From the NME through to the Wire, via Terrorizer and Smash Hits, the music magazine has a long and storied history. Before streaming changed how we think about and consume music, print publications kept an ear to the ground for us. They told you which Fugazi album to buy with your pocket money, and whether or not it was worth seeing Lightning Bolt live. For those of us who care maybe a bit too much about the Kompakt records back catalogue or the ins-and-outs of who produced which Steely Dan records, they were like weekly or monthly bibles.
Things have changed slightly here in the sort-of-scary present that is 2018, and music magazines need to do more than ever to stand out. Borshch, a German publication which focuses on club-related music, does just that, by combining well-curated content with impeccable design.
“For us, electronic music is a mature independent art form and we try to reflect this in conversations with producers and DJs about their audiovisual projects as well as in the design of the magazine,” the Borshch team tells us. “We like to think of Borschch as an object that resembles composition of electronic music with its many layers. Communicating music through words and design is a challenge in itself so in our publication there is a play with straightforward, repetitive, layered aesthetics similar to patterns and loops in electronica. With our new approach, each issue will focus on one theme, loosely and subjectively interpreted through editorial choices and design. This is not a usual solution among magazines focused on club culture and electronic music.”
The latest issue sees them heading into deepest, darkest outer-space with guest editor, Jeff Mills. Jeff, as anyone who’s ever stepped foot in a club knows, is a bona fide techno legend. He can do things with a pair of decks that can blow minds at ten paces. He’s also obsessed with the possibilities that the extra-terrestrial offers. Like, really obsessed.
When Borshch got Jeff on board, they asked themselves how they could connect the experience of Jeff Mills’ generation with young techno listeners and our readers, while being conscious of how could they speculate on the future of electronic music and the role of a creative mind in a tech-driven world. With a theme decided, the task of finding people — other than the DJ who used to dominate Detroit airwaves back in the day as The Wizard — connected to both space and music.
One such figure is Kelly Snook, former NASA researcher, music producer and instrument inventor, who is interviewed by Jeff for the issue. “This is truly valuable material for us because this is where Jeff asks honest questions from his artistic standpoint and seeks answers from the planetary scientist, revealing a lot about his obsession with space and its connection to the dance culture and techno,” Borshch say. Alongside Kelly, the issue features contributions from musician Dasha Rush, filmmaker Jacqueline Caux, and Japanese actor Akaji Maro.
They’ve taken visual cues for the redesign from the patterns and loops that make up their beloved techno, with a style that’s full of intentional repetition. It is sleek and well structured, easily navigable, and most importantly for a magazine that’s rooted in club culture, it doesn’t look like a flyer for a party.
“The new design of the magazine will be kept in the following issues which will explore particular themes. We will change details and create new elements according to the topic, but the structure will remain the same. A flap on the cover is used to hide a part of the cover’s photography. With so many brilliant photography covers in every bookshop we felt a need to create an unexpected solution or some tension when you are looking at a shelf full of magazines,” Borshch tell us.
We also asked Jeff what he made of the experience, and the magazine itself. Beaming down from somewhere the other side of Venus, he tells us, “One might imagine that on the subject matter of futurism, the intricacies of sound and conceptual music, the translational and physical design of the magazine should reflect as well. This magazine does exactly that because it was well thought out. In the order and structure of its articles as well as the typography and architecture."
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