Part 3: Music for an Angry Mob
Grey Filastine Interviewed by Lex Bhagat
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Lex: Or homologous
development. You were responding to the same causes.
After they made the example of using music as a kind of terrifying
force in conflict, Europe began doing the same and that's where all
the European military marching bands came from, down to your high
school marching bands.
do you feel good about maintaining this tradition so bound up with
war and militarism?
Because there's a difference between militarism and conflict. A lot
of people say that they're 'warriors for peace' or warriors for something.
I don't know what I'm a warrior for, and I don't even like that word.
But you can be involved in a conflict which you feel is a good struggle.
Being involved in a conflict, you have the right to use the tools
of conflict. That's what a lot of direct action is about. I feel that
using this music in this way, as a force, is just using the tools
in the toolbox. I don't think it's inappropriate.
Okay... And how does your work with the INB relate with your other
The computer-based music that I'm creating is a little lonely. It's
just me and a computer. In a basement. Crumpled up in front of a machine
that is shooting radiation with a gun from behind a piece of glass.
It's unhealthy, it's lonely, it's not good for my social skills. And,
for me, computer music is kind of antithetical to my politics. So
INB provides some balance. INB is something extremely social. I have
to deal with 20 people, to move 20 people, to plan the logistics of
20 people. It's enormous: the transportation, food and lodging anytime
we go anywhere. It needs and provides a really wide social network.
It keeps my body in shape; physically drumming, holding a stick and
beating on something. It's everything that a computer isn't.
understand the reasons you just said about it being antithetical to
your politics, but do you really feel like it's antithetical, or is
that just an intellectual position?
No. I mean, I've been a Luddite, and in my core I still am. It's another
one of those toolbox situations. To me, the computer is one of the
most interesting tools available. I don't want to be a cheerleader
for technology. I don't want to be obsessed by it. I don't want it
to dominate my life. But, I feel like I've been given a gift, being
able to play with something so new, musically; to be able to explore
different ideas. I'd be a fool not to use it! It's such an important
and interesting tool, such a place of pioneering…
Then, I get concerned that that desire to pioneer is part of a whole
European analysis, a kind of a linear thinking…
Forging ahead, brave new worlds, breaking new ground. That's part
of the hubris of a European mind. I think we've seen what the European
mind has done to the world. Nature has been turned into a shopping
mall. Resources are exactly that- resources. There are no trees: there
are tree farms. There's no air: there's a substrate you're allowed
to put certain parts per million of substances into before people
start dying. There's just no respect.
You find that the source of this destruction in a European consciousness?
I don't know. I often suspect that if some non-European global power
had emerged, it would have been just as ruthless. For instance, if
the Ottomans had never been defeated, would we have a better world?
Or if one of the African kingdoms had?
Is power the problem?
I think it's wildly popular to blame our current situation on the
European mind. I'm not going to disagree with that. But, in my heart
of hearts, I believe that it's that power. Any model of power and
hierarchy would be ultimately fucked up in a different way. The way
that Europeans colonized the world, and colonized people is this way;
through ideas of efficiency, of the efficiency of the commodity…
Everything is a unit that can be packaged, transferred and sold. I
don't want to be dogmatic in the way I question it, but I can't just
accept it as a truth that I should be pioneering, or that I should
be making something that's never been done before. But, also, I feel
like I haven't inherited any traditions, so what else would I do,
if I'm a creative person, but create new things?
do you mean, though, you haven't inherited any traditions? Isn't the
idea of the avant-garde, of creative progression and art history,
isn't that one of the greatest traditions in the Western world? That
you've learned from the artists who've come before you, and you will
push your form into the future into its next blossom and fruition.
Don't you think that's a great tradition?
Yeah, but I wonder if I am part of an avant-garde.
Sometimes I feel like I'm a folk artist. Really, it's a strange analysis.
I've been spending a lot of time with this composer lately. He makes
high art music, experimental composition. We did a Chinese percussion
duo recently, and I realized This is high art music.
And I realized that actually I don't do a whole lot of that; that
I am obsessed by working with comprehensible themes for common people.
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