As a filmmaker who’s shot documentaries on both Lil’ Wayne and Lee “Scratch” Perry, Adam Bhala Lough thought it a good idea to cross wires a bit and let the eccentric 76-year-old dub master bestow a bit of mellow wisdom upon the drank-sippin’ 30-year-old rap supastar.
Bram E. Gieben (aka Texture) is the editor of the Edinburgh-based fiction/non-fiction website Weaponizer, and also co-founder of the net label Black Lantern Music. I asked him to write DM a primer on the genre “witch house”:
The Niallist (aka Niall O’Conghaile) asked me to write something about witch house, summing it up, providing a genre overview, and talking about some of the artists I’ve discovered over the last year or so. The problem is witch house is nothing like a traditional genre. It is not defined by a tempo, a style of production, a specific group of artists, a region or country or city, or any of the things one could use to pigeonhole, say, shoegaze, dubstep or hip-hop. Even the pool of influences from which it draws are so diverse as to stagger the mind of even the most ardent avant garde completist: witch house can (and does) sound like everything from experimental noise and drone to EBM and darkwave and aggrotech, from hip-hop to punk rock and black metal, often all at the same time.
Witch house is perhaps the first anti-genre, in that it has always actively resisted not just definition, but also detection. Much mockery has been made of artists spelling their band names with strange typographic symbols, but in the early days of witch house this had a specific intent: namely to create a ‘lexical darknet’ (to quote Warren Ellis, the comics writer and novelist whose blog posts led me to my first discoveries in the field), whereby fans had to use the specific symbols in the band names to locate their music online.
Witch house has incubated and mutated on free music sharing platforms such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, and survives and breeds on private forums like www.witch-house.com, and on invite-only Facebook groups like Witchbook and Dior Nights, which use Facebook to run miniature secret societies and covens. These technologies (or services, however you want to define them) are core to the distribution of the music, but equally important have been the Tumblr and Vimeo platforms. The cut-and-paste ethos behind many witch house projects extends to their visuals, and the gifs, music videos and photo collages that populate artists’ feeds and channels are as much a part of the aesthetic of witch house as the music is.
The equal importance of visual and audio material helps us get closer to a definition of witch house: it is a mood or a feeling, the kind of atmosphere generated by the seminal Goblin’s soundtrack for ‘Suspiria,’ the creeping, schizophrenic suspense of the Laura Palmer mystery, or the Red Room at the heart of Twin Peaks, the final twenty minutes of The Wicker Man, or a basement rave in the house at the end of The Blair Witch Project. In repose, it generates an aura of ritual, darkness and suspense. In motion, it combines the glamour of fetish clubs and serial murder and hard drugs into an amoral dystopia of sound and vision.
Excited yet? You should be. Witch house is almost completely free from the constraints of mainstream hype - aside perhaps from the majestic witch pop of S4LEM, the mysterious feedback glyphs of WU LYF, and the luxurious electronic experimentation of Balam Acab, the three artists closest to crossing over into mainstream consciousness.
After the jump, the bands including Gummy Bear, Ritualz, Skeleton Kids, Fostercare, Gvcci Hvcci, Mater Suspiria Vision, oOoOO and many, many more.
Meet Christeene Vale, one of the hottest drag artists in the US right now, and the weirdest thing to come out of Austin this week. If you think the Odd Future gang are shocking, then get a load of this chick. Sure, Tyler and Earl may feature blood and puke in their videos, but would they ever actually set a video inside somebody’s asshole? And as much as I like their beats, I don’t think they could make a dubstep track as downright nasty as “Slowly/Easy”. Still, they’re only teenagers and they’ve got a lot to learn about sex and sexuality. Maybe Christeene is the MC to teach them?
Christeene is the alter-ego of the artist Paul Soileau (who also performs as Rebecca Havemeyer) and since her debut in 2009 with the “Fix My Dick” clip, she has been making waves on both the gay and straight performance scenes. Although Soileau refuses to define Christeene or her “message”, others, like Skip The Make Up, have this to say:
[Even] though Soileau is of Cajun background, the way Chrsteene speaks/sings is clearly supposed to sound non-white. Therefore… the act is really him portraying a trans hooker of color who is massively fucked up and screwing to survive. You may now laugh.
While commenter TheWarholEffect defends her in the comments to the same post:
The patois you speak of is found in a variety of representations of impoverished ethnicities (incl those at least nominally labeled as white - but as you know in Louisianna whiteness ain’t monolithic, Cajuns being perhaps the best example) ... more productive, I think, would be to put Christeene alongside a performer such as Vaginal Creme Davis, whose brand of drag cultural critic Jose Esteban Munoz has branded “terrorist” drag.
Well, despite what you may think of her, you can’t deny that she’s pretty damn talented, with a lyrical flow that puts her beyond the realm of being a mere novelty act. Next weekend she will make her live debut as a showcase artist at the SXSW festival, where her video “Bustin’ Brown” will be shown as part of the Midnight Shorts schedule. Yes, “Bustin Brown” is the butt-set video. The director PJ Raval has this to say about itr:
In “Bustin’ Brown”, the fourth installment of the CHRISTEENE Video Collection, CHRISTEENE confronts the ever-present bastardization of anal sex from mainstream bourgeois heterosexuals by returning “da buh-hole” to its rightful owners.
Just when you thought drag was becoming safe and respectable! Christeene has been known to wear a butt-plug attached to helium balloons in her performance, and to set it free to sail up into the sky at the end of her shows. If you’re lucky, she might do that at SXSW. Now THAT"S something I would like to see on Jimmy Fallon!
Christeene - Bustin’ Brown (TOTALLY NSFW - duh)
“Fix My Dick and “Slowly/Easy” after the jump…
There’s more info on Christeene at her website: www.christeene.org
You can buy her EP Soldiers Of Pleasurehere.
Ace photographer Henry Chalfant who produced the classic 1984 documentary on New York City graffiti artists and hip hop, Style Wars, has a new website and it’s a beauty. An incredible resource for anyone interested in street art, hip hop culture and outlaw artists, check out Henry’s site here. It will blow your mind.
These photos were cropped in order to fit the page. See them in their full glory on Henry’s webpage, where you can actually scroll along the full length of the subway car.
In the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, black entertainers made considerable sums of money selling ghetto wine and malt liquor to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. “Liquid crack” was dirt cheap and fortified with alcohol and shitloads of sugar to get you higher faster. As Billy Dee Williams said in his TV pitch for Colt 45, “It works every time.”
40-ounce warriors were macho, sexy and hip…at least that’s what the commercials wanted the black community to think. The reality was much more grim. Malt liquors like Schlitz, Colt 45, Olde English 800, St. Ides, King Cobra and bum wines like Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose were responsible for an increase in alcoholism, violence and crime in black neighborhoods. High alcohol content and the cost of a bottle being under two bucks was a deadly combination. Add to that the veneer of coolness that Kool and the Gang, Fred Williamson, Biggie Smalls and Snoop Dog brought to the mix and you got a problem that went viral.
Nowadays, low-rent white hipsters drink the poisonous piss in order to give them some kind of street cred while hip-hop artists have moved on to Cristal and Dom. But the high-end shit hasn’t trickled down to Skid Row yet.
While the product sold was crap for sure, the ads themselves are fascinating time capsules, some sending signals that are incredibly politically incorrect: making light of drunk driving, intimating that women will give it up after a few drinks, and using racial stereotypes that border on Stepin Fetchit caricature. And Blacks weren’t the only ones denigrated—check out the East Indian guy in the “Gunga Din” Colt 45 commercial below.
There’s also an interesting clip of Johnny Cannon wielding a Colt 45 pistol and a can of Colt 45 beer. A wise combination, don’t you think? Johnny’s expression of disgust as he guzzles the malt liquor is priceless.
Then I ask a question you brother
What the fuck is you drinkin’
He don’t know but it flow
Out the bottle in a cup
He call it gettin’ fucked up
Like we ain’t fucked up already
See the man they call Crazy Eddie
Liquor man with the bottle in his hand
He give the liquor man ten to begin
Wit’ no change and he run
To get his brains rearranged
Serve it to the home they’re able
To do without a table
Beside what’s inside ain’t on the label
They drink it thinkin’ it’s good
But they don’t sell the shit in the white neighborhood
From Shan Nicholson, director of Downtown Calling, comes this new documentary on New York City gangs called Rubble Kings.
From 1968 to 1975, gangs ruled New York City. Beyond the idealistic hopes of the civil rightsnmovement lay a unfocused rage. Neither law enforcement nor social agency could end the escalating bloodshed. Peace came only through the most unlikely and courageous of events that would change the world for generations to come by giving birth to hip-hop culture.
Frankie Smith is best know for his song ‘Double Dutch Bus’ recorded in 1981. In the song, Smith created a new style of hip-hop slang that has become a big part of the music’s culture. By putting “iz” in the middle of a word or replacing trailing syllables with “-izzle,” Smith arrived at a funky form of nonsense that was quickly absorbed into rap’s vernacular. Snoop Dogg took it to the next level.
In addition to recording his own songs, Smith wrote tunes for The Spinners, Archie Bell and the Drells, The O’Jays and Billy Paul. But, ‘Double Dutch Bus’ was his most significant achievement. Without Smith, there’d be no “fo shizzle ma nizzle.”
One of Smith’s lesser known talents was as a yo yo master. After the success of ‘Double Dutch Bus’, Frankie went looking for the next big thing and he thought the idea of combining yo yos with disco music was the ticket. In 1982, he recorded ‘Yo Yo Champ.’ It did not set the world on fire, but he managed to get some TV appearances out of the deal. One of which is included here.
The ‘Double Dutch Bus’ video is the only official video made for the song. Ironically, it was made for Dutch television.
Dr. John Clarke stars in a public service video he produced called “The Gap Rap.”
Apparently there’s a problem at Long Island Railroad stations with people falling into the gap between the train and the platform. So, Dr. Clarke decided to create his ‘health hop’ video.
Dr. Clarke, who captured wide media attention for his H1N1 Flu Rap,was enthusiastic about his new video, “I recognize that gap accidents are quite preventable. I knew that Health-Hop would be a perfect way to spread the message and make an impact.”
Upcoming ‘health hop’ projects for Dr. Clarke : Aids, Global Warming and Lindsay Lohan.