Style & Grooming

This Zine Is Capturing the Underground Energy of the Industrial Music Scene

SORT’s latest issue sees Matt King and Joseph Delaney collaborate with Brooke Candy, Pan Daijing and noise duo Naked

Matt King and Joseph Delaney met at Trailer Trash, the early-aughts queer party held each Friday at now-defunct nightclub On The Rocks in east London. King was working as a photographer; Delaney an art director. They bonded over a love of industrial and techno music, and the ephemera that came with it; the badges, stickers and posters which had decorated the walls of their teenage bedrooms. In the following weeks and months – now years – a working relationship followed, formed from their fixation with the dark corners of underground culture: from vintage erotica and fetish books to EBM noise music, to the goth stylings of their own adolescence. “The stuff we were looking at was too much for a lot of fashion publications, which was odd because a lot of designers had the same interests as us,” says Delaney. 

10 years on, King, who is now a stylist, and Delaney, a director, work collectively as SORT, a multidisciplinary agency of which a printed publication of the same name – established in 2015 – is at the heart. Documenting an underground culture they participated in but rarely saw in magazines, its wealth of collaborators come primarily from London and Berlin’s underground, and the worlds of post-punk, noise and industrial music. “It was about providing a platform for ourselves because there wasn’t really one; we always found traditional magazines restricting,” says Delaney. “Everything was really glossy. I guess we were rebelling against that in a way.”

Previous issues have mined the subcultural worlds of queer nightlife and underground culture the world over, seeing King and Delaney – who are the zine’s creative directors – work with collaborators including actor and activist Rose McGowan, Russian multimedia artist Slava Mogutin, designer Yang Li, and photographers Amy Gwatkin and Derek Ridgers. “We saw this underground scene getting bigger; a lot of people were starting to look at the same references as us,” says Delaney. “SORT was there to make a way for us to be able to collaborate with those people.” And, though the idea of a print publication is central (the pair cite countercultural zines of the 1980s and 1990s, and underground magazines from Russia and New York as inspiration) King and Delaney are decidedly multidisciplinary, working across photography, club nights and film – recently, they created a video diary of Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival for Another Man.

Their latest issue, SORT 4, was released earlier this year, and saw a renewed fascination with the world of music. Separated into five zines, each published in separate booklets, three of them include a collaboration with a musician: American musician and rapper Brooke Candy, China-born, Berlin-based noise artist Pan Daijing and UK-based noise duo Naked. Candy was photographed by Edith Bergfors in an airport hotel room during a four-hour flight stopover (“we shot this crazy, quite seedy bedsit hotel-style story with her,” says King, who styled the shoot and will style Candy on her upcoming tour); Naked, who have been longtime collaborators with SORT and have played at parties organised by King and Delaney, are captured in a photo series captured at various performances, including one held in the subterranean tunnels beneath Somerset House. 

Daijing, meanwhile, was photographed by Sarah Piantadosi in a collaboration with designer Yang Li. “She [Daijing] is very intense,” says Delaney. “But to me she represents that crossover; she’s Chinese, based in Berlin but comes to London a lot. She’s a fusion of extremes, and she’s utilising fashion in her performances.” In the shoot – which accompanies here – Daijing wears Li’s archives, styled by King. The designer is an industrial music obsessive, too – his label Samizdat is inspired by the ephemera of noise and industrial music, and has collaborated with various figures from the scene, including Genesis P-Orridge and Ramleh. 

Next, King and Delaney will travel to Japan to explore the underground music scene in Toyko and beyond, hoping to use the trip as the beginnings of SORT Issue 5. “The noise scene there is really big, probably even bigger than it is here. We want to take our time, and not just do those exhausted, stylised shoots people do in Japan,” says Delaney. “I used to work in publishing and to not have that kind of weird anxiety to meet all those deadlines is so nice; to just do things your way.”

Photography by Sarah Piantadosi, taken from SORT Issue 4. Creative Direction: Joseph Delaney and Matt King. Art Direction: Ross Teperek. Fashion Editor: Matt King. SORT Issue 4 is available now.