Welcome to ‘In The Frame’ - our monthly feature of inspiring individuals.
This month we are delighted to introduce you to Jacob Barnes, Editor in Chief of Soft Punk Magazine - a platform for emerging writers and artists who make sense of the contemporary moment in their practices. Through the perspective of street and youth culture, they publish from a socially progressive position, talking about one thing - culture.
Jacob is from New York and now lives in London Fields, where we met up with him. Born out of a desire to support the next generation of practitioners, Soft Punk was established in 2019.
What inspired you to start Soft Punk?
As artists and writers ourselves, we came into the industry knowing that people didn't really want to give us a chance to do something new, and that if we wanted an opportunity to have our own voice, to have our own platform, that we were just going to have to make it ourselves. [Soft Punk] is an opportunity not for us to decide how other people express themselves, but instead to open up the doors to those who have a vision — those who have an idea for the way that they understand the world and how they understand their own subjectivity.
Before the magazine, Jacob was a student working and trying to make a career for himself. After graduating from university, he lived out in Berlin, wanting to continue his work in the film industry. However, he quickly found that he wasn't getting where he wanted to go, and consistently felt hampered by having to work within other systems of progression. That's when Soft Punk was born.
How did you come up with the name Soft Punk?
The name stems from an old song, ‘What's Up Fatlip’ by Fatlip, the former member of The Pharcyde. The song is just an exercise in brutal abjection, a willingness to accept one's faults, and the acceptance of beauty in the face of all that. I live by those values. I also had a promise with a very dear friend of mine that if I ever named anything, it was going to be named Soft Punk. There's a line in the chorus, a sample from a KRS-One song, that goes, ‘What do you expect when you rhyme like a soft punk?’
Why did you choose to live in the London Fields area?
I chose to live in the London Fields area because I felt that it was the neighbourhood that best represented what I wanted from this city — equidistant from the clubs and central, fun, but with an air of seriousness, and the kind of place I could go out with my parents or out with friends and have a great time.
What are your thoughts on sustainability?
Personally, I try to recycle, I ride my bike. I walk when those aren't really options or I use public transport. But professionally, we are careful to publish the most environmentally sustainable way possible. One of our core tenants is that at every juncture we'll do things with a mind toward sustainability, to the best of our means. And the logic behind that is very simple. A magazine means very little when there's no planet to read it on. So it seems like only the logical thing to do. Especially in an industry that is characterised by such egregious waste.
Why did you choose the London Fields frames?
I chose these glasses because I needed something that could really encompass all sides of my personality. On one hand, I'm a businessman; I run a magazine. We're a small business and I constantly need to meet other professionals and conduct myself as such. But on the other hand, I'm still just a kid, having just moved to London – this is all a new adventure, and I needed something that could demonstrate the fun sides of my personality. I can't always be so serious. So having something that beautifully bridges that divide between professional and casual seemed ideal.
What's your favourite movie?
I have a degree in Cinema Studies, so if I didn't have a couple I think I would have done that wrong. But from a filmmaking perspective, I love films like Show Me Love, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and the films of Derek Jarman. I’m also a huge Gus Van Sant fan, so of course My Own Private Idaho, and I'm pretty sure I could tell you every line of Good Will Hunting.
What is your favourite book?
I think the book I take everywhere with me, or at least have a copy of wherever I live, is Chris Kraus’s ‘I Love Dick’, which I think in many ways changed my life. As for favorites, I struggle: my stock answer was Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih for a long time, but more often now I’m prone to just noting what I’ve liked recently – so Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen, or The Topeka School by Ben Lerner.
Whats do you like to listen to?
I listen to a whole range of music. I think that's one of the ways the variety of the things that I enjoy is best expressed. On one hand, I have a real soft spot for Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and John Denver. But I also listen to a lot of Lil Peep, and I’m on a bit of a Yung Lean binge at the minute. Essentially, I think I’m drawn to things that excite me, or that are new or different; things I haven't heard before.
Soft Punk is resolved to making each issue a beautiful object unto itself. While no book should be judged by its cover, they strongly believe that part of showing respect to their contributors is to put their work in a product that reflects the value of their effort, as well as the seriousness with which they take their mission.
We're delighted to say that Jacob wears our London Fields Spectacle frame in Light Tortoise as pictured below.
Here's what he had to say about them:
"I chose these glasses because I needed something that could really encompass all sides of my personality. On one hand, I'm a businessman; I run a magazine. We're a small business and I constantly need to meet other professionals and conduct myself as such. But on the other hand, I'm still just a kid, having just moved to London – this is all a new adventure, and I needed something that could demonstrate the fun sides of my personality. I can't always be so serious. So having something that beautifully bridges that divide between professional and casual seemed ideal".