New alternative as Ulster mag marches south
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.myspace.com/altulster. Irish and international indie music covered
Cover girl: Kate Nash