Small Talk is a free monthly newsletter used to promote music, art, culture, and radical politics homebased in Ottawa. Interview with the founder Lesley Marshall.
Can you tell us about your magazine?
Well, I do a couple things locally in Ottawa. By day, I work at a music company and showcase festival Kelp/MEGAPHONO, I’m also a curator with a media art collective called Available Light. I’m also in a garage surf punk band called Bonnie Doon. I’m involved with Rock Camp 4 Girls, SAW Video, and have been told I am a really good dancer.
Can you tell about us, about your magazine?
Small Talk was started as a zine and listings by our record label Bruised Tongue. It was originally called Small Talk Stinks and was just available at some shows. I wrote a couple album reviews of our new releases and we had local illustrators contribute with cool drawings. We decided to step it up after a friend got a risograph machine and were able to roll out more consistent content. People were into it and there were beautiful duo colour original prints. That’s when a couple of people started helping do distribution and it’s grown steadily from there. We love DIY stuff, we’re really into experimental and emerging arts.
Our outward statement is ” Small Talk is a free monthly newsletter used to promote music, art, culture, and radical politics from Ottawa-Hull. ” It was started as counter-culture, as in, counter to popular and the mainstream. So I’m a local curator and acting as editor-in-chief (stress) and I try to keep to our statement and what I think is cool or interesting to put out there. It can be a fine line. Nothing that perpetuates the garbage stream people are used to. Fun and a little challenging.
Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
We chose the physical print as a take away format in a world bombarded by Facebook event invites, then it became a bit more about form with risograph prints, now it’s pure function – again to have something you can pick up. I would like to incorporate another kind of paper element like unique folding, a different printing process and colour. We only got a website and Facebook to talk about Small Talk and spread it as a ‘brand.’ It is first and foremost a physical thing.
How’s the public response?
Ballin’. Great community response. People like it.
Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How are the sales? Advertising-wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?
We deal firsthand with our advertisers, as many of them are our distribution locations or event contributors. Small Talk is a free paper and is run by volunteers, which we hope to change in the future. I’ll keep you posted, our printing costs are offset entirely by community advertisers. We keep our ads as cheap as possible, we really value these relationships. We haven’t been approached by any larger companies and will cross that political crossroad when we need to.
What are your upcoming projects?
We are looking at expanding again this summer, but I will hold my literary tongue until we do. You’ll see us at more zine community events and I’d really like to do some satellite events around reading outside in the summer with art books called the Lemonade Library. Coming soon.