Title: Some Outsider Music Hamilton
There is a sliver of the Hamilton music community that has received little mainstream attention: our treasured Outsider Music scene; oftentimes referred to as underground, Noise, or DIY, in which performers of niche brands of music wear multiple hats as musicians, producers, bookers, promoters, label operators, product designers etc. Most of these efforts are modeled after a non-profit, idealistic system of self-ownership and self-determination - partly because of the artists’ own ethics toward music and property, and partly because their product is simply bewildering and substantially unappealing to mainstream audiences.
We set out to investigate the weirdo heroes of our scene (approx. 2008 - 2018), dredge up their most relevant cultural artefacts, and present them, observe them, revere them, and reflect on the fact that it is a scene mostly comprised of white men. DIY spaces and operations have always teetered on the legal margins, increasingly since the Hamilton Real Estate Boom. We reflect on the Outsider Music shows we’ve organized and attended… what would happen if we swapped the majority of white bodies in attendance with a black and brown audience : how long could that DIY event survive before attracting the attention of police, and before the event gets shut down? Evidence suggests it is far more restrictive for non-white artists in Hamilton to own and operate physical, autonomous arts spaces, and subsequently, Outsider Music labels.
The significance of using retromedia was an attempt to democratize ways and means of making legitimate music distinct from mainstream industry models. However, despite good intentions, the Outsider Music scene has become a small, specialized and privileged niche group of mostly white men experimenting and creating around the aura of obsolete media. As we take a long look in the mirror, we realize and come to terms with our own involvement in this exclusive artistic practice.
What imbues someone with the confidence, agency and platform to create our relevant cultural artefacts? How does One participate in a music scene that is steeped in covert white supremacy and sexism? As our traditional venues are shuttering at an alarming rate, artists are starving, and genius is going undiscovered… we take a look back to remember and celebrate historical cultural artefacts while understanding that we need new ones.
If some of the raw materials are toxic, we can reconfigure their chemistry into something sanguine. As artists, we need to be critical, but we can also be Utopian. Some monuments belong on the bottom of rivers. We consider freer resources and new ways of sharing power and privilege through collaboration. We focus our highly trained psychic and empathetic forces toward this reimagined future of an equitable music community in Hamilton.
We acknowledge this is not the whole story. We highly encourage interaction with this artwork - please send us a comment or question to email@example.com, or drop it in the comment box. If you have stories of outsider music in Hamilton, we want to hear it.
Jeremy JAG Gilbank,
Middle James Co.,
House of Sun,
No Why Records,
Shallow North Dakota,