We recently caught up with Steak, editor of one of the latest, and in our opinion, one of the best publications to come out of South Africa, The Lake…
What is The Lake all about?
It’s an alternative culture magazine, in which we would like to showcase the diverse creativity of our country from art to music, photography and film, including all the interesting characters and their mindsets that go parallel with these movements. At the moment these creative disciplines form the basis of the magazine and we will allow it to grow from there. We are busy with the web page at the moment, which will allow for a local film section. We are trying to avoid the obvious by rather searching and representing new and fresh and sometimes obscure talents of our featured guests included in the content of the magazine. The hope is to cross-pollinate creative ideas and concepts from city to city. It’s a free publication and will it remain free in the future.
What’s behing the name?
On a road trip back from KZN last December and we stopped over at some very small and dilapidated towns along the way, finding little second hand pawnshops looking for the odd LP’s and other things that might be of interest. We found this really small shop with loads of books and piles of records, which were mostly scratched and ruined, but I decided to take my time and dig through a few boxes and managed to find a few gems. One of them I picked purely on the cover; it was a classical record called Grieg: Piano Concerto in Minor A OP. 16 by the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra. It was released in 1959 with this amazing old picture of this epic green lake with icy mountains in the back. I looked at it and the first words that popped in my head were “The Lake” – this should be a magazine and it should LP size.
Where did the inspiration come from to start a new publication?
I have always been involved in publishing in some form or another. It all started with Session magazine in 2002. After that I worked for a quite a few publications either as Art director or Editor, writing and doing layout and design from SL, Hype Hip Hop Magazine and a few issues of Stage. After that I did a online magazine called Pangram on ISSUU in 2009 which was pretty much the prototype for The Lake stems from. Then when I moved back to Cape Town, Mel and Seamus had done a little pocket-sized magazine called Departure for Revolution. After they had decided to move on to do other things, Clayton asked me if I would work on a few issues. I had not done any magazine work in a few years at that time. Working on those two issues sparked my interest in publishing again. I wanted to do something similar to what Pangram was, but in a print format. The Lake is a extension of an unfinished project in a way.
PANGRAM # 1:
PANGRAM # 2:
Do you think there is still room for, and appreciation of, print?
If I did not believe in print I would not be taking on this project. To me print is not dead, it’s just more collectable now. It is however harder to convince advertisers about that. It’s the way the paper feels and the fact that you get to own something physical. Much easier on the eyes. We spend our days staring into illuminated screens. People still buy trashy gossip magazines by the tons across the globe and then they end up in the bin after about two days. On the other hand some of them do survive years in medical waiting rooms, but you rarely find anybody treasuring their copies of tabloid pulp. It must be something that you treasure and you feel you can pick up again a couple of months or years later and still enjoy the content as much as when you first paged through it.
Where do you draw inspiration from for the visual feel, content etc?
In the late ’80s and early ’90s I started getting exposed to international magazines BIKINI, ID magazine, COLOR etc. THE FACE magazine was one that will always stand out to me. I used to read them from cover to cover. The minimalism in design and layout and their use of imagery was so different to the crap that came out of this country at that time. They would make the photographs huge and stretch them across the pages with no copy on them and the content consisted of articles about people, artists, fashion and music I had never been exposed to before. At that time there was no internet so that was the only access to international alternative culture. To this day I hate text on images; I see it as such disrespect to a photographers work, which is why I chose to make the magazine’s header a spot varnish, so you can see the entire image. Its not like the magazine has to be sold with a massive banner on a shelf in between other magazines. The headers font is also a tip of the hat to THE FACE magazine.
Why did you decide to go with a big square format?
As I mentioned above, it came from the LP that I bought, but in the same breath I had also purchased an LP sized magazine a couple of years ago called DEBUT which was a German publication that came out in the ’80s. The concept was basically a magazine that would do articles on brand new bands that were being released by different international major and indie labels. Along with the magazine they would include a 12 track 10″ LP featuring the first singles released by the artists featured in the magazine. A lot of pop and alternative artists made their names through this magazine in Europe at that time. If funding will allow it, we would like to release an LP along with the magazine every sixth issue, listing all the local music that we featured over the previous 12 months, from Death Metal to Jazz.
With a free publication, advertising is obviously need to cover print costs etc. Are you not worried that the advertisers will influence the integrity of the content?
There will always a thin line in the symbiotic relationship of advertising and wherever they choose to place their adverts. Things can work out if you can both benefit from the content you choose to provide to your readership. As long as they don’t start dictating the content, things will work out fine and it can help grow the project to what it needs to become. Essentially it would be good to only have one sponsor to help guide the project and allow more pages to go to content.
So you’re the editor. Who else is involved with the project?
We are four partners at the moment: Clint Van der Schyff, Brendan Body from Session Magazine and Johan Buekes from Third World Media. But the magazine would not be possible without the our contributors and their photography, ideas and writing that is carrying the magazine at the moment; Jacqui Van Staden, Hayden Phipps, Ollie Kruger and Ruan Scott have been essential to the project so far.