Spilling the Musical Beans

Back in 1994, Arvin Kashyap was facing graduation from university and thus the end of his tenure at the campus radio station. Wanting to stay in the music industry, Arvin decided to start a music magazine. Fortunately, he had a friend who happened to be a writer looking for a writing job (namely me) and a small, dedicated team of other music fans. The Spill Magazine was born.

The first official issue, a collection of short CD and live show reviews, came out in May of 1994 as a text file that was posted to various Usenet newsgroups and bulletin board systems. Looking back, it seems like the online Dark Ages. The World Wide Web existed, but graphical web browsing was still somewhat of a novelty (anyone remember NCSA Mosaic?) with most Internet service providers offering limited Web access through Lynx. Even the big ISPs’ most popular services were the local message boards. In this embryonic digital world, The Spill Magazine found a dedicated following. Within hours, we got our first email asking us to review someone’s band.

After that, The Spill Magazine became a print magazine available for free in various Toronto locales. It expanded to include band interviews, columns (“net.buzz” was one of mine, documenting some of the music-based content on the early Web that was accessible at 9600bps), and editorials.

I didn’t make any money writing for The Spill Magazine, but I did have a great time. I got a rather hefty portfolio of published articles under my belt. And in the indie media heydays of the early-to-mid 1990s, being a writer for an independent magazine was amazing. I was 23 years old, getting into shows for free at Lee’s Palace, The Big Bop, the El Mocambo and so many other venues several times a week. Often, getting on the guest list also meant free beer, even free cigarettes in the days of tobacco arts sponsorships. And every week, a big pile of brand new CDs and cassettes got dropped into my lap.

My last article for The Spill Magazine was published back in 2004, but Arvin still has a dedicated team of writers working for him. The magazine exists as a website now, coming full circle and returning to its online-only roots. At 18, the magazine is almost old enough to get into bars and knock back pints of cheap beer just like we did back in the day.