© t thaemlitz/comatonse recordings
turn on background audio player
In Berns (SE), July 18 2014.
Do you believe that gay and queer parties have a subversive potential or are those times gone?
Well, let's get even more to the point, rather than wondering if there is subversive "potential," does subversion happen at such events in the present moment? Cultural, sexual and otherwise? And the answer often depends upon with whom you are speaking, their own values, and relations to homophobia. I think subversion does not emerge from parties themselves. It's the opposite. I think queer parties emerge from our larger patterns of queer socialization - traditionally as cruising grounds. And those patterns of socialization can at times involve acts of tremendous conflict and resistance. Time and context are always part of the formula. Even the most conventional lesbian or gay events seem radical to someone somewhere - people who are homophobic, as well as people who are in deep closets. Then there are moments of social eruption, such as the Stonewall riot. They explode from that lesser-but-constant daily pressure. As a result, I think it's not about positioning "subversion" in relation to potential, but more in relation to dismantling. Subversive as destructive. Not building "our utopia" that will supplant others, but chipping away at existing patterns of domination. For me, it's really important to move away from language of potential, optimism, hopes, dreams... I find them oppressive. They invariably result in the imposition of one's desires upon others. Isn't that kind of imposition at the very core of heterosexist, patriarchal dominations?
Where do you go if you want to dance and have a night off - if you can choose exactly whichever location and place you feel like?
I never go to clubs outside of work, if I can help it.
Is there any music/sounds/other types of culture that you often return to for inspiration?
Feminist praxis and histories, and Marxist historical materialism.
A lot of people talk about freedom and acceptance in the techno and house world of music - but at the same time it can be a very white straight male dominated place too - which is funny if you think about how it started - do you feel like you have a natural place in this industry?
I think identities are constructs, and the personal affiliations we build around particular types of audio are a part of that constructive process, so there is never anything "natural" in any of this. My early rejection of techno music, and embrace of house, was absolutely rooted in a rejection of the straight, white, male dominated heteronormativity one found in the NY techno scene of the late 80's and early 90's. And yet, almost all the parties I am invited to spin at today have a dominant straight presence, and often times absolutely zero trans presence. What is "natural" - in the sense of familiar or common place - is this inescapable positioning of Queer experiences amidst heteronormative, patriarchal dominations. What is "natural" about my place in this industry is my utter alienation, which mirrors larger social alienations. And making those alienations visible through audio discourse - by demonstration, not abstract commentary - is precisely what I have continually sought to do over the past decades. Audio is not liberating for me.
Is there anyone in dance music that really inspires you at the moment?
I am not driven by inspiration. I am more motivated by a sense of critical urgency, and disgust with the kinds of discourses going on in the various fields of media production, including audio production.
Do you see yourself as part of a scene?
Probably not in the way the question implies. I have certain social identifications with the music I play and produce, but I am often times playing in environments that utterly ignore or even contradict those identifications. Like, even in 2014 it is not uncommon to experience homophobia or transphobia in presumably "safe" clubs. So I have never felt truly part of a scene in the conventional sense of the question - positive community, etc... That's not my social experience.
What do you play right now to really make the kids bounce?
I would never think about this sort of thing while DJ-ing! [Laughs]
You seem to be very careful choosing names for your tracks, ep:s and albums. Do they come with a message?
Yes, I am always more interested in the communication of themes, rather than simply "music for music's sake." I think non-thematic or formalist audio is too masturbatory, at which point I feel there is no need to produce things like that for release to an audience. Call me old school, but if you want to jerk off in public, then jerk off in public. Don't spend your life investing in the production of audio or other media that is all about the repression and deferral of latent desires.
Is music always political? Should it be?
The question of "should" is irrelevant in a world devoid of free will. Yes, everything is political. The old feminist maxim of "the personal is political" applies to all "creative" processes as well. Those things we believe to be most personal or detachable from the "political" (such as hyper personal "music from the soul") are most often the most politically entrenched. Those feelings function like religious faith. If an audio producer claims their work is not political, then they simply surrender their work to the politics of the labels, distributors, consumers, festivals, clubs, or others who control and determine the use of their productions. There is no escape. There is no transcendence. There is no liberation. This is why resistance, non-cooperation as strategy, and critical analysis must always be ongoing.