Sunday, 15 January 2017

Negativity, Not Pessimism! (RIP Mark Fisher)

I was so shocked and upset to learn of Mark Fisher's death yesterday. For me, Mark was both an idol and, as time passed, someone I was always pleased and not a little humbled to encounter in person and sometimes share a platform with. I didn't know Mark very well personally, and being a generation younger than he was I only know second hand the milieu of the 90s and the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at Warwick University he formed an integral part of, through its growing legacy and some of the reminiscences and thoughts of people who knew him then (Robin MacKay, Simon Reynolds and Jeremy Greenspan among them). But as someone a generation younger than Mark, I can express something about the incalculable impact he had on me, my thinking and writing, and my gratitude for the times when he actively, kindly helped me, as well as the times that were just good times.

Mark simply changed my life. By 2009, the year I started the blogging that would lead to music criticism, he was a central node in a network of bloggers, thinkers and forums that encompassed critical theory, philosophy and several areas of cultural criticism, especially of popular music. It was a conversation and a community I eagerly wanted to participate in, late and all too hot-headed though I was. As commissioning editor of Zer0 books, he fostered the growth and evolution of this network into a collective of thinkers built on diverse, self-contained and regularly powerful statements that went far.
Mark's own essay for the imprint, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? was undoubtedly one of the best of the lot. I continue to recommend it widely as one of the best, most distilled expression of today's ideological challenges. By the end of 2009, Mark had reached out to me and asked if I wanted to write for Zer0. I was 23. Infinite Music was the result two years later. He told me that I should reconsider the title I had initially proposed - 'The New New Music' (can you believe that!?) - which didn't take Mark's genius, but thank God. His faith in me - this despite my frequent and often crude HTML critiques of his positions on music - led to so many amazing opportunities and blessings for the struggling, wet-behind-the-ears critic I was.
I first met Mark in person in April 2010 when we were both part of a panel discussion at London's Café OTO, a 'salon' under the auspices of Wire magazine: 'Revenant Forms: The Meaning of Hauntology'. He was warm, friendly and funny back stage, powerful, precise, provocative and funny on-stage. Someone I brought to the event who didn't know Mark and his ideas said to me 'but capitalism is the only system that works!' (this of course is precisely what Capitalist Realism describes and addresses). I believe I next saw him marching alongside thousands of students at one of the protests against the raising of tuition fees and the cutting of the university teaching budget in late 2010, an issue that inflamed and unified the blog network like nothing else, not least Mark himself.
At some point in 2011 I was at a gig behind a pub at which Maria Minerva was playing. Maria had been taught by Mark during her Master's at Goldsmith's college. In an amazing moment, Maria gave a shout-out on stage to her 'professors' - I followed the direction of her outstretched arm, and there was Mark, leaning against a wall next to Kodwo Eshun. I saw him at least twice in 2013, once at a symposium at Warwick University on the Politics of Contemporary Music, where I burned with envious ambition at his ability to deliver such an on-point, appropriate and funny lecture from only a small notebook. The other time was in Berlin, where I was talking about accelerationist pop for the CTM festival, Mark was there to talk about the death of rave. We walked from our hotel to the venue, had lunch, and Mark talked sympathetically and encouragingly about my career difficulties. He sat in the front row of the talk I gave (and contributed really insightfully to the discussion afterward). I played some of the kitschiest vaporwave as the audience came in. I'll never forget the bemused look on his face, as if he was trying to figure out what sort of a hilarious prank was being played, and whether he wanted in on it. That image of Mark is still for me the opposite end on the spectrum of vaporwave listeners to the one where vaporwave is, uncritically, 'just good sincere nostalgic vibes', and it's why I have no regrets about 'politicising' vaporwave (a genre that in any case owes an enormous debt to his theorising of hauntology).
But for me there was another Mark as well - the formidable writer and theorist, k-punk. This voice I began to get to know in 2006, the year when he did so much to lay the foundations of hauntology (it was his invention, frankly). It was from k-punk that I learned about something called 'neoliberalism' ('what on earth has this guy got against liberalism?' I would wonder). It was from k-punk that I learned that post-modernism was not necessarily the wonderful cultural emancipation I had naively believed it to be. In fact, during these years I was mostly against k-punk. He was critical of more recent trends in electronic music, believing them a poor comparison to what the 90s had offered. This led to a fierce division between writers and bloggers that manifested not just in blogs but magazine sites and a day-long conference at the University of East London, which I attended (the first time I saw Mark in the flesh). Though we both agreed that new music was necessary, naturally his position irritated my young, idealistic self with my special music, and my own blog posts attempted to intervene in support of the new stuff. 'Loving Wonky', my first blog post to attract more than a handful of readers, was directed at k-punk implicitly throughout and at its conclusion, explicitly.
This negativity that got me started, this need to talk back to the authority figure, was a testament to the power of his writing. But more so was the way he subsequently taught me as I took a closer look. In preparation for my post on hauntology, I printed out and re-read everything he'd written on or near the subject, underlining and making notes. And he convinced me of his position. He was right. I didn't want to accept his theorising of 'the end of history', thinking it merely pessimistic. Yet his blog posts are so imaginatively, seductively, persuasively written. He's probably the most referenced person on Rouge's Foam. Then I read Capitalist Realism, and rather than the mere youthful defence of certain musics it could have been, Infinite Music became an attempt to stand with Capitalist Realism and answer k-punk's resounding call for a newfound creative imagination. Later, in 2012, it was from k-punk that I learned of accelerationism, and because of his theory that I used it to describe new forms of electronic music in 'Welcome to the Virtual Plaza.' And it wasn't only theory. Wherever I wrote about music and Mark was writing too (Wire, Electronic Beats), my writing was improved by the honour and by his raising of the bar (this was the guy who had described Michael Jackson as 'only a biotic component going mad in the middle of a vast multimedia megamachine that bore his name.')
Mark isn't just the figure behind every significant thing I've done as a critic. His theory is now deeply embedded in who I am and what I say. Even the residue of the ideas I have fought against condition my thinking. I have brought his concepts home, they structure my conversations with my friends and family. Capitalist realism: describing the ideology that miserable as it is, there is no alternative to capitalism and that's just the way it is. Business ontology: the ideology that any social or cultural structure must exist as a business. His use of the concept of the Big Other - the imaginary subjectivity supposed to hold important beliefs but may not in fact exist - has guided me through my personal response to Brexit and Trump. (By the way, I couldn't possibly summarise Mark's writing - if you haven't read it already, what are you waiting for?) Even his blackly comic image of a broken neoliberalism, as a cyclist dead and slumped over the handlebars yet continuing downhill and gathering speed, keeps coming back to me.
Mark eventually became something of a role model to me. Asked what sort of space I wanted to carve out between academia and public criticism for my own career, I have often said I wanted to be a Mark Fisher. Yet as he regularly explained with his astonishing balance of passion and precision, the world as it is today, its ideologies and its institutions - it's hardly set up to encourage fringe intellectuals. I'm not sure whether he would have fully encouraged me to aspire to his career, tied so closely as he well knew to challenges of mental health (something I started to live in 2014 when, like so many others, my PhD went nowhere). But he did warmly support and encourage my writing when so many people around me could only regard it with doubt.
One of Mark's most abiding lessons, and for me at least the key to his writing, was something he put pithily to me at the end of an email: 'Negativity, not pessimism!' I had not appreciated the subtle but important difference between the two, but then I instantly did. What a rallying call for the nightmarish 2010s. And as others have noted, it was his encouragement and optimism that was especially nourishing. It was certainly not a pessimistic new-music naysayer who wrote the final words of Capitalist Realism:
The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.
A big long (k-punk-quoting) blog post like the good old days. I used to apologise for them. Mark never did. I still can't wait to read his latest book.
The last time I saw Mark was after Dhanveer Brar's lecture on Actress at Goldsmiths in October. He was talking to his friends and colleagues in the distance and still, even after all this time, I was too nervous to say hello. What a fool. I had not stopped to gather up and communicate Mark's importance to me until now, and I hope I don't make such a mistake again. What I've seen over the cybernetic systems this weekend has emphasised how important he was to so many others as well, and well beyond the world of theory too.
Goodbye Mark, and thank you.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bubblebath Episode 01 ft. Mat Dryhurst (for RBMA Radio)

Art by Kim Laughton
The first episode of my new monthly show for RBMA Radio aired a few days ago, and is archived here. Bubblebath is a two-hour show all recorded and edited by me, featuring new, typically lesser known tunes that I'm interested in, segments going for some deeper analysis, and interviews with various people from underground music culture. For the first show, I looked at the pseudo-humanistic style of James Ferraro's Human Story 3 and some other records, and talked to Mat Dryhurst about some of the problems facing underground culture today and his platform Saga. The playlist is below.

People in the US won't be able to listen to the archived version of the show for various legal reasons I'm afraid. If that's you, you might try using a proxy server, especially with different browsers. US listeners can listen to the show live without any problems, though, so I'll make sure to forewarn people in future.

· 00:00:02 – 00:02:41 Julien - Alpha Beat – Calm (from Calm 2

· 00:02:41 – 00:05:28 Alfie Casanova - 4 Play – Calm (from Calm 2

· 00:05:28 – 00:10:16 NKC - Salon Room – Her Records (from Hague Basement

· 00:10:16 – 00:13:03 仮想夢プラザ - 秘密 – Plus 100 Records (from Balance with Useless (extract, background, and again throughout )

· 00:13:03 – 00:18:17 Julien - Day Racer – Orange Milk (from FACE OF GOD

· 00:18:17 – 00:23:52 NV - Bells Burp – Orange Milk (from Binasu

· 00:24:50 – 00:29:57 Easter – Leda – own Bandcamp page (from New Cuisine Part 2

· 00:29:57 James Ferraro – various tracks from Human Story 3 – own Bandcamp page ( (extract, background)

· 00:32:04 - 00:37:32 James Ferraro – Individualism - own Bandcamp page (from Human Story 3

· 00:39:19 – 00:40:31 John Adams – Lollapalooza – Nonesuch (from I Am Love Soundtrack) (extracts)

· 00:40:55 – 00:41:20 Steve Reich – Eight Lines Number 1 - RCA Red Seal (extract)

· 00:41:36 – 00:42:30 Aaron Copland – Allegro from Appalachian Spring - Sony Classical (from Bernstein Century: Copland) (extract)

· 00:43:05 – 00:44:32 Jeffery L. Briggs – CivNet Opening Theme – Microprose (from CivNet Soundtrack) (extract)

· 00:44:48 – 00:45:24 Oneohtrix Point Never – Problem Areas – Warp (from R Plus Seven) (extract)

· 00:45:52 – 00:46:11 Kara-Lis Coverdale – AD_RENALINE – Sacred Phrases (from Aftertouches (extract)

· 00:46:30 – 00:47:04 Giant Claw – DARK WEB 005 – Orange Milk (from DARK WEB (extract)

· 00:47:25 – 00:47:51 Metallic Ghosts – University Village – Fortune 500 (from City of Ableton (extract)

· 00:48:58 – 00:49:59 Torn Hawk – The Romantic – Mexican Summer (from Union and Return) (extract)

· 00:52:12 – 00:55:08 Subaeris – Shadow Portal – Nirvana Port (from Transcendent God

· 00:55:08 – 00:58:23 Subaeris – Beating Heart – Nirvana Port (from Transcendent God

· 00:59:08 – 01:01:16 Klein – Babyfather Chill – own Bandcamp page (from ONLY

· 01:01:16 – 01:03:45 Klein – Make it Rain – own Bandcamp page (from BAIT

· 01:04:49 – 01:47:38 Valentin Silvestrov – Diptych - ECM (from Valentin Silvestrov: Sacred Works) various tracks from Valentin Silvestrov: Silent Songs – ECM (extracts, background)

· 01:49:09 – 01:54:25 Swimful – Atop – SVBKVLT (from PM2.5

· 01:54:25 – 01:58:45 Swimful – Bounce (Simpig Remix) – SVBKBLT (from PM2.5 Remixes

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

'Joy 2016' (essay for 3hd festival, where I'll be in October)

Art by Sam Lubicz
3hd festival is back for its second year in Berlin this October, and its website has gone up (click here). I'll be there lecturing and participating in discussions over various aspects of their theme 'There is nothing left but the future.' In the meantime, I wrote an essay for them (click here to read it) sketching some initial thoughts about some of the problems facing musical futurism and musical sarcasm after a summer of violence and Brexit, through the lens of the 'Ode to Joy' from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and Wendy Carlos's electronic version of it particularly (incidentally, Jeremy Corbyn, something of a lightning rod for various kinds of political tumult whatever you think of him, recently mentioned listening to Beethoven's 5th).

Beethoven's Ode to Joy has accumulated cultural and political baggage of apparently every different kind, and, especially, in extremes. It has played the role of humanity's highest and most noble achievement and an incitement to horrifying violence both. And it is the anthem of the European Union...

Who needs dehumanising machine music when you have Trump, when you have the rise of hatred the world over?

There is an important difference, of course, between the future and the futuristic. The futuristic is a costume, a thrill, a performance, a caricature, all from within the safety of the present. The future is what actually happens to you and at some point, whoever you are, it will hurt you. What can art and music help us to do and to say before that point?

Monday, 22 February 2016

Brunel University Post-Internet Working Group, London, soon

Click to enlarge and read the blurbs for each talk
I'm looking forward to participating in a Post-Internet Working Group at Brunel University that'll meet on two occasions, on Feb 4th at 2pm, when Michael Waugh will be giving a talk ('Post-Internet Popular Music: From the Underground to the Mainstream'), and on March 8th at 1pm, when I will be giving a talk ('"Accelerated by the Digital Age?"An Ambivalent Aesthetics of the Digital World in Underground Electronic Music'). Why not come along for some IRL content creation? ;)

Friday, 18 December 2015

Slides from my talk at 3hd, 'What is the Musical Object in the 21st Century?'

Here are the slides from my recent talk at Creamcake's 3hd festival in Berlin. This one was a bit more freeform, so apologies if the discussion threads are a bit unclear from them. It was a great festival altogether, with a great line-up of performances too - there was a write-up about it on AQNB.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Interview with Elysia Crampton

'Three generations of Aymara-Bolivian-American women under one roof'
For years now, I've found Elysia Crampton's music has some of the most beautiful and fascinating out there. This year she maintained that by releasing American Drift on Blueberry Recordings. She was kind enough to share some thoughts, images and videos with me recently as part of an interview:

1. Where are you today? What is it like?
1. i just landed in Sacramento, CA this morning. im visiting my mom, my grandmother, and my dog in sacramento. three generations of Aymara-Bolivian-American women under one roof. my dog is a teacup pomeranian that i bought several heads ago when i lived as a sex worker in Los Angeles. i hustled hard back then, and i remember paying for my puppy with cash at a "kennel for the stars" (every puppy was named after a celebrity). i remember the garage was lined with cribs, full of poms. these days, my parents help take care of him. i'm grateful i get to spend time together with my family before going back to La Paz. 
2. Your work regularly references geographies, such as America, Axacan and Shenandoah. You have also talked about landscape and geology. How does space, place, and landscape, especially, structure your experience and how are they expressed in your music?

2.  now that my relationship to the US has changed (I no longer live here), i've started thinking about realms of language as worldings themselves-- worldings that allow or negate the birth of certain identities, ideas, expressions, laws. thinking of this prenatal weight within language that gives rise to possibility spaces while preventing and/or destroying others-- a sort of necro-linguistic dimension on one end. the way reality is even processed/encountered changes with each language space. for example, in aymara, instead of implying a gaze directed forward, moving through time (with tomorrow coming sequentially "ahead" of today which came "ahead" of yesterday), speakers instead face the past and have their backs to the future (q"ipa, the word for "future" translates as behind or back-- q"ipüru, the word for "tomorrow" translates to "some day behind one's back").
when i think of geography, i think of all the things that cling to/ define a body as it moves through space or manifests a locality, toward/ away from something else, where and what it was or couldn't be. we carry whatever was thrown onto us at birth-- things clutter, signalling divergent, sometimes contradictory messages, changing with each new environment we find ourselves in. i live as the embodiment of a continued dreaming by my ancestors-- progenitors of stone, chemical, single-celled and zooidic forebearers, to my native family under the enslavement of the inca and then the spanish, to my mother arriving in the US as a child, unable to speak english at a school in Barstow, California. my desires quantize into the detrital unmooring that is Americanness. negotiating this scattering, this shift, is an act of de/recolonization, a continuous motion. pushed into waves, molecular vibrations recoordinate/realign with those nucleotidic impulses braided through me. musically, i use everything-- recycle myself, regurgitating bowels and entrails-- chance and haphazard divinations that would or might lead me back to certain lost rhythms and cadences; light shattering on the face of a river, the bob of a pigeon's head in a city i have become homeless in, the syncopation of a human heart as it metabolizes an injection of tar and coke. this is my gait, the cascade of my dismemberment, seismic pulse of my re-formation, my American drift.
3. Although you have moved from more sample-based productions to more freely-composed ones, your work remains a rich and provocative conglomeration of sources and ideas both musical and 'extramusical.' How do these sources and ideas find a new context and a new life in your work?
3.  this is where movement filters into something like my own language-- monstrosity of the embodied dream of an erased family, a lost history that i re-build, scraping utopias, a minimal place of freedom.
i constantly forget that the ways i touch/encounter the real or relate concepts like pop-ness, luxury, extravagance and suffering to one another through music, are somewhat isolated, discrete. for me, writing music has crossed into the elaboration of a specific language that sustains the tension of my being, eases the inherent trauma of existing. this language-world is dialetheic, pluripotent, sensuous in that its hapticality forms its own varied dialects-- destroyed/transmutated/regenerated by strokes of appropriation, love, simple bonds, the violence of commerce. this voice, this language-world bends, equilibrates-- altered when friends, comrades introduce said dialects into their own music and writing-- a kind of morphological leveling.
4. You have talked of the 'continued dialogue in my work with the prefix "trans."' Can you tell me more about that? How does the pursuit of change and transcendence drive you as a trans woman and as a musician?
4.  trans is always already in becoming. trans is movement. transness signals something across and beyond humanness as it has been defined. as trans, i've come to know my own beyondness-- this selfhood, this selfness that walks alongside and through this space this isn't quite a space-- between thinglyness and subjectivity, object and phenomenon, fold and vortex, etc. trans is trans-thing, trans-animal, trans-human.
this "withness" of trans-locality recalls the power of self-determination. for this reason, even when a trans person takes a selfie, it's a transgressive act. when i walk down the street, when i use a fucking public bathroom, as a trans woman, it all becomes political. that can be tough sometimes. sometimes i just want to go pee! on occasion, however, i own that political/ jurisgenerative burden, and i'm filled with the bravery of my sisters that have gone before me. still, we need to remember that trans bravery, or transness does not only manifest via visibility or passability. any trans or queer person that lives another day, as living negation of binaries, regardless of access to controlled surgeries/medications/documents etc., is an activist.

today, trans advocacy and the topic of trans rights in general exist crucially in contrast/opposition to the fast-enclosing, restrictive, highly-policed ideas of trans legitimacy currently circulating the public/media sphere under the catch-all "trans visibility"(alongside economies of radical transparency, false ideas of queer authenticity/ totalizing essentialisms). the murders of trans women of color, particularly black trans women, are being reported at a much higher rate than previous years in the United States-- definitely more so than in La Paz, where trans deaths often go unreported (where police regularly assault sex workers and a trans campesina was stoned to death by a mob in El Alto just a few years ago). we trans and gender non-conforming people from Bolivia and across South America must stand together with those in the US. in Bolivia, we use the acronym TLBG instead of LGBT, putting the T for trans first, as trans women in particular have been vital to the entire movement as a whole since the beginning. and this is how it was in the United States, at so-callled watersheds like Stonewall, with figures like Marsha P Johnson, Miss Major, and Sylvia Rivera. these were trans women of color leading the movement in a patriarchal carceral state, in a queer community still largely governed by misogyny and racism. it's sad to see the continued white/cis-washing of not only the LGBTQI movement but also the disappearance of the real history of that movement. this is why i maintain the significance of putting the names of our influencers and collaborators back into our work, restoring these dimensions of past, understanding how linked they are with futurity, and how preservation of this past forms the maintenance of alternate realties-- (histories made alternate by paradigms that de facto vacuum them into oblivion), spaces of fantasy where new worlds can be envisioned, enacted/performed, analyzed, brought into being, etc.

as salinas once said: "el futuro se llama ayer."

5. At a time when, more than ever, we cannot step twice into the same musical river, what does it mean for a person and a musician to find and have roots?
5.  of course, we have always already been in the river. i am always already beyond, outside of myself. this "without" this "not yet here" is what grounds me, assembles the aggregate rhythm of my being.

one thing i find disturbing (brought up when the current/future "fluid" state of music is similarly questioned) is the quick dismissal of any critique on something like appropriation, by musicians themselves, as though criticizing appropriation
 is merely a knee-jerk reaction to the so-called natural blending of genres, as though such blending were a neutral desiring/action of the music in and of itself, and not something deliberately related to the same old settler colonialist paradigm/logic/horizon that has narrowed the limits of possibility for all people (not just those of color), the same old-ass/always-assumed/unquestioned sense of entitlement/ sovereignty as enclosure disguising itself as some kind of open/egalitarian/limitless artistic possibility. i live for the blending of genres, categories, the creation of new forms, breaking boundaries-- but im not going to pretend that the playing field is flat/level when it comes to something like appropriation. different outcomes result when different people appropriate different things. white men are often criticized for appropriating the cultures of those of color because white histories are thoroughly prioritized and preserved within patriarchal/colonial modernity (a universalized able-bodied white male subject as always-already default). through such ongoing acts of appropriation by those with hegemonic privilege, people of color are often severed from their own histories (and realities) which become co-opted, denied, excluded, and historically erased. this is why it is critical for all of us, especially those of color, indigenous, and/or queer, to speak up about our familial collaborators, our kindred influencers, putting those names and histories back into our work, sustaining them in the face of systemic obliteration. and, along these lines, we must consider cross-thingly/interspecies solidarity as well, because our collaborators, our influencers aren't always human, yet they shape our culture and heritage. it was Geoffrey Burbidge that proved (most of) our chemical make-up is formed in the cores of massive stars. that means that on the most basic, atomic level-- as humans, as things, vortices, etc-- we are all deeply connected to the universe. all of these collaborations form our roots.
6. What do you think are the challenges of decolonisation in the present day, musically and in general?
6.  decolonization begins with educating yourself. it begins by interrogating the ways in which you obtain and resource that education and the ways in which you retain and disseminate the information you receive; it doesn't all just go in one direction. the horizon of coloniality involves the colonization of attention. we must always uncover what it is that is holding that attention, what is actually occupying our mental, emotional, sensual spacing, so that we may recover some understanding, some control over our own becoming. of course, each of us will arrive at our own conclusions, ultimately doing what makes sense to us. it becomes important to continually question our motives as well as the apparatuses that disclose the data we take in, as education is a life-long event.
unfortunately, the resources and capacity to ask such questions, to check facts, to live in such a way, are not accessible to all people. ideas are thoroughly interrelated/connected to systems of power and structural oppression in this manner. some cannot afford certain ways of thinking, certain ideas, and therefor are unable to benefit from such modes of thinking. so for those that do have the privilege of obtaining and utilizing the method of self-education and inquiry i mentioned, the act of service becomes pivotal. when we educate ourselves, it becomes our responsibility to be of service to others, always aware that certain access to information and ideas is privileged, always in hope that such service might alter the grounds by which new ideas can be born, sustained, made beneficial. i can't help but wonder though, if the circulation of those ideas that were generated and allowed to come into being (however radical they may seem to be) within oppressive systems, can only lead back to reproducing the very structural foundations that have maintained such systems, as they come out of said systems (were allowed to generate from them in the first place). this is why transnational solidarity is important, and one of many reasons why i support abolition/ oppose the prison industrial complex. we will never find freedom within a system that still relies on a penal form of bound servitude preserved by the very amendment that was purportedly enacted for its eradication. we must not forget that American law and culture were founded on slavery and are tied to its conceptions of personhood, agency, criminality, contract, ownership, and sovereignty-- among so many others.
7. Is there such a thing as folk music? Is it important? Similarly, is there such a thing as the folk, or the people, or the proletariat?
7.  with folk music, which group of people you decide/happen to engage with will determine which histories/ narratives will be represented/embodied/maintained.

folk music is important because it is knotted to the past, ideas of community, and the dimension of oblivion, the lost.

in Bolivia, a national musical identity was formalized in the mid 20th century by upper-class intellectual progressives. this amalgamated, Spaniardized take on the country's indigenous music was taught in schools, taken on tours and performed in other countries-- basically coined everything we understand today as "Bolivian music." this might have added to the country's culturally rich heritage had it not actually sustained the ongoing erasure/obscuration of real indigenous and particularly Aymara musical personae that, until then, had suffered long to survive-- not only against the physical and ideological violence of the spanish, through the rule of the white racist creole class system and white-washing by indigenista intellectuals, but even centuries before, through the harsh terrain of the altiplano and enslavement by the Inca. when friends that know me consider my indigeneity, my Bolivianness-- when they ask Google what a Bolivian worlding sounds like, they will hear the melodies of this colonial/upper-class accretion of stylings that was never quite folk music (one should recall that in the old class system, Aymara and black African bodies were at the very bottom).
folk is about the construction of a common identity, says "these people exist(ed)," emanates histories by its having-been, yet it is a thing of nascence, as its life hinges on the constant regeneration of all the parts that maintain what it is or allow it to evolve along certain lines, jurisgeneratively reshape its own laws of becoming, undergo mutagenesis. the etymology of the word folk is interesting in that it relates to a "host of warriors" in Old Norse context, and both "dwelling-place" and "battlefield" through its Old English form folcstede. The music i write today is an extension of that eclipsed Aymara legacy, as well as a queer refraction of the upper-class mestizo formations, with a tendency to blend many genres and musical styles. my native family's legacy of survival and solidarity is one of several things that unites me with the greater black and indigenous folk music/histories of America (yungas to altiplano to appalachia), and with my own sense of queer belonging-- always in search of a voice that could carry the timbrous resonations of its own suffering, supported (brought into being) by a historical body of people/things/places that have communally resisted forms of systemic, racial, and ecological violence.
folk music is always already related to the future and its sonic resonances, because folk music recovers what was lost.
8. What music and/or art would you make if any and all material and political limitations were removed tomorrow?
8.  i dont tend to ask myself questions like this because i'm aware my limitations are constantly shaping me into what i am, determining the coordinates of my being, not unlike the way negative space defines an object. without this distinction, wouldn’t all matter be undifferentiated whiteness, holding all colors like a blaring light? obviously, if there were no material or political limitations i would probably do what Motoko Kusanagi did at the end of Oshii's version of Ghost In The Shell or perhaps something similar to the Basset Hound's de/re-dimensionalization in Oshii's other film, Avalon. part of why i make art, make music is because of the pain of corporeality, the suffering of being bodied, materialized in such a local, confined way. but one grows into it, owns it, utilizes it. if there were no limitation to that felt experience, that embodied angst, maybe i would implode like a supernovae, sucking the universe, folding into my vortex. i guess that would be the sound of my music.