In the mid-to-late 90s when I was in high school, I was into underground punk and hip-hop, even some house and electronic music. Some of my favorite acts included Operation Ivy, Bad Religion, Gang Starr, Pharcyde… the list goes on. I recall the first time I heard Southern California punk bands Face To Face and Bad Religion on mainstream radio (KROQ to be exact), and how angry my immature self was. “What sell outs!,” I thought to myself and how their music would never sound the same to me. Little did I know that “selling out” can be a great thing for any artist or creative that has endured the struggle.
So last night while winding down the work day, I took a moment to look through my Facebook app. The first item that appeared on my feed was from fellow music blog, Lo-Pie. As I always tell my writers, it’s all about the headline, and Lo-Pie’s headline definitely caught my attention: “Sick Sad Scene: YSL x Burger.” As I read the headline, I thought to myself how much I hate that tired word, “scene.”
I read the article to completion, and was confused. I was frustrated. I almost didn’t know what the point of the post was. It came off like an angry millennial rant, or someone who just didn’t get it. I hate to say it, but the article seems “young and dumb.” Although very well written with clean syntax and an intelligent use of words, the post lacked substance. The writer came off pretentious and with a superior tone. And trust me, “nearly five years of covering Southern California’s underground scene” barely qualifies someone to be a self-declared authority on defining who is and what is real underground.
The Lo-Pie post is all about the recent Saint Laurent (YSL) party that went off last week at the Hollywood Palladium. With local Los Angeles bands Bleached, Kim & The Created, No Parents and more slated to perform, all the indie/underground music kids wanted an invite. It’s not every day that a high fashion brand like Saint Laurent teams up with some very under the radar bands. Mainstream musicians are usually booked for that kind of shit. And that’s what was really cool about this event; the fact that they did not book your typical Lady Gaga or Foo Fighters, but instead chose to give the spotlight to underground acts. Sure, Beck and Joan Jett were on the bill, but the majority of acts were the kind of bands that people that attend fashion shows don’t know about. To top it all off, the marketing campaigns for the big event featured some great work with bands like Bleached, Kim & The Created and more. And judging by the enthusiastic updates on their social media, the bands were stoked to be a part of such a grand opportunity. This was a POSITIVE thing!
I cannot stand when a person takes something that is clearly positive, and spins it into something negative. And that is exactly what the Lo-Pie writer did in this article.
First off, chill with the fuckin’ dramatics. I find it extremely hard to believe that attending this YSL event made the writer “both physically and mentally sick.”
In the post, the writer pretty much attacks YSL creative director Hedi Slimane, calling him a “carpetbagger” and “someone who’s true talent lies not in creating but in correctly identifying creative centers before they pop, which he then aligns himself with and sucks dry before moving on when the wellspring turns to mud.” She pretty much talks as though she has first-hand experience with the dude. Which she clearly does not, otherwise she would have used a personal experience to build strength behind her claim (which would have positively supported her post). As a journalist, you never rely on hearsay, in an effort to attack someone’s integrity. Especially someone you don’t know on a personal level. In an effort to support her claims, and appear somewhat not subjective, the writer pulls a quote from New York Magazine and decided to interpret it in her own twisted way.
What really peeves me is how the writer makes all the exposure the artists received (high profile magazine placements, billboards, runways shows, etc.) seem like a bad thing. Are you fucking kidding me? This is so damn awesome for a band that has like 4,000 fans on their Facebook page. Do you know how many local L.A. bands would have loved this opportunity? It’s beyond me how the writer sees this as something negative. These artists are getting paid for their craft. Who are you to judge the means behind it? If a band decided to stay away from corporate entities, than good for them. But if another band decided they want to broaden their audience, and make some bills by working with a high profile business, which some would call “selling out,” than good for them too.
Exploiting an artist is when you use them for their talents for your own financial gain, and not give them any sort of payment in return. Whether cash money or trade, it’s up to the artist’s discretion what makes them satisifed. If they are okay with it, you should not be judging and throwing shade. A perfect example of exploiting an artist is what McDonalds did last year at SXSW with Ex Cops and a few other underground acts. That’s exploiting. That’s capitalism at its finest. YSL and Burger are nowhere near that. Instead they did, and do, something great for local bands.
Do you really think YSL or Slimane had any huge gain from this? I might be wrong, but the last time I checked, most indie/underground show-goers can barely afford a concert ticket. At least 30 percent of Grimy Goods ticket giveaway entries are a plea for concert tickets because they are broke. I’m pretty sure these same kids aren’t going to be purchasing YSL’s spring line just because they went to the afterparty where their favorite local bands were performing.
The gain here is for the artists that were a part of the entire campaign, whether they performed or not. Can you imagine how many rich fashion snobs now know about their music, and their look? Maybe that stylish socialite will pay them a ridiculous amount of money to perform at her 40th birthday party, maybe that director wants them to be the featured band in their next film because they liked their look on that billboard, or maybe that television show producer wants to feature their song in a season finale. The possibilities are endless, and are most definitely a positive thing, so please don’t go making this into something negative.
If YSL gets a little “coolness” validation attached to their brand after all this, so be it. I think that hardly counts as “sucking them dry.” Pretty sure these bands came out the other side for the better.
On top of all that nonsense, the writer then goes to chastise Burger Records for having a “swollen ego” while in “quest for world domination.” Really though, this isn’t a soap opera, are all those negative dramatics necessary?
She then goes on to claim that Burger Records “seem happy to align themselves with just about anyone who comes their way, even those from the exclusive and elite enclaves of the fashion industry.” Again, the writer is full of subjective words with no substance to support her claims. And this is where the negative connotation of “selling out” comes into play. So Burger hooked up with YSL for this massive afterparty, well good for fucking them! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Do you even know what it’s like to dedicate so many years of your life to a passion project that does not bare any fruits for quite some time? An opportunity such as teaming up with YSL is not only huge for Burger, but huge for everyone under their roster. So when the writer puts Burger down for this, she is essentially putting down all the bands Burger works with too. People need to get paid! They need to pay for rent, pay for meals, clothes on their back, etc. And then I think to myself, this writer is an idiot. No, she’s not an idiot, she’s just lacking perspective. She doesn’t know the hard work of creating something from scratch all on your own and to finally see years of labor come to fruition. She doesn’t know how a once underground hobby or passion project that becomes lucrative is beneficial not only to the creator, but to all those involved. I can relate to this on a personal level with my growth with Grimy Goods. I’ve been called a “sell out” and what not for partnering with big brands or supporting mainstream radio. In the grand scheme of things, the writer just doesn’t get it, and she probably never will until she goes through being the creator of something that was once underground that has evolved into a lucrative business that still stays true to its roots. It’s the same scenario with artists. They get the opportunity to go mainstream and finally make money, and then they get called sell outs for doing so.
Sadly, the writer then goes on to shame Burger Records even more, which gives the impression she has a personal vendetta against them or something. It really is strange. I personally have never had any problems working with these dudes. And I most certainly have never felt an inkling of ego from them either. In fact, I’ve never heard anything but good things from friends in bands that work with Burger. Again, maybe if the writer would give us some hard evidence, or facts, or first-hand experience — there might be some validity to her incessant rants and complaints. I mean, who really cares about Burger’s use of “ALL CAPS” and “smiley emojis.” I certainly don’t. But I do care about real factual claims, not subjective hodgepodge gussied up with elevated words and formal syntax. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Finally, for the writer to criticize how the YSL’s event was run, is truly ridiculous, and this is where the article shifts into being pretentious. If you’re going to tout the fact that you’ve been “covering Southern California’s underground scene” how you gonna complain about a free show with great bands and free everything just because it “ran behind schedule” or had some “indiscriminate serving of alcohol.” Your privileged ass should be stoked you even got into this awesome FREE event.
I can’t tell you how many underground shows I’ve been to where kids are being served alcohol, where bands don’t show up, where bands come on two hours late — and here the writer is complaining about these things (*facepalm). Wouldn’t you be accustomed to it by now? It’s not like it’s an unusual occurrence at a show. I can’t even imagine this writer at a REAL underground show where you buy your ticket at one location, and then are given directions to the venue where the live music is happening, only to show up and the shit is already shut down by the cops. She would have been a very angry girl in the 90s.
To further note, this is the first time YSL has ever dabbled into the local Los Angeles music scene on such a broad scale. No inaugural music event goes well the first time. I guess the writer never attended the first time FYF was held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, or any Coachella before 2005 — those things were a hot mess and not successful until years later. No event is perfect the first time around, and for the writer to nitpick at such menial things feels like the article is grasping at anything it can to devalue the event. What it really does is devalue the very point the writer is trying to support.
The only negative thing about the YSL event, was the claim that a kid fell off the balcony. I’ve only heard this news from one artist who’s set got canceled due to the fall, and I can’t find anything in the news about it. I’ve searched online and have yet to find anything. But if someone did indeed fall off the balcony and seriously injured himself or herself, that’s a real bummer. It doesn’t mean you should place blame on the organizers for ending the event and canceling all remaining performances. I’m pretty sure that’s what legally needs to be done, and I’m positive the Hollywood Palladium would not allow any event to continue after such a critical accident. Again, there’s a business side to this music world that the writer just doesn’t understand (or is conveniently ignoring). Insurance? Legal? Yeah, these things and more take priority of “does this decision reflect the value of our underground community?”
Also, this isn’t the first time someone has fallen off the Palladium balcony…
At first glance, I thought the writer, was onto something fierce with her Lo-Pie article. The headline screamed for attention in our underground music “scene” and her intro paragraph alluded to something deep. When you express that a show made you feel “both physically and mentally sick” you best have some legit proof to support your feels. Unfortunately, this post had no solid proof to support any of her words. You can call her post, purely a subjective rant. And don’t get me wrong, it’s totally okay to rant. I do it all the time, but I don’t make it public while totally attacking the integrity of two very familiar names in music and fashion. And if I were to, you best believe I’d have my concrete details on fleek.
Look, I’m not out here to attack other writers. This is an opportunity to discuss and reflect on what’s truly important. I wrote this to perhaps enlighten the writer and her supporters, and drop some knowledge on something she has yet to fully understand due to lack of experience or immaturity.
I was once that angry kid full of angst against the system, against any form of order, but as I come up on my eighth year of running Grimy Goods, you see a lot of other angles in this music world that aren’t always talked about for fear they might not be “cool.”