Success in noise & what to do with it?

Started by FreakAnimalFinland, May 10, 2022, 01:05:36 PM

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This quote comes from WCN podcast, but it is not really directed to Honer is King. I talked with bunch of people from different music styles, plus also other fields of creation, who many kind of ponder with something related to discussion on SI forum "missing but what".
Many guys had the feeling that they're doing just fine. Making recordings, putting them out, even selling something. But there is some largely undefined "missing element", what generally is lack of feedback. Lack of cultural impact. No matter if one would play more than others or sell more albums than others, but if there isn't visible resonance.

Success, would be perhaps defined as personal feeling of meaning more than any particular achievement.

I surely remember hoping to get to play Japan at some point. And did it. Several times set goal that album must be something very specific that it is satisfying to myself. Of course, there was hope that amount of pressed items was not being exaggerated and they'd eventually sell.

However, I am curious how many do set some sort of goals, acknowledge that there can or should be "success" (relative, and may require defining) in context of noise / industrial / PE? I am sure there are some, who will put weight on getting reviewed or interview appearing in WIRE. Or being actually paid to play at show (haha.. ). Or being paid flights overseas to play in festival. Getting albums sold beyond distros that you're friends operate etc.

Some of the desires may be slightly awkward to confess, in context of underground art, where mostly people display indifference or rejection against "popularity" (?).

Quote from: HONOR_IS_KING! on May 09, 2022, 09:13:12 PM
The fact is I want to be a full time musician and do great things like take care of my wife and InshAllah future family with it. Unlike so many of my PE peers with office jobs/solid working class can't relate or understand that through music is the only way I can truly succeed (because I always fucking have, my work has always been growing and hasn't stopped). Been working in retail for too long to just hop into an office job without knowing someone and frankly I don't want to work a fucking regular job, never have. I think to be branded and blacklisted over being labeled by things that people on this board revel in is fucking moronic, and a waste of my talent. So this is why I did it. I wanted to finally have an official statement on it so idiots can be directed to it.

Like I mentioned in the first interview though, some folks want to be a big catfish in a small pond and Im trying to be a great white shark in the ocean of this life. So this is how I must move.

I do think it would be benefit for noise / PE as a whole, if there would be some cross over with other music styles. Most of the time when you hear people talk about the moments when they found noise, it was from some sort of cross over thing. Relapse tricking metalheads to buy harsh noise, Sonic Youth wanting noise bands as support acts and so on. These days probably its more like Puce Mary, Prurient, Merzbow still absolutely essential name that brings noise to crowds who have vague knowledge of it.

While I say that could be beneficial, from personal perspective, I can't say I absolutely regret playing all sorts of music fest and warming up wide variety of big names. Warmed up anything from Eyehategod, Impaled Nazarene, Destroyer666, and so on. All sorts of too big festival stages. But if I was to make decision now, I would most likely politely say no thanks and suggest someone else who would want to do it. Several noise guys I talked to, who used to play with wide music culture, have leaned towards same direction. Acknowledging that the the generic idea of how success happens in music or business, is more waste of time. Focusing in something else in noise is more vital.

These days success would be almost like synonym for doing whatever, rather than working towards specific goal. Economically I rarely think beyond sustaining operations. Money comes in if it comes, but it has never dictated what I do (which may explain the neat seemingly nearly suicidal publishing history, hah..)..
How I see it, the wider music culture has nothing to offer me, that I would want to take part of. I see underground (many types of music, not just the noise) has lots of things people probably could be inspired of.  So someone who is interested to expand reach of noise to new crowds is good thing, but I personally am not interested to work for that under any other terms than from perspective of how I operate regardless is there success or not.

Anyways, still today, if one must mention specific goal, perhaps once again returning to Japan to play live gig(s) some day is goal that could be done within decade!
E-mail: fanimal +a+ cfprod,com


The measure of success in noise (harsh noise) has, I think, always been problematic. From its original inception based around lack of skill and incompetence, that famous "I threw all my past music career in the garbage. There was no longer any need for concepts like 'career' and 'skill'. I stopped playing music and went in search of an alternative." or "No Act, Point, Result, Remorse..." way back, which shifted 180 degrees into noise bands wanting just that, skill, originality and being 'artists'.

To Wolf Eyes' John Olson Says Noise Music Is Over: "Completely, 100 Percent"

A shifting set of objectives, is noisy in itself.

Strangely I have now very minimal objectives, one a long time wish to own an Arp 2600 has finally been achieved, though the Behringer 2600 which arrived on the 4th May (I even like the pretty lights) This I suppose is trivial, but a personal marker. (Is noise about the achievement of the inept, talentless ...?) The other is yet to be achieved, and so may not. (for times are strange and having lived through the cold war and 3 minutes from oblivion, suddenly after surviving a pandemic we are back there again...) Before the pandemic I began improvising works of around 17 minutes, which has developed into a project / ambition. First off 200 such, and now 750 pieces, actually more like 762, as of today. Obviously and naively the goal is 1,000, maybe by the end of 2020. The best thing about these two goals, is their trivial nature and the absurdity.

The what to do with the success of the 2600 is the next 250 pieces. I hope :-)

Andrew McIntosh

Success in music, in general, is often unobtainable, no matter how much hard work someone chucks into it. Everyone who picks up an instrument would love to live the dream of making a living from playing it. At least, those types can take up also-ran type gigs, playing commercial stuff, standards, being in cover/tribute bands and all that nightmare.

People in Noise need to acquit themselves to a much "lower" standard if they're going to at least retain both sanity and personal dignity because they can't even do the also-ran gigs of "real" musicians (not playing Noise, I mean). So what defines success for such people is always going to be more in touch with how reality works than bullshit dreams of glory. Depressive realism in practice.

If I think of, for example, The Incapacitants - what were their desired goals and ideals, initially? Certainly not more than what they've already achieved. They wanted to Noise the fuck out, they did. That they've established themselves as a premier Noise band in the process is great and good on them for it, but was that always part of the plan? By such standards, just playing, releasing things, getting around the world with other Noise freaks is the dream itself, I would think. Because it's all part of the great FUN that can be had with just Noise-ing the fuck out and fuck the rest. Anyway, in that example, they're Japanese "salary men", so they don't need to earn money from Noise. Work sucks, but sometimes you have to do it. Even William Bennett had to lower himself to being some kind of consultant/motivational speaker or whatever the fuck it is. That's dismal failure by my measure - and yet, strangely just.

To me, the ideal is record, put out releases, play gigs, enjoy it however long it lasts/you could be bothered with it. The pure pleasure of the exhilaration, right there and then. If your Noise punches reality a new arsehole, you've won as far as I'm concerned.

And if you can make a living off it, ten points, but expecting it/working towards it, I don't know - this is a universe of cause and effect, and experiential randomness. All this "work hard and you can achieve your dreams" stuff hinges on the word "can", which is not the same as "will". That's where the con is.
"We never said it would happen".
"But I worked and believed so hard!"
"No one cares".

Noise as a career? For careerists, then. Just what the world needs. What it really needs is total destruction, but it'll settle for Noise careerists. Not what the world needs but what it deserves.

Does Masami Akito make a living off Merzbow. JX off The Haters? Maybe, I don't know. But if they do, I'd say they're exceptions, not rules, and I for one would be very happy if they did. But I for one am just happy that they've done what they've done.
Shikata ga nai.


Quote from: FreakAnimalFinland on May 10, 2022, 01:05:36 PM
Acknowledging that the the generic idea of how success happens in music or business, is more waste of time. Focusing in something else in noise is more vital.

yeah, it's funny it took a hundred years of noise to get back to the original point. already responses here show people think of 'success' in terms of money and personal enjoyment. obviously the "something else" is to engage with culture and reality at large. malevich didn't just paint big squares because he thought they looked cool. "noise scene" has become basically just a collector market, hobby shit like model trains or warhammer. people want to indulge in aesthetics and that's all. if we were doing yknow capital-a Art we would be engaging with other arts and with our own history. do you have something to say, or do you just want to say anything??

edit: cage and duchamp and derrida did deconstruction, and now that we've deconstructed music, what do we do with it? turn it back into a little market?

edit2: god forbid we be satisfied thinking something we create might imbue somebody else's life with a bit of enjoyment or new context. who cares what the creator gets out of it? how many artists lived and died pathetic lives??

Zeno Marx

This feels similar to the question of "how to talk about noise." As if experimental music exists outside of everything else.  As if it isn't prey to the same dynamics and relationships as everything else. To me, it's strange.  Everybody thinks they're special.

Phil Easter (Stone Glass Steel, Iron Halo Device) of the Malignant list brought this up at least a few times.  The idea of success.  He thought of it in standards.  Money, security, career, retirement.  Common benefits of something valued.  I understand his perspective more now than I did then.  I'm slow.  Nevertheless, very few can achieve that level of anything and retain their edge, but they also don't give a hoot about retaining the edge.  They truly move onward.  I think that only becomes adversarial when criticism creeps into the mix.  Either the culture criticizes them for moving, or they criticize the culture for not appreciating the movement.*  We're sensitive types, aren't we?

*each party protecting its interests, and if they don't like the other's interests, good riddance.  No reason to be adversarial then, right?
"the overindulgent machines were their children"
I only buy vinyl, d00ds.


Was it Markkula who said that people who do HN/PE, do it not because they think it will get them popularity with the opposite sex (he used a different term, but you know what I mean), or fame or money, but because they can't not do it.

I actually briefly knew a guy who discovered the noise scene and seemed to genuinely think it was possible. He was exhilarated. "Wait a minute, I can get the standard rock'n'roll dream, the million dollar recording contract, groupies and popularity, without actually making an effort of any kind and having to learn to play an instrument?" I told him he was wrong on two fronts: yes, he would have to make an effort, and no, he wouldn't still get what he wanted.

I don't know if having to have a regular job to make living while doing noise counts as a failure. To me anything else seems almost impossible. And one of thethings that attracts me about all this in the first place is not having to worry about keeping the "fans" happy and the money coming in.

Removing the option of making a living out of something also allow you to define for yourself what "success" means to you. In mainstream musical terms, my "career" would not even count as a failure, it would simply be seen as not even existing in the first place. However I personally don't see myself as unsuccesful as a "noise artist", I've put out a couple of releases and I've gotten to play live, which is all I ever expected or wanted when I started this.


It's always amusing when coworkers or anyone else outside of noise ask me about my music/noise. "They flew you and your friend to Cincinnati to play?? Are you famous or something? Could you make a living out of this?" Famous would be an extreme exaggeration, and no, I couldn't. I don't have the discipline or creative drive to do this more often than when I have the time and the energy (a few times a year). But I can't see why someone who has couldn't. Such as Mack. I think there's plenty of noise that has the potential to reach a much bigger audience, and power electronics even more so. It's just that so very very few actually try to, or want to. That tour Mack mentioned seems like a great mix, even though none of the acts are really my cup. Me touring as Capers with a bunch of big bands would look ridiculous, but God Is War, why not? Hope it goes well!

Success for me is realizing my ideas as close to my vision as possible. I had a CD out last year which I'm still tremendously proud of. When I recorded it a few years ago, the electronics simply worked exactly the way I intended, with some bonus fuckups in just the right places. Some friends liked it, some less so, but they all got what it was about, which felt very gratifying. And now it's out in a generous edition, selling super slowly so our stock will last a couple of years. That is success to me. It's all I want to achieve as an artist.


Quote from: Atrophist on May 11, 2022, 12:03:20 AM
Removing the option of making a living out of something also allow you to define for yourself what "success" means to you.

This is true, and what I feel is most important, is question what is this "making a living"? If you are artist of some sort, who lives for the creation of art and what you do, basically finances itself and enables you to get by.. that is pretty easy or doable. You can have lifestyle where all things revolve around the work you do and all things feed back into it. 
If as a opposite, "making a living" means that the work you do, is there to enable other things, and most of all instrumental to other things than what you are doing, it gets vastly more difficult to get that work out.

Meaning - you run label due passion for noise. All you need in your free time, all you'd "consume" or collect, comes from the work itself and label is pretty much sustainable. Perhaps even profitable if you could the experience, communication, creativity and cumulating art as "profit". 
If you run label with intent to pay house, car, pay family vacations or whatever, I suspect it will be tough. I won't say it could not work out, but it will be tough to sustain. Contrast of noise tape profit vs. rest of things in this world is so huge, that the success of noise label outside its own context may seem odd.

I have heard some (metal) bands talk about how shows they play now, have kind of instrumental role for creating something better for future. Playing half assed shows, just to build name, so eventually they are on festival stage and being paid. I don't think it works like that. The best bands treated every gig as if it was most important thing, giving all in, with pure passion. Not seeing as if that was just some ground work, shitjob, before you can start earning.

What I feel is good thing, is that people would have faith in what they do. In some countries it does take guts to decide that you don't want to have full time job, but want some sort of alternative way to live. A lot of people I know, will admit that committing to career or even some sort of "shit job", is the thing what will kill big part of creativity or even urge to do things. Any idea of being touring artist or running efficient label/mailorder ain't happening if you simply do not have time. Put together 4 grown up family men and look how difficult it will get to agree day for rehearsal, or date for one-off gig somewhere.

I have no idea how many do live out of underground music and how many actually live, without having some other sources of income that makes former possible. That is perhaps thing that I can consider success of some sort. Not having job/salary since the 90's, nor any sort of family inheritance, nor welfare money from state and still never doing things from business angle. Just doing what I feel should be done.

E-mail: fanimal +a+ cfprod,com


For me, success has pretty much been "having a somewhat nice release out that actually reaches people". The situation of doing 200 CDs, selling 10 and trading 20 - 40 with labels can also be somewhat nice, if there are people who genuinely cared about it - though limited interest can be a bummer. Also listeners sometimes discussing themes covered in the album and such. Anything that goes beyond superficial "yeah I played it on YouTube and it was okay" sentiments.

Financially, I guess breaking even can be defined as a success oftentimes. It would be great to see Industrial artists being able to live off their art, not least because financial independence can probably secure more freedom of expression, but I am sceptical of that. Seems like even a very popular Noise project will earn you less than a part time job at a gas station, but maybe I have been talking to all the wrong people.

Andrew McIntosh

For me, "making a living" means just that, earning enough money to live on. Being able to make back the money on what one releases, for example, is nice, but that's called a hobby. However one may be personally devoted to and invested in it and however adverse one may be to the word itself, in the sheer cheerless light of economic reality it's a hobby if you're not paying the rent and bills from it.
Shikata ga nai.


For me success in noise is first of all being happy of what i record. Have something in mind and put it together physically is not always easy.
And one of the things i appreciate most (and it's a great success for me) it's a label searching me because my material is good.
After years on be involved, this is the thing that satisfied me more.
North Central
Mademoiselle Bistouri
Daddy's Entertainment.


Quote from: Andrew McIntosh on May 11, 2022, 12:40:49 PM
..... it's a hobby if you're not paying the rent and bills from it.

Unknown Public 14 - Bloody Amateurs ‎(CD, Album, Comp)

"Charles  Ives  was an American modernist composer, one of the first American composers of international renown. His music was largely ignored during his early life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years...

His Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax, published in 1918, was well received. As a result of this he achieved considerable fame in the insurance industry of his time, [in which he earnt his living]  with many of his business peers surprised to learn that he was also a composer."


Quote from: FreakAnimalFinland on May 11, 2022, 11:24:11 AM
I have no idea how many do live out of underground music and how many actually live, without having some other sources of income that makes former possible.

They make it possible because they have multiple hustles/jobs. I've begun to realize most agents in the "underground" music world are touring full time musicians themselves. Same thing with them running booking agencies for the towns they live in. They also work for artist management companies too and of course do stuff like art/layout/etc. Not to mention one thing I've noticed is often touring musicians are in very strong relationships or married. The days of being "road dogz" who live to "rage" seem to be over. Too much money on the line these days to be fucked up and unaware of whats going on.

I'm probably one of the few who will admit that I set goals and continue to do so. Its wild to look back on the decade and see how much was accomplished on multiple levels. I feel that my "success" with experimental music has set me up for whats coming with me doing electronic music.

I still need to go to Japan ha! Was going to happen but Covid derailed things for a minute but its still a goal.