Canadian Music Week Experience 2013

So this year I had the opportunity to go to Toronto for a week to help out with Canadian Music Week. This week in Toronto is a combination of different conferences (digital media, music) and multiple festivals (music, film, comedy). Being someone interested in working within the music industry, I was pretty excited. I would be attending difference conference panels and music events as social media correspondence on behalf of Audio Blood.

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                                                   (Me with my credentials!)

There were a couple days where a few of us got together and just put together promotional materials and did some postering, and I was also able to catch a show on the Tuesday.

At an unlikely venue in the form of Goorin Brothers Hat Shop… I caught the first ever acoustic performance from ATTAGIRL. The boys sounded great, I was joined by other Audio Blood people, and beers were passed around. I took a short video which can be viewed HERE. I ended up buying their album off of them (even though they offered it to me for free) — the album art is gorgeous.

ImageATTAGIRL at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop

But when Wednesday came around, it was time to head to the Digital Media Summit Conference to do some live tweeting for the Canadian Music Week account. Jay Samit‘s panel (Founder of ooVoo, former CEO of Universal Studios Media, Sony, EMI Music…) , “The Next Wave Of Social Network Trends” stuck out to me that day; he’s a great speaker and was talking about some pretty interesting stuff. Some people don’t quite take YouTube seriously, but apparently Music accounts for 40% of the videos played on YouTube. Image A basic summary of what I took away from the Digital Media conference was tv=meh, mobile applications = good. Being in a room full of people on average at least 10 years older than me talking about what my generation is now into was interesting to say the least…It was a great experience though, and I felt pretty at home with everyone using their social media applications to report on the information they were receiving. Oh Yea, and I creeped a little bit on Massari ( Lebanese/Canadian hip hop/pop singer) getting interviewed in the lobby. I felt like I should have recognized more people. It’s just a little awkward feeling like you should know who the person next to you is, but you just can’t figure it out. The lobby of the Marriott (where the conferences were held) were filled my musicians and music industry people all week.

Massari being interviewedThursday was the day for me to attend and tweet from the Music Summit Conference.After all of that sitting around, I was able to check into my room for a quick nap before heading out to The Sound Academy to see Coheed and Cambria to snap a couple pictures for CMW’s instagram (yup, this was my job). I had been a fan of Coheed for a few years, so I was was more than happy to do this. I got as close as I could, but the pictures still came out blurry. Still, you can’t deny it’s them because of Claudio’s impressive hair. The band sounds great live, and I regret only being able to make it half way through their set. I’m still just a little confused as to why an American band was playing Canadian music week….but hey, I’m not complaining. I meant to head out to some more shows after the show was over, but I unfortunately was hit by a massive migraine. So off to bed I went in preparation for Day 3!

Coheed and Cambria

 While sitting in on Jason Silva’s panel, Alan Cross walked  in and found a seat (which happened to be next to me). I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fan-girl a little bit. Next up was a panel on music industry trends. I was not surprised to find out that Buble, Bieber, Nickelback, and Dion were leading with the highest percentage in Canada’s album sales. Some interesting notes:

  • Canadian artists owned 24% of Canadian music sales (down since 2011)
  • Digital sales now accounts for more than 50% of the market.
  • Physical albums down 12%

Nothing overly surprising, but it was interesting to hear the actual statistics, as well as learning that in terms of percentages, the Canadian music industry outperformed the US.

Next up, I attended a panel on “The Power of Blogs” mediated by Bob Lefsetz, and featuring Alan Cross, Broadcaster/Journalist; Nate Auerbach, Music & Strategy Outreach, Tumblr; Chris Budd, blogger at Indie Music Filter; Catherine Lacbay, blogger at Buying Shots for Bands; Chad Hutchings, Editor-In-Chief/Write at Sticky Magazine, and Rob Figarola, A&R, Wind up Records and owner of dailyunsigned.com. Image First of all, I know Bob Lefsetz has accomplished a lot with his blog, The Lefsetz Letter, but he was SO condescending to the panelists, which began to get a tad annoying. We honestly didn’t get the opportunity to hear from a majority on the panel. Rob Figarola, having a fairly strong personality himself, did manage to get a few words in, although most of this panel sounded like an interrogation (which is unfortunate). Figarola touched on that there is profit to be made in blogs (dailyunsigned.com charging $3 per submission, but costing $5000 a month for bandwidth)…given that he recieves 11000 a month and claims to listen to them all. He does note, which is admirable, that he doesn’t consider the production or audio quality of submissions, but only the quality of the music. Lefsetz completely dismissed Nate Auerbach, and it seemed that Lefsetz did not see the value in Tumblr (also unfortunate, given that a huge demographic now heavily uses Tumblr over Facebook). *Sigh* another instance of industry pros who sometimes miss the point. Though something that was new to me was that Tumblr launched a new initiative about a month ago that reaches out to artists and music blogs to help them build and improve their Tumblr presence.

I then sat in on an interview with Steve Lillywhite music producer (5 time Grammy Award Image Source: Q104FMWinner, who has worked with some great artists. He had some interesting stories: “The Smiths broke up for reasons I won’t say if this is being filmed”, Steve Lillywhite talking about working with Morrissey. I also attended panels on Mobile & Social Media Strategies…which I admit on walking out on due the ignorant comments made by Jonathan Block, Founder/Chairman, TheHub.fm (I wish I hadn’t, but I had a long day!). A basic summary is that he believes that they can eliminate online music piracy (do you know how the internet works, Mr. Block?), and he stated that young people and those who download music don’t appreciate art or culture (a bold statement). I believe I wasn’t the only one that walked out while he was talking.

The first panel of the next day was on Toronto’s Music City Initiative (which I think will warrent it’s own blog that I will link to here when ready). I’m actually very excited about this initiative that Music Canada is launching. I also appreciate that they retweeted a couple of my live posts during the panel!

Folly and the HunterNext I was off to the Church of the Holy Trinity that was directly behind the the Marriott to catch the CBC 3 Nooner performances. This was my first time attending a concert inside a church, and it sounded BEAUTIFUL. I was able to catch Folly and the Hunter (from Montreal) before I had to head out to some record store shows. The indie folk group sounded amazing with the church’s acoustics– great experience. I took a short video that can be viewed HERE.

I walked around Toronto quite a bit until I found my way to June Records to see an acoustic Imageset by Miesha and The Spanks (minus The Spanks). I had written an album review for their release, Gods of Love, when I had been working at 94.9 CHRW. I was then off to another store when I was called back to the Marriott to help out with some promotion.

Maybe I’m just getting old (at the ripe age of 22), but I then needed another nap before heading out to the evening shows. My original plan was to head out to The Horseshoe Tavern to see The Zolas, before peeking in to Rivola to see Ben Caplen (which I had missed out on the night before due to my migraine), then onto The Hoxton to tweet about Protest the Hero (another band I’m a fan of), finishing off at Cherry Cola’s to see a few others. Things don’t always go as planned: I caught The Zola’s final song, Ben Caplen’s show was starting late, so I left to The Hoxten where I arrived JUST in time for Protest the Hero. The place was of course packed, but due to my short stature, I was able to sneak up close enough to see the stage, and other things: Yup, that was me.

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I leave you with the one photo I caught of Protest the Hero that wasn’t a complete blur. I then was going to Cherry Cola’s, when I noticed I had a “follower”. Oh the joys of trying to enjoy Toronto’s night life as a solo female. I tried! So off back to my room I went, and thus concluded my CMW 20130322_214643experience. Honestly I was exhausted either way, and I was able to pick up some delicious Thai food and catch up on all that happened on the Internet that day. I had really wanted to make more shorter blogs each day I was in Toronto, but there was always so much going on, and I only had my smartphone: so micro blogging it was. If you’re interested, my twitter handle is @pixxistixxx . Overall I really enjoyed my week at Canadian Music Week. I lived and breathed music, and although somewhat relieved to head back home, it was a bittersweet departure. It was great being around so many people in the music industry, a place I hope to find myself someday. Many of the panels were very inspiring, and it was a great opportunity. I’ll be posting more about Music Canada’s Toronto Music Initiative later this week. Talk soon!

   

20130322_110709See you soon, Toronto!

Nicole

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Putting Things in Boxes

I admit the reason been more difficult to post my thoughts down in this blog is that I’m still trying to figure out what is best to write down, or be left unsaid (at least for now). To help with this, I’ve been paying more attention to my music blog. By figuring out exactly what I want shown there, it’s helping me realize what I want out of this blog. There may be some overlap, but that’s to be expected. 

All at once, I’ve suddenly put myself in charge of two different blogs, in addition to my day job and part-time gig as a music publicist. Update so far? I’m quite enjoying it.  🙂

TED Blog

Amanda Fucking Palmer wants us to re-think how we think about paying for music.

She is known for her music, first as half of the Dresden Dolls, now as a solo artist. But for 5 years after graduating, Palmer made her living as a living statue called the Eight Foot Bride. (“Everyone always wanted to know, ‘Who are these people in real life?’ Hello!”) When a stranger gave her money, she gave them a flower and extreme eye contact. This allowed a remarkable connection with people — especially lonely people, who felt no one ever saw them. She was, of course, yelled at from passing cars: “Get a job!” As if what she was doing wasn’t real.

Palmer started making money from the Dresden Dolls, but didn’t want to lose that sense of contact. So they made an art of asking people to help out, in person. Then Twitter…

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My Favourite Music Experience

Back when Myspace was a thing, I opened a new “friend’s” Myspace page and was greeted by a song that automatically played

when the page was viewed. The song in question was “Coin Operated Boy” by The Dresden Dolls. I was 13 years old at the

time, and my first time being exposed to the so-called “dark cabaret” genre. Yes, I’ll say it; I fell in love!

For those who haven’t been acquainted, The Dresden Dolls are Amanda Palmer and Brian Vigilone. The duo are on a hiatus

from performing together for now, and have been working on their own projects. I have been following more of Amanda’s

work throughout the years, and I finally had the chance to see her live just a few months back in Toronto. This experience

was one of the best I’ve had thus far.

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra were touring to promote their album, “Theatre is Evil”. Amanda is known to

incorporate the audience into the performances, and this tour would be no exception. There was a call to submit photos

before each of the tour dates (a photo of someone you miss, a photo of a heart drawn on a body part, a photo of the street you

live on, etc.). Attendees also monitored Twitter for any further instructions; in this case, we were asked to bring black paint

and flashlights…

On the day of the show, Ryan and I arrived in Toronto a bit early to do some shopping and have a sushi dinner. We ended up

being one of the first in line when we ran out of things to do. Once in, I expected to wait long lengths of time, which was just an

estimate based on every other concert I’ve attended. I was ready to wait patiently for Amanda to come on stage (after the

opening band), so I was pretty surprised when the first thing I saw was Amanda come out to center stage in her robe. I’ll also

add that leading up to the concert date, Amanda had posted about the loss of one of her good friends, and the illness of

another. I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t concerned about the show being cancelled, but as a long-time fan, I was also

concerned about Amanda and how all of this was affecting her. I admire her very much for being so strong and continuing for

as long as she did before she had to post-pone the rest of the dates. So, seeing  her onstage, on time, with a smile on her face…I

just felt an immense amount of respect for the woman. From there started one of the best performances I had ever seen.

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Something that I hadn’t realized before the show started, was that the opening performance was by Jherek Bischoff (who also

functioned as The Grand Theft Orchestra’s bassist). This performance exceeded my expectations. Jherek and his band were

so engaging, I felt a familiarity with their music that I usually only felt with artists that I have followed for a long while.

Another thing I really admired was while not performing, Amanda sat alongside the stage huddled up with her other

bandmates watching the performance. You could see the connection they shared, and it was beautiful.

Once Amanda took to the stage to perform, it was all I expected and more. She has so much energy and passion, you can’t help

but lose yourself in it as well. One of my favourite instances was a point during “Bottomfeeder”, when I knew th

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at she was about to dive into the crowd. It wasn’t so much as a dive, but a

graceful decent (please allow me to be a LITTLE cheesy, since this was

actually a spiritual experience for me from my perspective). It was

absolutely gorgeous, with her trailing dress covering the audience as she

moved through the crowd. At one point, the responsibility fell on me to

support most of her weight, and as a 5’2″ female, this was difficult but

obviously rewarding.

One of the surprises Amanda had in store was that we, the audience, would be a part of Neil Gaiman’s birthday “card”. She

then asked those who brought the supplies she had asked for to meet back stage. Once they were prepared, it was revealed

that we would all be singing happy birthday. The selected group lined up on stage with huge smiles on their faces. As Amanda

directed us all in singing a big “happy birthday”, the group on stage began to strip off their clothing, revealing letters drawn on

their chests to spell out “Happy Birthday”….well almost. Apparently a couple of them had to stay behind to help someone who

had fainted; talk about bad timing. Either way, it was immense amounts of fun, and Neil reportedly enjoyed it very much. I

also have reason to believe that the video I posted of it may have been seen first by the two.

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afpt

The show later ended with Amanda and the band appearing behind us on the balcony, and lead us in singing an acapella

version of “Want it back”. It seemed like the whole crowd got along, each accommodating for each other. I didn’t even mind

that the couple in front of me kept leaving and returning for bar runs— honest! It was the perfect live music experience, and i

am proud to be a fan of these artists. As a fan, you feel very involved with her music. To me, Amanda Palmer is the perfect

artist with all her imperfections.

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As a side note, my fiance had purchased an Amanda Palmer gift pack a couple years back, but it was missing the signed card

that was promised. He had apparently recently contacted them about it without letting me know, and I was sent an apology,

the missing card, as well as some extra goodies! It was very much appreciated.

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Furry Friends: The Story of Fey

I really couldn’t imagine myself living out a happy existence without having at least one animal around the house. Once I got a place of my own, it wasn’t long until I found myself a furry friend. I had always been more of a dog person, no offense to cats, but it was just what I was used to. 

So when my partner suggested we get a cat, I was excited as well as apprehensive. In my mind, cats were all just moody lumps of laziness. We toured a couple of shelters in hope of finding a friend.In the end, I think I found my perfect match.  

At our final destination, I walked into the kennel area and peeked in on each cat. Ryan had already taken one of the cats out at the other end, and brought her to me. She was a tiny all-black shorthair, and she was beautiful. He put her in my arms and she proceeded to look up into my eyes…and nip my nose…and then move on to lick it. Instant connection. I spent the rest of my time there while Ryan and our roommate looked at the other cats. During that time, the little cat had fallen asleep in my arms. It was then I noticed one of her front legs wasn’t quite right. It could be best described as looking like a “club foot”. The shelter staff then told me that she had been born that way, and that she would have the whole forelimb amputated once they confirmed that she had a home. Poor kitty. 

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She was very affectionate, energetic, and seemed to be used to not walking on the leg  anyway. I then decided that she would be the one I would adopt.  At the time, she was named Lacey, but I wasn’t sure if it was really fitting. I settled on the name “Fey” (a word meaning “fairy”). 

We weren’t able to take Fey home until after she had her shots and surgeries. When I finally got to see her, it was a bit heartbreaking. She seemed excited to see me (apparently drooling means she’s excited), even with one of her limbs gone, and her stitches were quite fresh. At the time I was a little surprised that they were releasing her only a couple days after her surgery. We later found out that there was a misunderstanding, and they thought we had insisted on having her right away (which was obviously not true…I would have preferred that she had as much professional care as possible post-surgery.

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Either way, we cared for her as best as we could. We kept her in our room with anything she needed until she was fully healed. Our roommate had a cat of his own, and we didn’t want them interacting right away. One day we noticed that she had tugged at her stitches, and the wound had opened. This was hard to see, and I just wanted to rush her to a vet…since it was a Sunday morning, this was easier said than done. After some phone calls, we found an emergency pet hospital and called a cab. With our luck, the first cab dropped us off at the wrong location. Once we finally found the hospital, all was well, and poor Fey had to have her wound stapled. We were then given antibiotics, and paid the fees (they were very nice and registered us as patients rather than emergency care). Fey also got a nice sweater our of it:

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Over the next few weeks, I believe she adjusted very well. She learned how to walk and even hop and run with only three limbs. She is very ambitious, and is determined to jump up wherever Freyja (our roommates cat) happens to be perching.

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The two cats disagreed at first, once Fey’s stitches were out and we allowed them to play. But eventually, they became best friends. They can usually be found grooming each other or cuddling.

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Fey is an amazing cat. She is very affectionate, with a hilarious personality. She uses her advantage to hide in the shadows and jump out at you when you least expect it, usually playfully swatting at your behind before running off to let you chase her. We also discovered a cataract in one of her eyes, which means possible complete loss of vision. We’re taking care of her the very best we can, we’ll deal with any challenges we face together. I love my little survivor 🙂 

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Black Metal Through the Media’s Lens

Here’s an idea of how I develop a taste for various styles of music.I had never paid much attention to black metal before searching for an essay topic for my “Popular Music in Society” class. I friend suggested I look into the documentary called Until the Light Takes Us , and my discovery went on from there. The film features Varg Vikernes talking about the early Norwegian black metal scene, which ended up being the basis for my essay.  You can read my essay below if you care for my insight on how media plays with how we perceive music, using the black metal scene as just an example. Varg has some interesting stuff posted in Burzum’s “Library”. I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for black metal ever since. 

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Essay: Black Metal Through the Media’s Lens

The media plays a significant role in influencing how we are exposed to, and how we perceive music. Popular opinions are more commonly broadcasted by the media, and circulated among the masses, which in turn, may influence the development of the cultural product itself. Black metal culture is just one example of this phenomenon. The black metal genre has less to do with its now embedded connotations of Satanism and arson than commonly expected. Until the Light Takes Us is a film that documents the formation of black metal underground in Norway, and how it was abruptly brought to the world’s attention by the actions of a small group being sensationalized through mainstream media outlets. The documentary illustrates the early black metal scene with the help of black metal pioneer and philosopher, Varg Vikernes, who is interviewed in the midst of serving a 21 year sentence in Trodheim maximum security prison in Norway for convicted arson and murder. John B. Thompson’s work on “The Social Contextualization of Symbolic Forms” proposes valuable concepts of valuation and valorization, and how these ideas relate to the media’s promotion of ideologies which have become the common interpretation of popular music. Until the Light Takes Us attempts to unveil what is behind the social and media-constructed ideology of Norwegian black metal, presenting examples of the conflict in symbolic valorization between the musicians, fans, and media critics.

            Black Metal is a musical subgenre that stems from the development of heavy metal. It preserves metal’s tradition of strong guitar distortion and rough vocals, but extends beyond it by rejecting the process of music production. Black metal musicians place a strong emphasis on keeping their music separate from the music “industry”, and autonomous from social structure. For the purpose of this study, the focus will be on the “second wave” of black metal, lead by Norwegian black metal groups in the early 1990s. Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell, a prominent black metal musician and a featured speaker in Until the Light Takes Us, described his music-making process as “using the worst microphone you can find” and keeping the recording completely “raw”. Fenriz also shares one of his experiences while playing with Darkthrone as they transitioned from being a death metal band, to black metal. The record company initially did not accept their black metal recordings, and were told to reproduce the whole album; the band refused, threatening to leave the label. Unwilling to lose the group, the label released their album; a positive response was received from the fans. Fenriz commented that the label were ultimately “happy, financially”, and from then on supported the band’s transition to black metal.

Thompson explains that symbolic forms, black metal in this case, “are constantly valued and evaluated, acclaimed and contrasted, by the individuals who create and receive them” (146). Like any other symbolic form, black metal is subjected to the process of valorization, which determines its symbolic or economic value. Using the example ofDarkthrone, the musicians saw value and authenticity in their creation, while the record label saw no value; this constitutes a conflict in symbolic valorization. The band was ultimately valorized by their fans, who accepted and valued the music, which in turn, instituted Deathrone’s economic value to the record label. The development of black metal in Norway and how it was initially and ultimately received is unique to the area because of the cultural context. Thompson emphasizes that symbolic forms “are produced by agents situated within a specific spacio-historical context” (146); in this case, we turn to the budding Norwegian black metal scene of the early 1990s.

A significant portion of Varg Vikernes’ interview footage in Until the Light Takes Us involves his knowledge and experience of the early Norwegian black metal scene. He states that is was a very small group of youth who made music and socialized together; an even smaller part of the group, often known as “The Black Circle”, is who later became associated with criminal behaviour. According to Vikernes, it is a common historical discourse among the youth that Norwegian culture continues to be repressed by Christianity and American ideals. He expresses that the black metal scene in Norway worked to reject this oppression in the form of dark and anti-Christian imagery in their music. It becomes apparent that the scene had a small beginning. Throughout many of the interviews with black metal musicians, there are many instances of crediting a certain individual for specific progressions in the genre or recalling specific performances. Vikernes creditsØystein “Euronymous” Aarseth for creating the “typical” black metal riff, but also acknowledges its influence from Bathory, an established Swedish black metal band.

Euronymous played guitar in iconic Norwegian black metal group,Mayhem, along with vocalist Per Yngve “Dead” Ohlin; Dead is credited as the first to adopt the “corpse paint”, now known to be worn on the faces of most black metal musicians, which added to their stage persona “instead of standing on stage in jeans”, as noted by Vikernes. Mayhem holds much of the responsibility for the general image of Norwegian black metal perceived today. The band is also known for live on-stage self mutilation, as well as the brutal circumstances of the suicide by lead vocalist, Dead. Euronymous found the body; the suicide was carried out with a shotgun to the head. He proceeded to take photos before informing the authorities. One of these photos was eventually featured in a 1995 bootleg version of Mayhem’s album, “Dawn of the Black Hearts”. Euronymous was in fact a prominent figure in the scene, owning his own record shop called Helvete (translated to “hell” in Norwegian), where a number of the black metal musicians met, lived, or practiced music in the basement. According to Vikernes, “The Black Circle” is a name Euronymous made up for those who met at Helvete, while the media eventually took this term as a name for an actual cult. Various members of this group were in fact convicted for arson, and in two other cases, for murder.

In his interview, Vikernes claimed that he “was frustrated when he realized that this movement was still the same bunch of brain-dead metal heads”. He wanted to take what they were doing to a different level; he eventually went to the media to claim credit of the church burnings as a part of their scene. As Vikernes describes, he wanted the journalist to publish the story in such a way that made it seem as if he had nothing to do with it, but would blame the scene for the burnings. Instead, Vikernes claims the journalist published his own version of the story, and alerted the authorities to have Vikernes arrested. Until then, the media had been unaware of their small movement. Vikernes was convicted for arson on several of the cases in the early 1990s, and is given credit by the group for being the first to start the trend that persisted for years after. Fenriz commented that the members of the scene realized that once this story was being widely reported by the media, “we had something to worry about”. Articles were released with headlines such as “Arrested for Satanic Arson” and “Violent Satanist Caught”, despite confirmation from many musicians, including Vikernes, who said that they had nothing to do with Satanism.

  Popular rock magazine, Kerrang!, had an issue dedicated to these events in Norway released in March 1993; the front page read “Arson…Death…Satanic Ritual…The Ugly Truth About Black Metal: Has heavy metal gone too far?”. Black metal had not received media attention to this degree, but it was now being commonly referred to as “Satanic metal” by the media outlets. The “exclusive” article Kerrang! published had less to do about black metal music, but rather a heavy focus on the sensationalism that surrounded the events of the black metal musicians in Norway that have now been exposed. As Thompson writes in The Concept of Culture, “the production and reception of symbolic forms are processes that take place within structured social contexts…but the spatial and temporal characteristics of the context of production may diverge significantly or entirely from the characteristics of the context of reception” (146-147). The media’s emphasis on sensationalizing the small movement in Norway and generally linking it to black metal and Satanism worked to diverge the context of reception from its original context of production. At this point, the black metal movement by this group in Norway had distinguished itself from the black metal music from which the musicians were originally influenced by, but this had not been realized by the media who associated the music genre and the movement in Norway as one and the same.

The spread of this story resulted in copy-cat arsons, committed by misled youth who were fascinated by the black metal genre and what they thought it stood for. The musicians interviewed in Until the Light Takes Us expressed their beliefs that more people found interest in black metal after the group had received this type of coverage. “I guess sales of black lipstick went through the roof”, joked Fenriz. The youth would paint satanic symbols on churches, with the idea in mind that they were participating in what black metal was about. There are also instances of young fans “reporting” to musicians like Euronymous, saying they wanted to burn down particular churches next; of course, these fans had not been taken seriously. By perpetuating the claims instigated by the media, the young fans were taking part in what Thompson calls symbolic reproduction of social contexts. Because this different interpretation of black metal was being reproduced, it resulted in supporting the media’s claims, therefore making it true. The fans’ actions only worked to verify the sensationalized reports, rather than supporting the black metal scene. The genre was subjected to a desire of mass production due to the attention received, which contrasted the musicians’ ideology to remain “authentic”, raw, and underground. Black metal was rapidly gaining “symbolic capital”, which Thompson describes as “the accumulated praise, prestige, and recognition associated with a person or position” (148). The symbolic capital, as well as economic capital, was represented in the extensive production of popular media focussing on stories of the genre, as well as with the number of fans accumulating who carefully attempted to build their own “black metal personas”. Until the Light Takes Us also profiles painter, Bjorne Melgaard, who recognized black metal’s “cultural relevance” in Norway, and decided to create a whole exhibit based on black metal. The genre has come to be recognized by much of the country, even those who had no interest to follow alternative music and lifestyles otherwise.         

These events lead up to one of the more notorious instances within the black metal movement. Musicians interviewed in the documentary noted that there was tension, and a sense of rivalry between Euronymous and Vikernes. On the night of August 10th 1993, Vikernes stabbed and murdered Euronymous, after allegedly being attacked first. Vikernes discredited the media’s reports saying that “the killing was a result of a “power-struggle” in a “Satanic movement”, and that I had killed him to take his place as a leader” (Vikernes, Pt. 2). Vikernes writes that this added even more tension within the scene, as even they began to believe in the media’s accusations; they turned on each other and eventually, “because of them, the police solved almost all the crimes committed by black metallers in Norway from 1991 to 1993”.   

A case study done of the black metal music scene, “The ‘Failure’ of Youth Culture: Reflexivity, Music and Politics in the Black Metal Music Scene”, by Keith Kahn-Harris acknowledges that sensational accounts of black metal (exemplified by articles such as what was published by Kerrang!) are “an inevitable consequence of readings of youth culture produced without proper appreciation of how meaning is negotiated within the micropolitics of everyday interaction” (98). This links directly to Thompson’s ideas of the reception of symbolic forms may diverge from the original production of the symbolic form. In the case of the black metal music in Norway, it was received differently by the people who identify as “fans”, verses the opinions projected by the mainstream media. The events within the black metal scene in Norway worked to encourage the mainstream perception of black metal as lacking cultural and artistic value; meanwhile, for those who saw the crimes as attributing authenticity to the movement, and to the genre, it was interpreted as gaining more artistic, and symbolic value.   

 Harris raises a valuable distinction in how symbolic forms may be received, pointing out that “some readings of black metal tend to assume an absolute connection between ‘theory’-as demonstrated in its music and other texts such as fanzines- and ‘ practice’- everyday activity by scene members” (100). Harris also observes that black metal scene members seek to separate music from politics, asserting that “good music must be ‘autonomous’ from social structure” (107). Vikernes’ writings support this desire, referencing his music to be an “escape”; he claims that the media ruined the “magic”, saying “the new bands made Black Metal become a part of the modern world, rather than revolt against it, like they should have done” (Vikernes, Pt. 1).  The murders and acts of arson connected to the black metal scene in Norway are arguably separate from the black metal genre (which demonstrated the ‘theory’), and are more to do with the specific scene in Norway (which demonstrated the ‘practise’); a result of “a peculiar set of interactions at a particular time and place” (Harris, 100). In Thompson’s terms, the Norwegian black metal scene is a reproduction of the symbolic form that is black metal. The perception of black metal that was popularly embraced after the crimes committed within the early scene in Norway gave the black metal genre a new cultural meaning, instigated by the valorization of that cultural meaning from the media and fans.

Today, fans consider there to be a complete distinction between “black metal” and “Norwegian black metal”. The original symbolic form has altered in between the process of reception and reproduction by fans and critics. The genre has gained symbolic capital due to the notoriety of Vikernes, and the black metal scene of the early 1990s in Norway. Harris references a 1996 interview with Vikernes in Terrorizer magazine where the author states, “nobody ever really talked about your musical roots and evolution, first as a fan and then as a musician; maybe nobody really thought about you as a musician at all” (101). Although the increase of symbolic capital may have given some a sense of added value to the music produced by these now notorious musicians, it is evident that the media’s depiction of the genre has devalued the music to the more mainstream audience. There are many current examples of parodies based on the Norwegian black metal scene, which are appreciated not only by those who are unaware of the scene’s history, but also to some of the genre’s fans and practitioners. Until the Light Takes Us provides insight into how the black metal scene in Norway was established, and how it evolved while being subjected to a conflict in symbolic valorization. Black metal is just one example of how a symbolic form produced by musicians within that specific spatio temporal context is able to be altered through the process of valorization by fans, media, critics, and also the musicians themselves; symbolic forms are constantly being taken in, digested, and regurgitated again by society, eventually being reproduced into something new. 

 

Works Cited

  • Harris, Keith Khan. “The ‘Failure’ of Youth: Reflexivity, Music and Politics in the Black Metal Scene.” European Journal of Cultural Studies7:95 (2004): 95-110. Print.

 

  • Thompson, John B. Ideology and Modern Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999. Print.

 

  • Vikernes, Varg. “Part I: The Origin and Meaning”. A Burzum Story. Online Posting. Dec. 2004. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

 

  • —-.“Part II: Euronymous”. A Burzum Story. Online Posting. Dec. 2004. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.

 

  • Until the Light Takes Us. Dir. Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell. Feat. Varg Vikernes and Gylve Nagell. Artists Public Domain, 2008. Film.

 

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nicole

When sleep becomes work

When sleeping begins to feel like a chore because you still have so much to do, you know you might be heading towards some emotional trouble. At this point you will need to take a deep breath and remind yourself that there is no good reason to stress out. The world will still be there when you wake up.

There was a bit of a lul in my life once I graduated from my degree, moved into a new apartment and found a temporary job just to keep me afloat. Once I was settled into that, I started to panic. I didn’t want to get to comfortable, and
felt the need to remind myself that this was just a pit stop in my life until I figured out where to go next.

And so, I threw myself into multiple opportunities at once, and here I am in a bit of a mess. I think these nervous feelings are healthy though. I just need to maintain a balance. No need to get too comfortable 🙂


Nicole

A bit of a background

Like a lot of kids growing up in the 90s, I grew up with a computer. They couldn’t do what computers can do now, but it was a computer all the same. I was a little obsessed.

Once the Internet became a little more common, that was a bit of a life changer. I’ve always been interested in people; what they like, what they dislike, yadda yadda. Chatrooms were a whole different world, and a new way to interact with people. Early on I learned how people can be like online, and how different it was from meeting someone IRL. I was of the opinion that they were different, but each significant in their own way.

And so my “love obsession” with digital communication carried on as I got older. Soon there was Myspace, YouTube, and MSN (and later Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, etc.); new ways of expression through different forms of media. I never thought having a hobby like this could develop itself into a career ambition.

In high school I got into broadcasting (video production, editing, research, and writing) as well as  design through the school’s yearbook… more outlets to practice my hobbies. Through all of this, it usually revolved around music events and happenings – I guess it became my specialty.

Me recording something for my highschool broadcasting class (2008)

Me recording something for my highschool broadcasting class (2008)

Lucky for me, when time came to graduate, the local university had a media program (yes, it might have been better to go to the college, but I was pressured at the time by those who had more than a little leverage). Either way, all worked out in the end, and I should be graduating  in the coming months.

Now that I’m not taking any classes and working full-time to pay rent, I’ve been feeling out of touch and lacking the online presence I used to maintain.

Where am I hoping to go with these little ambitions? Music publicity just may be my dream job. I’ve always been involved in the arts, but as a promoter more than a creator. It’d be great to be able to focus my time on helping out those who can create so much more than I ever could.

wired

Poster for our old events

Going out to and supporting so many local music events, I was noticed by the promoters who asked if I wanted to help them out with promotion/organizing events. The answer for me was quite obvious. Years later when I got involved with the campus radio station, I eventually got a job organizing their music events (in addition to categorizing new music that came in, writing reviews, writing promos + voicing them once in a while). It was an awesome experience, and I had the pleasure of meeting and working with some really great people. Something I especially liked was the diversity of music I had the chance to experience. I hosted and organized the shows, working with over 50 musical artist groups. Some were local, (The Allens, The Hi-Tones, The Black Frame Spectacle, After Funk, To Tell; and others came from around Ontario (Sarah Blackwood, Walk Off The Earth, The Standstills, Johnny Hollow) . After moving to Guelph, I had the chance to intern at Indie Pool, gaining more experience in the industry. At this point, I really couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

Here’s to the people that have supported my ambitions, and to the experiences (good and bad) yet to be had!

nicole

Cheese that isn’t cheese

I almost fooled myself today into thinking that I could pull off making vegan mac’n’cheese. That was a mistake. Even now, a few hours later, I can’t get that putrid smell out of my nose. I cannot replicate cheese with tofu…I shouldn’t have even tried playing God. Instead, we made our way across the street to a well-known local pub. It was nice. 

I wish I liked tofu, I really do. I love cooking, and usually volunteer to do it everyday, but it’s becoming more challenging due to my significant other’s stacking allergies. This has lead me to more experimentation with recipes, with not always positive results. 

Our lives really do revolve around food. The quality of meals affects your mood and energy levels, encouraging or disabling people from carrying on with their daily routine. This realization is encouragement enough for me to try to eat better, nutritious food. It’s all part of making yourself better. 

Thinking about this blog idea, I may dedicate a day to my food experiments, just to keep things extra interesting for myself. 

We’ll see what the remaining days of the week end up having 🙂 

nicole

 

It’s like opening a brand new book

I suppose I’ll have to keep encouraging these “pages” to adjust until they’re familiar with being opened, and will stop trying to close up on be before I’ve even started. That’s how starting a new blog feels like, anyway.

So here I am! I’m really trying to not become one of those people who fantasizes about how they wish they could spend their time; something I’ve always wanted to do is maintain a personal blog. I just miss writing, really. Tumblr is great, but it really isn’t a place for blocks of text. So here I can go on laying out my words, whether they will be seen, or not.

I still haven’t figured out what kind of content I might keep here. Am I doing this wrong already?!

Well, here we go, boys and girls.

 

nicole