Tagged with " mutual benefit"
With FMLY Fest: Florida officially wrapped up and in the bag, we thought we’d have ourselves a little chat with FMLY co-founder Noah Klein about their upcoming Brooklyn festival, their international presence, and the ever-expanding DIT (Do It Together) movement:
What’s the most prominent common characteristic/quality that connects the FMLY community?
The role of communities within society is a super fascinating existence at whatever micro-to-macro scale you’re peeking from, and a particular notch that intrigues me is the realization of inclusivity for anyone with an awareness. Whether that awareness is positive or negative is irrelevant, because as long as awareness is present we’ve taken one meaningful step in contributing to crucial multilogues. In that position, we are each potential members of infinite communities whether our role is active or passive.
I don’t believe that I’ll ever be qualified to answer this defining question, but a general openness for communication and a desire (realized or not) to connect with the perspectives of those we share this space, time, and conventional wisdom with would seem to be a common quality. Anaïs Nin, my go-to inspirational diarist, shared that, “each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Every person in and around our lives has something unique to offer, so why not spend time enlightening ourselves to the world beyond convention and its various politics by means of engaging within a panorama of direct experience… does that not just seem natural? Call it discontent or curiosity, but I understand what has happened worldwide following the Arab Spring as a unification towards what I’ve been referring to as a spiritual diaspora, a reaction to lifetimes of diverse and perverse forms of oppression. Everyone has questions, everyone actively seeks their own answers through personal methods. Now in that respect, FMLY is a pre-existing philosophy rather than a brand or any active grouping of people… and that decentralizing action is what I’m familiar with knowing as FMLY. There is FMLY that I’ll never meet, but I immediately recognize their presence as more than a casual friend. This is a philosophy, a way we positively interact with our surroundings or engage with our neighborhoods, and that’s the most fantastic connection I could ever dream of sharing.
How significant of a role has FMLY Fest and other FMLY events played in the building of the FMLY community?
Friends who participate in planning FMLY events worldwide are each responsible for various forms of co-organization within a larger architecture of collaboration. We live every moment with all kinds of gorgeous people interacting with all kinds of ideas, and when there’s a deliberate FMLY event it is in the hope of bringing a collection of these ideas and people into a common space. FMLY events are a public reflection of what or who we’ve directly become inspired by, and an effort to provide a more unique context than would be explored otherwise. To make that happen there is this interplay between digital mediums and physical manifestation that gets me really stoked. If relations among the internet is equable to drifting and diving throughout a sea of information, then it’s these tangible moments shared in a real time-space that offer an anchor for meaning.
What’s your biggest goal/focus with this years festivities? Any different from last year?
Always. If you know what to expect from something, what’s the point of ever doing it? This year we’ve taken a strong focus on what it means to support emerging forms of expression, and began to wonder why this support needs to even leave the home. In 2009 we threw a day-long festival in Venice (Los Angeles) between two backyards, with a FMLY Ride connecting this movement. The last few years we’ve explored opening new arts spaces, re-purposing local architecture, and subverting codified spaces. For the summer of 2012 we thought we’d work towards a composition, and stress the importance that anyone and everyone has the capability to nurture independent arts. Our fest begins with a free show in a park, all thanks to Make Music New York, and from that point on every segment of this orchestration occurs in our best friends’ living quarters… how much more real does it get?
Here’s the official promo video for FMLY Fest: Brooklyn:
How does FMLY work to stimulate the international community?
People are human, and I hope that we act according to what we want to be and see in our environment rather than what we want to show to others. I’ve been super enthusiastic on the idea that FMLY has become a supportive vehicle for folks from diverse backgrounds and interests to meet and collaborate. Here are these incredible actions happening around the world by motivated people, and to offer an accessible vehicle for the collaborative development or presentation of an idea is not only invaluable but teases at a paradigmatic shift. What I was saying earlier about the decentralization of “ownership” is so applicable to the way we treat ideas. We need to support and nurture the passion projects of our neighbors and grow together rather than fetishize pointless dominance or authority. So to answer your question, I think the situation we experience is the other way around. There’s an always growing international community that works to stimulate FMLY.
Do you envision FMLY Fest trekking to Europe in the next few years?
That trip has been a conversation on multiple occasions, but probably out of a more recreational need or desire to experience a more well balanced and hospitable surrounding. I really admire the AM180 Collective in Prague and their work with the Creepy Teepee festival, as well as Les Boutiques Sonores in Paris. I played both fests in the summer of 2010, and it would be a dream to collaborate. But I have to admit that I’m getting pretty burnt out on Western urbanism, it’s exhausting in every manner and too difficult to afford. Why kill yourself to live? Maybe it’s my passion for Paulo Freire, fascination of Jacob Holdt, and feelings towards Salvador Allende, but I’m very interested in becoming involved with Latin America where these issues are amplified to far more serious realities. One of my favorite musicians and people, Ricardo Gutierrez of I Am Genko, comes from Lima, Peru, he has been an incredibly supportive brother, and before we get to Europe it’s a goal to get to him. But our pockets are pretty empty, so ya know… just keeping the idealism alive.
How have you seen community fostered successfully when participants are geographically scattered?
When participants are not participants, but purveyors of something greater than themselves. Pushing one’s ego upon others in the intention of a community is too often conceived, and will only satisfy a short-lived window of abusive masturbation (mutual, if you’re a lucky one).
Claire Bishop drew attention to some big feelings when she said that, “all relations that permit ‘dialogue’ are automatically assumed to be democratic and therefore good. But what does ‘democracy’ really mean in this context?” Unfortunately, more often than not, we are involved in abusive human relations. By conventional standards our rights to what we eat, learn, and do are prescription, resulting in our lives to potentially serve as a mediated experience of the homogeneous culture industry. This isn’t anything new, and creative forms of dissent can always use the support.
Personally, I’m fascinated with open source movements. Over time these humble interactions reveal themselves as puzzle pieces within great experiments we can’t fathom at the ground level, specifically thinking towards the relations of the Maker movement or collaborative aspects of Ken Wark’s Future of the Book project. Our mutual fam Kohwi, who is in the process of moving from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Berlin, has been an awesome part of the Maker community, and if you ever catch him live you’ll see his TedStick and maybe hear stories about his LED cube. Ask him how he put them together, and I bet it involved some enlightening forum conversation with new friends from all over the world. The last time I had the chance to see him his TedStick had some wiring issues, and to my surprise the crew at Big Snow Buffalo Lounge in Brooklyn just had a soldering iron hangin’ out by the bar. Now that’s solidarity.
How successfully do you feel the independent music community as a whole is currently participating in the DIT movement/idea?
There’s a world of difference between an independent music community and an autonomous music community. One is quite miserably constructed in the hierarchy of failed industry dreams while the other is a constantly refreshing experiment in constructivist values, can you guess which is which? Perhaps we tote different boundary lines, but in my eyes an independent music community only represents the urban outfitterization of everyday life and an attempt to salvage a piece of corporate decay. If you have the opportunity to create something yourself and share that with other people, it makes no sense to develop an entitlement towards authoritarianism. Basically, my largest concern for the independent music community as a whole is the relentless validation of bullshit industry values. But when folks stick around long enough (it doesn’t take long) I hope there’s an awakening process, brought upon by a disenfranchisement that it’s not healthy to be so elitist and that the only other people supporting a music industry are either over 40 or under 16. And the category of over 40 are most often purchasing music for the under 16 demographic. Isn’t it gross to be called a demographic, or to be a living, breathing marketing angle? Ew. Not that people shouldn’t have the right to live off of their music, but there are so many respectable ways of going about it.
I’m working on an essay with an accompanying audio piece (currently featuring Mutual Benefit, Liz Pelly, Dwight Pavlovic, Jheri Evans, and Little Spoon) speaking towards cassette culture, and how as the first autonomous music community this development has led to a new geography of aural becoming.
If one were to plan an event similar to the upcoming FMLY festivities, what is your advice in regards to eliminating exclusivity and authority from the event?
Be honest, be transparent, ask for help, invite the unexpected, and as Chris Mann told me, “professionalism is a hate crime.” One of my favorite things about FMLY Fest is that no one experiences the same festival. Even considering the intimacy, you can lose your friends and find them in a few hours each with radically different stories. Maybe someone was inspired to volunteer for a few hours while someone else discovered the vegan kitchen and learned how to cook a bean burger. Sound is such an inherent part of how I experience my surroundings that I find the most inclusive methods for building moments are to collectively trace the intersections of where you want music to take you. No point in ever being stagnant, dance in whatever expression your heart desires.
How can artists (visual, musical, etc) get involved with FMLY?
Do what you love and share it with friends and strangers (new friends). Love each other. Do what you love together. That’s FMLY. To continue that cycle is to one day love all and one love.
What are the future plans for the fest and FMLY alike?
I’ve had my mind blown repeatedly in the process of planning FMLY Fest as a series of public meeting workshops, but a conversation going around has been taking a solid week to host a festival retreat. Some of the Los Angeles crew, Cameron Rath and Rooster, were specifically talking about collaborative stage building (even though we love playing on the floor), geodesic dome classes, sound apprenticeship, and so forth with the skillshares. The schedule reading something like a couple days to build the “necessities,” a few days of festival, and a couple days to reflect and break down. Sounds like the ultimate DIT gathering to me.
I’m also particularly excited to get our new website together. I’m in school most of the year (I graduate this December!) and don’t have the time I’d like to dedicate, but this summer after tour it feels like we’ll be really productive on that front. It’s not only necessary for our sanity, but hopefully will provide a really incredible resource for new friends wherever there is internet.
Beginning next year we also intend to get back to work on the FMLY Mansion, and make every bit of information much more accessible. I’ve been working on a grant and we already have handfuls of homemade curriculum, it’s really just a matter of finding the right space. FMLY Mansion is a plan to develop co-operative community centers in neglected neighborhoods, emphasizing urban agriculture, alternative forms of transportation, and music lessons. There’s an even greater plan for the project, but let’s just take this one step at a time.
Otherwise, who knows, everyone does great things for no purpose of recognition all the time. These reflections are just a bit of what I’m aware of, and I don’t mean to speak “for FMLY” or for anyone other than my own experience. I also hope that I haven’t offended anyone by anything that I’ve said, mostly concerning an independent music community as one vague, general whole. Lots of friends and folks are doing real admirable work, but I guess I believe in the potential of what could be to such a ridiculous extent that it hurts to see such a passionate community being taken advantage of. I’d love to talk more with anyone, and I guess I’ll close with some wise words from Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit and Kassette Klub: “Remember to do cool stuff and be kind to each other.”
FMLY Fest: Brooklyn in the making:
And here’s a great mini-doc detailing the history of FMLY, filmed by our newest contributing blog, Tiny Waves: