Jun 2011 14

I typically don’t write opinion pieces because I feel that it is often difficult to identify with a piece of writing when you know full well that it is based completely, or at least predominantly, on an intangible personal manifesto. People should be smart enough to come up with their own ideas and perceptions about things, right? So why do we need articles telling people how and what to think? Regardless, this is a topic that I feel quite strongly about, which has been brewing in my head for some time. I can’t promise that what I write is going to be completely accurate or universally true to all minds, but I feel that the subject matter is pertinent to bring up and discuss. Unfortunately, you will be reading “I” quite a lot in this piece; this is unavoidable because I have no idea whether anyone actually agrees with anything I will say, so I must express everything as “I feel”, “In my opinion.” Okay, enough preface.

 

In my observations in recent years, and maybe this is all simply something specific to my region (though I doubt it), I have noted that the general populous of the “industrial culture” is actually, in fact, ashamed of industrial. Now, you might be thinking that I am talking about the more discerning minds who are embarrassed because of a watering down of the culture, which is also true – and they absolutely should be ashamed of this. But in this article, I am speaking of nearly the opposite: those who seemingly end up in this culture by accident when, ironically, they in fact wish to be part of a more banal, popular scene. Because this seems to be frighteningly commonplace, these people band together and attempt to dismantle industrial until it is infinitesimally small and easy to understand, then paint it pink and cover it in Britney Spears posters. I can’t help but notice that many patrons of clubs and even those who have positions of – and I say this while chuckling – “power” within the scene really don’t have much interest in the philosophy at large. Sure, they wear black and have an affinity for some of the basic hallmarks that define industrial, musically-speaking, but beyond these trivialities, they have little to do with (and little interest in) the full breadth of “industrial.”

 

One of the main problems is the fashion show mentality that has completely engulfed the scene; however, delving into that monstrosity is beyond the scope of this article. I guess I can sort of sum up the problem I write of today in saying that the goth/industrial ethos (as much as I loathe to combine them) is no longer a chosen position. It seems to have devolved from being an outcast of society because a person chooses to be – because they hold anti-mainstream views, because they’re smarter, more perceptive, like weird, dark, and challenging things, etc. – to stumbling here because the person literally can’t fit in where they want to (a more popular scene or culture) and the term “goth” has, as a result of many popular misconceptions, become the catchall like the mat under the trapeze. Because of this phenomenon, I see so many people, bands, DJs, etc. constantly striving to be more pop; to appeal “to a wider audience,” to be less intelligent, complex, D.I.Y., or whatever, to do things quickly and haphazardly in hopes of achieving some kind of popularity, and so forth. They are no different from the average fan of reality television; they want to become important and popular (and quickly, with the least amount of effort) for no reason beyond personal ego-stroking. To them, the scene at large doesn’t matter (it’s funny how many people don’t seem to realize that the scene extends outside of one’s own city!), the music is of no consequence; all that is important is that some group of people somewhere think that they (the people in reference) are important. This has caused the mentality of appealing to the lowest common denominator to swell to such a scale that it is now dominating everything.

 

Now, let me stop for a moment to say that it is of course completely fine and acceptable for people to listen to a broad spectrum of music and enjoy different cultures and all of that. People should absolutely do that. As humans, we experience different thoughts, feelings, and moods; not to mention that we are interested in a variety of content and subject matter. Chances are that you will not be able to get adequate coverage of all of your interests from a single genre. I love cyberpunk and industrial, but I also love many other things that are delved into more profoundly in other genres, such as the beautiful, deep melancholic atmospheres of ambient, the mathematical precision and complexity of IDM, the driving psychedelic eastern-tinge of psy-trance, the traditional instrumentation of world music, etc. It can be helpful to take influence from one or more of these other styles and blend it into industrial; this increases the breadth of the parent genre and allows you to explore more territory, express more ideas, and capture different moods, feelings, etc. But the problem is that the positive aspects of other styles are not being blended into industrial. Instead, the most rudimentary and shallow aspects are being copied and forcibly overlaid to smother the principal aspects of the industrial style. The fundamental basis of the industrial philosophy is being destroyed and replaced by a poorly mirrored mainstream, to which effect perhaps I need to remind people that industrial was created as an alternative to this very thing. Too many people active in industrial culture seemingly don’t even like industrial culture; they don’t follow bands (industrial bands), they don’t seek out new bands, they speak negatively of integral characteristics of the music (“this music is too dark,” “I don’t like processed vocals,” “I don’t like non-4/4 dance music,” or conversely they condone things that industrial was created to combat: “I don’t care if every synth in this song is a preset and it was written in 15 minutes,” “as long as I can dance to it…,” etc.) nor do they enjoy (non-musical) industrial objects or concepts (if you don’t inherently know what I’m speaking about with that last part, then get out of the damn scene!). They simply wish that they were popular enough or socially competent enough or whatever enough to enjoy the spotlight of a more popular form of music or culture. I constantly hear people saying that industrial needs to merge with indie electro/rock, or mainstream rock, or pop or whatever, when these things are the complete antithesis of industrial! What’s wrong with simply playing industrial at an industrial club night? Not to mention that it’s never “hey let’s merge our club night with a genre that shares the same experimental, intelligent, and D.I.Y. aspects of industrial” (again, speaking from my region – which I think is fairly representative of the scene as a whole). What kind of horrible joke is that, trying to reorder industrial into the visage of Lady Gaga?! Where once industrial was about charting and exploring new, dark, mechanical, and/or futuristic frontiers, it is now resigned to repackaging the stale, played-out waste of other scenes and retagging it “industrial” under the illusion of creating a new, impressive, and of course popular genre.

 

This is getting longwinded, so I will wind it down. The bottom line that I am getting at is that if you want to write or listen to house music, than go be in the house scene, go to house events. If you want to write pop and get popular, go write or DJ some pop music and you might have a chance at getting that ounce of fame and money you so desperately desire. The point is that there are places and other scenes for these things! So get the hell out of a scene that you don’t even like and stop degrading that which I love! There are plenty of places to go to listen to actual house, actual pop, actual hardstyle, etc., and these places have actual “stars” who are popular and sell records and make money. Take your fucking delusions of grandeur to a place more befitting of them; leave the industrial scene for people who are genuinely interested in industrial culture and being apart from the mindless, soulless, mainstream pumping out bland-as-fuck, forgettable dance tracks! I want to hear industrial music at the industrial night. I don’t want a culture that worships celebrities. I don’t want a culture that appeals to the lowest common denominator. I want to be part of a culture that caters to intelligence; to rational, logical thinking; to dark, twisted thoughts; to the enjoyment of atmospheric music with integrity; to improvement of the human condition (through technology); to subverting the vapid trends of the insipid masses; a culture about observing these trends and shaking our heads in disgust, not wishing to live them. I know there are still some real heads out there and I hope that we can keep these ideals alive. I’ll do my best to keep promoting good artists & quality industrial things, and I hope you will do the same.

 

Anonymous

12 Comments

  1. WeirdingModule9 says:

    Bravo I say. I completely agree with every word. What more need be said?

  2. heathenearthling says:

    You have some good ideas. If you don’t like the current Industrial Night, you should try to get into DJing the music you do want to hear, or even try starting your own Industrial Night somewhere else. Best of luck.

  3. Anonymous says:

    @heathenearthling:
    I am into DJing (I came from DJing trance) and producing music as well as a few other “scene” related endeavors. I would love to start a night, but I honestly don’t have the time. A surprising bulk of the clubs in my area basically tell their DJs (including guests) “you have to play these songs” along with things such as “you can’t play terror ebm/power noise”…so on the rare occasion I actually DJ out there are stupid restrictions.

    anyhow, thanks for the feedback :)

  4. Eric says:

    > to subverting the vapid trends of the insipid masses; a culture about
    > observing these trends and shaking our heads in disgust, not wishing to > live them.

    Sigh. This sort of elitist vanguardism is exactly why people are fleeing the scene.

  5. code 000 says:

    This is a well-written opinion piece, but there’s something about it that’s making my right forearm itch….

    The notion that industrial culture is being watered down and must be protected somehow is a double-edged sword for both individuals and artists within the genre. For individuals, do we start eyeballing that new person in the club who seems to have all of the right things to wear but can’t dance and can only name a handful of industrial bands? The line between protecting the scene and drawing elitist lines in the sand is very, very dangerous. It also exists in probably every single scene out there, and not just industrial–remember the phrase “indie cred”?

    Again: the idea of “industrial purity” bothers me. I’m from a city of roughly 400,000 people, and the scene is pretty close to extinct. When it was at its peak around 2000-2001, though, I was a broken down person. A friend took me to the city’s only industrial club, and when I started there, I could have been one of those people just joining the scene to be a part of a scene. I like to give myself a bit more credit than that, but the people there were also the most intelligent, open minded, simply “open” group of people I’d ever met. Within there, I was allowed to break myself down and I came to realize that a lot about industrial culture went with my own personal beliefs. Wow. If we push off that new person walking in the door, he’s going to see elitist snobs. Give he/she a chance–chances are, if that person can’t get into it, they’ll likely find somewhere else to be.

    Now, I’m not saying the writer of this article is being elitist. We’ve all had concerns that there’s been a lack of progression in the music, and I’ve seen quite a few articles on how the industrial scene as a whole has become….well, i see the word “stagnant” a lot. Industrial is evolving, and we can’t deny fashion plays a large role in industrial culture. However, every scene has evolutionary setbacks (hey, shoegazer’s coming back in!) and I’m fairly sure industrial will find its footing again, even if it becomes a massive blur between IDM, EBM, aggro and powernoize. We just need to keep being open minded towards change without crossing the elitist line, and the so-called posers will probably take their Britney Spears posters back to their bedrooms and find another group to hang out with.

  6. Gotthavok says:

    i as well have noticed this trend in my own neck of the woods. let’s take a look at a bit of the history of the scene here, during the late 90s popular music was in a much darker trend, bands such as Korn, KMFDM and Marilyn Manson shaped an entire young generation to seek out culture that followed along those lines, influenced by bands who openly espoused opinions along the lines promoted by industrial culture. as a result the scene swelled in numbers during the late 90s and early 2000s. as those bands have faded from the public eye, so too has interest in this culture in favour of the emo/indie/electro rock sound and aesthetic, and that aesthetic is very much a populist one.

    you following the parallels here? for better or worse industrial DOES have to reach a wider audience to return to its roots but that has to come from the top in the information age so the next generation will come in with the desire to be engaged in those ideals. or perhaps sideways, heh, i can think of a couple avenues that will engage ppl without having to deal with the convoluted nature of major labels.

    as for now, i’m of the opinion that it is a ground war of ideals right now. those in the scene that are aware of the history and follow the roots need to educate those coming in. our society in general is losing meaning and becoming increasingly materialistic and that is reflected in all subcultures, not just goth/industrial. all it takes is for one person to take another under their wing to reinforce what industrial is all about to begin the healing.

  7. NX-RS says:

    There are no rules, there are no borders, there is no mainstream, there is no underground.

    There may be a distinction between ethical music practise and processed pop culture, but a shallow love can be as much of a strong passion as any deep interest.

    Industrial music, these days, seems to sit somewhere between “I really love that sweet kick drum sample” and “That guy created that noise with contact mics and a bunch of effects he built himself? wow!” These seem to be the brackets at the moment, but I don’t recall there ever being any rules.

    If it’s what makes people happy, so be it, but I know you aren’t alone.

    If you’ve got an answer, Why not start something? See if it grows.

  8. […] onto a few musical things. What a marvellous blog post: “I want to hear industrial at the industrial night” (too fucking right), the first new Rabbit Junk material in ages (the snippet of the next […]

  9. Munkee Rench says:

    Although I understand and empathize with your sentiment, it’s not going to happen. It isn’t the people who are trying to “popularize” a scene that is the problem. For example, I used to consider myself as part of the “goth” scene because I always dress in black, I like dark music, etc. I quit thinking of myself as “goth” the day I realized it was being packaged and mass marketed to little kids in malls.

    The problem is corporate commercialism. Anytime any underground scene grows to the point where “mainstreamers” hear of it, some corporate phuck is going to find a way to mass market it to people who do no belong in ANY underground scene. It seems to me the best and most effective way to combat this is to create a scene which has no name. No descriptive term that can be copyrighted, trade marked, packaged and sold.

  10. Techno Aiki says:

    Great article, covers most of the shit Ive seen in and around industrial music over the last decade or so, I tend to be far more into IDM and proper Techno nights now where I can get a pure deep and dark experience.

  11. Agustyn says:

    Access Virus presets are any betetr though?The point is who cares. Good is good. Hell, 10 s of thousands of corset wearing parent haters bought VNV cds and that’s basically the same 3 presets over and over.

  12. […] new bands are coming through, and even the clubs and DJs appear unclear on what they want to play (this post on ReGen this past month articulates so well what I’ve been trying to say for a couple of years now), at times […]

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