Producer, publisher, and entrepreneur Rob Deacon was a driving force behind the British alternative music explosion of the 1990s -- his long-running and influential compilation series Volume and Trance Europe Express were instrumental in defining the sound and image of genres spanning from industrial to electronica to dream pop. Born August 6, 1965, in Sutton-at-Hone, Deacon spent much of his childhood in Australia before attending technical college in Dartford. During an apprenticeship with British Telecom he began publishing a music fanzine dubbed Enzine, soon moving on to Abstract, which featured a 12" vinyl compilation and interviews with artists as well as the lavish design hallmarks that remained the signature of Deacon's subsequent projects. He also mounted his own independent label, Sweatbox, which emphasized industrial acts like Meat Beat Manifesto and In the Nursery. After securing a Prince's Trust Grant and an early Apple computer, Deacon began work on Volume, which would combine a CD of exclusive tracks alongside a full-color, CD-sized book of features, interviews, and reviews -- he wrote much of the copy and snapped all of the photos, in addition to recruiting exclusive tracks from acts including the Wolfgang Press, the Shamen, Nitzer Ebb, and Throwing Muses.
Volume One hit stores in 1991, and quickly sold out; follow-up issues included music from Blur, Nine Inch Nails, the Sugarcubes, Pulp, Moby, the Charlatans, Aphex Twin, and Suede. In 1993, Deacon teamed with Helen Mead to launch Trance Europe Express, a companion series spotlighting the emerging electronic genre. The first five issues sold in excess of 100,000 copies each, and Deacon became a kind of international trance ambassador, promoting and producing projects in Australia, Japan, and Germany. As more and more rival publications began including free CDs of their own, Deacon was forced to shutter Volume in early 1997, going out with a 17th issue boasting a two-CD set spanning more than two hours of music. Around the same time he founded a new electronic label, Deviant, releasing efforts by acts like the Orb and Pentatonik as well as championing then-unknown DJ Paul van Dyk. The ongoing demise of the traditional record industry and the rise of digital downloads prompted Deacon to fold Deviant in 2006. He died in a canoeing accident on September 8, 2007.