The bi-annual indie magazine about music and musicians has quietly reached its seventh issue. We take a look inside to consider what makes it so popular.
Record Culture is a sturdy brick of a mag that has steadily built up an international audience. The glossy cover gives way to semi-silk pages that artfully showcase the photography and monochrome type.
In our 2015 interview with editor-in-chief Karl Henkell, he explained that ‘the intention for Record is to publish interviews that are still valuable in years to come.’ The magazine’s format means that unlike a flimsy zine, perhaps the more usual format for a music mag, it can be shelved and brought out to read time and time again with ease. It’s designed to be kept.
Rather than reviews, long-form interviews make up the bulk of each issue of Record Culture. These serve as a framework through which to understand contemporary musicians and their process, letting the artists speak for themselves on everything from ‘dirty clubs’ to meditation. Jean Julien’s opening image to the issue, opposite the editor’s letter (above), sets the context perfectly.
Opinions about the music itself are left in the hands of the reader/listener; the magazine is a newsletter for a community rather than a sales tool for new material. Instruments, hard drives and mixing desks appear as incidentals among the detritus of everyday life, all glamour wiped (above). Editor-in-chief Karl Henkell lists Apartamento as one of his favourites, and there are certainly similarities between the two: both magazines feature artists in their own spaces, and Record Culture takes it to the next level with this focus on its chosen niche.
The subjects are an international mix; Henkell is an Australian who launched his magazine in New York and is now based in Madrid. We meet French DJ Biscuit, Berlin-based Colin Self, Karl Lagerfeld’s music director Michel Gaubert (whose apartment features several Apartamento-worthy designs icons including a Memphis bookshelf) and Portland’s Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood. The story of John MacLean, who records as The Juan MacLean (above and below), is typical of the interviews, encompassing origins (how he met DFA’s James Murphy), his shift from hardcore to beats, and his growing interest in spirituality.
The design is calm throughtout: texts and images follow a strong template that allows ample space to express themselves (the shortest interview is 16 pages long).
My favourite part of issue seven is an investigation into Spanish artist Joan Miró’s work inspired by music. The feature collates artwork specifically designed for concerts and record sleeves, as well as paintings created in response to music – painted music.
The issue comes with a supplement, ‘Playing to The Gods’. Alongside photographs of Bali’s landscape that provide context, photographer Nathan Perkel’s images focus on this ever-influential form of percussion ensemble music. His images breathe new life into a perhaps over-saturated western perspective of the volcanic island, and like the Miro feature, extend the cultural reach of the magazine.
With its emphasis on physicality in an age of digitisation, Record Culture is the ideal publication for today’s music, helping root our endless, streamed feeds in the real world.
Editor/founder: Karl Henkell
Art director: Holly Canham
Buy a copy from the magCulture Shop