Looking For Somewhere To Disappear To?

Dan Jude takes us on a tour of what believes will one day be the 'best pop culture fanzine in the world'

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You may think the last thing that’s needed right now is a new magazine but this one’s different. I mean it, it really is different. I know this because everyone under the age of 25 I’ve shown it to has said so but only after they’ve said wow or cool or other such exclamations. And, thanks to knowing Chiswick’s Dan Jude the young man behind this new magazine, my kudos with the younger generation of W4 has risen significantly.

I met up with Dan to find out how he came to be working alongside Peaches Geldof to launch pop culture magazine Disappear Here with publishing guru, James Brown.

“I’d finished uni and always wanted to get into journalism,” explains Dan. “I’d done work experience at a couple of different magazines which was cool but I found it very difficult to get into as internships aren’t advertised. Then I saw this thing on a website that said ‘Are you looking for a career in journalism?’”

The ad turned out to be for a television show on MTV about the making of a new magazine. “I thought why not? I’ll do it. So I filled in this weird questionnaire, an interview form I suppose and they called me up and asked me to come down for an audition. I went down and it was full of the most ghastly people, Big Brother wannabes desperate to get onto TV as opposed to people who wanted to get into journalism.”

He auditioned anyway and got a call back, and another one, and another one, “and was eventually was told I hadn’t got it.”

However, the day before they started filming, MTV decided that the six people they had recruited weren’t right for the show because, as Dan has already deduced, no one actually wanted to be a journalist, “so they dropped one and asked me to join.”

The show’s concept went rapidly downhill to the extent that Dan was relived that I hadn’t seen it. “Please don’t ever watch it! The show was a travesty, so far removed from the magazine. Basically MTV wanted to do this expose on Peaches and her past. It was also the time when the News of the World ran a story about her drug problem. So instead of actually filming the making of a magazine they just wanted to film all that. The whole thing was really horrible, big fallouts and all the rest.”

The show, which was initially an eight part series, was first cut to five and eventually to a one off one hour show. “None of the other people in the show are now involved with the magazine in anyway but the good thing that came out of the show was the MTV decided that Peaches should be an editor but she needed someone to help her out so they brought in James Brown.”

Brown, who founded Loaded Magazine and is widely acknowledged as the father of the ‘lad mag’ had never done a youth pop culture magazine before. “So this was new and exciting for him as well, he saw it as a challenge as did Dave [Whitehouse].”

Together with Art Director Stuart Tolley and Fashion Editor Natasha Rae, the skeleton staff developed Issue 00 on a tight budget.

Dan claims he finds Brown ‘intimidating’ however, after listening to him speak more about his eccentric mentor, I’d have said it was more profound admiration. “It’s like if I was interviewing a big celebrity like David Beckham, I wouldn’t feel intimidated by him because he’s not particularly someone that I admire, but with James it’s different. He’s a very very intelligent man, a very experienced man with great contacts and he’s got a great vision, enthusiasm and passion for the business.”

Dan’s remit includes commissioning freelancers, generating editorial content, sub-editing, arranging and conducting a number of interviews with high-profile celebrities and bands - including Pete Doherty, Tony Benn and Billy Childish - writing band profiles as well as music, film, fashion, art, politics, sex (his review of spanking paddles is eye-wateringly amusing) and all facets of pop culture. He also writes content for the magazine’s website disappearheremag.com

“I love my job,” he says emphatically, “I get to go to gigs, eat in nice restaurants, and meet great people. When I get down about how much more my friends earn than me I console myself with the fact that I love my job!”

Considering he’s just 23 years old, Dan already has a very impressive CV. What are his highlights were so far?

“I grew as part of The Libertines’ generation so for me meeting Pete Doherty was incredible. I know most people think he’s an arsehole which he is, he’s a total waster but he’s been my idol since I was I guess 16 years old. He’s a really interesting character.

“I also did an interview with a guy called Billy Childish who’s again someone I’ve really idolised. He’s an artist, poet, author and novelist musician and a vegetarian as I am as well. I went to his house which is a strange time warp in Chatham, Kent. All the walls are covered with his artwork and he stops in the middle of the interview to write a song he’s a real eccentric with loads of cats! So that was really cool

“Tony Benn probably the most intelligent man I’ve ever met, mind bogglingly so! I don’t particularly agree with his politics but he’s such a great public speaker. At a time when politics is consumed with corruption and public images, he’s a man who has stayed true to his beliefs. And we shared a lot of interests so for me to be able to talk to him about that was just great. He spoke to me like I was his equal. He didn’t look down on me or patronise me, he also asked me my opinions which was great.”

I was delighted that Dan had taken a leaf out of Tony Benn’s book and was talking to me like I was on his level rather than someone from the older generation [which I am!] who understands nothing about what it’s like to be young.

What I would describe as a teen version of ‘coffee table cachet’ (though not actually coffee table more like bedroom floor where my son’s copy is currently laying), the next issue of Disappear Here is out on April 9th and will be distributed free at various hip hangouts like record stores, cinemas, bars, clothes stores rather than for sale in newsagents.

“I don’t go into a shop and buy magazines. When I was a kid I used to read the NME religiously, the magazine essentially is now a fast sinking ship, they recently got their lowest ever readership which was around 17,000, it used to be hundreds of thousands. That’s because NME magazine is now a brand, they make their money through the website which gets around 100,000 hits a day, it’s a news website and the magazine is just an ad for that.”

“We wanted to do things differently. I find magazines like Dazed and Vice pretentious, very holy than thou like ‘you don’t wear red skinny and you can’t read this magazine.’ I don’t like the tone of it I’m supposed to be their perfect demographic. We wanted to do something that was very inclusive so instead of page upon page of things to hate, we did the things we love. If something’s crap, why would we write about it in our magazine?"

It can also be bought online at disappearheremag.com

This issue includes a cult in Argentina that people are dying for and an article on a Facebook page, "There's this page on Facebook where one girl puts a picture of herself up at the beginning of the day and thousands of girls dress like her and do their hair in the same way and there’ve been stampedes just to get to be near her,” explains Dan.

“There’s also a cult thing about this guy called BabyCakes who made 50 t-shirts when he was 18. He was working in a really boring job and managed to make loads of friends on My Space. Now three years later he has more friends on My Space than anyone else in the world and turned over £1.5m profit in the last year making these t-shirts. He can’t walk through the streets of Manchester or go to gigs without getting swamped by fans. So it’s stuff like that, really cool, cult stuff that you wouldn’t know about. Even I didn’t know about that stuff until people told me about it.”

I was so relived to hear his last sentence!

Dan sees the magazine as being interactive and encourages readers to contribute by sending pieces about what they’re interested in “We want it to be the best pop culture fanzine in the world,” he says ardently. And if all it took to achieve that status was his drive, enthusiasm and determination, I’d say that Disappear Here could well be one day.

Emma Brophy

April 8, 2009