I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record, dip shit.
And you bought one.
So I have got some great advice for you, little buddy.
Before you point your finger you should know that I'm the man.
And if I'm the fuckin' man, then you're the fuckin' man as well,
So you can point that fuckin' finger up your ass."
-- Tool, "Hooker With a Penis"
Lately I've seen a lot of anger on the Aesthetic Perfection FB page and it's sort of triggered some thoughts in my head that really wanted to get out.
Lucky you, darklings! You get to read them!
So, Daniel from AP has been launching into some rants over the last few days, taking umbrage with some of his "fans" that are basically bashing the relatively new "Antibody" single, and some of the fans have been lashing back concerning the fact that he seems, at best, uninterested in their opinions and, at worst, telling them to fuck off.
Daniel has posted at least one sorta-apology entry, admitting that his response hasn't been the "most gentlemanly", which is true.
That said, Mr. Graves has made some really solid points over the last few days, and his objections are something that I see infecting entirely too much of the scene across the board.
So, what's the complaint about "Antibody"? From what I gather, it's basically that it sounds "too techno" compared to his earlier work. And Graves concedes that people are entirely welcome to their opinion. His objection is, of course, them inviting themselves into his "own house" (the AP FB page) in order to bandy their unwanted critiques and club him over the head with them.
Here's where this conversation involves "the scene" in general.
People, including many of us in the darkling crowd, are in entirely too much of a hurry to stick things in boxes. We call it "classification" and seem to be under the impression that, if something falls into one box, it cannot possibly fall into another box. But the fact of the matter is that all "classification" is really just a series of continuums with an arbitrarily-set "midpoint" that is chosen to "define" any given continuum.
But even scientists and biologists and historians spend a lot of their time quibbling over when a wolf stops being a canine and starts being "something else entirely" or whether a particular piece of pottery is Late Paleolithic or Early Neolithic or evidence of "some other thing that's completely different that we now have to make up a name for".
And the "Goth scene" seems to be more egregiously infamous for this over-reliance on classification than many other "scenes"... Though, to be fair, goths were being hipsters before being a hipster became cool. So. Y'know. Par for the fucking course.
The problem is that art -- all art, whether music, or painting, or sculpture, or fiction, or poetry (or anything else that I'm accidentally leaving out) -- is even MORE continuum-based than biological science and history. Especially since all art is derived, influenced, and drawn from, guess what... PREVIOUS ART. And that all art is born SPECIFICALLY from the EVOLUTION of PREVIOUS ART within the SOCIO-POLITICAL CULTURE in which that evolution was formed. (And then it's all judged on another continuum based entirely upon PERSONAL TASTES that's just plain arbitrary as fuck.)
So when a particular "goth kid" (drawing from an example in my personal experience), says something along the lines of: "why aren't there more bands doing old-school goth, but, y'know, being innovative?", it leaves me somewhat boggled. Because, what this young gent is actually asking for is the OPPOSITE of innovation. He wants something that sounds a whole lot like what he's already heard (which was born out of a burgeoning punk scene that is now nearly 30 years dead), but he wants it to be "different". But there's only so much difference before he arbitrarily classifies it as "not goth", which, if he were being more honest, actually equates to "falling outside my own continuum of like/dislike" and has nothing to do with whether or not it's actually "goth" at all.
What he's actually asking for is for musicians to cater to his specific idea of what their art "should be" and ignoring the fact that a) they can't read his mind; b) what he wants was born from a culture that doesn't exist anymore; and c) his personal tastes are not the end-all/be-all of how their art is judged.
And, as Daniel himself pointed out: catering to what "makes fans happy" over what "makes Daniel happy"? We've got a name for that. It's called "selling out". That's putting the value of your dollar over his own integrity and evolution as an artist. You don't have to like what he's doing, nor do you have to support it. But you don't get to dictate the direction, either.
But going onto his page and shitting all over it? That's just fucking tacky. And pretending that he "owes you" something, artistically, because you're a consumer? That's just fucking ignorant and greedy and self-obsessed (oh, hello cultural results of American Capitalism!).
How does this relate to the scene and then back to the original issue of certain AP fans being obnoxiously vocal about their dislike of the newest single? I'm glad you asked! (No, really. You asked... Okay... No you didn't, but you're getting an answer anyway.)
"Music scenes", like all art, evolve or die. Eventually, a given scene becomes something else entirely, but is close enough that it is still obviously related and it takes a while before the differences become so pronounced that classifying it into a separate continuum makes sense.
The "Goth Scene" is unreasonably schismatic on this, whereas the actual unifying trait of the "Goth Scene" is a combination of "dark music AND morbid, shocking, and/or retro fashion". But you have "Old School Goths" and "Hardcore Industrialists" bitching about how all this "New Electronic Shit" is all over what they perceive to be "their withered lawn of shadows."
The issue is that Goth, as a scene, evolved to survive the fact that Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Siouxsie Sioux ran out of steam. So it added Industrial and darker Electro music because, face it, some of us wanted to dance to a beat when everyone else in the world got Techno. And from that, we got Darkwave and EBM and Aggro-Tech, all born from various mixtures of these continuums... And the same goes with fashion, where you get BabyGoffs in their Manson-shirts, next to Deathrockers in their mohawks and punk-wear, having a drink with some Industrialist in giant platform boots stomping away to Combichrist, mingling with swirly neo-Victorians and Pagan-Goths and their not-so-distant Steampunk cousins, dancing with someone that looks like a mashup between ol' Siouxsie herself and Gaiman's Death, while some darling Gothabilly in victory rolls and a pencil-skirt is sipping on whiskey while showing off her tats (I said "TATS" not "tits". Though we're talking Gothabilly, here, so, it's quite possible that she's showing those off, too).
And, without this ever-evolving continuum, we would have never gotten this music in the first place. If the dying of punk hadn't spawned the morbid nihilism of "original Goth", then we'd have gotten no Bauhaus or Siouxsie Sioux. And if it had not been for techno and the fading of "Old School Goth" artists, we'd have never gotten Throbbing Gristle and NIN coming in to fill the space... which means that we never would have gotten the stuff that the angry fans got from those first three AP albums, being that those albums were almost entirely born of the Industrial and Electro music that came as a result of those earlier acts.
So, what is Mr. M's overly-long rant really trying to say?
Mostly? Stop trying to choke the life out of your own scene by shitting on things that other people in the scene like. Stop screaming about how bands that evolve out of your taste range have somehow "sold out". The Goth Scene is expansive. It's growing because otherwise it will die out (and nearly has a couple of times, already). It's adding new things to its repertoire, it's cross-pollinating with other fringe cultures, and it's expanding its range. Whether you like specific changes or not, it will survive and evolve without you.
You're welcome to "like" or "not like" a given innovation. But you do not get to define what Goth is or "What counts as 'real' Aesthetic Perfection" as though it were only a single continuum based solely upon your personal tastes.
As to my opinion on the "Antibody" single? Eh. It leans a little further into the techno continuum than I'd prefer. But it's not a bad song and I happily dance to it at club. I'd have preferred to see Daniel head more into the grim waltz-y stuff that he did with the "All Beauty Destroyed" track... So more industrialized waltzes, some tangos, maybe a dark cha-cha... Can you even make a dark cha-cha?
But then you'd have people making the same complaints. Except me. I'd love it. :)
But, as many others on the AP FB page have stated: if I want to listen to "more of the same", I've got three full albums worth of that already. Daniel and AP don't owe me a damn thing. Except maybe to grow artistically, even if it's in ways I don't like.
-- Mr. M.