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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ownership of Eleven Magazine Changes Hands as Publisher Hugh Scott Bows Out

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 8:28 AM

Eleven Magazine - KELLY GLUECK
  • Kelly Glueck
  • Eleven Magazine

Eleven Magazine, St. Louis’ only stand-alone music publication in monthly syndication, has changed ownership. On August 21, 2015, former owner Hugh Scott transferred all rights and duties as publisher to editor in chief Evan Sult, who will continue his current position under the new company structure.

Music fans in St. Louis might know Sult from his role as drummer and backup vocalist of indie-rock outfit Sleepy Kitty. He also works with his partner Paige Brubeck on a number of projects, including Sleepy Kitty Arts, a freelance design and screenprinting project based in south city.

Sult’s experience in print media dates back to 1994 when he worked for The Daily of the University of Washington in Seattle. As a student, he focused on the arts section, a portion of the paper that ran in weekly syndication.

“There was this effort to maintain the section and try to build it into an independent publication within The Daily called the Glass Onion,” Sult says.

His efforts on staff at the paper would lead him to meet his future bandmates in renowned ’90s rock group Harvey Danger. 

Sult started his professional career in 1997 at The Rocket, a music magazine based in Seattle from 1980 to 2000: He graduated on a Friday and started working as the assistant art director the following Monday.

Sult relocated to Chicago in the early aughts, where he lived for nearly a decade before moving to St. Louis in 2009. He first spotted Eleven later that same year, at the Mud House on Cherokee Street.

“My first impression was, ‘That is a great-looking magazine,’” he says. “It looked great to page through. I was impressed that this thing had just showed up. I think I may have picked it up, exclaimed, and the guy right behind me was Matthew Ström, who had designed it.”

Sult recalls that the magazine was exclusively distributed on Washington University’s campus from 2006 to 2009 (though we couldn’t verify this with Eleven’s creators at press time). Publisher Hugh Scott then bought the paper, seeking to expand its audience to the greater St. Louis metropolitan region. The publication was mostly a student-run production, with editorial duties reserved for new graduates, until Scott sought a new editor in chief in 2012.

“I knew that it was all volunteer work — well, maybe ‘volunteer’ isn’t the right word,” Sult says. “They really couldn’t pay writers, designers, editors.”

Sult was at a personal crossroads, interested in getting involved with print media once again, either through writing or design. He reached out to Scott and soon signed on for the job.

“I hadn’t done a magazine since everyone started to update their blogs every hour. But I have learned that print can withstand time,” Sult says. “When you’re in a band, it’s great to put songs or albums out online, but it’s totally different to put them out on CD or vinyl. It feels really different, and that’s what the magazine is to me. I’m glad to find that it is as satisfying as I hoped it would be.”

Sult immediately transformed the paper, taking its subtitle, “The Liner Notes of St. Louis,” to heart. He called on the efforts of local artists such as Curtis Tinsley for monthly comics while instating columns by music veterans Matt Harnish and the late Bob Reuter. His own editor’s note addressed the implications of being a music editor who also plays in a band, navigating scene politics while directly responding to readers (including a published letter by Eric Williger that openly accused Sult of having conflicting interests).

Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult of Eleven Magazine / Sleepy Kitty. - PHOTO BY SHERVIN LAINEZ.
  • Photo by Shervin Lainez.
  • Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult of Eleven Magazine / Sleepy Kitty.

Three years later he continues to build upon a base of hyper-local pieces with interviews and previews for national acts, focusing on bands that are either from St. Louis or touring through town. Sult cites budget constraints as his biggest challenge, preventing him from building any kind of Web presence beyond a simple website that offers digital issues.

“I am way print-oriented,” he says. “I really feel the magic of reading and publishing words and having three years’ worth of Eleven on my bookshelf — and hopefully other bookshelves around town, too. I really value the physical object.”

In late June, Scott informed Sult that the publisher would no longer be involved with Eleven. The book had worked mostly as a two-man operation, with Scott taking on budget and advertising duties as well as Web publishing. Now, the future was uncertain. The July issue released and Sult immediately went on tour with Sleepy Kitty, using the following two weeks to meditate on the magazine’s future.

“It just seemed to me that we had gathered a lot of steam,” Sult says. “My writers and I were busy building something. I didn’t want to see that end. And I really believe the music scene needs it.”

Don’t expect to see Eleven back on shelves until early October. Sult laments the loss of issues in August and September, but ensures that this hiatus is the first — and last — in his tenure. 

While Sult intends to work as a combined publisher, art director and editor in chief, he has hired a new ad manager. Brubeck will also now work as managing editor, helping with the budget while assisting with editorial content. But this structure is less of a means to an end and more like a new starting point.

“Do I fantasize about having a small but real staff at Eleven within three years? Definitely,” Sult says. “To me, the coolest thing you can do with your life is doing what you love, all the time, full-on.”

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