The face behind Vancouver’s rainbow-bound indie music zine
Natasha Jones // Contributor
First year Capilano University Communications student Elizabeth Kerschbaumer has been making zines since the eleventh grade. Formerly known as fanzines, zines are independent, self-published magazines that typically explore subculture topics and movements. It was her obsession with punk rock culture and love for local band Wind-Up Birds that sparked the creation of Sounding Off – a handmade zine that launched in September 2016.
The concept of Sounding Off was conceived months prior to its production, when Kerschbaumer expressed her interest and excitement for producing physical copies of her written work. Her vision of providing her favourite artists with press were then cemented with the creation of her zine. “Nobody was documenting the people I was obsessed with,” she said.
Ultimately the zine delves into the DIY music scene, featuring artists as well as fans, whom Kerschbaumer has described as “the heroes of the scene.” She also emphasized the importance of “supporting the building blocks of the scene, like the venues, visual artists and writers,” and explained that this is something that often goes undocumented.
Sounding Off draws inspiration from Riot Grrrl, a zine and feminist movement that began in the early 90s. The zine focused on punk rock culture, politics and female empowerment and explored the inequalities women face on and off stage. The zine is a collection of essays, stories and opinions, wound together in a cut and copy DIY style, resembling that of a collage.
Like the Riot Grrrl movement, Kerschbaumer examines the issue of sexism in the music scene. “Whether or not we want to admit it, it’s omnipresent,” she said. Many venues toss the term “safe space” around without really considering what that means, and unfortunately, many of these venues aren’t always safe for women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community and recognizing this is the first step towards making progress.
Kerschbaumer also finds herself drawing inspiration from feminist punk band Bikini Kill, which bears a zine under the same name. The band’s lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, is a huge role model for the zine crafter, and was one of the reasons she started producing her work. She has also found herself to be influenced by the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and particularly liked the “deliberate unrefined nature of his work”
as well as his use of dramatic colours.
Sounding Off presents readers with 16 pages of vivid content – two articles: one long and one short, along with art and written submissions, including some of her own work. Beyond the drawings and words that fill the pages are Kerschbaumer’s thoughts and opinions. “I had no editor, this is unfiltered me,” she said.
The making of a zine is a time-consuming process involving tape, scissors and copious amounts of paper, and Kerschbaumer has said that her surroundings have taken a toll. “My room looks like a blizzard,” she said, as she additionally listed the steps of her work’s creation.
The production starts with printing out submissions and typing up content using a typewriter, followed by laying out the pieces onto a template copy. Once the good copies are photocopied, Kerschbaumer binds the pages together using rainbow yarn, resulting in a beautifully hand-stitched end product that is both personal and unique. There are times when things don’t go as planned, and Kerschbaumer has had to retype entire pages. Sometimes mistakes happen, but she chooses to look at the situation optimistically as she noted, “knowing how to control the disaster is weirdly inspiring.”
Last year, Kerschbaumer had been going to shows almost every weekend. At concerts, you’d likely find her with a backpack full of zines; some of which she trades, others she sells for $2 a piece. It’s normally one of her friends who would distribute them for her, acting as a promoter. Wind-Up Birds also put up copies of the zine on their merch table, making it accessible to fans.
Kerschbaumer plans to keep Sounding Off as a zine rather than expanding it into a blog, although she does plan on making copies available online. Her work will continue to focus on Vancouver’s DIY indie music scene, and she is expecting her next copy to be done by mid-February.
For more information, visit Sounding Off’s Facebook page: @soundingoffzine.