Between 1999 and 2012, music fanzine Faith led the way to educate readers about all things dance music. Having gained a cult following thanks to its design aesthetic rooted in club culture, Faith magazine stood apart from the pack with its tongue-in-cheek humour. Now, under the leading label Defected, it's back and better than ever.
Faith's roots can be traced back to the turn of the millennium when founder Terry Farley approached Stuart Patterson, Bill Brewster and Dave Jarvis about hosting a series of parties and calling them Faith. "The first was on August Bank Holiday Sunday at a small club called the Annexe in Soho," Stuart tells Creative Boom. "We then went from hosting 200 people to 2,000 and selling out Fabric on Boxing Day of the same year. The party really did become that popular that quickly!"
After the first event, designer Leo Elstob – AKA Leo Zero – was added to the Faith team. And considering he was already creating the flyers for the parties, it made sense that he would take control of the design of the fanzine. The first issue of Faith came out before the sell-out party at Fabric, and Stuart lays the success of that night at the feet of the zine.
During its initial run until 2012, Jimmy P took on the bulk of the design duties and the name of the magazine known as Faith/Strobelight Honey. "There have been distinct looks of the fanzines, era one with Leo, the second phase with Jimmy and the third which Leo and Alex Mertekis have set the tone for," Stuart explains.
"Faith, the party never went away, although we thought ending at 20 years back in 2019 would be a good time to call it a day…how wrong we were! One of our best parties (which was meant to be the last) was at The Cause, which then led to a conversation about keeping Faith alive and relaunching the fanzine."
Since its initial run, the media landscape has changed dramatically. A shift towards digital publishing has seen music magazines collapse or shift online entirely, but that isn't the case for Faith. Terry explains that the feel to Faith was important and that printed magazines, like vinyl records, have that tactile appeal to their core audience.
"We love the new way Faith looks," he adds. "I think it's built on what we had before rather than starting fresh and all the better for it. Having a new designer like Alex Mertekis plus input from our OG man Leo Elstob really helps."
Speaking about why design is so important to him and the look of Faith, both past and present, Leo explains that growing up with THE FACE and i-D magazine was his gateway into club culture in London. This, of course, led to fanzines such as punk publication Sniffing Glue to Boys Own and an explosion of interesting indie mags, which came with cassettes and Flexi discs vinyl attached to their covers. Ian Swift's design in Straight No Chaser, not to mention the likes of Zigzag and Underground, also informed what Faith would become.
"These were places where you saw the designers letting rip and having a lot of freedom, and I became a huge devotee/student of all these publications, especially how they did the layout and used spot colour and Pantones," Leao tells us. "The early i-D magazines in the wide A4 format were pretty much the best out there design-wise and still haven't been matched as far as being full of energy and innovation for me."
In our opinion, the resurrected Faith more than lives up to these standards and the zine's legacy. By giving Defected a design manual to work with, and handing over the bulk of the design work to Alex Mertekis, the two eras of the publication connect in a very satisfying way. "we went for a mix of what I'd done with the first four issues and what Jim Piercy and others had done during the Strobelight years," says Leo.
"Alex Mertekis came on board and absolutely knocked it out of the park, with each issue getting more and more exciting design-wise and developing the magazine into a rich and detailed new look. Alex took all the fonts and design guidelines I had laid down and ran with it – making Faith Vol 3 and all the merch and items we are doing with Defected feel better than ever.
"Faith is all about giving a DIY feel and lots of snippets to pour over and discover – it's intentionally dense with lots of stuff crammed in like a scrapbook – there is always so much to include, and we love all the ephemera and archive images we unearth. We are dance music obsessives, and so are our readers. They'll look at an old advert for a Bozak mixer and go 'PHWOAR!' just like we do. It's a home for nerds and nerding, and we don't take it all too seriously – we know it's a bit daft. We are old enough to know better, but do it anyway."
And with Alex steering Faith into new and exciting waters, what's next for the zine? "I'm still helping out with design where I can," says Leo, "and look forward to us branching out into some video and animation stuff at the parties, which is something I'm focusing on whilst retraining as an animator.
"There are so many archive resources in the Faith back-catalogue from the last 20 years, I have boxes of photos that James Lange took at the parties, and all the old flyers and mags – maybe we'll do an exhibition at the next party."
Faith is available to order online now. And in keeping with the zine's principles, it remains free (excluding postage and packaging). Order your issue of Faith from the Defected's store.