Interview with 21-year-old Maddy Wilson, the brains behind Newcastle DIY clothing label, Zombie Junk
-by Brooke Tunbridge
Have you lived in Newcastle all of your life?
Originally I’m from Coffs Harbour! I moved to Newy to study after high school, so I've been here about three years now.
When did you start Zombie Junk?
Zombie Junk kinda started a few years back... Or at least the idea of it did. It took me a while to actually turn it into something more than just a bunch of random concepts running around my head. I finally got it together at the start of this year, though, and although it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, it’s definitely starting to find its feet!
Is it a solo effort?
It is, yes. I had a partner at the start of this year who helped me bring it all to life, but we decided to go our separate ways after that. There were no hard feelings; we were just heading in completely different directions, so it just kind of worked out to be a solo project.
Why did you want to start it?
I have so many reasons for this... I’ve always loved designing and drawing, and when I started to work within the music industry in Newcastle, I started to see the underground scene in both the music and art worlds. It just really made me want to become a part of all of that. It’s such an incredible network of creative, supportive people who are doing everything themselves, and it kind of gave me the confidence to give it a go.
I wanted to create a clothing label that’s for the local artists and musos, producing merch and collaborating with these amazing people so all their ideas can be brought together and showcased on one platform, available to everyone in a way that’s completely universal. And I also have so many ideas myself that I want to bring to life, so this just seemed like the perfect way to do it.
Do you have any goals relating to Zombie Junk (big or small)?
I change my goals for this brand every day. It’s constantly evolving and it’s only in such early stages. The potential is incredible and I’m so excited to see where it goes. At the moment I just want to work on building the brand’s awareness and finding new people to collaborate with. I’ve already taught myself so much and I still have so much to learn, but I want this to be a well-established label and I’m working damn hard to get it there! I still have such a long way to go, but I’m enjoying every second of it.
Who have you collaborated with so far? Is there anyone in mind who you want to work with?
Antonia Susan, this incredible singer/songwriter from the Blue Mountains, was the first. I did some merch for her based on a tattoo she has, and the tees had such a grungy feel about them. She trusted me 100% right from the start; I was a little nervous producing something for someone else instead of just myself, but her confidence in me helped so much. She gave me such an incredible opportunity and I was so stoked that she loved the finished products. I’m also currently working on a little collab with local artist Sophia O'Connor, which I’m super excited about! Apart from that I don’t have anything else in the works just yet, but I’m always sourcing new artists to work with.
So you've collaborated with a couple of artists – are you a big music fan? Who are a few of your favourite bands (both big and local)?
I’m a massive music fan! I’ve been a muso myself since I was a kid... It’s always been such an important part of my life. Fave local bands would have to be Raavies [Raave Tapes] and Introvert. But there are so many that it’s so hard to narrow them down. Fave big band – I’d have to go with PVRIS, Fleetwood Mac, Paramore, The Cure… And I have to chuck Trophy Eyes in there, because their new album is flawless!
Nice choices, love Fleetwood Mac! So how do you spend most of your time (working/studying/creating)?
I currently study Interactive Digital Media and previously studied Sound Production and Music Business. I also work as a barista a few days a week, but I spend a lot of my time designing, booking shows and writing/playing music. I love a good TV series too! Zombie Junk, being a DIY label, takes up a lot of time as well. Everything is done by me. I make all the screens and do all the printing myself, so I guess I’m pretty busy most of the time.
What are your other hobbies/interests?
I write and record music in my little garage/studio, do a little photography, attempt a bit of animation and web design, and book a few local gigs here and there. Most of them all tie in with each other somehow, though, so I’m always jumping from one to the other.
Have you always been interested in fashion and/or design?
I was never overly interested in fashion, but I always loved drawing. It was only when I moved here that I decided I wanted to use fashion as a platform for the other creative aspects of my life. The idea of being able to wear someone’s art is just awesome to me. There are so many amazing perspectives out there, and being able to capture one specific individual’s and wear it around is just such a cool, unique thing.
We share a similar interest in supporting local talent… How important do you think this is, specifically in Newcastle?
Supporting local talent is everything, in my opinion. These guys work their arses off and put everything on the line to create such incredible stuff for us; the least we can do is show how much we appreciate it. We need to encourage people to create and perform and be the best that they can be. Music and art are both such important outlets for so many people and they need to be celebrated. There’s nothing more exciting than witnessing someone bring to life something completely unique. And Newcastle is such a great place for it. There is so much support here and so much amazing talent and it’s bringing this city back to life. We have an incredible network within Newcastle. I’m really proud to be a part of it.
What's your plan/vision for Zombie Junk (if you have one – no dream is too big!)?
I just want to keep creating. I have no idea where this will go, but I hope it takes off, because this isn’t just for myself; I want it to be for everyone. I want everyone to feel like they’re a part of this. I want this brand to be for artists, by artists, and I really hope I can achieve that.