TEPSIC’s ultra-simplistic and ultra-brilliant concept blew my mind when I picked up a copy of their debut issue a couple months back. Morgan Tepsic, an art buff with a background in photography, distributed disposable cameras to a variety of musicians with instructions –or lack thereof– to photograph anything they wanted.
At the end of the rolls, he collected the cameras and printed big, beautiful 11×17 pictures and organized them together to create a brand-new approach to music journalism. Abandoning the gimmicky photo-shoots, superficial interviews and trivial music reviews, TEPSIC picks up on the experience, the lifestyle and, most importantly, the personality of the musicians it features. Isn’t that what we all want from a music magazine?
At Cypher League, we found Morgan’s perspective very interesting, especially since the second issue of TEPSIC features more than one reputable name in hip hop. A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown, Iggy Azalea and Theophilus London are featured in this most recent issue. So, instead of telling you what to think of TEPSIC, I did what we do best; I passed the mic over to Morgan Tepsic to delineate TEPSIC’s origins, its vision, and its success.
I wanted to know how he came up with this concept for the magazine —and why I hadn’t thought of it first. So I asked him about his background and the birth of TEPSIC. Let me just say that he seems like a really chill, passionate dude.
MORGAN: I’ve been interested in photography since I was in high school, and once I graduated, I moved to South Korea and lived there for a few years. While I was there I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m going to be a photographer!” I snapped rolls and rolls of film while I lived there, but I’m a rather reclusive guy and I don’t like schmoozing with other artists and getting a leg up on that whole world really wasn’t for me. The latest project I worked on personally involved driving around the United States. When my fiancé and I settled down in Oklahoma city I began working on TEPSIC again, and began developing it into the music magazine it is today. The idea was brought up by my buddy Dayv, who suggested while I was still working on my art magazine that I should send out cameras to artists and have a special music issue. So I began emailing my favorite artists just to see their responses, and they were all very positive! I immediately had an “a-ha!” moment and began pursuing this idea 100%. Not only that, but he’s a really chill dude who’s also genuinely interested in music and created this magazine because he wanted to peek into his favorite artists’ lives himself.
krks: But really, what’s the point of TEPSIC? Between voyeurism and autobiography, where does TEPSIC stand?
MORGAN: I made the magazine to be different from basically every music magazine that’s out right now, because above all I’m really interested in the life musicians live and would like to see pictures from it, which is what I figured other people would love to see as well. I’ve always been interested in photography and I really love music, so I wanted to share a slice of their lives that we, the public, don’t really get to see. I’m not interested in having a “voice for the magazine”, because I want the artists to be the voice. I don’t like shitting on albums because I know some albums aren’t for everybody. I want to publish this magazine to provide a new service for people obsessed with music and going to concerts, this magazine is made for them. The people who want to live vicariously through rock stars going around the world playing music and living their dream. I have been amazed at the response and rapid rate that this magazine is growing, so it’s comforting to know that people dig the concept and want more.”
We definitely dig the concept. Anyone who still has any doubts about TESPIC should let Morgan clear them:
MORGAN: I think there are some people that might think to themselves, “Well, it’s filled with just pictures, that’ll take me like 30 seconds to flip through.” But once you have all these huge pictures in your face, so many stories just right in front of you that you will not see anywhere else, you begin to think to yourself, “Where was this taken?”, “Who is that?”, “What is going on here?” and you put it down, you pick it up later and notice new things. It’s a refreshing experience to read/see a magazine and not have any preconceived thoughts of, “Oh, this got a 3.2 album review, should I even bother reading this?”
In an age in which all things digital are slowly taking over, TEPSIC reintroduces printed film photography. In an age where the printing press has been declared “dead”, TEPSIC proves the contrary. But successfully challenging the the status quos of music journalism and the music industry is no small accomplishment. At Cypher League, we know a thing or two about starting your own project and the hopes and doubts that go along with it, so Morgan’s advice for anyone looking to start their own original project was particularly touching to us:
- Don’t expect anyone to like or buy your magazine.
Why are you printing this magazine/zine? Is it for money, fame, and girls? Or are you doing it because you don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks about it and maybe there’s somebody out there that might dig it too? Constantly remind yourself of why you’re doing your project and don’t lose sight of what makes you happy. When I printed TEPSIC as an art mag, I barely sold any copies. Almost nobody, excluding a few artists, was willing to buy a copy and check it out. This didn’t really bother me because I enjoyed the task of finding new art, tracking down the artist and asking if I could publish their work.
- Be your ultimate worst critic.
Why was nobody willing to buy my mag? Because it was filled with pictures that were already on the Internet a MILLION TIMES. It’s hard to realize that maybe your first idea wasn’t your best, but if you are really inspired to make something amazing, why not make it the best it can be by always improving? I scrapped the first idea of TEPSIC, threw it in the trashcan and started with a new idea.
- Go for it.
You know those moments when you’re baked with your friends and you think up some crazy idea or invention and get everybody into the idea and then you ask someone to pass the cheetos? Okay, what if you didn’t ask for the cheetos and you ran home to brainstorm and actually pursue it. You would either be left with a dumb stoned idea that wasted about ten minutes of your time, or a brilliant idea that most people WISHED they thought of first. Many of the projects I have worked on creatively have taken no more than 15-20 minutes of planning before I actually take action to make something happen. If you wait too long you think of too many ‘what if’; thoughts that could potentially talk yourself out of something that could be really great.
- Success does not take a dump on your doorstep one day.
There is a VERY large group of people who think that success just comes at random and hand-picks special people to become the next rapper, next painter, next BIG THING. I feel dumb even typing this out, but this just doesn’t click for some people. Set goals for yourself and go the extra mile to accomplish them. You’ve probably heard that a million times, but if you work your ass off for something you truly love, you will begin to see the outcome of all your hard work. And when you do, it’s one of the best feelings in the world, and even though it may be a small taste, it keeps you wanting more. Success is an accumulation of these moments. Even though I am not sleeping on mountains of cash or have my magazine sold in thousands of stores worldwide, I couldn’t be happier with publishing something that is 100% mine and original. I hope you can one day enjoy the same feeling.