In 2009, Belgrade based Urban Bug magazine launched its first regional web edition - mag.urbanbug.net. The project, being conducted under the slogan, "Urban Culture Knows No Borders" contains digital content posted by associates based in the republics of the former Yugoslavia. The magazine started five years ago as a free, pocket-sized, monthly
publication covering all aspects of city culture, including music, travel, film, fashion, extreme sports, and other universal subjects of interest to today's younger generations.
The author of the project is magazine editor Aleksandar Jovkovic, who told Southeast Europe: People and Culture that from the onset, its basic objective has been promoting city culture by connecting like-minded people and taking boundaries down.
How did you come by the idea to start Urban Bug?
Just like today, five years ago, the club scene was not getting enough coverage, so that the need for a magazine to keep track of the scene presented itself. Our primary objective is covering this scene, but also recognising and presenting quality items, which implies creating them sometimes. Soon enough, we began garnering positive reactions from our readers, confirming the need for a guide, a magazine of this kind. Our biggest success in the past five years has been the "South East Europe's Best Music Magazine" Award, presented by the South-East European Music Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, which we received two years in succession.
What is your take on contemporary pop culture in Serbia and the region?
The region’s pop culture is an important part of European culture, i.e. there are no borders to this culture. It originates anew each day, absorbing a large number of people, and what is especially important is that we all understand it well and identify with it. As for the region, I think that it is important that we have gathered around the same things that interest us. Of course, there are similarities, but differences too. This is why we maintain an archive with different contents from Serbia and the rest of the region on our website.
How do you view the Serbian club scene?
The Exit music festival in Novi Sad has undeniably pushed the envelope and helped popularise us internationally. On the other hand, I believe that the domestic scene is suffering a crisis caused by the bad financial situation. Furthermore, I think that the club scene is slowly moving toward the "mainstream." Whether this is a victory or defeat for clubbing, I don't know, but what we are after is constantly recognising things that are different and presenting them to our readership. We now need to work on the biggest and best possible promotion of "nightlife" which is our best export. I think that with a good strategy and enough time we could make a very good brand out of both Belgrade and Serbia. Of course, the state needs to lend a hand.
Considering that young people in the age group 15-35 are the magazine's target audience, do you agree that what qualifies as being "young" today might be a bit stretched, that it could, to a degree, be expanding? What does Urban Bug have to offer to people outside of this group?
At the risk of uttering a cliché, a young person is someone who feels that way! I think that we always have something to offer target groups that are no longer young age-wise, and we are especially proud of that. I do not think that we should limit ourselves to divisions into the young and old, because this is definitely changing in today's fast-paced society. It looks like the tempo of life today is demanding quick adjustments from us, and, since so much is happening, there is always something for everyone.
What do you think is the future of the print media? What are the pros and cons of the Internet?
I think that these things are clear. It is interesting, even to just imagine, how some things will look like in ten years time since its is evident that the internet is taking sway over all other types of media. It is so powerful, unstoppable and unpredictable that it is only a question of time when it will surpass television, which it will simply swallow and incorporate.
What message does your magazine send to its readers?
I will cite some local and global slogans, because I think that they represent the way of life that we try to encourage: "Be your own person, listen to your instincts!," or, "Just Do It!," "Being the same, being different, being free, being my own person!," "Intentionally Different!" and "Don't Miss Out on the Party!"
About Urban Bug Magazine
Urban Bug, a guide through alternative culture, entered monthly publication in 2005. On Dec. 4, 2009, the magazine launched a regional online edition, covering events not only in Serbia but also in Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. The magazine's editor in Serbia is Aleksandar Jovkovic. Its publisher is the Pancevo StopGuru company.