Can you tell about us, about your magazine
Musotrees is a Kuala Lumpur-based periodical print that speaks on journey and destination. The idea of doing this magazine started out in 2013 — but we only managed to really focus on the production a year ago. In May 2015, we published our volume 1 and currently we are in the midst of volume 2 production. It will be released in February 2016.
Musotrees team comprises of 4 friends. In Malaysia, independent print industry is still growing. We took a leap by publishing magazine — partly because we love the idea of having our travel stories printed and shared — albeit none of us are having fundamental knowledge in publication. To say, we are not competing with broad-glossy publications. We focus on small niche readers ie. coffee culture, Instagrammers, social media users, entrepreneur, young travellers and design/photography enthusiast. We are hoping Musotrees could grow spans all types of readers gradually.
Musotrees is pretty much influenced by various types of editorial ethos. The aesthetic values seen amongst those great independent magazines are applied in Musotrees. Not exactly replicating, but we tried to have that inspiration adapted in our own-naive style. Per say, it is more like experimenting. We like white, lots of whites. The minimal editorial should well justified with our content. We want to have a full-bodied magazine that shares a lot on photography and travelogue — but at the same time keeping the clean and minimal vibes at modest. We try not to overdo.
Growing up in SE Asia didn’t really expose us with minimalism and industrialist concept. That was our challenge to convey editorial ideas into papers. Musotrees mission is dynamic. Currently we are hoping to create a magazine maker community in Malaysia. In the future, we would love to collaborate with independent makers in various forms and create something together.
Tell us about yourself
We are four friends — a bunch of biologist — who happened to share the same passion; travel, design, photography and storytelling. We love independent magazine, particularly inspired by Offscreen, Kinfolk and Cereal (to name a few) — so we decided to produce our own magazine.
To pursuit this dream, we self-taught ourselves in publication industry. Kerol Izwan (editor in chief), Afdzal Ahmad (art director), Lyana Ruzlan (editor) & Nita Katcharath (editor); are avid travellers, passion seekers, and always up for new possibility ideas.
We drink lots of coffee too.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
Nothing beats the feeling of having our photos and stories printed. To hold and flipping the final product is a great feeling — even to smell the woody-raw paper scent. It’s like a great bookworm-stimuli.
We use Simili paper for the content. Initially we want to use recycled papers as added-value to Musotrees. But in Malaysia, recycle papers cost us twice more.
Typography plays an important role as it reflects the characteristic and the personality of our magazine. We choose to have small set of beautiful typefaces – primarily Serif, and a few Sans-serif to match it.
How‘s the public response?
It is surprisingly supportive. In Malaysia, we don’t have suffice independent magazines. At first, we were having difficulty to engage with readers as they find it not appealing to spend more bucks then they usually do for other travel magazines. Over time, the skepticism faded and people becoming more understanding why we’re doing Musotrees. In addition, we are currently having stockists at 9 countries. That’s big for us the fact that Musotrees is self-distributed due to a very small circulation. Appreciation on our effort and hard work poured in first volume is paid off. People started to emailing us asking for opportunity to contribute in the upcoming issues. It feels good.
Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How’s the sales? Advertising wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?
The sales is alright. We wouldn’t say it is always good, but it is a roller coaster ride. We forked out our savings to produce volume 1. We thought of doing Kickstarter, but it’s not a big scene in Malaysia. Along the process, we learnt about the other side of publication business where we never thought of — that is having brand ads. We are working towards that slowly in volume 2. But it is not necessarily having a hard sell advert page — rather we made stories with the brands we collaborated to reflect our travel perspective. So it gives good business value to all parties — buyers as readers, us as publisher and them as sponsors. It’s a win-win situation. We believe it is how you grow in publication industry, let alone to sustain and expand.
We would love to engage with more people, to do various collaborations with creative community local and international. It is like a ‘journal-book- club’ between Musotrees with these people. It could be vary. Designer, artisan, maker, crafter — basically everyone. Not necessarily big, but hopefully we can share with people in Malaysia about what independent print is all about.
After all, print is not dead — as seen and mentioned by most zine maker, and we are no exception.
On top of that, we would definitely love to travel more!