Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ben interviews Nizang for one of his assignment

Ben (Conscious Zine) interviewed me through e-mail for one of his journalism assignments. I put it here for archiving purpose. Enjoy.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?

I’ll be 28 next month. I was born in KL and spent my childhood days in KL. The whole family moved to Kuala Terengganu in 1994. I was introduced to punk rock and fanzine subculture there around 1995/96. I’m currently living in KL and working in Cyberjaya.

What do you do besides your zines?

I’m teaching design and creative modules in a local private university as a full-time job. I’m also currently doing my Masters degree. And my topic of research topic is about fanzine publication process and will focus on the local practitioners.

Can you tell our readers about Mosh other zines you have done? What topics do you discuss in your zines most often?

When it started out, Mosh zine focused on exposing bands that I like and also writing about skateboarding scene and activities. I mostly interview bands that I liked and also skateboarders. I also pasted my artworks that mostly related to skateboarding and music too. I also have contributors who write about all sorts of things. Oppression, police brutality, all the injustice and cruelty in life like racism, sexism and even about puppy love. Starting issue 7, it features more personal writing and ‘whining’ in it.

Besides Mosh zine, I was also involved with The Coalition zine. It’s a collective zine released from 2002 to 2004 if I’m not mistaken. It’s a collective zine concentrated about hardcore/punk and independent music subculture and also social political stuffs. We had a lot of contributors writing about all sorts things from different angel too.

What inspired you to create your first zine?

After reading and buying zines for quite sometime, I taught that I should also contribute some stuff for the zines. So, I started writing and doodling and sent them to the zine makers. But the zines took too long to publish their issues. It also came to my sense that I could come out with my own zine, considering there’s no quality control or something like that in the zine culture. It’s either the readers will like it or not. So I decided it’s better for me to make my own zine. And you can say I never look back ever since. The first issue of my zine, Mosh came out in January 1999.

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?

I first saw some copies of zines from my eldest sister’s friend when I was 13 or 14. Then I got a copy of Pang! Zine at a jamming studio in Kuala Terengganu town. Then, I order a zine reviewed in Blasting Concept (an independent music column in The Sun) and the rest is history. Some of the earliest zine I ordered through mail were Vortex From The East zine, Hardkoi, and Sandwich zines.

Where/how are your zines distributed? Who are your readers? What kind of responses do you get from your zine’s audience?

I mostly sell the zines at gigs/events and also through mail nowadays. During the earlier issues, I mainly sold through mail. My readers are mostly people who could connect to the music I focus on in the zine; punk rock, hardcore etc and also skateboarding. Most of the issues were promoted using printed flyers, on-line flyers, sms and also word of mouth. Most of the readers tend to not give real feedback nowadays compared to during the earlier issues. Nowadays they just tend to say ‘I like your new issue’ or ‘It’s good!’…

During the first few issues I think I sold over 100-200 copies for each issues. During issue 6-7 I sold nearly 500 copies of the zine. Issue 9 and above were sold about 200 copies each issues.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zines?

Just self satisfaction and also just to be a toilet-reading material. I like reading magazines but I normally can’t find a local magazine/publication that I really like cover to cover at the news stands. That’s one of the motivation for putting out new issues.

I just hope my readers would find the zine beneficial for their knowledge, spark some ideas and interest or at least provide entertainment for their free time especially toilet sessions. Getting to achieve that with even one person only, I feel I already accomplish something.

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?

Every time a new issue is done and waiting to go and print them the next morning would be a very excited moment for me. I’ll be so excited I can’t sleep. It’s really satisfying seeing people buying your zine some of them would give feedbacks after they read them. Some other zines would give a positive review about your zine. I guess that are the best moments in a fanzine editor’s life. Another plus points about publishing a zine is you can write anything and any style you’re comfortable with –there are no rules.

The challenging part is of course you have to deal with spending a lot of money, spending a lot of time editing the layout, abusing your office printer and scanner doing test prints and stuffs like that after working hours.

Sometimes it’s tiring and sometimes during this critical period, your machine is giving you a hard time by working so slow or suddenly the power supply not working. Those are some challenges. And it’s also challenging brainstorming what to write about, what to get rid of, and also waiting for the person you interview to reply. Sometimes they don’t reply at all, and that’s frustrating.

What do you think about zine-making today?

I think a lot of kids tend to take zine making for granted these days and think that zine making is an easy task to do. The fact is, it takes a lot sacrifices for people to do fanzine nowadays with all the entertainment at the tip of our fingers. People tend to be so lazy to design a layout, do a collage, go to the print shop, queuing up at the post office, etc nowadays compared to let say 10 years ago.

Most people take zine making for granted because it’s easier to write and post the interview you made on blogs and networking sites like myspace and facebook.

What role does the internet play for you?

I use the internet to promote my zine and also other products me and my friend put out. I also did some research using this brilliant technology for my writing in the zine. It’s a marvelous tool but I don’t really like reading long paragraphs from the screen thus prefer to publish my writings in printed version.

What are some zines you have read lately that you would recommend to someone learning about the zine-making/reading world?

From the local scene, I like Conscious- a personal writing zine and also Hitam Putih zine –a humor style zine. I also like Innerview-basically an interview zine that features musician, artists, and also other people active in the independent music/art scene. DRSA is quite a heavy yet good political zine from the east coast that been publishing more than 10 years.

And for foreign zines go, I’ve been reading some titles from Microcosm Publsihing-they carry a wide range of zines. I recommend people who interested to know about zine culture to see their websites and find a lot of treasure there.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?

Learn to write correctly, apply what you learn in English class –the essay writing. Don’t use ridiculous short forms especially in Malay writing. Only use internet as a source of information, don’t cut and paste writings or articles from internet and print in your zine. Everyone can read themselves from internet.

If you wanna put the writing you wrote for school work, edit it to make it less serious and more fun. Write what you really wanna write not following the trend or what your readers wanna read. Don’t be afraid to be your own self.

Don’t do fanzine because you wanna make extra money –it won’t work. Instead, be prepared to lose money, lose free time and time for TV and girlfriend/boyfriend. If you got a negative review/feedback take it positively and do better issues after that.

Lastly, do archiving for the issues you put out.

What does the zine scene look like in Malaysia? Do you feel part of a zine community or network and what does it mean to you?

Some old kids are still doing zines, some with different name than their previous zines. Some new kids are also started doing zines, hope they keep on publishing zines until they don’t have anything to write or publish anymore.

Yeah, the fanzine makers in Malaysia-we do contact each other and exchange views, trade zines and also promote each other zines. I’m also with some other fanzine editors are planning to make gatherings, fest, and launch parties to promote our latest issues.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share

I wish I’ll still have ideas and still follow the independent music/art scene so that I could keep on writing about stuffs even though I’ve grown old and have my own family some day. At least I hope I could still contribute to other zines if not publishing my own zines.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview. Good luck and enjoy your life.

No comments: