This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Cold Waves VIII. There, I witnessed many amazing bands but also got to enjoy the company of fellow musicians and artists. The experience was full of beautiful memories in an inclusive environment. I got to meet a lot of veteran big named acts and was pretty blown away how all of them treated me with acceptance and smiles.
That said, when musicians get together it can be a real sewing circle; they talk. There was a bit of a controversial subject that happened on the final night that had my Facebook feed buzzing with hot takes about a t-shirt, and how it was handled. I also ended up in a few conversations about other artists in the industry going through controversy at the moment. Now this is not a “news outlet.” I am not a “journalist,” so I am not going to comment on any specifics that I have not researched. This is also not a gossip rag so I definitely won’t monger any rumors. However, this is something on my mind, so I was curious to get takes from all of you about how stories coming out on artists effect how you feel about their music?
My personal stance is that in 2019 we have an unprecedented level of access to the people that make our music. I pretty much hold David Bowie up as a deity. I literally have a candle of his image in roman catholic style in my window. Yet I remember the recent news story involving him from two young ladies under 16 in the 70’s who described an encounter with him as an adult man. If I heard of the exact same scenario from anyone I know, this would be someone I would immediately confront about how inappropriate this is. It’s not as though stories like this are unique to David Bowie. I just used him as an example because his music is so deeply meaningful to me, yet this behavior is also deeply reprehensible to me.
This debate that effects our current cultural landscape encompasses a plethora of social issues. Goth/Industrial/Punk has always had politics and social movement at the forefront of the art they create. With social media as a platform to discuss artists thoughts anytime and any place, it is harder than ever to separate what you are listening to from who you are listening to.
I come down on the issue here: It’s not too much to ask the artists you love to be basically decent human beings. I think there is a lot of spectrum for how much of your personal morality you expect from them. It’s your hard earned cash to spend on music, and there is too much available from artists that come within a range you are comfortable with to not draw a line. If you make the choice to be a public performer, this is part of the world. For better or for worse, your choices are on display. That is a responsibility that effects others. If someone can’t find it in themselves to care about how their choices effect those around them, I have a hard time respecting that person, and therefore the music they make. Also, if someone does make an effort to grow after a mistake, when does their penance become enough to warrant forgiveness?
Luckily, we here in the goth/industrial/post punk/ect counter culture have a scene that is very open minded, supportive, and accountable on average. So I choose to end this talking about artists I have encountered who were awesome people and are effecting change in a positive way with their art. When someone does wrong, it tends to spread quickly. I think it is equally important to talk about people going the extra mile for something right.
Jim Semonik – Runs Distortion Productions and Electronic Saviors charity organization. Jim is a survivor of colorectal cancer. Now, on it’s 3rd album, Jim has raised more than $70k in donations for various cancer research charities. This is a great guy who has enormous respect in the industry for letting his heart lead in distribution of music. Speaking with him, I am really impressed by how much he cares about discovering new talent, and finding ways to grow their audience.
Cliff and Ivy – Alaska’s favorite goth couple are wonderful artists I have featured on the page many times. They run a radio program which highlights new artists, and in general do a ton to promote the scene. Last year they put together an amazing compilation for Identity Inc., a charity to provide services for the LGBTQ community in Alaska called Rainbow Goth.
You need this compilation: GREAT CAUSE ^^^^^^^^
Black Nail Cabaret – Is a wonderful band that has been hitting their stride recently with their intense dark art house pop. They also put out an EP of covers with proceeds donated to Rain forest Action Network during the recent fires. They also have a track on the “Sounds from the Asylum” project which donates all proceeds to MIND and HEAR US charities for promoting mental health.
This cover of Pet Shop Boys “Rent” is straight FYRE! ^^^^^^^
Finally, Cold Waves Festival, who just finished year 8 of one of the best festivals in the scene, with big name acts and a sense of community which left me staggered. They give a portion of the proceeds to Darkest Before Dawn, a suicide prevention charity. The people who run it have done a true honor to their lost friend by raising awareness and celebrating what is best in life.
The purpose of this piece is to start a conversation. I want to hear about Bands and individuals that are doing the good work in the scene, so we can help elevate them. Also, what is our role as listeners in holding artists accountable for toxic actions? How do we navigate the minutia in a world where everyone is always on display?
Bowie, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Roger Waters, Andrew Eldrich, John Lennon, Bill Leib, Peter Steele, Ian Curtis, I love all the music. The odds I would consider all of them good examples of humanity……..?