I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Matador Review’s Editor in Chief, JT Lachausse. Matador Review is an excellent publication covering alternative art and literature. I share their submission opportunities here when I see them because they seek the cutting edge, the unusual and the experimental. That’s how we evolve—by breaking barriers and seeking different vistas. I support evolving.
The Matador Review began in January 2016 by a team of three. Who were the three that began TMR and what is the story?
JT Lachausse—The editorial board: JT, Shayne, and Mandy. We’re best friends from childhood, having connected online through an arts website. Years down the line, we finally met up and moved to Chicago as a gypsy unit. During a wintertime school vacation (2015), we spent two weeks writing and illustrating in a Washington mountainside cabin (romantic, I know). It’s there that we had this thought for an online magazine.
For us, there was something missing—particularly regarding style—from the long list of publications: a distinctive home for the “alternative”. While there’s PANK and Bat City (our faves), we wanted something half-art/half-literature and totally free; free to submit to, free to read, free of advertisements. You’ll find plenty of magazines that bill themselves as weird, punk, quirky, so on and on … but alternative is its own sort of niche.
Your website describes TMR’s purpose as promoting “alternative work”. Can you define what TMR means by “alternative work”?
JT Lachausse—From our About page: “‘Alternative’ is a way of voice and experience. It is the distinction from what is conventional, and it advocates for a progressive attitude.”
It does not necessarily mean risque or outlandish or weird; it calls for writers and artists to submit their most unique works—especially regarding style. Even the most ordinary of plots can be told in peculiar ways.
Officially past your first year publication mark, how do you see TMR maturing?
JT Lachausse—Our first web design was even more minimalist than it currently stands. I picked up some coding chops and have since been expanding the digital experience, while Mandy has been working alongside the board to expand returning readers. But none of this comes from thin air—we keep our ears to the ground. If our submitters and readers suggest something, we take it into serious consideration and try to implement.
People are sharing Matador stories. Strangers are connecting and engaging because of art. In our baby days, it felt like speaking into a void—but that’s a part of the process. Most publications start with no backers and no subscriber database besides family, friends, and whoever else you can bargain with on the street. It’s a proving grounds, and we’re still in it. We sort of love it. I think that tenacity shows through each issue.
What has been the biggest challenge for TMR? How was it overcome?
JT Lachausse—As I mentioned, visibility was a struggle. But we trusted that good art and literature would draw attention, so our first step was reaching out to creators—diverse, exciting writers and artists. The next step was critical, because most publications fail at this: staying connected to our contributors. This is our family, and we took a chance on each other (especially as a fledgling publication). We want to be supportive beyond the release.
Ultimately, we don’t much care for PR strategies. We just want to share our work again and again, and brag about our creators. I suppose it’s very simple.
Recently you’ve opened a submission call for your Fall 2017 issue. What are you hoping to see?
JT Lachausse—We want what you haven’t seen. Allow me to be dramatic: Imagine that every piece of art is represented by a stone. Many stones make up the mountains and buildings, but even more hide beneath the surface. We are so familiar and fond of the overground rocks, but in the caves and oceans-deep, there are stories that tell things wildly. Desperately, furiously, without great laborious sanitizing or editorial puncturing.
Art that seems ridiculous, haughty, aggressive and pathetic. Amateur hour, disjointed comedy, horror shows, family debacles that at first glance seem like New Yorker material, but upon closer inspection offends every cornerstone of “fine storytelling”. Not everyone will like it. And that is entirely the point. If you find your pebble at the bottom of a canyon, bring it on over.
Where do you hope to see the TMR five years from now? How do you think you will achieve that?
JT Lachausse—Precisely the same position, but with more friends to share with. You make friends, and keep those friends, by being a good friend. So Matador will be a comrade, and we won’t scratch for something more.
Please tell me how readers can find, become involved with and support TMR?
JT Lachausse—Readers are more than welcome to visit our site, matadorreview.com, to read our just-released Summer 2017 issue. They can also sign up for our newsletter at http://www.matadorreview.com/s