Banish all traumatic memories of that Awaydays film. Football, fashion, culture and conversation can add up to more than lazy punditry, more PRS cheques for The Farm and photo spreads of Sergio Tacchini. And if you’ve seen the new city-based mag, Halcyon, you’ll be on our side.
We have to admit it. We were firmly in the ‘all free mags in the city are mindless exercises in rainforest destruction and teeth-whitening promotions’ school. Then Bido Lito came along and re-wrote the rule book. This winter, another paper-based product has made us realise: reports of the death of physical media have been greatly exaggerated.
We caught up with Halcyon’s Editor, Daniel Sanderson (pic – second right) to talk team tactics and share some, y’know, banter…
There’s five of us who work full time on the mag, we come from a variety of backgrounds. A few of us have done film work, some writing, journalism others have worked in styling and PR. But to be perfectly honest before issue one came out, the majority of us were unemployed.
Why Halcyon mag? What’s the big idea?
There was a lot of print media out there which didn’t appeal to us. There’s the outrageously high-end stuff with adverts for £5,000 pound watches and articles about test-driving a Lamborghini, then there’s stuff marketed at people who like Danny Dyer, we didn’t really want any of that. We wanted to take the things we love, football, clothes and music, and to put them in a magazine which was far more accessible to lads like us. Something with an intellectual edge, that was aspirational, but also had a sense of humour.
Was it daunting – launching physical media in the middle of a recession?
I wouldn’t go as far as daunting. There were risks, and we had to make some compromises, but we had a lot of faith in the mag, and it was a really exciting project to work on. We’ve made mistakes which we’ll learn from, and as we produce more issues we can improve as time goes on.
You must have taken some inspiration from Short List – yes?
ShortList came up in a lot of the initial discussions, yeah. It’s a great, successful model for a free magazine, and some of their content is superb. One of the phrases that came up when pitching the idea for the mag was actually ‘ShortList goes to the pub’, which we thought explained our content well, and went some way to explaining our grounded ethos. We took influence from a lot of sources though, there’s other brilliant magazines, fanzines and websites which were all influences in the creation of HalcyonMag.
There’s a lot of terrible free ‘lifestyle’ mags in the city. What makes you different?
There is, isn’t there! There’s some good stuff too, but we think the quality of our content helps us stand out. With a huge boom in online media, and everyone in the world having their own football blog, or Tumblr, or Twitter, you have to put a bit of work in behind the scenes to help articles stand out. We’d like to think we do that, with not only the personalities we get on board, but with the questions we’re willing to ask, and the themes that we explore in interviews and features.
You put a lot of store on crisp design. We’re guessing that’s as important as the content?
From day one we wanted the magazine to look good. When you’re writing features about the integrity of clothes, the aesthetics of film or the innate beauty of football you can’t print it in Times New Roman on bog roll, or nobody is going to take you seriously. It’s not so much ‘distancing’ ourselves from other magazines, but just a personal aspiration for a certain unique quality.
What keeps you awake at night?
Deadlines, email alerts on my phone and the new scheduling of La Liga.
What gets you up in the morning?
The fear of Merseyrail letting me down, email alerts on my phone and Everybody Loves Raymond.
What’s right about Liverpool now?
There’s great pubs, bands, artists, writers and people, but they have always been there. The greatest thing about them now, as it was in the ’70s and ’80s is their ability to carry on in the face of adversity and financial strife.
What’s wrong with Liverpool now?
Desperate Scousewives and the pseudo-luxurious culture that it represents. Give me The Belvedere over PlayGround, any day.
We’re working on Issue 2 at the minute, and some of the features we’ve got in the pipeline are really exciting. There’s still tons of stuff being put up on the site as well, something that we’re going to develop in the next month or so, to bring it in line with the physical mag.