Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts started The Mushpit as students way back in the carefree days of 2011 when rent was affordable and “the strip” of the A10 which joins Dalston with Shoreditch felt like the epicentre of the universe. Originally constructed as an A5 zine built to house in jokes, toe dips into the fashion industry and moans about internships and boys, Mushpit has grown up alongside the duo into a publication which continues to push at the edges of what a print publication might (read: should) be.
The latest issue of Mushpit, which launches tonight at the Horse Hospital, is the publication’s tenth. Heralding Courage as it’s theme — inspired by Botticelli’s Fortitude — the latest issue leaks Mushpit’s signature inky wit over harder to stomach themes like resilience in the face of grief.
The issue employs the talents of Dazed art director Jamie Reid, photographers Joyce NG and Tyrone Lebon, model Lily McMenamy and the new, doubtless watchful, eye of Richard Turley, Mushpit’s new art director. We caught up with Bertie and Charlotte to find out more.
Originally, the moniker “the mushpit” was coined to mean your Dalston flat, a physical space. What does “mushpit” mean to you now?
It kind of just means whatever we want it too now, which is really ideal. Made up words are one of our favourite things, we have a dictionary of slang in every issue which encompasses all the new things we’ve had to learn since the previous one. Word of the month is Fattypus… You have to buy the mag to find out what it means ;).
Sum up the tenth issue in a sentence…
A journey to the centre of 2017, grief, humour, despair, hysteria and above all courage. Also, good flop.
How has the magazine evolved tonally and visually this issue?
Working with Richard has been great, firstly he’s deeply deeply chill due to living in New York and not having to sit with us while we argue over font colours. He just sort of got on with this massive redesign in his own time and made everything totally brilliant with only one slightly passive aggressive email that we ended up printing on the cover. Changing the aesthetic so drastically felt intimidating for about three minutes and then we fell in love with absolutely every suggestion he made. He brought method to the madness and we’re so excited for people to see it.
It’s taken a year to make, or rather, it’s been a year since the last issue. Can you tell us how that time has impacted on the making of the magazine?
We basically just needed enough money to make this one because we wanted to make it better than ever. And we have! It’s got a specially laminated cover. Worth waiting for! Lol.
Issue ten is also your first feat. Richard Turley as art director. When and how did you meet, and how did he become involved in the magazine?
Richard contacted us! Which was wildly flattering. We met around this time last year and then messaged on and off ever since. He basically wanted to do it from the get go and we were more than thrilled to have him in board. He wanted to make all our ideas visually jump off the page and we really think they do. There was an immediacy to us meeting, he just very much got it and our fury. He also has a sublime confidence in us and himself which we love.
And what has Richard brought to Mushpit?
He’s really cleverly made the core ideas fluid and seamless, whereas before they were kind of an assault per page, he’s linked them all visually so there’s a clearer more direct message that sits throughout the magazine. He also brought in some fab NYC contributors who were incredible, Lucas in particular made some of our favourite pages and we love him. The Fuccboi diagram is next level good.
Talk us through the contributors that you’re most excited by. Who’s new? Who have you returned to?
We always return to Joyce because she’s a genius image maker and very much incorporates a story behind every picture, nothing is ever fashion for fashion’s sake. She did an amazing editorial with three sisters and their incredible mother, called “Sisters Of Mercy” based upon the idea of the seven heavenly virtues. We had a lot of fun with the captions ;). Rosie Marks is a new contributor and did an amazing story called ‘Trapped in the story’ as well as shooting her cousin Daisy. She’s an incredible photographer and we had loads of fun hanging out so we hope she can do the next one. Darcie Wilder is also new to Mush and did an incredibly visceral piece of which we’re incredibly proud.
What makes you most proud about the issue?
I think it’s definitely the most personal one. Lol, feel like a pop star talking about their second album. We made it in a month basically so very much threw everything at it. It feels very bursting with ideas, aggressions, fear, rejection and also hope and courage. It was the tenth one so there felt like a larger pressure on this one to be the best and most quintessentially us.
10 issues in, what’s the singular biggest thing you’ve learnt about…
Making a magazine?
Char: It’s extremely hard to think about anything else whilst you’re doing. Also we learnt a fuck load about shipping and paper stocks.
Bertie: Adding page numbers are really annoying and probably not worth it.
Char: Bertie has an encyclopedic knowledge on all food places ever in the vicinity. She also is a demon spell checker.
Bertie: Char is really bad at deciding on which pair of expensive boots she wants. (Still hasn’t decided).
Char: Peeing over ten times a day doesn’t mean you’re pregnant.
Bertie: Coffee is not a meal.
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