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Mushpit, issue 09
Cover - Vinca Petersen archiveCourtesy of Mushpit, issue 09

An exclusive first look at the new issue of Mushpit

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts return with the “Crisis Issue” of their satirical fashion/political/feminist magazine. Here they talk us through it

After nine issues and five years, the Mushpit (founded by Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts) has made a name for itself as London’s most-loved satirical fashion/political/feminist magazine. Inspired by 90s/00s anarchic mag Cheap Date, Mushpit was born as a zine in a Dalston flat share and found its legs being sold on the dancefloor of The Alibi. Typically, each issue takes the theme of a particular crisis Brandes and Roberts are experiencing; there has been “The Sell Out” and “The Confused” issue, and their latest, issue 09 – almost double the content of previous ones – is steered by a post-Brexit climate and aptly dubbed “The Crisis Issue”.

Now a fully fledged glossy, even on a shoestring budget – partly due to their strict no ads policy and the fact that just breathing in London is extortionate – Mushpit’s covers have been lensed by Tyrone LeBon (issue 06) and Alice Neale (issue 07). And while it’s easy to appreciate Mushpit on the surface, spend some quality time between those covers and it’s clear that the true beauty lies in its details. Aimed at a generation of short attention spanned 20-something-year-olds and packed with quizzes, “advertisements”, a centre-fold, fashion shoots, and a lonely hearts classifieds page, for any impatient page-turner Mushpit demands that your attention is well-spent with them. Thought-provoking, humorous, and eye-opening/eye-rolling... with heapings of genius, Mushpit offers the approach that if we don’t laugh then, well, we’re fucked.

As we exclusively unveil the cover – an archive shot from photographer Vinca Petersen – and some sneaky spreads, we catch up with Brandes and Roberts as the issue gets ready to drop on 28 October.

What can we expect from issue 09? I’m sensing “crisis” is definitely something important to issue 09...

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: Mushpit exists primarily in crisis mode, so it seemed fitting to dedicate an entire issue to it. This has been a completely bizarre and terrifying year in London, the country and the rest of the world and there was no way it could have ended up any other theme, however hard we tried to make it “the calm issue.” Expect the same old jarring graphics you know and love, with added existential crises, wardrobe crises, domestic and financial crises and the usual Mushpit angst. 

Who have you worked with on this issue and why are they special to the issue?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: First and foremost, our art director Ben Freeman from Ditto who spent tens of hours on trains back and fro from Cornwall, checking the ink was just garish enough and the printers hadn’t tried to correct the upside down quality control sticker on the cover. He’s a tether to the madness but also madder than both of us combined which is ideal. We’ve almost doubled the content in this issue so we’ve got a perfect mix of contributors old and new. Writing wise we’re very excited to have pieces by Daniel Barker, Jade Jackman, Aaron Bastani, Coco Mellers, and a brilliantly mad cartoon by Esme Blegvad. 

What photographers have you worked with this time around? 

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: Raphael Bliss, Joyce NG, Edith Bergfors, Dexter Lander, Builder’s Club and Milo Reid for his amazing fake water ads, which we made very expensive bespoke labels for. Tyler Udall shot our best centrefold ever, Sean Nicholas Savage, who we love and adore. Ben art directed an amazing collection of archive photography from Corrine Day and Vinca Petersen.

“Our perfect reader has no idea what Mushpit is before they pick it up, and by the time they’ve finished they absolutely hate it and are even more confused” – Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts

Tell us about the cover. It’s from Vinca’s archive – why did you choose to go archiver rather than shooting something new?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: It felt like the most honest image that we had. We were obsessing over communicating a message and Vinca lying on a car bonnet with her hands in the air felt the most relevant and right and encapsulated everything we wanted to deliver. Vinca is on the back cover too, in her school uniform and a pair of Doc Martens, which is at once the coolest and most normal picture in the mag, a good analogy for how we hope Mushpit comes across. 

What kind of people do you think / know / hope are reading Mushpit?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: Our perfect reader has no idea what Mushpit is before they pick it up, and by the time they’ve finished they absolutely hate it and are even more confused. 

That said, in the issue’s quiz, you label four types of Mush; Dalston Era, Woke, Confused Era, Grown Up – which one are both of you and why? (I’m worryingly stuck between Confused & Grown Up, and feel I always will be).

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: We’re both Confused in ill-fitting workwear sweating our way through meetings, trying to not make too much eye contact to make it weird. On Wednesday’s we are Woke. ;) 

Obviously, Mushpit is continuing ad-free but you have an amazing approach whereby you create your own satirical versions that most publications depend on. How do you guys continue to consistently come up with these, issue-come-issue?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: The ads are the first thing that we write down when brainstorming a new issue, they tend to set the tone for the rest of what we then commission. The issue sort of revolves around and is punctuated by them and they are intrinsic to everything really. Having said that we are willing to sell pages to the nearest and highest bidder. Even you BP. 

Every issue is always incredibly considered, hilarious and intelligent – can you give us a brief rundown of the process behind each issue?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: It starts as notes on our phones, which gradually grow and form a sort of flat plan, then we start haemorrhaging money on actually getting stuff done, then Sam Boxer lays it all out for us whilst we drink wine in the corner and complain about background colours.

There’s a real satirical take on politics, but how important are politics to Mushpit? And why is satire so important to Mushpit’s take on them?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: It’s impossible for people of our generation not to be politically active, even by being inactive you are still making a statement one way or the other. To us, humour is a really immediate and key way to convey political messages without being overly earnest or preachy. We both think there is a real strength in being able to change your mind as well. Dogmatic politics is something we’re really not interested in and we want to be as inclusive and honest as we possibly can. Self-referential fashion mags are boring. 

If people only look at one page from this issue – which one and why?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: Probably the dictionary or the centrefold. The dictionary is a direct insight into our brains and is loads of people’s favourite page. The centrefold is interesting because it takes photography and places it into a different context rather than a shoot, also it’s got a picture of us in there (see if you can spot it).

What will we learn or take away from this issue?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: It’s ok to be angry, confused, indecisive and feel like you want to think about stuff in bed for a week before you talk to anyone about it. Don’t let anyone humiliate you for not being cool, calm and collected all the time. Growing up doesn’t mean becoming really placid.

When's the launch party?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: It's on the 28th October at the Horse Hospital. Please come and buy at least three copies and expect an array of delish drinks kindly provided by Gordon's and Smirnoff.

If we survive this 2016, what’s next for Mushpit?

Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts: #Mushpit10 ;) which will be bigger and madder than ever. Hopefully a bit of dosh?

Mushpit issue 09 launches 28 October at the Horse Hospital. Pre-order the issue here