Well, it’s been another rotation of this here third planet around that big old sun and somehow, through deadlines, heatwaves, and software crashes, we’re still plugging away at I Die: You Die. Things have changed a wee bit since the last time we did an anniversary post, and so we thought we’d once again check in on the state of the industrial union. As always, we want to hear from you folk: what’s been happening in your part of the ‘plex for the last year? Where do you see Our Thing headed? Will Al ever actually pull the plug on Ministry?
The trend of weekly club nights dying off can’t really be thought of as a “trend” anymore and should probably be viewed as a semi-permanent shift for the time being. As we’ve talked about on the podcast, people are less and less likely to lock themselves into a particular subculture or style when there’s the entire history of human cultural output from which to sample and oh so many choices as to where to go dancing on a Friday night. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to the industrial/goth nexus, but it’s certainly one that needs to be taken seriously by its promoters, with new strategies for building events, recognition of music, or whatever the hell a “scene” amounts to in 2015.
Thankfully, one Newtonian reaction to this shift rests in the gradual but steady effacement of barriers between bands or people considered “true” or “real” industrial fans or bands and those who might have a slightly different subcultural pedigree (or just a more sensible haircut) than others at a club night or festival. A wise man once said “it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at“, and that finally seems to be sinking in as people notice that scenes like ours aren’t walled off from others but share open and negotiable borders. In 2013 we wrote a piece decrying arbitrary sectarianism in Our Thing. Two years later, it reads like a pleasantly unnecessary corrective to a problem which simply no longer exists. People of all ages are, on the whole, more willing than ever to give new spins on old styles a chance (minor health goth harrumphs aside), and the younger bands which are finding new hybrids and re-presentations are being given the credit they deserve.
That said, it’s not only young bands people are excited about right now, and we can’t help but notice how much the broader perception of genre mainstay bands has shifted since we started the site. Where Gristle, Coil, Test Dept, and Neubauten have long been name-check bands for folks who want to curry a little cred, the surge in genuine interest in artists from Our Thing’s mass history has been fascinating to watch. Part of it almost certainly has to do with folks who came of age in the 90s hitting their midlife point (crisis optional) and revisiting their Puppy and Ministry records, but we’ve also seen a lot of young fans connecting the dots from their initial exposure to NIN onwards in record time. That’s not to mention how a service as ubiquitous as Spotify or Youtube can basically usher a fan of any age through songs and albums that they wouldn’t have had such easy access too a few years back. More and more the barrier to fandom has to do with desire more than access, and we’re just romantic enough to feel heartened by that.
Of course the decline of the record industry has been well underway for more than a decade when we posted our first article, and a lot of folks would likely argue that things are more dire for recording artists today than they have been at any point in the history of recorded music. It’s a neverending debate with a near endless amount of arguments for either side, none of which have much of an effect on the reality of the situation; things done changed and continue to do so at an alarming rate. The current debates over issues like streaming revenues and crowdfunding weren’t on the map in 2011 but have put the relationship of the artist and their fans in sharp relief; whether it’s via patronage or some other yet to be determined model, the way we consume music and remunerate the folks who make it is more dependent than ever on cultivating a real back and forth between listener and musician. Reproduction and distribution have held economic sway over art since the dawn of time, and with the rules being redrawn this quickly the real capital these days seems to be in fan investment more than anything else.
When we started I Die: You Die neither of us had any idea how long we would end up writing for the site, or whether anyone would care what we had to say. It’s not an understatement to say that if folks hadn’t encouraged us with their feedback and by sharing our work with their friends, we wouldn’t still be putting the time in. Not only that, we’ve been blessed with some particularly wonderful opportunities to interact with artists we’ve admired for years, specifically because our readers lent us credibility via their enthusiasm for our work on ID:UD. That’s more than we ever could have hoped for, and we can’t possibly thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.
So with that, we embark upon our fifth year emboldened, encouraged, and hell, maybe even a little wiser. Whether on the site or on the podcast, we can’t wait to keep the conversation going with you guys. It’s I Die: You Die, baby. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.