A Podcast that features conversations with zine authors, creators, distros, publishers, event organizers, etc!  Our goal is to promote the beautiful, open, inclusive, ever evolving, and rapidly growing zine community through our conversations with current zine creators.  We hope to inspire people to think differently, support the zine community and even participate in the zine community.  Everyone’s invited!!

 

And now..

 

The Long Winded Origin Story behind ZCENE

A number of years ago, I went to the LA Art Book Fair and was exposed to photo zines for the first time.  As an aspiring photographer, these zines inspired me to make my own zines to promote my work.   I decided to make an effort to meet more and more people at the fair to network and become more familiar with the process of making photo zines.  This jaunt eventually lead me to Lowell Ong, a Long Beach local involved with the first Long Beach Zine Fest.  I had to get involved and offered to volunteer as a photographer.. or a videographer if they needed.  Which they did.

I was not a fan of doing video work partially because I was anxious to talk with strangers (which is still true).  Taking photos in dark corners was my safe space and now I’m having to expose myself for free (that’s worded a little weird.. but you get the point).  However, I wanted to be involved in anyway possible and agreed to do some video work for the fest.

So, in 2015 at the Museum of Latin America Art in Long Beach (MOLAA if you’re in the know), I got out my camera and started taking video of the participants.  Over and over again, I met some of the kindest and most inviting people who genuinely wanted to make an connection with me.  They all had unique stories and perspectives, which started to open me up to an enormous, diverse community. It was overwhelming and beautiful.  It changed the way I viewed what is possible through creativity, stretching beyond what is consumable.  By stripping away filters commonly used to communicate ideas (strictly following social norms, for profit only, creating to be accepted by the masses only, etc), these DIY gifts had the potential to allow people to open up and be themselves, both as a creator and as a reader.  Basically, the experience blew my mind.

I wanted to contribute back to this community and be further involved.  But, as time went on, I wasn’t interested in pursing a photo or video career anymore.  So I was left wondering, “How can I show others what I have felt through zines?”  Then, it hit me.  I’d make a podcast!

At first, I wanted to make a video podcast (which is where ZCENE came from -> zine + scene = ZCENE), which would feature original music in every episode.  However, my life was already bananas (and continues to be to this very day).. so after creating one episode and filming two others, it became overwhelming and I shelved the project.

Fast forward to Fall 2016.  I’m reading a book called “The Violence of Organized Forgetting“, which paints a bleak picture of how media and politics are used to marginalize people, on the Blue Line heading home from work in LA.  Trump had just won the presidency and I was feeling hopeless.  There was so much change that needed to happen, and world appeared more dark and enormous than it ever had before.  What could I do to inspire change?  Is there anything I can do to inspire hope?  It was in this moment I remembered the zine podcast idea I had and the people that inspired me to make the podcast.  And, not to say that the podcast would change American politics or that I would usher in a new culture shift (cause.. really?), but I figured that if anyone should have a voice it should be people who are willing to be brave and vulnerable by just being themselves.  Maybe featuring them it would inspire people to do the same, whether the audience made zines or not.

So, with a little luck, we got the ball rolling and are producing episodes biweekly.  It’s a labor of love (and sometimes has me pulling my hair out..) but I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to talk with hardworking, inspiring people, and I hope you enjoy listening to their stories, opinions, struggles, accomplishments, and everything in between.

Thanks for reading this long ramble and I hope you enjoy!

Sumner LeVeque