New al­ter­na­tive as Ul­ster mag marches south

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - Jim Car­roll on mu­sic

Al­ready a well-es­tab­lished ti­tle in North­ern Ire­land, AU mag­a­zine will be ap­pear­ing on new­stands all over Ire­land from Oc­to­ber.

While its ap­pear­ance down south is proof that the no­tion of an all-Ire­land econ­omy doesn’t just ap­ply to air­lines and big busi­nesses, it’s also an in­di­ca­tor of the mag­a­zine’s rude health and am­bi­tious streak.

Launched as Al­ter­na­tive Ul­ster in 2003, the mag­a­zine’s mix of Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional indie and al­ter­na­tive mu­sic, punchy de­sign and spir­ited writ­ing has won it many fans and read­ers in the north.

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lisher Jonny Tier­nan, a move south was al­ways on the cards. “We al­ways had it in mind, but we knew that the Ul­ster name in the ti­tle was a bar­rier and made the ti­tle seem very re­gional,” he says.

“Af­ter the re­brand­ing to AU and re­design, it felt like a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for us to cover what was hap­pen­ing across Ire­land.”

Tier­nan be­lieves AU will at­tract a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence to mu­sic mags cur­rently on the shelves. “We’re not as tabloidy as NME or as mid­dle-of-the-road as Hot Press. We’re early adopters of tal­ent, es­pe­cially Ir­ish acts, and get on to bands quickly. We re­ally see a gap in the mar­ket for a ti­tle which is cut­ting-edge, young and hip.”

He’s also keen to stress dif­fer­ences be­tween AU and that other fel­low monthly left­field ti­tle, Foggy No­tions.

“We’re not afraid of be­ing pop­ulist and us­ing big names to sell mag­a­zines and get read­ers ex­posed to new tal­ent. I don’t think Foggy No­tions would ever put Kate Nash on the cover, but if some­one buys our mag­a­zine be­cause of that, they might also read about Chromeo or Clone Quar­tet.

“We’ve al­ways done that, putting Snow Pa­trol or The Strokes or whoever on the cover to sell the mag­a­zine with North­ern Ir­ish bands cov­ered in depth inside.”

It’s roughly a year since the NME launched its short-lived Ir­ish edi­tion and Tier­nan doesn’t in­tend to make the same mis­takes. “We’re go­ing to start by dip­ping our toes in the wa­ter with 1,000 to 2,000 copies in Dublin.

“We’re in this for the long haul and will in­crease our pres­ence grad­u­ally. We have been around for four years al­ready and have no in­ten­tions of just be­ing a flash in the pan.”

The first all-Ire­land edi­tion of AU mag­a­zine goes on sale on Oc­to­ber 3rd. More in­for­ma­tion at www.mys­­tul­ster. Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional indie mu­sic cov­ered

Cover girl: Kate Nash

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