Last week, Livincool met David Hellqvist, the editor of Dazed Digital. We particularly enjoyed chatting with David, as he shared with us his experiences, his ideas about journalism and his personal vision for Dazed Digital.
You were appointed as Editor of Dazed Digital in 2010. What was your background and what your previous experiences at the time thanks to which you succeeded to join Dazed Group?
In terms of actually getting the job, I think -just like regarding so many other things- it’s about meeting the right person at the right time. I am sure there were plenty of people applying for the job. I was just there, and I was able to do the job. That’s only one part of the story. For many, many years, I’d worked hard, both with online platforms and magazines. I was freelancing, contacting anyone who might have been interested in having me involved. It was hard, but also gratifying.
What is it like to work with Jefferson Hack?
It is very interesting and rewarding. He doesn’t get involved with what I do on a daily basis, but he would come in occasionally and provide dos and don’ts. He has a clear vision of what we are and what we should cover, thus he points the right direction. He’s definitely a man with ideas and the courage to pursue them.
Is he dedicated to Dazed Group’s magazines and online platforms to the same extent?
I guess he’s more involved in print since, obviously, creating new issues is more demanding than what we do on Dazed Digital. We publish everything with the same layout and format but, on the other hand, we deal with a different amount of work, as we publish five days a week, 52 weeks per year.
This year D&C celebrates its 20 anniversary. Back in the days, were you a passionate reader of the magazine?
Personally, in terms of my Dazed experience, it didn’t start soon in my teen years. I am from a small town in Sweden and we didn’t have London magazines there. When we eventually got something to read, it would be Bibel (The Bible), which was my first insight into a world I didn’t know existed before. It was a Swedish fashion magazine that introduced me to brand s and designers I had never heard of before. And then, at age 21, I moved here and I came across magazines such as Dazed or The Face. It was my turning point, I moved from having nothing to having everything basically on my doorstep. It was kind of overwhelming. Obviously, in this equation, Dazed was really important, because it covered all the things for which I had moved here in the first place: music, art, fashion, culture.
What did you enjoy about Dazed and to what degree do you think it has changed or preserved its identity so far?
I went to the exhibition at Somerset House on Saturday and one of the most interesting things was to look at the covers. It is not just about who was on a cover, but about the nature of the cover itself, the logo, that DIY look, the overall visual identity of Dazed. About a year and a half ago, Cristopher Simmonds came in as Creative Director of Dazed and I think he really managed to get Dazed into this decade and to shape a very strong brand identity.
Given that D&C was such a ground-breaking magazine at the time, do you reckon nowadays emergent publications have the same chances that Dazed had back in the 90s to establish their own innovative and autonomous identity? Will there ever be room for a new D&C?
I am sure a lot of new magazines are coming out and they will fill an important gap in the future cultural panorama. Hopefully, there will be magazines that will play the same role that DC played at the time. On the other hand, it is true that the panorama is so competitive, which means that it’s tougher. Consequently, I think some magazines will disappear. But if you are good, you will – one way or another – succeed.
How do you manage to reflect D&C’s fresh, controversial and independent attitude into Dazed Digital?
I suppose the challenge is to translate Dazed print into Dazed Digital on a daily basis, thus it’s also a problem of quantity. We try to publish everyday something that could be featured in the printed issue. Editing is just like curating. When we have a story coming in, we must think if it could be relevant to Dazed, then cover it in a different way than the magazine. We also look for the right balance between the different categories, such as fashion, music, arts etc.
Online platforms are not simply a surrogate of the printed issues. To what extent the premises of Dazed Digital differentiate themselves from D&C’s ones? And in which way are aims and targets different?
It’s different, but it’s the same. We try not to compete, but complete. Print and online have different strengths and weaknesses. In a way, we do the same things using different tools. Therefore it’s about finding out what things the magazine can do better than we can, for instance fashion shoots that simply look better on print. On the other hand, we can do something they can’t, like producing ‘Behind the Scenes’ videos. We focus on all that extra-material which couldn’t go on print because they need to be more selective than us.
In this perspective, do you reckon the reader base of D&C and Dazed Digital is different and to what extent?
I like to think that those who buy the magazine would go on the website and vice versa. I guess you can do that, because the content is different. Sometimes magazines just copy their printed content online, and that’s where I think Dazed is doing well since all our content is original. There is no reason otherwise to buy the magazine and visit the website as well. D&C and Dazed Digital have different identities that go along with each other. Of course there is also a part of the online audience that can’t access the magazine because they live in other countries, so we are the only appearance of the Dazed Group they have.
Where do you see printed information and digital delivery in 10 years from now? Do you think there will always be room for print or digitalized information will soon replace it?
I guess there will always be room for print. There’s just a need for printed information. It will change, for sure, it will look different, it will cost differently and people will buy it for different reasons. Most likely, magazines will cost more money, have more advertising, be more the size of books, but I don’t think they will ever go away. I hope they won’t.
How do you source a good story? Which are the elements you look for?
First of all, it needs to be relevant to our audience, of course. Then, it needs to be different. It needs to be appealing, maybe not really well known. We always look for someone who’s young, talented, fresh.
Can you suggest to Livincool’s readers a designer, a musician, an artists and a media channel you are keen on at the moment?
I would say Patrik Ervell as a designer, New Build as a music band (they feature members from Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem), Emma Löfström as an artist and the Manzine magazine.
Interview by Gaia De Siena and Emanuele D’AngeloWritten by Gaia De Siena on 12.07.11