A new arrival on D.C.’s indie publishing scene, HIGHWAY is small but mighty.
The magazine is deliberately pocket-sized, says its creator, Maryland resident Vicente Gutierrez. But its first issue, which came out in October, is thick with content ranging from archival band photos to long-form interviews with people on the fringes of independent music — some of whom don’t actually make music.
Gutierrez says he’s particularly interested in those folks in the background, like music photographers and writers.
“I decided to start the magazine because I felt there was a need to include these other voices,” the publisher writes in an email. “They are just as valuable in the way we experience music culture. All of these personalities feed into a ‘scene.’ And in a way, our comprehensive experience is a life with music, which is one key facet of the magazine’s editorial approach.”
While HIGHWAY is technically a D.C.-area publication — Gutierrez, 33, is from and lives in Montgomery County — the magazine embraces both local and global culture. Its debut issue covered Los Angeles’ KCHUNG radio, German-born composer Hildegard Westerkamp and Yugoslavian new wave and punk, but it also tossed in an essay from D.C. rock ‘n’ roll icon Ian Svenonius and an interview with photographer Glen E. Friedman, who logged many hours shooting photos of legendary D.C. bands.
“Since I’m from D.C., I always like to include something from the D.C. area,” Gutierrez writes.
Gutierrez has contributed to music publications like Wire and Pitchfork and worked as an editor at a media studio, and he’s spent a lot of time living, working and studying abroad. He moved back to the area to hunker down and work on HIGHWAY, which he’s been doing since the summer of 2012. But he wanted to ensure that his new project would reach an audience far beyond the beltway. That’s why HIGHWAY also has a mobile app.
“There’s always talk about how widespread smartphones have become, and there’s also talk about how people stare at their phones all the time, peering into the cyberspace matrix,” Gutierrez writes. “I thought it’d be a good idea to get the magazine in the iPhone as a simple app, which would allow us to deploy the issue and have it reach more and more people.”
The app, which is a bare-bones presentation of the magazine, helps offset the downsides of print — namely steep international shipping costs, a major obstacle to distribution.
One thing HIGHWAY doesn’t try to do is mimic the blogosphere, with its frantic coverage of super-current bands. That’s not Gutierrez’s focus.
“One reason why we decided to not cover the most current acts is because it’s a fervent conversation already happening in a number of vibrant outlets,” Gutierrez writes. “Independent music couldn’t ask for more. As a publication, the focus shifted because I didn’t feel we could add anything to that conversation.”
HIGHWAY‘s own conversation is slated to continue this summer, when Gutierrez plans to release Issue No. 2. He says he’s hard at work on it now.
“Publishing twice a year gives us time to evaluate and present stories which we feel are worthwhile and able to provoke thought and trigger conversation,” Gutierrez writes. “The publication is meant to be a conversation starter, and that’s one reason why we made it pocket-size — so you can bring it with you.”
Second image by Sebastian Mayer with Beastie Boys photo by Glen E. Friedman.