Brighton’s Finest - Journalist, David Hillier

David Hillier, AKA the Original Voice of PLATF9RM, has been breathing life into us with his wise and witty words since 2017. Ever the modest man, David’s made it all about us for the past two years. So before we wave goodbye as he moves onto other writing pastures, we grabbed him for a coffee to find out about him – his past, his passions and his picture of his future.

Hi David! Firstly, we want to say a massive thank you for helping us to build Platf9rm’s personality. Your way with words, your ideas and your dedication to developing our brand has blown us away. We’ll miss you for sure, but we can’t wait to hear about what you’ve got coming up next.

Thank you! I feel very lucky to have been a part of it. It’s been great to come up with ideas and have them brought to life immediately. I was always given a lot of creative freedom by Emilie [Lashmar – PLATF9RM Creative Director] and I’m so grateful for that. PLATF9RM was always much more than a client to me: they really helped me personally and career-wise.

So it sounds like you’ve had an interesting career so far. But where did it all start?

Well, in my early twenties I set up a music website called Gobshout. It was only small but allowed me to write loads about music, go to festivals for free, and gave me a foot into the industry. I started writing for a few other websites and wrote a novel whilst doing other jobs, but it wasn’t until I was 28 and I did an NCTJ* that I got serious about my writing career.

*a journalism qualification from the National Council for the Training of Journalists

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A novel! Tell us more.

Well, I read a bit recently and I think it’s best buried in my hard drive! But it was therapeutic to write and I’m sure most writers have a bad book or two in their closets. Sounds trite but I now see it as part of my development.

You’re working on another novel now, aren’t you?

Yes, I’m about a third of the way through it. It’s about two people who meet on a cliff, both intending to jump. The story looks at how their lives are interlinked and how everyone has foibles they can’t always control. My dad sends me texts asking if I’ve hit my word count for the day so I’m hoping to get it finished sometime this year!

When did you discover your passion for writing?

I’ve always written in one way or another; I think it was the only thing I felt like I might be okay at! I am the most unpractical man on the planet.

My breakthrough moment was probably when I got full marks on my English coursework at A-Levels. I wrote an essay on Catch-22 and Birdsong and honestly didn’t expect to do that well. That gave me a bit of belief. I actually found Ms. Schwartz – my English teacher – on Twitter the other day and said thank you for teaching me so well.

You’re an award winning journalist – you’ve probably had your fair share of proud career moments! Can you pick a proudest?

It was probably winning that award for UK Best Festival Journalist from the Association of Independent Festivals. That was in 2016 after a I wrote a lot about drugs-testing at festivals. I think I was more pleased for my parents because they have always believed in me, even during a few shall-we-say unfocused years in my 20s.

That must’ve been so exciting. Were you at the awards ceremony?

Yeah! I made a very short, bumbling acceptance speech. I hate public speaking. The rest of it was lovely, though having to chair a conference panel the next morning with an 8/10 hangover was tricky.

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What else do you love to write about?

I think this is an interesting time to be a man so I’m enjoying writing about issues around masculinity. I’m also writing about mental health, festival and drug culture, and tech. I’m not tech-minded at all but I find tech fascinating as it affects everyone’s lives so deeply.

What’s your dream assignment?

Well I’d love to write for the New Yorker – that’s the pinnacle for a journalist.
And I’d love to interview Bruce Springsteen. At his house. So yes – my dream assignment would be to do a profile on Bruce Springsteen at his house, for the New Yorker!*

*If you’re reading, David Remnick, feel free to get in touch…

Go on, name drop us a few of your biggest clients!

Editorially, I guess Playboy, The Guardian, most of the Vice verticals, Shortlist, Wonderland. Always looking to add to that list!

Have you got any exciting projects in the pipeline?

I’ve just published an article for Vice about brawling in British horse racing. It was really interesting and I love deep-diving into a world I don’t know loads about previously.

What’s your availability like at the moment? (Just asking!)

Erm… (blushes)

Your availability for new commissions, I mean. Not your relationship status!*

Oh, right! Yes, I’m very up for new projects. I’ve done a lot of content writing and copywriting for brands too. Commissions actively encouraged.

*In case anyone’s wondering, David does in fact have a girlfriend. Sorry ladies.

Will Clarence [David’s dog] always be your right hand man?

Ha, Clarence is pretty much an extra limb. He’s a cute fluffy buffer between me and the world. People make a fuss of him and go, “sorry, I’m saying hi to Clarence before you,” and I’m like, “no, that works for me.”

Let’s talk about Brighton. What brought you to the city?

I’m from Kent but lived in London for nearly 10 years before here. My mum's from Brighton and I came here a lot as a kid so I’ve always been drawn to it. I’d fallen out of love with London and came to Brighton for my NCTJ. I loved it so moved permanently a year-or-so later. I’m like an old man when I go back to London now – moaning about it being big and loud and having too many people.

How do you get your writer’s kicks in Brighton?

I like this little café near where I live called Salvage. You’d probably call it “very Brighton” – there’s antiques everywhere, the owner wears a fedora and has a well-pomaded mustache. Clarence was sick on the floor in there once, and they were really cool about it. Since then, I've always been like, “you’re good people.” Plus the brownies are insane.

So we can find you there when we want to say hi, then?

Yes, Salvage in the afternoons, and maybe the Robin Hood pub in the evening.

Okay, see you there! Thanks for chatting to us David,

and we’re looking forward to reading your next big story.

@dhillierwrites / www.davidhillierwrites.com