Think about your biggest passion, favourite hobby or most memorable pastime. Now think about the thing that first introduced you to that world or ardour. That linchpin to a whole new embodiment of what drives you and inspires you. Your first discovery that changed everything. Well, Achey Breaky Heart Zine was the anchor to my discovery and love for zines. It was the first zine I stumbled across on the internet and was what led me explore more of the scene. Two years ago I hadn't yet come across anything remotely similar to ABH and I was instantly charmed by the strong sense of community behind it and the relation to female experience it gave girls like me. Fast forward over two years of Achey Breaky Heart and founder, Sophie Holmes has absolutely left her mark as the ultimate zine (and meme) queen. It can be easy to shun the internet for causing increased mental health problems or let the world’s social, political and economical issues get us down but Achey Breaky Heart Zine launched from exploring the taboo of heartbreak and is constant a reminder that there is power in having honest conversations and supporting one another.
It feels beyond right to have Sophie here talking to us for February's instalment of Make Magick Happen - she certainly enchanted my life with magick when she opened up my creative sphere to the beauty of the zine community and I can’t wait for her to do the same for you…I caught up with her just before the launch of issue six: The Identity Issue.
Tell us a little bit about you and your work?
Hey babe! I'm a *cough* late-twenties gal living and working in London with my side chick Achey Breaky Heart Zine. Achey Breaky celebrated it's second anniversary in December and I couldn't be more proud of the journey so far. ABH started as a platform to break down societal stereotypes experienced by women in terms of relationships, breakups, sex and love - I believe we are subjected to prejudice in a way men aren't and that it is detrimental to our overall self-worth and self-esteem.
At it's core ABH will always be a heartbreak zine but as it's developed i've been keen to take it down different avenues of the female experience. The crux of Achey B is honesty and raw emotion. I want it to be a space for women to be sad, to get angry, to tell their stories of loss and trauma but also to laugh and celebrate single life, love & self-love and being female!
What is your favourite thing about running Achey Breaky Heart?
I have an excuse to trawl memes all day. LOL. No, but 100% all the amazing people i've met along the way - all the super talented peeps who've taken the time to contribute to each issue and all the lovely followers who message me their own stories of heartache. It really does feel like a little community and if the content I post makes even one person feel better about themselves then it's been worth it.
How do you juggle a full-time job and running a zine?
At the moment it feels like a real struggle i'm not going to lie. Work is hectic and I always feel like i'm juggling 100 things at once. To come home after a busy day and dedicate time to curating a zine, replying to emails and sourcing new content is definitely hard. I take my time though - any deadline i'm working towards is my own and I never want it to be something I begrudge doing.
How do you decide on a theme for a new issue?
It honestly just pops into my head. If i'm feeling a bit creatively dead then I make sure I go and see an exhibition, attend a talk or start a new book. It always helps open up new avenues of thinking and before long a new theme idea comes along! So far there's been - Crybaby, Power, Chirpse, Sin and now Identity - they've all had heartbreak at their core but each have had slightly different content tailored around the theme. I'm so proud of every issue - we've covered some incredibly important topics including domestic abuse, sexual assault and sex work all the way to unwanted dick pics, bad dates and Christina Aguilera's Dirrrty music video. I love seeing how people interpret the theme each time!
If you could change one thing about Independent Publishing, what would it be?
Independent publishing is so great at the moment - I feel like even since starting ABH 2 years ago I've seen such a rise in zine culture, particularly female led zines. I guess the one downside to anything creative is money. It's hard to make money doing anything creatively and printing can be expensive.
You’re about to publish issue 6 of Achey Breaky, what would be your advice to someone wanting to start a zine?
DO IT! My favourite zines are those that have a real purpose and identity and haven't just been made for the sake of making one. Anything creative is obviously great but those that resonate with me the most are the ones that have a really unique story behind them and are totally different to anything else out there.
What can we expect from the upcoming ‘Identity’ issue?
The Identity issue has been such a work in progress and has taken much longer than the other issues but it's almost here and i'm so excited! I want this issue to not only focus on how our identities are influenced by our breakups and relationships but what identity means in terms of female experience and what identity is to different women. You can catch interviews with badass illustrator Jasmin Sehra where we discuss dual heritage, empowerment and what it means to truly 'own' your identity. I also interview Natasha Bailie who recently started the incredible website MENTAL X MUTHA which aims to break down stereotypes of women's mental health issues particularly in relation to motherhood. There's dope illustrations from Rinny Riot, Nichole Washington and Klaus is Koming to name a few and of course a vast array of amazing poems, stories and creative writing for all your heartbreak needs!
What is a dream of yours for Achey Breaky Heart?
Okay, so my ULTIMATE dream for ABH is to open my own cafe called Achey Bakey Heart where all the cakes are heartbreak themed and you'd basically chill, read zines, listen to amazing empowering music and have a good bitch about all the trash people in your life. Surrounded by bomb cakes and bad babes. Oh and lots of alcohol. DREAM RIGHT? For real if someone steals this idea I will hunt you down.
In the interim I need to crack on with a website. I'd love to roll out content more frequently but there aren't enough hours in the damn day...
Finish the sentence. ‘Success is….’
Different things on different days. Sometimes it's just getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it's doing a bit of exercise or catching up with friends. Other days it might be smashing it at work or meeting a print deadline. I think we're so quick to think everyone else is doing life better than us but really you've got to clap for yourself even on your worst days. We're only human!
Keep your eyes peeled on the Achey Breaky Heart Instagram for news on when the new issue comes out VERY shortly!
Check out previous issues here!