Saturday, 19 February 2011

Interview 22 (part 2)

In Part 2, Alan Rider's music- and agitzines were able to capture a significant chapter in Coventry's music and political history - not only in terms of who and what they covered, but in the way in which visual imagery was used to effect. Here are covers from Adventures in Reality (1980-1984) and Not The Jobhunter (1981-). [See the full interview with Alan Rider in part 1 below]

Interview 22 (part 1)

In Part 1 of a two part feature, Alan Rider, creator of the musiczine Adventures in Reality and an agitzine called Not The Jobhunter, talks about his lifetime obsession with zines and what the music scene was like in Coventry, UK.

Please say a little something about yourself and how Adventures in Reality came about.

“I guess I owe it all to a school friend of mine called Nigel. He was one of the early punks and used to get all the singles as soon as they came out then we’d play them round his house after school. He showed me a copy of Coventry fanzine Alternative Sounds, which I read and thought “this is great”. I’d never seen a fanzine before so it was a real Eureka moment. I went into town the next day and bought every fanzine I could get my hands on from the local record shops, read all about the local music scene, then started going to lots of gigs, meeting the editor of Alternative Sounds backstage at a Stranglers gig and volunteering to write for him.

Before long I thought I should have a go myself and started Adventures in Reality. The name of the fanzine just came to me, but also happens to be the initials of my name, so it seemed to fit. It was also how I felt about life at the time too.

The first issue was an A5 photocopied and handwritten affair. It was just a collection of reviews really and not particularly impressive. It was a start though and I put more issues out thick & fast. I liked to experiment with different formats and always included one or more free gifts in every issue. One came with a teabag so you could have a cuppa whilst you read it. Another had a Woolworths staff discount voucher. Toffees, badges, stickers, pull out posters, just about anything went really. They came in polythene bag sand folders. One issue had a nude body painting on the cover which the local community printers refused to print and the shops wouldn’t stock. So I got another printer to print up just the cover and let the community printers do the rest, bought a big box of brown paper bags from a packaging wholesaler, hand screen printed a design on them, then put it all together and sold that issue as a “Plain Brown Wrapper” edition.

I also started doing an Art degree at around the same time and for my end of term show decided (in true fanzine fashion) to ignore the convention that said you had to exhibit your paintings to other students and teachers in a room in the college, instead printing them up as posters and fly posting them in subways throughout the city. My end of term show then required everyone to traipse through these subways looking for whatever posters survived, many of which were defaced with graffiti (which I actually thought improved them!)

That spirit of experimentation and ‘anything goes’ pretty much summed up the appeal of doing a fanzine to me. I had no publishers to answer to, nor anyone to ask approval of. It was up to me. Although it is hard to imagine these days, fanzines were sold in pretty large numbers and distributed worldwide. I sold through records shops such as Virgin, HMV, Tower Records and Rough Trade, plus local record shops across the Midlands. Rough Trade distributed it to its American shops, as did Tower Records and I used a number of small European record distributors to get it into Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Italy, France. Some went to Japan and Australia. If there was a record shop on the moon I’m sure I would have got some there too!

I was hearing so much good music that I felt should be released that Adventures in Reality quickly branched out to begin releasing cassettes of local and international acts, then became a fully fledged indie record label. I promoted gigs, did visuals (slides, films projections, etc) for a couple of bands and formed bands myself, touring across Europe. I did a couple of smaller spoof fanzines anonymously (Sticky Fingers, Certain Substances and Negative Reaction), produced a free newsletter, helped run a record and tape mail order distributor in London, and wrote reviews and interviewed bands for other fanzines and glossy magazines.

I also produced an agit zine called Not The Jobhunter, which was given away free to the local unemployed layabouts, druggies and drunks. That was pretty controversial at the time as we’d got some funding to do it from the Queens Silver Jubilee Trust Fund and local politicians were suitably outraged that we had a drugs page in it and were generally rude about the local establishment. The local paper picked up on the story, then national radio and TV. But we didn’t really care what politicians or journalists thought and were even ruder about them in future issues. When the money ran out and we couldn’t give it away free any more we just stopped doing it, so I suppose the system won out in the end.

So you could say that doing a fanzine pretty much took over my whole life for a period!”

For those readers who may not know anything about Coventry, UK, could you please tell us the importance of punk in the provinces? And, the role that zines played?

“Really, really important – though I wouldn’t really categorise the music just as punk. There was a punk ethos certainly, but musical styles varied enormously. Virtually all of the most popular bands came through Coventry, so you could easily see bands like the Dead Kennedy's, Stranglers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Elvis Costello, often on consecutive nights.

There was of course a big Ska thing going on with Two Tone at the time, and it was strange to see members of the Specials at the bar at a local gig one night and on national TV the next night. The big thing for me though was that there was also a really vibrant local music scene in Coventry, Birmingham, Northampton, Leicester and all over the midlands. That existed separately from the Two Tone scene, though there were a lot of links between them.

Musical styles covered everything from Power Pop, electronic and avant garde to anarchist punk, skinhead, metal and reggae. I went to everything, almost every night some weeks. It felt like a real ground swell of activity. Something was happening and it all felt connected, with a lot of links forged between the local scenes in different towns and cities. Fanzines were pivotal in this. They were the glue that connected everything up, offering contacts, information, and a feeling that it all made sense. Lots of new fanzines sprang up at the time. Coventry alone had well over 20 separate fanzines in the period 1979 -1983, with around 17 going at the same time. People didn’t choose between them, they just bought them all. Some fanzines spawned bands that later became well known. Napalm Death was formed by the 12 and 13 year old editors of a Coventry fanzine called Antisocial. They used to hide at the back of gigs and I’d buy them cider.

I guess what I am trying to say is that a symbiotic relationship existed between the fanzines and the bands. Without fanzines, it didn’t feel like anything was connected, but without the bands and venues there would have been nowhere to come together. You could attach all sorts of social significance to that, but at the time it just seemed like a lot of people getting together and having some fun.”

Mrs Thatcher was obviously a ‘hate figure’, but how might you characterize your zines’ political stance?

She certainly was, and it looks like the current Government is going much the same way. In some ways, having such a socially divisive figure heading the Government helped to stimulate our creativity. The ‘Us versus Them’ feeling that existed at the time created a ripe environment for doing something different. Fanzines have a long association with protest as you know, so it seemed absolutely right that they came together with rebellious music against a background of strikes, dissent and (with the Miners’ strike) virtual civil war across the country.

It was a potent mix and being unemployed myself at the time, I had lots of time on my hands to get creating! Having said that, I wouldn’t say that Adventures in Reality was particularly political. I left that side of things for the other fanzine I edited called Not the Jobhunter (see my earlier answer above for details).

The name came from a Government newsletter produced for the young unemployed in Coventry called The Job Hunter. That was intended to promote Government schemes, so what we wanted to do was something that was the exact opposite and celebrate the counter culture that existed in the city. There was a big recruitment drive for the army at the time, so we had a strapline “sign up or sign on” and also a call to arms to “be more than a witness”. In the event I think most of those we gave the fanzine way to were too broke, stoned or drunk to start a revolution, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Do you have a view on zines today, especially in light of the move into the digital era?

For quite a while I thought that print fanzines were a thing of the past and everything would become online. I’m pleased to see that I am wrong and print fanzines are still out there. In many ways the e-zine solves a lot of the problems that I experienced when doing a fanzine. Despite it being the heyday of music fanzines when we could all get distribution and sell lots of copies, it was still impossible to make any money back from it. It was hard enough getting the money off distributors for the copies you had sold and what with free flexidisc giveaways and printing costs I lost money on every issue and had to organise benefit gigs just to keep it going.

With e-zines there are no printing or distribution costs and you can be as creative as you like. What’s missing though is the tactile nature of a fanzine as an object. There are some crazy things you can do that only work in the physical world. For example, I always wanted to do an issue bolted to a block of wood. The high cost sadly prevented me from doing it (one day maybe), but that’s the sort of idea that can obviously only ever work in a physical medium.

There are some important changes in the nature of fanzines now though. They are more self conscious in a way, very aware of their place as an art form, with far more of them about art itself, craft, film, etc. Perzines didn’t really exist either in the days of Adventures in Reality, though fanzines were very individual and reflected the personality of whoever produced them. They were more radical I think, for the reasons already explained, though I get the feeling there will be more radical fanzines produced as a result of the current political situation. I was encouraged by the recent student protests and the accompanying over reaction by the Police and media. The fact that a lot of people refused to condemn the protests, despite the hysterical media coverage gives me hope that an energetic counter culture will re-emerge.”

What recommendations might you have of zines which you feel are important to include in any history of the genre?

“It’s important not to categorise fanzines as historical artefacts. They are part of a history for sure, but then everything is, but to preserve them in aspic would go against the nature of a fanzine, which is temporary, irreverent, and existing outside of the establishment. Having said that, I am currently writing a book on my experiences and the Coventry fanzine scene, so pass the formaldehyde!

I think you have already captured a lot of the essential fanzines of the late 1970,s and 80’s in your book. I would have included Kill Your Pet Puppy (which also has an excellent web version)(ed. note: included!), Grim Humour and Cloth Ears from Herne Bay, Tongue in Cheek from Leeds, 0533 from Leicester, Damn Latin from Nuneaton, Smart Verbal from Birmingham, Artitude from New York and Music from the Empty Quarter from Ilford.

Although you have mentioned in your book those fanzines that later became glossy mags such as ID and Zig Zag, you might not have realised that Viz Comic actually started out as a fanzine too. I used to re-print cartoons from Viz in Adventures in Reality and I recall Viz editor Chris Donald lamenting the fact that he hadn’t done a music fanzine (though I don’t think he will be too upset about that by now). There were (and still are) lots of Goth fanzines such as Darklife too that shouldn’t be overlooked. That is a really big scene that is international, quite underground, and has spawned a lot of fanzines over the years. Basically Teal, there are tons out there! We could be here all day. None of them should really be left out, but then it’s probably not vital that you include them either.

That’s the nature of the medium. Essential but disposable.

I think that’s a good note to end on.

[See Part 2 for a visual treat of Alan's cover images]

Monday, 7 February 2011

Interview 21

Punks is Hippies is an online 'user-generated fanzine archive'. Here, the administrator behind the archives Tony Gunnarsson, tells us more.

Please tell us a little about yourself and how and why 'Punks is Hippies' came about.

Hi, my name is Tony Gunnarsson and I am the person that tends to do most updates at the online DIY hardcore punk fanzine archive Punks Is Hippies. I do a fanzine (yes, on paper) called More Noize, which covers the international DIY hardcore punk scene, five issues so far and the next on the way shortly. I also try to contribute to Maximumrocknroll and other zines, as well as release noisy records… On the side I’ve also got a professional career, a family and a mortgage. I live in London. The zine archive came about a four-five years ago. It was at the time of the punk mp3-blog explosion (perhaps best symbolised by the popular website, although it was not the first nor the most important). Bloggers were racing to uncover obscure recordings of obscure and unheard punk bands, and in a way it was just a matter of time before people started posting fanzines as well, at any rate excerpts from fanzines. A gang of broadly like-minded people that shares a love for DIY punk set up a blog with multiple authors with the purpose of doing just that. Quite quickly very ambitious plans for the archive were drawn up: to make it into an online database of information covering the world's DIY hardcore punk fanzines, past and present, and this was inspired by the great the hardcore punk database Kill From The Heart and Punks Is Hippies would be a good complementing website to KFTH.

From the start the rule was to only post DIY punk fanzines and the zines had to be complete, meaning every page of every fanzine had to be properly scanned, and each zine should be posted with at least minimum basic information such as the country of origin and the year of publishing. In the first year or two, the contributors scanned and uploaded hundreds of zines and the response was fairly good. Readers of the blog were strongly encouraged to send in their own scans of fanzines. Four years on and there's several hundred DIY HC zines from all over the world to be downloaded in full at the website. Updates are mostly from readers of the blog who email in own scans of zines (hence the 'user-generated' tagline). Obviously the massive task that Sned Flat Earth Rec has taken upon him with his UK Zine Library blog has helped to greatly expand the archive...

As for the why, at the time it was agreed by all contributors that in the ‘real’ world fanzines are indeed very important to the DIY punk scene but as more and more people are getting exposed to the music via the internet we felt that there was a risk that an important part of the punk scene would be lost -unless fanzines were available through the same medium and platform. So the archive was supposed to play an educational role in reminding people about punk zines. Personally I hoped that the blog would help to encourage people to start doing more fanzines, a pre-emptive move against the popular and apathetic idea that "the internet killed the fanzine".
But most importantly, we wanted to make old zines more accessible. Fanzines typically have very limited print runs – almost always less than 500, more likely under 250, but ultimately most likely less than 100. So the internet obviously provides unequal opportunity to increase the readership for zines (old and new) while keeping the original format (download the Pdf of a zine and print it yourself, and you'll have a replicated as-good-as the real thing zine).

Part of this also means providing raw materials for those interested in punk history, not only for nerds like in the international DIY hardcore punk trading and fanzine scene, but also for writers of books about underground movements and punk scenes. When the archive started the concept of hardcore punk history books had just became rather big with HC history books being published in almost every major country that contributed important bands to the first wave of hardcore -to mention the most obvious: Sweden, Italy, Japan, UK, USA and Finland. While all of them would have at least mentioned that there were fanzines around, overwhelmingly reading the books you will get the impression that the history of hardcore punk is a history about bands and records only, and at least I found that a little problematic. So, Punks Is Hippies was a reaction to that, and perhaps even an antidote to it as well. With hardcore zines available at a touch on the internet (press download then print) no longer can it be claimed that there was two punk zines worth mentioning - Sniffin' Glue and Search & Destroy. Moreover no longer can people continue to say that Maximumrocknroll is the only fanzine today. I mean, just look at the archive, there's hundreds of fanzines from the past and present of hardcore punk!

Finally, a note on the format of the archive: It is so far only a blog and the ambiguous plans we had from the start are still unrealised. Two years ago a move was made to integrate the archive with Kill From The Heart, but it proved extremely time consuming so it sort of ran out in the sand... The blogspot was always only a temporary solution, but four years later the archive is still 'just a blog'. I would love if the archive could be developed beyond "the blog stage" and particularly away from using 'fast-host' sites for the storage of uploads. If there are any IT-friendly lovers of punk fanzines reading this do get in touch!

What, if any, role does the fanzine more generally play in the punk/HC community?

While the internet is increasingly also part of the scene today, fanzines is the media of the DIY underground hardcore punk movement, and as such is immensely important for the scene, for protests, for the culture of the scene and of course for the music.

Alternatively you can say that zines play a complimentary role to the music and the more community side of a punk scene, by driving awareness of bands and records, protests and events etc. Fanzines allow people that believe in DIY hardcore punk an additional outlet for self-expression aside from the music, or perhaps it is the other way around?

Personally I have never had much interest in playing in a band but doing a zine suits me perfectly. Just like being in a punk band does not require musicianship (in my opinion, the poorer the musician the better the music -"noise not music" that is the motto for hardcore punk!), doing a fanzine does not require a bright mind, professional writing skills or any journalist qualifications. The sloppier the better I’d say.
Behind all of this is the idea of Do It Yourself: obviously NME won't write about bands such as the Wankys or Chaoschannel so the people who like the noise better do it ourselves!

Why do you think that your archive site has been so popular?

Do you feel the archive is contributing to punk/HC and if so, in what ways?
Partly, I hope, it's popular because the site is maintained by people that care for the DIY hardcore punk ethos. Had all the hundreds upon hundreds of fanzines been made available online through British Library or something I am not too sure it would have been as popular (at least not with the intended audience group, "the punks" old and young). Also I am sure that for first time visitors it is quite a shock to notice that suddenly all these zine titles are available to download in full, because as I mentioned earlier punk zines are by necessity always printed in very low numbers (while the audience is today truly global). Personally I have through the archive had the opportunity to read pretty much all the classic Swedish and UK hardcore punk zines that I had only ever heard about before (well, actually, there's quite a few more titles that I am hoping will pop up one day).

Yes, I do strongly believe that the archive is contributing to the international hardcore punk scene of today. At a time when many punk distros are no longer stocking fanzines and claiming that people are no longer interested in buying fanzines, and when most people are moaning that there are no longer any zines today to buy from the places where they buy punk records, along comes this website (and others like it) and reminds everyone how great hardcore punk fanzines once were (and continue to be!). And remarkably, many people have started doing zines again as a result! Only last week I got a great fanzine from New York called Accept The Darkness and in it my friend Shiva writes that he used to download and print zines from Punks Is Hippies while at school, eventually he was moved to make his own.
Two years ago I was told by a number of distros that they would not buy any fanzines because "people don't buy zines any longer". Today that is not the case as many distros are now keen to take on more and more zines. Of course, I am not suggesting that Punks Is Hippies is responsible for this very definite return of the hardcore fanzine that we’ve seen in the last 2 or 3 years, but I do think that the site has in some small way helped bring about that change.

From the zines which have made it onto your site, is there one zine which you thought encapsulates the punk and/or HC ethos the best?

This is impossible to answer. I’ll just mention some of my favourite zines that are available through Punks Is Hippies, and I’ll pick a few zines that represent important eras of hardcore from the beginning to the present.

1. "Factor Zero"
Here's a Brazilian zine that a reader of Punks Is Hippies sent in. It's in Portuguese so I can’t read a word about it, but what’s remarkable about it is that it is published in 1980-1981, which on the surface seems very early for that part of the world (but I am sure there were zines in Brazil in 1960). The zine includes writings on my favourite band Discharge, who are THE definite hardcore punk band, of course, and it’s fascinating that a small DIY fanzine in Brazil was writing about them in 1980. More importantly the zine writes about the two most famous Brazilian hardcore bands Ohlo Seco and Colera, and by doing so proves that there were zines around at the very start of hardcore punk in even in Brazil. This zine also proves that from an early stage the ideas of hardcore spread incredibly fast around the world in 1980, and as a result it is no longer meaningful to say that it was US bands like Bad Brains or Middle Class who had invented hardcore in 1980 when the same year there were in fact bands playing hardcore in places like Brazil (or Finland, Italy, Sweden, Japan etc).

2. "Be Bad Be Glad" This fanzine is from Bristol, England, and would have come out sometime between 1982 and 1984 (I think). It was made by a loose group of people from the Bristol punk scene, including people from the well-known bands like Disorder, Chaos UK and Lunatic Fringe. It was very amateurishly made, mostly hand-drawn and had no structure to it, just lots of chaos and fun! It is a formula that works just as well today as it did 30 years ago.

3. "Raising Hell"
This English fanzine was at the forefront at the 1980s’ “international hardcore” explosion, covering bands such as B.G.K. (Netherlands), Wretched (Italy), So Much Hate (Norway) etc. I think, and I am sure many people would agree, that Raising Hell is THE defining UK DIY hardcore punk fanzine of all time. The writing was very engaging, a mixture of humour (effectively, the zine repeatedly said let’s not take ourselves too serious, hardcore punk is fun!) but with a understated belief that hardcore was more than just a music genre… I think the last issue was numbered #23, but editor Ben 'Sikowar' went on to do another zine for some 5-6 issues after (and one day I’ll come around to scanning all those zines for the archive).

4. "RIOT"
Fast-forward to the mid 1990s, RIOT zine is often the first zine that people mentioned when asked about favourite zines. RIOT was a large format zine, all but the last few issues had all text hand-written in this impeccable little font, full of ink-heavy darkened pages and simply amazing layouts throughout. It helps that RIOT covering the most important bands at the time (from Extreme Noise Terror to Anti-Cimex etc). I have a feeling the reason why people like RIOT so much is because the mid-1990s wasn't the best time for hardcore punk zines... But I'd also mention Sika Äpärä from Sweden here, as it is one of the most influential Swedish zines of all time.

5. "Game of the Arsehole"
Phenomenal US zine by MRR's international hardcore ‘historian’. Reflective of a hardcore punk scene that has developed over time, the writing in this zine was intellectual yet firmly rooted in DIY hardcore punk manners and quirks. The zines had a natural authority on both new bands and old records as well as international scenes, and is often cited a a source for inspiration by fanzine makers today. The zine developed into the equally phenomenal website called Shit-Fi. See also similarly great fanzines from early 2000s such as Kängnave from France, Agitate from the UK, as well as CrustWar from Japan, all of which cover hardcore as a movement with both a past and a present. Distort Zine from Australia which I think is THE best fanzine for hardcore punk around in the last decade, is still going strong, as is the amazing French-language fanzine Ratcharge, and I think both zines are essential to mention here as they seem to me part of the zines mentioned even if they equally fit with the next batch…

6. "Evil Minded"
Evilminded is a fanzine from Kentucky, USA, and is one of the best US zines around today. Perhaps inspired by the before mentioned zines such as GOTA and Crust War, Evilminded predominantly cover current hardcore bands from around the world, but also features older bands, as well as powerful articles about the current hardcore punk scene and record reviews etc. But its greatest strength is the layout which is unequalled in the hardcore punk zine world of today. Overall I see in Evilminded Zine and my friend Tom who is the editor of the zine the proof that DIY hardcore punk is as relevant today as it was 25-30 years ago. It's also worth mentioning that Tom has been very supportive of Punks Is Hippies and all his issues are available at the archive. See also other zines such as Not Very Nice and Accept the Darkness from USA, and the before mentioned Ratcharge and DISTORT and several others etc.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Interview 20

Nancy is a new queer zine by Alex Creep dedicated 'to all the girly gay boys out there.' A wonderful mix of serious essays, humourous stories and playful illustrations, we hope Issue Two is on its way!

Tell us something about yourself and why you thought it was important to produce Nancy?

My name's Alex and I live and work in London and my hobbies include DJing, watching TV and drawing! In my teen years I lived in Eastbourne; I was very into music and was constantly attending gigs in Brighton – which was when I first experienced zines. After a gig, I was approached by a girl and a guy who were selling their music zines outside and I bought them both. I became good friends with the girl, Beth and her sister Ruth and ended up collaborating on the third issue of their fanzine (called Sugar Babylon #3 – which can be found in the Women's Library if you’re interested!).

It was a great experience – getting to meet and interview our favourite bands and then creating this thing that we could then share with like-minded people – it was especially important at the time because the music press generally weren’t as interested in the girl fronted/riot grrrl related bands that we wanted to read about. It was also a gateway into meeting new people, especially through selling it at Ladyfest London 2001; my closest friends that I have today I would say were a direct result of the contacts I made through making that zine!

I'd say the shift in zines from that time to now is away from music and more towards personal topics. The internet has completely changed the way we can find people with the same music taste and share it, but talking about your sexuality or gender is something that you don't do in that same way! It’s kind of precious and personal and it’s nice to be able to contain your thoughts in a packaged up printed format – like a small diary or letter to a friend. I wanted to produce Nancy because I wasn't seeing myself in any of the zines produced by other queer guys, in the gay press or generally in the world! My tastes are a bit more, what would typically classed as, girly and I was near exhaustion being bombarded with heteronormative/hyper-masculine/over-sexualised images and ideologies everywhere I looked. I wanted to create something that was almost the antithesis of that in fact – not for contrariness sake but because I needed it and I think there must be others like me - it’s actually been quite cathartic putting it out there if I’m honest!

It was also important to me for the zine to be jargon free, personal, funny (in parts) and easy to relate to! I find the mountain of academia surrounding gender identity and queer theory really daunting and I think that's true for lots of people. I really love hearing about people’s individual situations and stories in their own words. I know what it's like to believe that everything you feel and everything you think is not alright and then subsequently, how reassuring it can be to finally read it or see it somewhere; especially when it's personal rather than theoretical.
I'm hoping in the long term that Nancy will encourage at least some femme men to embrace their girliness and not to be scared of it!

What is the significance of popular culture in your zine - both visually as well as in the choice of subjects you cover?

Alternative music/culture is probably my first and truest love but the honest truth is that I love pop culture! But I guess, it's also to do with making the zine easy to read and identify with. For example, everybody thinks there’s a plethora of gay characters on TV and in films these days but actually, if you actually think about it; there’s a tiny handful of positive strong effeminate male characters – most gay men characters are depicted as ‘straight acting’ in an attempt to normalise them and make them more palatable, which is, I think, a reflection on mainstream attitudes.

As an isolated gay teen, I was desperate to see myself represented in the TV and films I was watching. There's no way you could be brave enough to buy a glossy gay magazine or gay book for fear of being spotted or discovered. It can be strangely validating and encouraging to see someone at least nearish to yourself in mainstream culture – especially if that person is confident, successful and hopeful when you're not yet in that position. I guess that's still with me, even as a grown up gay but luckily I do get the encouragement and support I need from the people around me now!

In terms of the way I put the zine together visually, I'm sort of a perfectionist/worry-wart and so I was tweaking and adding to it even after I gave copies to my friends for feedback. Laying it all out on the computer rather than using the cut-and-paste fit the way I work better! It probably would have taken me months of extra work every time I picked out a typo and something that didn't make sense and having to start that page from scratch! I know zines are meant to be rough around the edges and there are still a few typos in Nancy which is as close to rough as I could comfortably get! Ha! My first zine I did using cut-and-paste and I remember the heartbreak of seeing that some of the elements had gotten chewed up in the machine while it was being duplicated and so some of the copies had half an interview missing; it's obviously left a deep scar too!

How do you see your zine operating in relationship to the 'Creep' blog?

Like I said, my first love is music – I live, breathe and eat it (- it's delicious ha!) and so the blog is my way of sharing the music I love in the hope that other people will end up loving it too. In terms of how the Nancy relates to it, it was great being able to make something as static as a zine come to life a bit with YouTube videos and extra information related to what I was talking about online – like a bonus disc on a DVD! Plus, I'd say that for me, my community/friends are intrinsically linked through our love of music.

Is there a zine you would recommend that we should all be reading? And please tell us why?

I’m lucky to have lots of talented friends who’ve created amazing zines! My favourite has to be Pamzine created by my friends The Savages – although it was produced a while ago and it's still an amazing collection – funny, smart, great music and pretty – I’ve been told if you drop them an email (pamzine [AT] ) they might be able to sort you out with a copy/copies and I can’t recommend it enough! They were my original link through Ladyfest into the friends and community I'm part of now and we coincidentally covered a lot of similar bands in our zines – but their writing was far superior to my then teenage babblings in Sugar Babylon! Also, Unskinny Bop, the club that I DJ at monthly, has a great zine that's available as a PDF to download from the website here ( It was produced by the people behind Pamzine and also Charlotte Cooper who I'm a fan/friend (frand? Ha) of! Charlotte has produced so many zines over many decades that I actually can't claim to have read them all, but the ones I have read are great – there's a listing on her website and a selection are available to download on bountiful resource, The Queer Zine Archive Project!

This is getting a bit Oscar-acceptance-speech-long but just a couple more I need to give a shout out to - Future Nature zine created by the industriously creative Andrew Milk is a great read and visually stunning and Ricochet! Ricochet! Fanzine is also brilliant and R! R! are kindly distro-ing my zine!

I'm also desperate to hear about zines written by gay guys about girliness or femininity so if people know of any please do get in touch! Also, I'm looking for contributors for the next issue – please drop me an email!
Creepclub (at) gmail (dot) com