On the eve of its 6th anniversary, the publisher and editor of 5 Magazine discusses the fine print of Chicago House music, and shares a Shelter-inspired mix by 5’s Philadelphia correspondent DEL. The anniversary party is this Friday, August 26th at Smart Bar; see the Smart Bar’s website for details.

In the doorway of nearly every dance music club, record store, and cafe in Chicago, you might do a double-take at the stacks of flyers promoting club nights. One of them…isn’t a flyer. It’s a half-size glossy magazine with a large number 5 on it, containing a comprehensive guide to the rich local house music scene. You might even feel guilty stuffing it in your bag, because things like this aren’t usually free anymore. But Czarina Mirani wants you to take it, to read it, and to love house music like she does. As both the editor of 5 and a DJ herself (as Czboogie), it would be hard to find anyone who does more to promote and support this city’s greatest contribution to dance music. As Czarina gears up for the magazine’s 6th anniversary party this weekend at Smart Bar, SmartBlog asks her some questions about the magazine and its subject.

• What inspired the creation of 5 Magazine?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and had run quite a few businesses after college. When it was time for something new, my current partner Terry suggested I start a magazine about House music since my life consisted of going out to clubs every night! When we started the magazine in August of 2005, we had no idea how it would all pan out. We just kept at it month after month, a small group of dedicated House lovers and friends, introducing ourselves and our brand to DJs, producers, singers, dancers and club owners. We never knew we’d still be at it six years later, and that’s a beautiful thing!

• Does the 5 have some significance?

5 has always been my favorite number. When coming up with names for the magazine, there were too many obvious words like Soul, Deep, House, Underground, etc. that I wanted to stay away from. As luck would have it I was hanging out with my friend (who also happened to be a numerologist) and I asked him what he thought of 5 as the name for a magazine. He said “5 is a GREAT number for media!” So I took him on his word and went with it lol.

• How has the magazine evolved over time? Has it gone through big changes?

Wow where do I begin? When I look at some of our earlier issues I laugh at how far we’ve come. We were just so new to everything that it was really a learning process in terms of all the music that was out there. I didn’t know anybody, I wasn’t plugged into the House community like that. But the great thing is that a lot of people in the industry showed love and support early on so that really helped us out. I’d say the first 2 years we focused primarily on Chicago talent. Now we’re definitely global in terms of the material we cover. Initially we were also covering more of the soulful House scene, since that was where our love was. But House is much bigger than that and now we’ve embraced a wider variety of styles because the music is constantly evolving.

• How do you feel that 5 fits into the fabric of Chicago’s dance music scene?

I think it’s a good reference for people both new and mature to the scene. We try to create an awareness of the different types of music that is out there. I also think it has helped bridge the gap that’s so pronounced here in Chicago between the old guard and the new. By exposing people to the parties on both sides of town (north side and south side) via calendar events, pictures and interviews, everyone can be more aware of the wealth of sub scenes happening within the city. In the last six years we’ve been doing this, I can definitely say we’re seeing more northsiders hit southside parties and vice versa!

• Are there any articles that were particularly significant or that you’re especially proud of?

One of my favorite interviews of all time was an interview I did with Frankie Knuckles over two years ago. I’ve always loved his music, his parties, and just him as a person. He is a beautiful and kind soul. I remember he invited me to his home, cooked a delicious dinner and we had a nice long talk that led to one of the interviews I was most proud of: 5 Magazine Frankie Knuckles interview.

• In this day of blogs and Internet zines, why is it important to have a print publication?

I think there is still a very strong percentage of people who like to have something tangible to hold, touch and feel. I love reading books and I can’t imagine using an electronic reader. To live in a 100% electronic world is crazy to me, we need substance!

• Are all of the articles in the print version of the magazine also available on the site, 5chicago.com?

Yes absolutely! We offer physical as well as digital subscriptions of the magazine. When you get a digital subscription, you get a PDF format of the magazine the minute it comes out. We usually put up all our articles a few weeks after they are released in print. We also have way more content on our website…a whole lot more! We have more reviews, interviews, several featured mixes a week, our 5 Mag Radio Show, videos and my blog.

• What are some of your more memorable moments relating to house music?

I will forever remember going to the Shelter parties in New York with Timmy Regisford. I would spend every summer in New York since ’98 and every Saturday without fail I would be at the Shelter. The vibe was incredible and I loved watching all the dancers get down. The Frankie Knuckles parties always make me happy. WMC is an amazing experience seeing the whole House community from the world come together in one place. Last year’s 5 Mag 5 year anniversary party was also unforgettable because so many of Chicago’s local heroes came together to celebrate and that was incredibly meaningful.

• How did the monthly at Smart Bar come about?

I’m so grateful that we have been given an opportunity to do a night at Smartbar! We were initially asked about 2 years ago by the then talent booker in charge James Amato if we wanted to be part of a Wednesday series of House music where they would rotate different promoters. So we do our 5 Mag night every 3rd Wednesday of the month. We rotate different guest DJs along with myself and Rees Urban as the residents. I love doing theme parties, so we’ll do anything from the 90’s, 80’s, disco or our recent Masters at Work tribute party.

• What other house events coming up at Smart Bar would you recommend?

Man, Smartbar is always full of hot parties I wouldn’t even know where to begin! I’m looking forward to checking out Derrick Carter’s 7-hour set as well as King Britt! Oh and of course, our six year anniversary party with Timmy Regisford this Friday Aug. 26th ;)
Note: more info on these and the anniversary party can be found on Smart Bar’s website.

• What do you see in the future of 5?

We just want to keep pushing on, staying on top of what’s relevant in today’s House music, but still never forgetting our roots in soulful House.

• If you had to recommend three albums to someone who had never heard house before, what would they be?

-Journey With the Lonely by Lil Louis and The World
-Best of the 10th Anniversary Collection by Masters at Work
-Dewdrops in the Garden by Deee-Lite (I think it’s a great blend of radio friendly songs and House!)

Thanks Czarina!

5 Magazine website