On the first sight, industrial scene, especially the more radical sides of it (left-right-whatever wings, s/m, all lolitas and snuffy videos) may seem a bit too much for a regular law-abiding citizen. That guy would be missing the point here. People, involved in the scene, in a way are the most liberal ones. Wonder why? Read more zines and you’ll know. One of the examples and is “Special Interests” zine, which just got its 8th issue.
Here I need to go a bit further from the theme, but it’s only for the sake of making the point. All of it is based on Lithuanian experimental scene (I use this as an umbrella term for both industrial and all post/neo electronic/instrumental inbreds), but I believe that it is quite similar elsewhere, too. So here it goes:
Some time ago I started thinking about term “horizontal popularity”, in order to explain the basics of the scene. The idea behind it was that traditionally, the evolution of any successful band in any given genre has several main stages. First of all, there is a “garage stage” – a band is known in very limited circle of people (family, friends), and tries to find their style and sound. If they manage to create something worth listening and somebody with right connections notices them, they go to “gig stage”, start getting gigs in local venues, maybe tours a bit and gets more interest through social media. If this works out right (the best case is when some of their stuff goes viral on the internet), they may get a deal with some record company, find a “real” manager and promoters, start touring worldwide and get all the ladies.
This is what you usually call popularity – when the bigger amount of people know you, the higher you are on popularity scale. So you get higher and higher all the time (at least untill you start shooting heroin – usually then the creativity drops, and so does the amount of fans). If it was a graph, it would go vertically.
In the experimental scene, this process is quite different. Most of the people are not interested in money or fame. The main thing there – expressing emotions – from hatred to disgust, from ecstasis to pain – , expanding all kinds of limits and being in the community of like-minded people. The appreciation of this community is one of the perks, since well, it is better to be known for the thing you really care about, than to be a sellout and do something you do not believe in. The scene is pretty small, even if you look at it worldwide. And the nature of experimental music doesn’t let you to become famous in the usual sense. You probably can’t imagine hearing power electronics on any main radio stations, can you.
So the idea under “horizontal popularity” is: performer can become well-known and appreciated inside the community, but he’ll never be “famous” outside of it. Communities around experimental music (especially noise and power electronics) are relatively small and very diverse in any given country of the world. Another thing is, that those communities are usually based on individualists, and there is not that much of similarities in any other fields, than music. But this music/sounds is a filter by itself. If you understand the most radical forms of sound, you can see through so much more.
Sound filter those people, who believe in certain things, have certain experiences, and are open enough to understand the basic idea, that even if you have different beliefs, you don’t necessarily need to convert anybody to the right path. Because there is none.
Also, there is that basic understanding and some kind of openness. That is why earlier I used the word “liberal” (which may have a negative meaning due to some political connotations). The community is liberating. You can be interested in stuff which is “weird”, you can discuss it through sound, visuals or words, you can communicate with somebody or tell everybody to fuck off. The sincerity is essential.
There is some kind of a system there, but it is more free than casual social behaviour. If someone spits on the audience from stage, he may get worshiped, or be beaten later on. Or if somebody throws an old tire from the stage, others may try to start a fire on it, or throw it back to that ugly face of yours. There is more true emotions and fewer constraints.
The experiment goes not only in a sense of sound, but in interests, too. At some point, intelligent people start diving deeper and deeper with each worthy thing they see, listen, or do. Only idiots form their very own undisputable opinions, and do not seek anyting new. There is nothing more sad than 40-year-old trve hard rock fan. And as I firmly believe, there is no “good” of “bad” things. Only interesting, on not. And “Special Interests” are all about those interesting people, who have more intelligence, and less boundaries.
Even though at the moment there are plenty of other contributors in the zine, the creator and editor of it, Mikko Aspa, is still the main figure there. In the preface he talks about the value of the music in today’s scene, and the situation is not that bright. According to him, there are more and more people who don’t release, don’t tour, untill they see money involved, on the other hand, those who do, most of the time just flood everything with low quality work. But there is always those, who still create brilliantly, and those, who still can be deeply inspired by the sound. I guess, Special Interests is for those people: “…in world where “nothing matters”, “FTW”, and similar mentality lives strong, I hope to stand apart and promote alternative view: Things matter. Especially your own choice of whether to submit to meaninglessness or triumph in making small things matter.”
4th page dives into the mind of LOKE RAHBEK, a man behind harsh noise project LR, who is also involved in DAMIEN DUBROVNIK and dark synthpop duo LUST FOR YOUTH. I saw him playing live last year in Tallinn, and it was pretty varied
experience. That is why it was even more interesting to hear his thoughts. And he asks not to speak unless you have something to say. Which, I believe, works in all other fields – the quality of everything you do matters, so do not share if you are not sure if that thing is valuable, not necessarily talking about music.
The interview was done live, and the printed form of it lets you to see it. There are no questions, just themes, including my favorites “Copenhagen influence”, thoughts about his tapes in “Caucasian Colony”, and describing sound/vocal relations in “Avantgarde/ Experimental” piece.
Other really worth mentioning piece is an interview by Arvo Zylo with paranormal researcher MICHAEL ESPOSITO. Being paranormal researcher is quite interesting way of living itself, but Esposito makes it even more appealing with his well-thought insights, such as “We filter everything that we experience through every past experience that we ever had. Every message that we receive is an accumulation of every experience the sender has filtered through every experience that we have ever had.” And even though he is talking about such fluid subjects as paranormal activity or mysticism, the approach is rational, while trying to “…marry science, art and (mysticism)…”. While reading those 8 pages, I was disturbed, yet pleased – this text leaves one wondering with many hows and whys.
FIELD RECORDING piece in the zine is the one which sole purpose is to leave as less hows and whys as possible. 5 different performers share their toughts about this method of gaining sound, wandering between technical issues and the meaning of the process. Since nobody actually talk about this, it is curious to hear different perspectives.
SPECIAL INTERESTS 8 is a zine of great quality, talking both about print and the content. Even though there are less interviews than in other issues of it, they are way longer and deeper, which is a direction to go. After you read it, you feel fulfilled with variety and impressed by the people, who stimulate and provoke you – to think, to wonder, and overall – to stay interested.