYLPM had lost a lot of its old fire. We certainly weren’t setting any kind of agenda any more; the sites we used to bitch about now had columns which read like vintage NYLPM (if less starchy and English); the newer players were clearly a lot more on-the-ball; I’d said what I had to say and besides I was getting married and didn’t have that much time for a website any more. Freaky Trigger needed to change, or get scrapped. We decided to change.

Time for a swift one

Also back in 2000, my friend Pete had started Pumpkin Pubs, a pub review site spinning out of a film site he’d been running. Pumpkin Pubs was mostly notable for a livid digitised Pumpkin graphic, and for turning into Pumpkin Publog, a team weblog about pubs and pubgoing which all objectivity aside I think was one of the best kept secrets in UK weblogging. I loved writing for it; I loved reading it; I loved the way it shared with NYLPM a commitment to taking tiny things quite seriously.

So we had a declining site with a big audience, and a relatively thriving site with a tiny audience. We also had an itch to write about some things that weren’t music. Or pubs, for that matter. Solution: blindingly obvious.

In August 2003, Freaky Trigger switched to its current form – a collection of themed team blogs touching on most of the vaguely cultural things Pete and I (and Tim Hopkins, who joined up as the third co-editor) enjoyed. Alan Trewartha redesigned the site and suddenly it looked good. Dave Boyle suggested a sports weblog, and Geeta Dayal a science one, and we put both ideas into practise. We kept on thinking of subjects for a seventh blog and decided to do all of them. I decided that I wasn’t sick of writing about music quite yet and started a stupidly long-term project called Popular. We bought Tanya Headon’s services with some cheap Slovenian gin. And here we are.

Freaky Trigger is not comprehensive. It will cover some things at enormous length and miss out many others entirely. We do our best to make sure every blog is interesting but even so hardly anyone reads the whole lot. It is not particularly inclusive – despite a few efforts and some magnificent exceptions we’ve not had much luck at expanding our circle beyond our social circle. On the other hand this means we sometimes feel like a group of mates bouncing ideas about in a pub. And that feels good. We are a trivial site by and large, but as a reader one of the things I like about FT is the way it will offhandedly drop really good points and ideas into the most unlikely of contexts. An acquired taste certainly, but that’s moot really, as we’ve been here six years and we’re not planning on going anywhere yet!