Raw and unapologetic design studio / independent publisher SORT, spearheaded by art director (and commissioning editor at NOWNESS) Joseph Delaney and stylist Matt King, invite you into their world of explicit portraits and grainy visuals in their latest biannual SORT Zine Issue 3.

Collaborating first as a styling / creative team, the duo behind SORT have matured into a multifaceted design studio where their signature anti-establishment, multi-media approach reigns through everything they do.

SORT Zine Issue 3 emerges amid the hostile backdrop of the UK elections and the duo, alongside their diverse selection of contributors, tackle complex hyper-current social issues head on. We caught up with Joseph and Matt, aka SORT, to hear more about the evolution of their 'severe' aesthetic and their most provocative biannual zine yet.


Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves? What do you do besides SORT?

JD: I work at NOWNESS as well as freelance video and creative direction for fashion and music.

MK: I work as a freelance stylist across editorial projects, music videos and commercial clients.

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1 SORT ZINE CULT ISSUE Derek Ridgers Matt King 3

What made you decide to start SORT?

JD: We were dissatisfied with the landscape of print and digital media at the time - feeds clogged up with impossibly pristine beauty bloggers and beach-body-ready selfies - so, sick of the facade of a version of perfection we didn't identify with, we set out to present something free of the filters, a project centred on the severe.

MK: We wanted to approach the project in a fanzine kind of way mixing art with fashion, and weirder stuff with a lo-fi aesthetic, which at the time most magazines were reluctant to publish. The past couple of years have definitely seen a change though.

1 SORT ZINE CULT ISSUE Jacqueline Castel Tate 3
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In this modern era where a lot of publishing is moving in the digital direction, why did you decide to launch a print zine?

JD: I'd say digital media is close to reaching saturation point. It's almost an exact reflection of the sensationalist tabloid era when I first learned what media was. With print, it's removed from that at least a little, and as a zine, we're sold in gallery shops or bookstores, so it's a different context, albeit a smaller audience.

MK: We've both always had a love for print, our magazine and art book collection is pretty big! We ran an online magazine for a couple of years from 2011 and got bored of it pretty quickly. It feels so much nicer to have something tangible and physical.

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1 SORT ZINE CULT ISSUE Michael Salerno 2

Can you talk a little bit about reactions you've received from publishing your biannual zine so far?

MK: We've had a pretty good reaction to the zine and interest from all corners of the world from Asia to America and the rest of Europe.

JD: It's hard to pin down. The one thing I was surprised by with the last issue was how many people approached us out of the blue saying they identified with what we were doing.

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1 SORT ZINE CULT ISSUE Slava Mogutin 2

Tell us about SORT Issue 3. How will this issue compare with the first two? How has the concept evolved?

JD: As a result of what's been happening around the world we've refocused our sight. Where the last issue was about presenting an unedited, no-holds-barred vision of the world that we live in, one rooted in equality, inclusivity and free expression, the new issue is looking outward at what is truly severe - those things that hide in plain sight under the cover of normality. It's an attempt to condense and retell the global social and political narrative in an allegorical tale about the rise and fall of a fictional cult, the link there being fairly obvious. The project has always been about trying to bring together likeminded people so it seemed a fitting way to articulate our ideas.

MK: The format has evolved in a big way also. We've gone from an A5 photo zine to 4 printed booklets, postcards, a flyer and a poster all inserted into a big baggie. Visually the issue is more diverse as well as we commissioned more contributors than in previous issues.


How have your personal views and experiences over the past 6 months influenced the direction and creative featured in the SORT Issue 3?

JD: What's happening on a global level has affected our whole approach in ways we'd never have predicted. The next issue is themed The Cult Issue, a word banded around a lot in fashion and magazine publishing, but something we've interpreted and presented literally. It's been deeply unsettling to see power in the West move to a place of intolerance I genuinely never thought I'd have to live through. With this new narrative, we've worked with external contributors in a way we've not before. We reached out to people connected to our mission and also the cult narrative, from photographer Derek Ridgers who has been quietly documenting the corners of the UK's subcultures for decades, Russian artist and LGBT activist Slava Mogutin, to Rose McGowan, who escaped the Children of God sect as a child only to enter a different kind of oppressive cult-like sphere, but who has turned these experiences around to shed light on the patriarchal hypocrisies of Hollywood and assemble her own movement rooted in celebrating difference.


What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine? Do you think zines can affect meaningful social and political change?

MK: Zines have always been used as a device to react to social and political change. The past two issues of SORT have been visual only, the necessary addition of text to deliver a more complex narrative for Issue 3 is a reaction to our increasingly turbulent surroundings.

JD: Historically they've been instrumental in that kind of progression. Early British and American punk, and later movements like Riot Grrl and queer art scenes in New York and San Francisco, thrived on self-publishing to communicate messages and bring together like minds, and we definitely see ourselves as a continuation of that tradition. As for today, though, we understand the zine is speaking to a very specific audience and preaching to the converted in many ways, which is why this issue comes with a concurrent, equally weighted film that tells this same narrative. The internet can be a vile thing, but the power to reach people around the world can't be ignored, and the thought of someone in a small town in Middle America, or Russia, or Chechnya, or China (firewalls permitting) seeing what we're doing and knowing a little more that the world doesn't have to be the way it looks right now, that they can wear what they want to wear, watch what they want to watch, be who they want to be, etc. is pretty much the only thing keeping me personally from throwing myself under a bus each morning.

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Industrial music has played an essential role in sound tracking the launch parties for Issues 1 and 2. What role does Industrial music play in SORT studio's creative process and who have you asked to soundtrack the launch party for Issue 3?

JD & MK: We also make up half of an industrial music night called Very Friendly (Throbbing Gristle fans will get this), and the two projects are becoming ever-more connected. The film which accompanies the zine is entirely scored by original noise and industrial music made by two acts that play at the night (which also doubles up as the official launch party of SORT Zine Issue 3), Naked (LuckyMe industrial pop duo) and Never Worse, and the ideas and aesthetics of industrial culture are probably some of our biggest influences. In addition to the two above we'll have a turbulent live performance from Soonbe (solo project from Young Fathers drummer), and a line-up of djs to keep us up through the early hours as we wait for the news on whether we beat the lizard people in the election.

SORT ZINE CULT ISSUE Jacqueline Castel Tate
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Aside from the continuation of the SORT zine, what other projects do you expect to be working on in the near future?

JD & MK: We'll be travelling a bit with this issue and actually already making plans for Issue 4, but between now and then we'll be working on developing more projects as a creative studio - still under the SORT name. We'll be working on more styling (having recently styled two music videos for NAKED that recently premiered on Dazed), as well as directing some music video and short film projects and a couple of independent print projects. Oh, and dismantling the system of course.

Join the SORT Zine creators for the Issue 3 launch party at Vogue Fabrics on 8th June and for more details or to buy a copy of SORT Zine Issue 3 (available from 8 June) visit www.sort-studio.co.uk.

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