It was foolish to think that Cyclic Defrost could go on forever in print. And it is quite amazing that has lasted as long as it has.
Born in 1998 as an illicitly photocopied zine when Dale Harrison and I were running our long running Sunday club night, Frigid, with Luke Dearnley and Shane Roberts, Cyclic Defrost operated as a combination of flyer and newsletter. In 2002, Marcus Westbury alerted us to a new grant that the Australia Council for the Arts had just announced and we applied to make a proper magazine. We wanted a magazine that could support and promote the burgeoning electronic music scene in Australia, and one that could also operate a little outside the normal rules of the street press. We wanted a magazine that could also showcase a different graphic designer on the cover, and not be littered with irrelevant and compromising advertising. What a bourgeois luxury.
To our surprise the proposal got accepted and we suddenly had to publish a proper magazine with a print run of 5000 copies. We did a deal with Inertia Distribution, then run by our friends, and started pulling together as many writers as we could from around Australia who were interested in doing something new. Inertia would send copies to record stores around the country with regular orders – it worked well for many years.
The magazine filled a gap. Several hundred artist interviews and many thousands of reviews attracted wide readership and international prominence.
We took Cyclic Defrost to Mutek in Montreal, Sonar in Barcelona twice and to Popkomm in Berlin, and collaborated with local labels and projects to have a number of issues include free promo cover CDs. It was hard going – print was difficult and every undelivered copy would pile up in our houses gathering dust.
Dale quit after Issue 12 and Bim Ricketson took over as designer, and Matt Levinson joined me as editor. Thommy Tran took over from Bim after Issue 21. Matt and I both stepped down after Issue 26, handing the reins over to Shaun Prescott and Lex Savvides and together with Thommy have done a splendid job carrying it on through to this final issue.
Everything has to come to an end.
We were always lucky to get consistent Australia Council funding for as long as we did. Eleven years is great run.
Print is expensive. Laying out a print magazine is time consuming and fiddly. Chasing advertising to help contribute to print costs is hardly worth it.
And mailing bundles of paper magazines around the country is increasingly expensive.
I had always argued for the value of print on the basis that it had a presence in the world – that an issue could sit on a student’s coffee table amongst the pizza boxes and discarded beer bottles for weeks and be picked up by a friend and read, in a way that digital just couldn’t.
The PDFs all the way back to 1998 are staying online. As are all the reviews.
I figure it is a good archive, if a very biased one, of what a bunch of us thought was interesting between 1998 and 2013 in Australia. We got lots of things wrong but a biased history is better than no history at all.
So its not completely over – but it is scaling back. A collective of the longest serving writers are keeping the site alive and the reviews churning over – managed by Chris Downton, Peter Hollo and Bob Baker Fish. They might even do the occasional interview. Keep an eye on the website for everything.
There’s far too many people to thank – all our writers and contributors; our guest cover designers; the shops long since gone that stocked us; Ash, Justin, Nick, Chloe and Ruby from Inertia who made those early years happen; Giv, Chris, and Adam who kept the website operating; our legendary printer Hugh, who stuck with us for almost the whole last decade; all the advertisers and regular subscribers who put their faith and money behind it; and you, our readers.