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.