Music / Irregulars
“when you hold something physical, it’s almost like you’re holding hands with the creator” -
A Chat with Highly Contagious
Words and interview by James Lynch
Thursday 13th August, 2020

Set to be launched in the coming months, Highly Contagious is an emerging publication that celebrates great music and art and the contagious need to share new finds with friends (before contagious was a dirty word, that is). Chatting with creator Adam Markmann, we dig into the project’s inspiration, talk the importance of physical media and find out what to expect from the zine’s forthcoming first edition.
TJ: Hey Adam, how’s it going? Tell us about how Highly Contagious came to be.

HC: Hey James! I guess the idea somewhat developed from really wanting to have my own radio show on PBS or RRR at the end of last year. I looked into pretty extensively and realised how difficult it would be to work my way up the ladder, I suppose, so I decided to just start my own project to share the music I love. I floated the idea by my housemate Ferg (his music knowledge and writing ability far surpasses my own) hoping he would like to be an editor and he was thankfully was super keen! I then asked my very close friend Rowena to be involved, as she is an extremely talented visual artist to curate the art direction, as I really envisioned the zine as having a rich body of writing but also to be visually gorgeous.

You’re currently in the midst of preparing to release the first edition of the publication - what can we expect from Highly Contagious volume #1?

Yes we are! Hopefully we get it printed in August, but the recent lockdown and such has put a bit of a spanner in the works. The first edition features various writers and a plethora of interviews with brilliant artists and musicians. I didn’t really plan for an overarching musical theme or specific genre I wanted to hone into, but as it developed, the first edition really focuses on outsider music and art.

We conducted interviews with really special people in this genre. Tonetta 777 and the Space Lady were a serious privilege to get to interview, really blew my mind that they let me interview them. I think readers will be inspired by their stories. We also interviewed a post-punk band from London, The Cool Greenhouse. They released their debut this year and it’s pretty fucked up how good it is. Tom Greenhouse is a really funny and charismatic guy and the interview reflects that really well.

We also interviewed animators and visual artists Peter Millard and Steffie Yee. Other than interviews, there is a bunch of reviews from Ferg (both local and international bands) and written pieces from contributing writers and abstract pieces to look at throughout by Row.

Tonetta 777
The Space Lady
You’ve described Highly Contagious as a celebration of the music you love and the artists behind it - what do you believe makes these artists so special? Is there something that ties the artists you’re featuring together?

I like artists that exhibit humility and vulnerability. Ultimately, I love artists that do what they want to do without wanting outside interference. They often get labelled as outsider artists, sometimes post-punk. I find that I enjoy interviewing older artists. They often have better stories than younger artists.

Physical media exists in a strange place at the moment, but still a really important one that is incredibly special to lots of people, especially in creative communities. What importance does a physical publication mean to you?

It has an extremely significant importance to me. I don’t enjoy reading on a computer - hurts my eyes and it doesn’t feel real. When you hold something physical, it’s almost like you’re holding hands with the creator. I hope people can smell the blood, sweat, tears and feel the love and nurture that went into making them. It’s like the difference between just listening to an MP3 vs a vinyl record, the romanticism is half of the enjoyment.

You’re mentioned you’ll be running a website alongside the publication, but it sounds like it will be running in a slightly different fashion to many other music sites, could you tell us a bit about that?

I guess it’ll be different in how I want the website to be interacted with. It will serve its basic purpose of being our online store for zines and merch down the road, but what I’m really excited for is the mixes that we will upload to our Highly Contagious Radio. I mentioned previously in the interview that this whole idea came from wanting my own radio show, and this is how I can fulfill that need. I want it to be really community driven, lots of different contributors with lots of different mixes, not confined to any particular genre at all but just a bit celebration of great music from different parts of the world. We’ve been lucky enough to have lots of people already contributing mixes, if anyone ever wants to submit one in the future they can send them to

Adam and Ferg

Your team shares a pretty extensive creative background, with two musicians and a visual artist. How did you all come together? And what’s the team dynamic?

The core team is Fergus Sinclair, Rowena Lloyd and myself (Adam Markmann). Graphic designers Gabriella Brown and Harry Green helped out heaps with the print layout, very lucky to have them involved and Rigel Maple has been designing the website for us. Rowena and I have known each other for years, we went to high school together in Canberra, she’s very dear friend of mine. I met Ferg at a bunch of gigs over the years but was always a bit too drunk to remember, and then I moved into a place he was living in and we became very close and I joined one of his bands. I do most of the music interviews and manage the whole thing, Ferg does most of the writing, and all the reviews in the first edition and Rowena did the visual artist interviews and does the visual direction. Ferg and Row are really the talent behind the whole thing, I’m very lucky they jumped on board. Our dynamic is great, we all love each other dearly and are great at communicating.

Finally, the title Highly Contagious is obviously a little on the nose at the moment, but seems fitting to appear at a time when the creative landscape is dramatically changing. At the moment, where do you see Highly Contagious fitting in, and as the world starts to come back to normal, how would you like to see the publication evolve?

Haha yeah, we came up with the name in the context of contagious music and art when it gets shared around your friends and community. The love of picking up a record and listening to it with your mates and it becoming contagious through your entire friendship circle. Music communities are more than just scenes in local areas now, an entire international community is able to share music with each other with ease through the internet and I really want Highly Contagious to reflect that. We live in a very special time in music, where there is SOOO much being shared all the time from all over the world and you can access so many things that would have been so out of reach in previous eras.

Highly Contagious is planning to launch later this month - keep up to date by following their Instagram below.