Best independent music magazines to read for Notting Hill Carnival

by Grace Wang in August 2018
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This bank holiday weekend in London, sound systems, parades and live music will flood the streets of Notting Hill, celebrating the city’s vibrant diversity. Modelled on the historic Trinidad Carnival, it takes root in the community-centric culture of the Caribbean. But as party-goers flock to the high street in their glitziest garbs and music heads stress over the best routes to take, we’re turning a page on some of our favourite independent music magazines. Below, find a list of outstanding publications that cover club culture, dance music, vinyl, and music from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, ruffling the feathers of the mainstream with their unassailable attitude and taste.

Straight No Chaser

Revived last year after a 10-year hiatus, Straight No Chaser magazine was founded in 1988 by people who worked on NME and The Face. But with its lyrical writing and scrupulously researched stories, it is as relevant to the communities around us today as it was 30 years ago. The London-based title reports on the music coming out of the African diaspora, spanning jazz, hip-hop, electronic, reggae, and crossing continents to shout about African music and Latin sounds. Find out more in our interview with editor Paul Bradshaw.

Wax Poetics

What a great name. Suggestive of both vinyl records and the act of reminiscing, Wax Poetics’ title sums up its spirit — bridging hip-hop, RnB, funk and jazz, their pages champion timeless, soulful music and archival photography. Inspired by the culture of beat-digging — finding loops and samples to produce hip-hop beats — editor-in-chief Andre Torres founded the magazine in 2001, and at issue 66, it is still going strong today.


Like Wax Poetics, Record uses vinyl records as a starting point to tell intimate, longform stories on extraordinary musicians around the world. The people they profile are seldom celebrities; instead, they’re selected for their idiosyncratic creativity when it comes to producing music. Take Laraaji, issue three’s cover star — at age 75, he has lived a long life of putting laughter, meditation and his ambient sounds before glory or fame. This is a beautifully saddle-stitched volume with luxurious pacing and elegant photography, and you can find out more from editor Karl Henkell in our interview with him.


With infinite scrolling and predictive algorithms, the act of discovering new music can feel like a daunting task. But if you live in Amsterdam, you can subscribe to Subbacultcha, a membership that allows you free access to the gigs they put on, as well as an unassuming, thoughtfully put-together magazine highlighting the most fresh and exciting new music. Based in the revered night club De School, their discerning taste and unrelentling appetite is always a source of inspiration. Read our conversation with editor Roxy Merrell to find out more.


This is a brand new one sent to us the other day. Published in Lisbon, Pista! dives deep into the past and present of the club experiences in Portugal. The inventive and systematised editorial format — three separate volumes, all printed with a risograph — reflects its origin story: pummelled by the amount of new labels, projects, collectives and events, they wanted to slow down and think deeply about the creation and experience of music in their country. Written in both English and Portuguese, it has features of 80s dance fanzines, 90s broken beat collectives, and today’s most illustrious radio hosts.


Self-described as the “reliable pulse of the African millennial” Native reports on the new cultures of today. Explicitly challenging forces of censorship, conservatism and colonialism, the print and online magazine celebrates music and style from the African continent and its diaspora — that’s poetic rap from Nigeria, dancehall from South Africa, and lots of Sade.

The Move

A magazine of underground music and club culture, The Move is the magazine to read if you want to get familiar with the particular sub-genre of London’s live music scene. From eminent house and techno producers to up-and-coming jazz drummers, it looks at global movements through a UK perspective, with amazing stories that range from wartime Bosnia to dancehall Jamaica. Find out more in our questionnaire with editor Tom Armstrong.


We’re rounding up this list with another veteran publication. Founded in 1977, Trax reports on electronic music and its surrounding cultures. Redesigned last year with an emphasis on cutting-edge typography (courtesy of Production Type), its exhaustive coverage is balanced by bold, rhythmic pacing. Read it for recommendations, interviews and no-bullshit criticism.

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