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Archive for April, 2011

Fanzines

For my first blog post, I thought I would upload a piece that introduced my zine and the work I do in it by way of an introduction to the kind of posts I hope to add here in the coming weeks. I answered these questions for a friend of mine who was conducting interviews with zine editors last year, and I hope that people enjoy reading it. Until next time……KM

What is the appeal of fanzines for you?

I was a very late starter with regard to fanzines, and only began to read them at University despite seeing adverts for them in the NME each week for years. Finding the alternatives to anything is difficult without help, and it took my then-girlfriend to introduce me to fanzines, specifically the ones that she wrote for. The first one I ever read was a London-based zine called “The Indie Pendant” in 1996, who published my first article later that year (a terribly naive piece on guitar noise). Fanzines immediately appealed to me because they seemed so freeing; writing whatever I wanted about music, art, films, books etc was exactly what I was trying to do at that time, but I needed to find the right outlet for that somewhat stifled creativity. A fanzine is something that still has that direct appeal, it can define alternative and at times oppositional viewpoints that allows you as a reader to identify with and participate in ideas in ways that the mainstream cannot (and will not) consider. The best fanzines possess an immediacy and a passion for their subject(s) that perfectly captures the spirit of the time in which it was created. They are true time capsules.

Have you ever put together a fanzine? If so, what was it about and who contributed to it?

I’ve been publishing my own fanzine called “SALT” for nine years, and have worked on zines since 1997. “SALT” was created for several reasons: my enthusiasm for zines and the rate at which I was writing meant that not all of my articles were being published, and some of them were considered unsuitable for publication, leaving me with lots of work that eventually became the first issue. I got together with three friends and developed a proposal for a fanzine that was very broad in scope: it would include art, comix, music, literature and features/interviews on music from all genres worldwide, not just current bands from the UK. I found that approach far too parochial and wanted to write about so many overseas groups that interested me. For instance, the first issue contained a history and discography of the Elephant 6 Collective, a US psych pop movement that fascinated me at the time. I assumed control of the magazine and published the first issue in an unstapled edition of thirty copies in late 2000, using friend’s computers and a local printer (I had no PC of my own, and have relied heavily on library facilities and internet cafes to produce issues in the past). The emphasis of the zine has only become broader as the years have passed; it has featured everything from graphic novels to professional wrestling, from experimental noise to black metal, from gleaming pop to grindcore and back again. Contributors have included artists Adam Keay and Jimmy Trance, Roy K. Felps (musician and designer for the label Crucial Blast), Andy Perseponko (Prophase Records), writers Jack Isadore and Raven Mack (writer for “Carbon 14” magazine). “SALT” has gradually built up a loyal worldwide readership thanks to some very supportive people, namely Andee Connors at Aquarius Records in San Francisco. His love for the zine has taken it to places I’d never imagined it would go, and for that I will always be incredibly grateful.

Do you feel the art of the zine is a dying one or will there always be a place for them?

Most of the zines that I wrote for regularly either folded or went online as webzines in 2001/02, and effectively an entire network was shut down. Free ad space for zines disappeared from bigger magazines and few places would actively stock them. In the face of all this I was determined to keep “SALT” going, doing what I could to resist the exodus of writers and artists to the internet because I knew that webzines, as good as some of them could be, were not a ready-made replacement or superior offering to a paper zine. A zine’s value begins with that tangibility of actually being able to pick it up, to look it over and find something new. Scrolling down a page online doesn’t have that same thrill as turning a page to the article you really want to read. I felt that too many people fled too soon from paper zines, and of course zines have come back in fashion somewhat – though not one person bought a copy of “SALT” issue 8 from any of the local record stores I placed it in. I sold most of my last run to readers in Europe and the US, which I suppose reflects the outlook of the magazine perfectly. The art of the zine will always be dying and always be living, perpetually mutating and reinventing itself, bending to the will of each individual’s creativity and imagination. Having a non-specific remit for “SALT” has helped me stay focussed and alert, and also allowed me to operate in own way and at my own pace. There will always be a place for fanzines as long as there is the need to create and to fill that mythic blank space in all of us. I don’t see any sign of that desire ever wavering.

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