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The driving forces behind Subbacultcha magazine

Since 2011 we’ve been providing the best finds and tips for our members, followers, and far beyond. Through our magazine, we share the stories of our cherished community as well as the backstories of our events, making sure you're always up to date with what's happening in the Subba universe. But how does this magazine come into being? Get to know the driving forces behind the production - a magnificent machine that fuels itself with its many indispensable components.

Interview by Victor Seys
Photos of the printing process shot at Zwartopwit by Nick Moons

STEADY FOUNDATION

‘Our notorious magazine has always been our flagship asset,’ acknowledges Herlinde Raeman, editor-in-chief of Subbacultcha Belgium. ‘People are familiar with our print and its A6 format, which is easy to read while on the go and smoothly fits in your drawer. It has truly become an ever-elapsing fanzine combining music and art, with a focus on the agenda of free events for our members.’

‘As time passed, we realised we had to expand our company in order to keep up with the rising workload,’ Herlinde continues. ‘A business structure in which we grant young people the chance to set their first steps towards a professional career is what we stand for. From writers and redactors to photographers and designers, they’re in need of a platform to show their skills, following the example of the artists featured in our magazine.’

A business structure in which we grant young people the chance to set their first steps towards a professional career is what we stand for

SLOW BUT STABLE EVOLUTION

‘This evolution gave us the chance to organize ourselves in a more efficient way. Now we’re decently on the rails as an independent organization,’ Herlinde states. ‘There’s a magnificently strong structure behind us on which we can rely on 100%. The main exercise for me now is to put the right pair of shoulders under the corresponding task.’ 

The pride of her team and community isn’t held under chairs or sofas. ‘The continuous influx of interesting people is never-ending, and that’s a huge benefit. Gathering all those inspiring souls together is a fundament of Subbacultcha. People who have worked for us are now working for NYTimes, Calvin Klein, Focus Knack, Adidas, …. you name it. We try to expand the network of our people as much as possible,’ Herlinde concludes.

 

EVENTS AND AGENDA

‘What we publish strongly depends on how we can transform the content of our event agenda into attractive articles,’ Julien declares. ‘So I’m regularly checking with our partners to see which shows they’re hosting, digging out niche artists who are in need of well-deserved promotion.’ Julien Van De Casteele is fully taking care of the events linked to the Subbacultcha agenda. ‘In the beginning, I had to write down reminders but now it’s like a drilled routine for me.’

We all got each other's back

‘In case anything goes wrong, there’s always somebody who’s got your back with a back-up plan. Herlinde, for instance, is the problem-solving brain whenever there’s an unexpected twist to tackle. But also the others each have their worth and talents to help you out whenever you’re in need. There’s literally always someone eager to help.’

‘I like the fact that we’re creating a strong community, on and offline. This is ground zero for everything we do, also in the magazine,’ Julien concludes. ‘Other platforms don’t gather people the way we do. We have a whole other target audience as well. We’re more like an event thing that gathers people together in a physical place. If I had to describe Subbacultcha in one word, it would definitely be community.’

 

SUBMISSIONS AND CONTENT

Subbacultcha Belgium is eager to support young and creative artists in need of that extra push to give them a voice and some well-deserved attention. In order to give them that, there’s a whole lot of content that needs to be created.

‘After my internship, Herlinde asked me if I wanted to help her to write and edit some articles,’ says Milena Maenhaut. Combining her job at Focus Knack with the work for Subbacultcha, Milena has always been a busy bee. 

‘Together with Julien and Laura, I’m mostly organizing the interviews, mailing the artists, interviewers and photographers. Now and then I’ll do a writing assignment as I did back in the days, but my job doesn’t always allow me to do so.’

‘I think it’s wonderful to support the underground artists before they show up on the radar of mainstream media. The artists we’ve supported are so grateful, even when they’ve become bigger. This, combined with our small but very efficient team, makes my job one in a million.’ 

The artists we’ve supported are so grateful, even when they’ve become bigger. This, combined with our small but very efficient team, makes my job one in a million

‘As we’re a community-based organization, making a selection from the tremendous amount of submissions we receive is very difficult but crucial,’ says Laura-Andréa Callewaert, who’s mainly responsible for managing the submissions and editing online articles. 

‘After my internship, during which I learned more than in my entire school career, I continued to work with Subbacultcha. Because honestly, what’s better than being able to share music and art all day long for a living?’

I learned more during my internship than in my entire school career

‘The fact that our team includes many kinds of people truly is a huge benefit to make an attractive and various selection. The continuous interaction between our team, our publications and our community undisputedly sets the tone.’

 

DESIGN

Chloé D’hauwe is the graphic designer of the Subbacultcha magazine and rolled into the community by chance. ‘Thanks to a mutual friend, Herlinde got in touch with me and wanted me to be the designer for the Belgian counterpart. At the time, all design was done by our colleagues in The Netherlands,’ Chloé explains. ‘At first, it wasn’t that easy to step aside from a well-established design, to find your own voice in a design created by someone else. But step by step, we managed to give it our own touch. Now we have really stepped aside from the Dutch design.’

A creative touch is more my cup of tea

In order to distinguish yourself from others in a unique way, a source of inspiration is needed. ‘The main source of inspiration for me is rather found in artists than in designers. Since the latter can be really harsh and literal sometimes, a creative touch is more my cup of tea. Not only artists but also our own Subba-community provides a huge contribution to my inspiration.’

 

IMAGES

‘I remember registering as a volunteer for Wastelands Festival 2013: this was the starting gun for my career with Subbacultcha,’ says Tiny Geeroms. ‘I became acquainted with Herlinde, who later wanted me to take some photos for Subbacultcha. To this day, I’m still extremely grateful for this godsend.’

Photography is one of the major pillars of Subbacultcha: it creates a strong foundation and distinct feel that we strive for throughout the magazine, the website and all our social channels. We put a lot of value in the quality and originality of the photographs and, by means of a more autonomous approach, we aim to tell a story through every series.

The photo series seen on Subbacultcha aren’t similar to your average timeline photos. How we achieve these remarkable vibes has all to do with the selection of our interviewees and the assigned photographer.

Being able to express the personality and energy of a person in the photo itself is an important aspect of my work

‘Being able to express the personality and energy of a person in the photo itself is an important aspect of my work. Therefore I need to chat with this person for a while, so I know who he or she is. It’s delightful to get to know all these people thanks to my job. I’m consistently expanding my network.’

PARTNERSHIPS

Kasper-Jan works on Subbacultcha’s partnerships and carefully maintains close ties with them. ‘They believe in our project, and thanks to them we’re able to publish this magazine and maintain our website and other online outputs. Whilst they’re providing us shows and other events, we’re providing you a clear overview with appetising content. We’re also enabling our partners to reach a young and enthusiastic public to hear their message.’

They believe in our project, thanks to them we’re able to publish our magazine and maintain our website

PRINTING

The printing of our magazine is done by Zwart op Wit, run by Manu Lemeur. ‘We believe in the partners we’re working with,’ Manu states. ’They have to fit in our corporate vision of being socially and ecologically responsible. It’s no lie that we mostly find those partners in the cultural sector, where they can still admire a physical and durable piece of printed matter.’

Profiling yourself as a company with the term durable isn’t something you decide over dinner

‘However, profiling yourself as a company with the term durable isn’t something you decide over dinner. It’s well-pondered and ends up being a thoughtful decision. Nowadays, “durable” has unfortunately become a buzzword and a marketing tool. This has led to the greenwashing-scenes, where companies pretend to be durable and ecologically responsible when they aren't.’

Not only is Zwart op Wit one of the (only) two certified CO2-neutral durable printing companies in Belgium, they’re also socially responsible through their hiring practices. ‘We strive for the right balance between gender, age, sex and cultural background. In my opinion, there’s no doubt that a good mix works.’ The born-ready printing company for the Subbacultcha magazine is what we’re convinced about.

 

DISTRIBUTION 

Our printed magazine is carefully distributed by a team of people we deeply admire. Myrthe is one of those devoted people who take care of the distribution. ‘I always bring them around by bike in the city centre of Ghent. It’s ecological, healthy and it just works easier by bike than by car.’

Honestly, it’s like they sell themselves
 

‘I notice that the magazines in art establishments, record stores and schools tend to fly out the door like hotcakes. Honestly, it’s like they sell themselves. For example, If I put a bunch of magazines in the KASK café, the next day they’re all gone.’ Next to Myrthe Subbacultcha also works with Easypost for the distribution. They send the magazines to our members and partners.

 

FUTURE

Herlinde is full of hope for the future. ‘Concerning the digital revolution, I’m convinced that a tangible and physical magazine will hold on. People still like the feel of a printed and well-trusted niche magazine. For the collector fans, there’s a webshop where you can buy our latest magazines in case you haven’t found a copy on time.’

‘Another evolution is that we’re going from 10 to 6 issues a year. This way, we grant ourselves the time to work as hard on the online articles as we do on the magazine. Furthermore, to prevent an overload we only send out our magazines to the people who actually want it, as in the devoted and standard members.’

‘Finally, I’m proud of the fact that we chose to go down the durable road,’ she continues. ‘We had to make this statement in order to be an example of how we can tackle modern-day problems. In the end, all we publish and all we stand for is a representation of what lives amongst young people. So I guess it’s simple logic when it comes to this decision.’

There’s so much to discover, even during these isolated times

‘At any rate, we’re never backing down from sharing art and music amongst a group of coolish outlaws. There’s so much to discover, even during these isolated times. I’m nothing but sure the future will bring us more adventures than ever before.’

Thank you: @zwartopwit@easypost@seysvictor@nickmoonsmoons, @chloedhauwe, @milenamaan, @juliencastillo, @lauracallewa, @herr_linde

You’ll find our issues every two months in several local stores also offering member discounts, other pickup points supplied by our distributors, and in the mailboxes of our members.
Want to make sure to get a hold of a copy? Check our webshop or join our community!

 

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