The tradition of making and publishing zines spans decades. But even in our overwhelmingly digital, post-social media age, the zine remains an expressive medium for anyone looking to tell their own stories. Whether if it’s about punk music, film photography, obscure comics, or poetry, the art of zinemaking is resolutely DIY and accessible.
Squelch Zines was put together as a platform to showcase zines of different stripes, shapes, and interests in Singapore. Formed by enthusiasts Nicholas Loke and Janice Chua in 2013, Squelch now exists as a collective within the country’s niche and blossoming zine community.
Their Instagram page features titles from their vast repository of zines, and their ongoing show on SGCR — Squelch Zinecast, hosted by Janice — leans closer into the topics and spaces that these publications emerge from.
Get to know more about Squelch Zines through the words of Janice, who also shares a list of favourites that experiment with the medium itself.
How did Squelch Zines first come to be?
Squelch Zines was started back when Nicholas and I were still in Lasalle. We wanted to do something out of our curriculum, so we started Squelch Zines. It only started to become a zine platform after our first Singapore Art Book Fair in 2013.
Since then, Squelch Zines have evolved its platform into a library, as we see it more fitting for the local community.
Since its formation, how has the platform developed and grown into what it is now?
It first started as a project for ourselves. Since the art fair that year, we decided to use our space for people to sell their zines, which led us to have Zha Zhi Dian, which became our Squelch Zine Shop. It was short-lived as logistics and accounts got to more than we can handle.
Since then, we focused on our workshops (Zine Jams) so that more people can get exposed to the making of zines. As our collection of zines grew, we decided to turn it into a library to share with people.
What draws you to zines?
The versatility of the medium and its history.
What do you look for in a zine?
Personally, I look for content that’s more controversial — something that mainstream media does not cover as much.
Otherwise, cultural stories are something I enjoy as well. I get intrigued by some of the interesting ways zinesters make their zines, where it isn’t just stories but also interaction. It’s a whole experience!
Could you share some examples of zines that take a unique approach with presentation and content?
These are zines that explore layout and presentation — how different materials and treatments are applied, to the way content is laid out even when taken off the Internet, provided insight for me. (The photo I took of this is accompanied by another Baby Driver fanzine by Zinema)
by Superandom Zine, Alif Seah @fueledbypotato
It’s a compilation of film photos of Alif’s friends, but he decided to lay them out in a uniquely shaped book that’s fit to be rolled up and stored in a regular film roll container. It’s such a cute and smart way to present a photography zine.
Letters in Arial
by Beverly Ng, @madebybeverly
Letters in Arial comprises of scanned images of envelopes, but the letter contents are neatly patched together like a collage. The little design embellishments, like the barcodes on top, add a nice relation to the experience of receiving letters. The cover piece was the fun part: it’s a little word search game on its own!
10 things you should do after you died
by Benyatip Sittiwej, @paundz
The make of the zine is nothing like a traditional zine — this one toys with the folds and layout of the paper. Benyatip uses a paper fastener as the binding tool choice. Another fun bit is that there is a page with a transparent sticker — a detachable line illustration of a ghost for you to use.
Instructions for Instructions
by Atelier HOKO, @atelierhoko
Is it still a zine? Is it just a folder of postcards? I don’t really know. But I do know it is a form of documentation and the whole content has a message to it. Atelier HOKO’s works are always something in a form of documentation.
The cover folder gives “instructions” to follow instructions. Take a postcard and you will get an instruction to do something.
There are a total of 60 postcards: each one instructs you to perform an activity in the comfort of your own home, and then to record the encounters down on the flipside of the postcard.
How would new readers find zines? Especially ones that would cater to their interests.
With the internet so available with information, we can just search with keywords! I always search for the kind of content I want and end it with a “zine”, eg. “queer” + “zine”.
Another way is to go to Instagram and search using hashtags. There are many accounts of different zine groups and initiatives post their zines and submissions! Activist zine groups are even easier to find there.
I also find artists and zines through zine fests.
Some of my go-to zine sites are:
They are an online catalog — they have one of the most comprehensive databases.
One of the oldest and most established platforms I know of. They have an online shop that sells a wide catalogue of zines.
Five O’Clock Zine
If you’re looking for a zine to get but want to know more about it, this dude here publishes zine reviews. He also has a podcast!
This is another platform that I’ve been checking out recently. They have reviews on their website and information on zine fests, with handy descriptions of each event.
Squelch Zinecast will be back with a new episode on SGCR later this January. Follow Squelch Zines on Instagram.
Like most local events happening this year, the annual Singapore Writers Festival is moving online.
Instead of the lack of a physical space impeding their plans, the literary-focused festival will move forward with a wealth of talks, workshops, interactive programmes and Q&As — all conducted online.
In tradition with past editions, the list of esteemed speakers is thrilling: Margaret Atwood, Art Spiegelman, Zadie Smith, Liu Cixin, Naomi Klein, amongst others.
However, taking advantage of the festival’s newly-minted virtual setting, they have taken the admirable leap to experiment with formats. Night Spin 182.7FM is a festival highlight that rethinks our enduring relationship with the radio.
Transforming The Arts House into the festival’s radio station, Night Spin 182.7FM is a series of podcasts and vodcasts, including radio plays, artist interviews, insightful dialogues, and segments surrounding literature in Singapore.
The Love Radio segment, hosted by poet Deborah Emmanuel, allows listeners to make love poem dedications to a loved one. Emmanuel will curate & read out a poem especially for them.
On Shades of Self, MAMA MAGNET team up with writer Nyshka Chandran and Ashley Erianah for a series of conversations with notable Singaporean creatives, ranging from rapper Masia One and multi-hyphenate artist Rizman Putra to drag queen icon Becca D’Bus and writer Shivram Gopinath.
Malam Seram reaches back to the age-old tradition of horror storytelling. Abdul Karim Sadali, known to many as DJ KC, brings to life spine-chilling tales adapted from Singaporean short stories.
Access to all Night Spin 182.7FM shows come at $20 and can be purchased here.
To get a sense of the world behind Night Spin 182.7FM, we had a brief chat with The Art House’s programming manager Shridar Mani. Read it below.
What sparked the idea behind Night Spin 182.7FM?
With the festival this year moving to an entirely digital platform and coupled with the theme of intimacy, we tried to think of a way in which these two elements could come together in a cohesive way.
For many of us, the radio has always been a device that very intimately connects us whether it’s through music, listening to an audio documentary on a news station or in conversations with personalities.
We decided then to transform this experience into a digital radio station for SWF that would bring together all these elements of text, music and conversation.
How was it like putting together the various programmes?
We had quite a number of approaches in putting this together.
Some programmes were ideas that the team had about specific content that we thought worked well in this medium but that would also add an edge to the programmes.
For example, radio plays by Edith Podesta and Grace Kalaiselvi that explore the relationship between the female body in mythology and history and its relationship to the contemporary world. Or Deborah Emmanuel’s Love Radio, which plays off the love song dedication idea.
Others were programmes proposed to us by partners whose work we felt with within the radio station concept, such as radio plays adapted from Singlit texts by The Second Breakfast Company and specially curated podcast episodes by well-known podcasters in Singapore, Nicole Lim and DJ KC.
Writing’s On The Wall is a series of interviews with singer-songwriters, and it boasts a diverse range of lyricists! what stood out about their skills to group them for this show?
The selection, made by Aravin Sandran of Neighborhood, was done on the basis of singer-songwriters whose work was recognized for its poetry and lyricism, exploring songwriting as a literary form in and of itself.
The range of shows itself stretches quite far — was there any consideration into the kind of audiences you’re hoping to tune into Night Spin?
We just wanted to reach out to a wide range of interests so there really is something for everyone — whether you like theatre, music, literary conversations, poetry readings or podcasts. We consciously chose and developed the programmes based on this range.
Singapore Writers Festival 2020 is happening from Oct 30 to Nov 8. More information can be found here.
It takes a simple collision of wavelengths to tie creative spirits together — and that’s exactly what happened with Slimy Oddity and psych-rock band Khruangbin.
The Singaporean art collective teamed up with the trio for a brief and groovy venture. Printed as a limited batch of 30 pieces, it’s a celebration of kinship and harmony under these troubled times.
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We are having a very special limited run of 30 posters for the 'Shelter In Space' artwork commissioned by @khruangbin. Each one will be numbered and signed by yours truly! Once they sell out, we will not be printing any more so here's your only chance to grab them. ✨✨ ALSO, our site is now updated with new goodies including prints of recent comics and some fan favourites which were previously sold out! Patches are replenished and we still have some tees and totes left 🎉🎉 Link in bio! 💖
“We strongly believe that art and music go hand-in-hand,” Slimy Oddity tells us in an email interview. “two of the highest forms of human creativity/expressions. We are always constantly trying to sniff out opportunities to work with bands we love!”
This isn’t their first music-related venture. Last year, they designed the artwork for Shye’s catchy single ‘Impatient‘. This collaboration with Khruangbin was borne out of mutual affection for each other’s work, despite being half the world away.
“If I had to describe how Khruangbin’s music makes me feel in a nutshell, it would be pure good vibrations, love and light!” Slimy Oddity explains further.
“Especially given the dire times the world is in right now, I think it’s crucial and important to balance out the darkness with hope and light. We try to spread messages of love and wisdom in every piece of artwork, reminding people of our true spiritual nature.”
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May you one day meet the person who looks into your eyes and sees the entire universe looking back. The one who sees you beyond all the matrixes and shellings of society's inprint and conditioning; beyond all the hurt and trauma you've inherited and accumulated. The one who truly sees you for your true nature, the very essence which you are. The one who sees themselves looking back at them. Soul to Soul, Awareness to Awareness, Consciousness to Consciousness ❤️❤️❤️
Khruangbin frontwoman Laura Leezy is a follower of Slimy Oddity’s Instagram activities — they quickly got to talking about a piece engaging with the quarantine times they’re in, “to express the unity we all share in spite of our separateness.”
The resulting work — printed on 300gsm A3 Art Card Paper — is a suitably colourful and spacey tribute to the band’s core members.
Since launching in 2018, Slimy Oddity has amassed their own international fanbase, with tees, patches and tote bags bearing the collective’s kaleidoscopic artwork.
“Being able to connect with people all around the world through my art in a visceral way is what drives me to create!” they say.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve received countless messages from people who have told me how my art has helped them in the midst of an existential crisis, or a spiritual awakening they were going through. Being able to be the balm to soothe their souls and expand their minds imbibes me with the purpose and passion to keep doing what I do.”
There aren’t many copies left of the Khruangbin print — 10 copies, with no plans for a reprint — so if you’re a fan of the band, best to get on it as soon as possible. Buy here.
Stream Khruangbin’s Mordechai below.