One of the reasons why I liked this niche that I became part of was the diversity. Everyone involved had a clear mind of its own and inspiring DIY-ethics. I have done a lot of touring, especially in Europe. Because a great number of my performances were on a door money only basis, I could meet a lot of people who maneuvered at the edge of society. The places they ran mirrored this situation. Most of those places existed as long as politics, real estate developers or neighbours ignored the activities. Fatality met with optimism. Today’s action could easily become tomorrow’s memory. Most of the people involved relied on their talent. The scene was marginalised already, so what was there to lose?
The existence at the very edge of society brought also a great sense of freedom. That was the one striking binding factor. Everything that happened was a product of taste, talent and commitment. If someone wanted to do something there was no-one to oppose the action. Why should you? People were curious about the result. The audience was curious. Artists in this niche don’t have a repertoire. They go by intuition, sometimes improvising with the venue and the mood of the moment.
I met a lot of people on my tours. I met a lot of people when I set up shows in Berlin. Never did I experience a case of public shaming and muting an artist. Never did I experience the eager willingness to campaign against an artist. I’ve never heard of reviewers taking down their reviews.
My contributions to this niche are many. Articles, releases, organising shows and festivals, offering radio as a laboratory and a platform. All this doesn’t count if you announce that you will release a tape by said artist. Then you will be confronted with a group of people who act according to their law and order. A group of people who think they have the moral right to condemn an artist, and condemn the person(s) who dare(s) to get in touch with that artist and offers a collaboration.
Group thinking based on an identity is a problem, a huge problem. And it doesn’t do our society no good. It opens the way to acceptation of authoritarianism. In this little niche of ours it opens ways to acceptation of people telling you who to deal with and who not, what to do and what not to do. If such an opinion and attitude is a widespread phenomenon in this niche of ours, then I have accomplished something of which I thought it would never be possible again, it is, to do something controversial.
All this happened on the internet, on social media. Opinions, heated discussions, rants, all deposited in the giant global waste container.
Artists are intuitive people. The closest you can come to their thoughts, visions, dreams and taste is -in this specific case- listen to the sounds that he will bring together on the tape that I will release on staaltape. And unless you are his girlfriend, part of his family or close friend you will not have any other way to form an opinion about him.
I close with a fragment from my book Deep Poland.
The Austrian-Hungarian empire lived on in the memory of the former inhabitants. An incredible flow of works of art, theories and thoughts floated above Europe, as if a dying flower had launched the last cloud of seeds into the sky. Millions of stories buzzed through streets, on squares, in households, under sheets. Stories that continued to shape a memory, and define villages and towns alike. A whole population got orphaned when the empire vanished.
It is impossible to hold on to something that has disappeared a long time ago. The light comes from a different angle, from the future, because, this, this collective psychosis, this holding on to a western culture based on sentiments, dreams and love, is not real. At the same time it is impossible to define the new reality. The global villages don’t have names yet. The language doesn’t exist. What I can say about it, is very speculative. Lifestyles are defined by a delicate understanding of happiness. Everything that can cause stress or fear is banned. The spheres change form or stop to exist when fear or stress takes over. Time is experienced differently in every sphere. But all those spheres are connected. People who have a smartphone or a tablet are part of this special place. The spheres go up and down like bubbles. It is a beautiful dance. In fact they look like cellular organisms. They bounce and float, join each-other or create new bubbles. Together they move over a vast desolate land that is defined by all that is left.