bay garnett and kira jolliffe on collecting chloë sevingy and nick knight's obsessions in new book, 'fanpages'
The duo behind cult 00s zine 'Cheap Date' return to publishing with a limited-edition collection of one page fanzines, released tomorrow through IDEA Books.
Being a fan is the greatest thing in the world. Whether it's Justin Bieber that floats your boat or, I dunno, boats that float your boat (shipping <3), liking something for no reason other than it reminds you of a certain point in your life or makes you feel a certain way is the best. It can manifest itself in t-shirts of your favorite band, posters on your bedroom wall or, if you're Cheap Date's Bay Garnett and Kira Jolliffe, an entire book dedicated to the literal art of fandom — a compendium of single page fanzines on fashion and style made by the likes of Chloë Sevingy, Nick Knight, Claire Barrow, and Rita Ora (!).
Whereas Cheap Date — which formed 1997 and lasted for eight brilliantly anarchic years — filtered the duo's own passions (a mix of thrifting and blistering satire), FANPAGES hands its space entirely over the contributors: from Louis Theroux's fondness of the "classic rugged" look to Jemima Kirke's favorite t-shirts. The resulting annual is a glorious mismatch of likes and loves, obsessions and confessions and, importantly, one that you yourself can be a part of (submissions for next year's issue can be sent to the address in the back). Ahead of the book's launch this evening, we had a nice chat with Bay and Kira about all those people and all those lives with passions just like ours. You know what? We're fans.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Bay: It was very organic. Me and Kira were meeting up and we wanted to do Cheap Date again and it wasn't happening and it didn't feel right and it was quite frustrating. It was almost a bit upsetting because you want to do something and then it's like, 'this isn't right, this isn't happening.' But when we were in the middle of talking about the stuff, we had this idea of having a pin board within Cheap Date — a fan board. And there didn't need to be an explanation, there didn't need to be a context, it could just be, like, Patti Smith. Oh, God, it's a cliché, who gives a fuck, we love Patti Smith, let's do a fan board. And that's where the idea came from. And, as we realized we didn't have anything to say to do Cheap Date again, we realized that, actually, there was stuff that we loved but it wasn't really about what we would say.
Kira: In a way, that was kind of an aspect of Cheap Date. You know, feeling some sort of an urge to get something authentic — just being really engaged and really loving stuff. That's really all that counts in terms of stuff that you're into.
Does the book exist out of the Cheap Date cannon, then, or is it kind of an extension of?
B: It is separate. It is a separate project, but it has hopefully got some of the spirit of Cheap Date. You know, 'come on! Join in!' Which I hope that Cheap Date did about thrifting stuff. At the back of FANPAGES there's actually a blank page where you can create your own fan page if you want. So you can be part of that book.
At the back, there's an address where you can send stuff for the next issue.
B: Yeah, you know what, I love that. And, if it's good, it will go into the annual 2017. And actually, you know, one of the real pleasures of this whole project was the fanpages coming in. Chloë Sevigny FedExed her board to me. And it came on this 80s card because that's when she stuck it on and had her address on the back all scribbled and, you know, she's gone to the post office. I just love that shit. I can't help it. And some people we had to meet at a certain time and other peoples would come through as a document and it was all these different ways of receiving this stuff that was unnecessary to life but was just a gift. Felt like a gift.
K: What was really brilliant was how into it people were. We thought, "Oh, well, this is a really nice idea, how brilliant would it be," and we decided to give it a try. And everyone responded! We didn't really have to struggle at all to get people to do them. At all, at all. We just sat down and watched this kind of rainbow spectrum of fan pages fall into our laps.
What is it about receiving something made from paper and glue that's still so exciting?
K: It's a bit like that feeling when you're a teenager and you get a letter where someone's written your name, your road, town, city and then the world, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. You laugh when you're a kid, when you get that. There's something homemade, something personal about that.
B: It's the fact that you're doing something for the sake of it, because you want to. Because it's yours. You're not making money from it. You're not trying to make money from it. You're not selling yourself from it. You're just doing it to celebrate something that's for you. I suppose it's an antidote, in the same way that Cheap Date was an antidote to lots of things. Obviously it's selling a product, I'm not a fucking idiot, it's selling the book, but the content is selling love, it's selling fan pages, there's no other agenda. And I really, really like that because I'm fucking sick and tired of everyone trying to sell me shit everywhere. Aren't you?
Well, yes. And that's why it's great reading these pages that celebrate just liking something, with no ulterior motive.
B: Exactly. Just something for the sake of it. Because you're into it. That's why I love Chloë's board, because a) she's kind of did when she was, whenever, in twelfth grade and b) she's kept it. And Louis Theroux. He spent a long time on that page! And he thought about it and when I spoke to him about it he was really nice. Zac Sandler who did the page on My Favourite Sci-Fi Clothes, he and Louis were at school together. They used to draw together so I loved hearing about that.
What was the first thing you remember being a fan of yourself?
K: Well, I was really into sci-fi. Still am. And fantasy. I'm glad that a few people have done sci-fi clothes. I come at it from girl nerd point of view. And I've always been into music. I was into rock and roll. Along with Billy Idol, who's the only one left alive.
B: Really embarrassing. I don't think I can actually. I'm going to have to lie and say something really cool! Oh my God, it was Morten Harket from Aha. Morton Harket. I thought I was going to marry him. It was proper deluded fandom. And then I got obsessed by Prince. But that's the thing. I love how odd it is, fandom. You just get into stuff! And with FANPAGES, when we were inviting people to do it, it wasn't just this thing of, like, you had to be obsessed with it. It doesn't have to be someone's big obsession. Some people said, "Oh, I'm not really a fan of anything but I like that."
What works really well is that you limited it to just style and clothes too.
B: Because otherwise you're getting, you know, obscure architecture, you know what I mean? It's not tight, is it? I hope that it's quite tight in a way. There's a thread.
And while there is that, the pages still look really different too.
K: Yeah, totally. That's why we had to narrow down the subject because, already by its very nature, it could be anything. It's each person's own expression of something that they love, in very much their own particular way, and they have their way of saying it.
B: It's funny you say that because I love that. David from IDEA was so funny because I never thought of it like that. I thought that the pages looked quite sophisticated, you know, because I'm not an art director at all. And David was so funny because on the "jodhpurs" page the text is in the shape of a horse, and he just started laughing, like, this is fucking nuts. And I said, "that page is really sophisticated, it's like a horse!" and I didn't really see it. To me it's was just that page is like that and that's that person. But when he pointed it out, it was, like, "my God, you're right, it is quite bonkers". But I like that because it's a bit like a style ideological dig. You turn the page, and you don't know what it's going to be.
What makes a good fanzine?
K: I think a real passion. And imagination, in terms of how to put across what you want to put across. Freedom to say, well, this is my fanzine and I'm saying it the way I want to say. That wonderful freedom of self-publishing. That's the kind of brilliant thing. You can just say it however the hell you like. It can be really powerful that, people really respond to it. And hopefully FANPAGES has got a lot of that in it.
Can you sum up the essence of the book?
B: I guess it was really this idea of a love of fanzines. And a fanzine, to me, is something you do cheaply and because you love it and you're into it. And it's totally independent and it's yours and that's why you're doing it. Because you're not compromising. And maybe no one else wants to hear you but you're putting it out there anyway. And I like that sense of chaos. I can sort of relate to that, in a way. I'm a kind of scrappy person like that.
Text Matthew Whitehouse