Irregular Frequencies

screenshot_2016-08-08-11-03-54-1.pngAbout a year ago, I was sitting at my local collective café in Exarhia, in Athens, with my friend Vicky. I had just celebrated my one-year anniversary of being back in my country and I was feeling restless. I grew up in Greece, but at 26 moved to the US for four years, then I bounced around a bit for a couple years and eventually returned to my hometown in 2017. I was an active part of my local DIY punk scene before I left, so I felt it was time to get my hands dirty again, make some shit happen. I had missed working on projects with punks, but I was also after something with a feminist framework. “With people who haven’t yet had the run of the town, you know?” Vicky’s eyes sparkled in response. “Funny you should say that…” Flash forward a year and Endropi has just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Endropi started as a collective of women and non-binary individuals to share ideas, experiences, anxieties and hopes, at an irregular frequency, as a proactive reaction. Some of us punks, some of us queer, all of us politically minded and in need of a place to call our own. It’s a play on the words “entropy” and “end dropí”, dropí being the Greek word for “shame.” We found our golden section where chaos and freedom meet. Our common goal is to create spaces, physical and abstract, for bodies of all kinds, where we can exchange and share, teach and learn, challenge and unlearn. To create a space for ourselves where we can simultaneously invite others to feel welcome, comfortable and safe—something they may not have previously felt in other spaces.

For us the personal is always political, and for us feminism is a medium and a tool with which to recognize and liberate all bodies. On an individual level, we had all experienced or witnessed the side-effects of patriarchy, capitalism and oppression from within our own scenes, which we thought would (and should) be free of forms of discrimination, oppression, competition—the punk scene, the anarchist scene, the queer scene, the squatting scene, the activist scene. It was refreshing to find others who shared similar experiences and common anxieties.

When I was younger I was blind to certain latent, subconscious and internalized oppressive behaviours acted out mainly by men. Behaviours and attitudes I later realized were in fact oftentimes problematic, insulting, demeaning, dismissive and even traumatic. In the early 2000s, when I was a teenager, women at hardcore shows were few and far between; I’d say one woman per every 12 men or so. Never in a band, rarely in a group, almost always looking tough (because we had to) and automatically assumed to be a groupie. It was not uncommon to hear the Alpha males of the scene discuss their sexual escapes with said women in demeaning or mocking ways. It was even more commonplace to hear things like “for a woman, she’s really good on guitar” or “she’s a woman, what do you expect?” I’d often see sound guys assume that the few women who did get on stage didn’t know how to set up their own gear, or would say things like “don’t worry about the console settings, you won’t get it.” In conversations, I was used to being made fun of for my opinions, being interrogated about my music knowledge, while constantly being talked over and down to, being made to feel like I was a poser who was only looking for a hardcore boyfriend, looking for some kind of credibility agreed upon and granted only by Them, the keepers of the scene. I couldn’t possibly like this loud and heavy music or have any kind of meaningful opinion on it, because I was a girl. Of course, I was asked for blowjobs on more than a handful of occasions (“Come on, it’ll be fun! / Jeez, don’t get so angry, it was just a joke! / My girlfriend won’t find out”) This tiring, aggravating dismissal of my identity, my experiences and my voice, combined with a toxic relationship and a good dose of anxiety sent me to a dull and lonely place. My self-esteem plummeted and I thought depression was the normal emotional state for an 18-year-old.

Thankfully by my early college years I had found my local DIY punk scene (and a therapist) and felt relieved to be around people who instead of macho, crypto-conservative bros, were open-minded, politically charged punks. The DIY punk ethos showed me that I am my own authority and I slowly tried to rid myself of the masks and roles I had gathered in my closet of insecurities. My experience shifted from feeling like an outsider doomed to never meet other people’s unrealistic standards, to a dynamic, proactive freak in charge of her own self-determination. They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, so I know now that I was unconscious of this negative headspace at the time, of the internalized acceptance of normality; I thought, “OK, this is what it’s like, live with it.” But it’s not! This is not what it’s like everywhere and it doesn’t have to be like that here or anywhere.

My experience continues with much positivity and over the last 13 years I have found friends, worked with and loved people who accept me for who I am, and who constantly challenge me in the best possible way to become a better version of myself, for myself and for others. But not everyone is so lucky—just because your experience was easy doesn’t mean everyone had such an easy time trying to be themselves. And not everyone thinks such a compassionate effort is necessary. If we want to “create to destroy,” then we must learn how to create, and sometimes unlearning is the first step.

Despite appearances, Greece is still a deeply conservative, patriarchal, religious country. The deep-seated effects of these traits can be found across the board, even within the scenes to which we turn for refuge. There is a common understanding that our scenes are against certain things: capitalism, fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia. The first three are the holy triad: capitalism will be smashed, fascists will be beaten, racism will be stamped out. Check. But, even though, for example, theoretically sexism and homophobia are not tolerated, they are often perpetuated and frequently not even understood, recognized or even agreed upon as problems. Words like transphobia, body-shaming and ableism are often unknown to some groups, they can be mocked or seen as inconsequential or not as important as The Cause—forgetting that for some, their identity, their self-determined existence is the fight.

It’s understandable to focus on big (and surely important) enemies like fascism and capitalism when most of one’s other other fundamental rights are accounted for or taken for granted. Free to feel comfortable with your birth-assigned sex, free to enjoy your heterosexuality, free to enjoy the inherited (male) dominance your ancestors fought hard to maintain over the past few millennia, free to speak your mind whenever you want, free to walk home alone at night without fear of being attacked, free to claim jobs in industries (male) dominated for decades, free to be given the benefit of the doubt, free to go about your business while survivors are interrogated, shunned and often left permanently scarred. Irrelevant of if you agree with someone’s reactions towards a certain behavior, we can’t control them; each person has the right to their own feelings. What you can control is your own self.

Sexism, discrimination, transphobia, physical assault, homophobia, these are things that happen every day, everywhere, in both small ways and a large scale, systemically and systematically, from friends and foes, in broad daylight and behind closed doors, leaving large and small, visible and invisible scars. Sad fact. If you think this is not the case, you have been living under a rock of ignorant bliss, sometimes also known as: privilege. (What’s great about privilege is that, you can be oblivious to it your whole life, once you get called out on it, there’s this crazy sense of freedom: when you’re being a prick, it’s all you, not some fake privilege.) Such horrible things should not be happening anywhere, let alone within our punk communities. We should expect and demand more from our punk peers, uphold ourselves to higher standards. There’s a long way to go when people within a scene disagree on what rape is and why it is always the rapist’s fault, or think feminist groups (“feminazis” / “ball-busters”) are unnecessary, or disregard (even argue or mock) certain issues just because they do not impact them. There’s a lot of work to be done when a collective space makes no comment on the rape that occurred under its roof; when abusers are given a pass because of their social capital; when women are still treated in ways that perpetuate outdated gender roles. Ignoring or normalizing problematic attitudes is a large part of the problem. This brushing-off of responsibility and accountability is what helps maintain the small, daily but very real discrimination, discomfort and disappointment some people experience. Minimizing a problem does not make it go away, and avoiding difficult but necessary conversations and changes in attitude is easier than self-reflection and challenging what you have accepted to be the norm, what suits you to be the norm.

The solution, I have been told, is to take it or leave it. Which is one thought; to leave behind that which is toxic and no longer serves you—I did it once, I can do it again. They can have their run of the playground, I’ll go some place else to play. Always a shame when you realize “same shit, different label,” but hey, tell me something I don’t know. Surely there will always be people who will not and do not want to understand that which does not affect them, but I am open to having a conversation that might help change the overall outcome in favour of the underdog.

When we first made the pins, most people liked them, they found them catchy: Fight Punktriarchy. Cool. Then we made a banner for a big gig we organized and hung it up behind the bands. Some people were worried, annoyed even, that people from abroad would see this and assume our scene is sexist and patriarchal. A new word for the books? Yes. An actual problem? I don’t know, you tell me, show me, mansplain it to me. Yes, it’s obviously a play on the words “punk” and “patriarchy” but it suggests something more intricate, that I’m usually more willing to discuss than my (male) interrogators are: that behaviours found within the dominant patriarchal culture are acted out subconsciously within punk scenes around the world—unknowingly, deliberately, malevolently, subconsciously, accidentally, carelessly, politely, every which way. “Why do you feel oppressed, have I ever been sexist towards you, we don’t have such issues here, why do you feel excluded, what’s the problem, I’ve never done anything like that, I don’t see what you’re so upset about!” A common reaction is to doubt that such an issue exists; the same way survivors are blamed and doubted instead of heard and trusted. Instead of listening and trusting that these are our experiences as women, as non-binary individuals, as queer folk, as maladjusted freaks, disbelief is found in the form of disregard. Our experiences are minimized because they are not understood or shared by the majority. “Don’t be overly sensitive, everyone is equal, you’re just overacting” (“ovary-acting” even). “You shouldn’t feel like that, you should feel like this. Because I know better what it’s like to be you.” As if processing and freeing oneself of such oppressions is an easy task, shame on me for not knowing how to do it better, shame on me for hoping for something different to the status quo. At times it feels like being blamed of unfair play when in fact you’re being kicked when you’re down.

Some people challenged us, and despite what might come across in this text, I like to think of myself as a patient person, who listens and tries to understand. So I sat and I listened and I tried to understand the lamenting (male) punks who found this term unfair. Some spoke with genuine interest, some with irritated impatience, others with polite disagreement. “But why do you need to claim you’re a feminist collective? You just creating separations,” said the loudest manarchist at the meeting. “We’re all equal, I don’t see gender or sexuality, why do we have to make such a big deal out of it?” said the hardcore fuckboi taking up the whole pit at the show. “Why do you need to ‘fight’ Punktriarchy? That’s a bit aggressive don’t you think?” said the hooligan bully gearing up for a fight. “Punk is for everyone, I like seeing women on stage and girls making out” said the creepy grind guy who keeps a video archive of all the women “he’s fucked good.”

Here’s a thought: if having to simply discuss someone else’s negative experience is such a difficult and arduous task for you, then imagine what it’s like for that person to have to actually live out that negative situation. If sexism to you is a tiring conversation, then I can assure you that for others it’s an exhausting life-fact. If having to think twice about your place within your community is an occasional, insulting annoyance for you, then I can assure you that for some people (whose place within the community is constantly being challenged, invaded or downright erased) it’s a life-long struggle. If listening to others sounds so unfair to you, then I can assure you the dominant voices have drowned out others for too long, and that sounds unfair to me. Respect only works if it’s mutual.

This has been my experience and my purpose is not to preach or convince you of something, merely to share with you my story. Each person’s story is different and hopefully our punk scenes are places where we can exchange them. I find a good rule of thumb to remember is this: When it comes to oppression or discrimination, just because you cannot see it, or you do not experience it due to your inherent / unrecognized / unchallenged privilege (or just luck) does not mean it is not real for others. Just because you do not understand why someone feels the way they do does not mean their emotions are invalid or unimportant. Your acceptance of them is irrelevant to their existence.

We do not demand your space; we ask that you respect our desire to create our own spaces for ourselves. We do not demand that you do things the same way; we ask that you respect the fact that we do things our way. And if we wish to coexist, we must find some common ground upon which to stand as allies. Because, as the writing on the wall once said, you’re lucky we only want equality and not revenge.

My contribution for Punks Around: Girl’s Room. Thanks to Alex and Liz. Get your copy at punksaround.com.

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The Struggles

What’s up my loves?

May is almost here and I’m very happy to announce the official release of a new split comic zine I worked on with my partner in love, life and crime, Lefteris Yakoumakis. It’s called The Struggles and it’s all drawn by Lefteris, with stories written by both of us. You can read my stories on the one side, and Lefteris’ on the flip. Our characters meet in the middle and fall in love—it’s semi-autobiographical.

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Side A

We’ll be uploading a story a week on Instagram, and our webstore, Lonely Death House Productions, is almost finished, so you can order your copy. We’ll make an update once the webstore is live. Points to anyone who spots the album cover references! It comes in four colours: green, blue, yellow and pink.

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Side B

We’re down to our last 50 copies, so get it or regret it! (JK, we’ll be doing a reprint). If you want your copy now, come to this DIY Bazaar at Krikos Café in Petralona on Sunday, May 5 (1-9 PM), where I’ll be selecting only the finest of tunes, and where you’ll be able to find records, zines, distros, vegan food and more! I’ll also have copies of the last ever print issue of the best punk zine the world has ever known, Maximum Rocknroll #432, featuring, among other awesome content, a Greek punk photospread with pictures by George Argyropoulos.

Stay tuned for an interview with yours truly for Crucial Zine (Greece) and a piece for Punks Around: Girls Room (USA). Until next time, stay radical, do shit you love!

With love from us both,

LDH

Spring Has Sprung

What’s up my loves?

Long time no see, I know! Well, time flies when you’re in love and when I say I’m in love you best believe I’m in love L-U-V! Been a busy new year so far and I hit the ground running! Here’s a quick update on what to expect:

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Storm Stereo has been on hiatus for the last couple months, as I just don’t have the time I used to for shows. But you can catch me DJing every second Wednesday at Locomotiva collective, bookshop and café-bar. Also, expect a few special shows, coming by summer 2019:

A long-overdue Italian special, with both old and new punk and hardcore, courtesy of my friend Anna.

A Russian special, courtesy of my new friends in Total Rejects and Alex Herbert, who has just finished a wicked undertaking, What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot, which you can check out here.

A long overdue electronics special featuring a bunch of my über-talented friends from Greece and abroad! Stray tuned and check out past shows here.

 

The Struggles is a new project I’m working on with my beloved partner in crime Lefteris Yakoumakis and our first split zine will be ready in April! We just returned from the 1st Comics Festival in the colourful city of Larisa, which was superbly organized and hosted by Eκδόσεις του Κάμπου. We had a great time and made new friends and look forward to also attending the Athens Comicdom Con this April, with our new zine! Sneak preview below.

 

The first ΨΗΧΟΣ output has already seen the light of your computer screens. I’m hoping to try and commit it to cassette tape, just for the heck of it. In the unfortunate event that you’re one of the five people who cares, I’ll be working on new material for a summer release. My dream for 2019 would be to buy a small theremin, a decent field recorder and tape duplicator. If my financial scheming goes to plan, I might be able to repress the first Greek Punk Mixtape, and start work on the second Greek Mixtape, this time only with current bands and projects.

I’ll also be working on a new zine and a couple zine contributions, namely: a zine for the Punks Around series, hope to be done with that by the end of 2019, more info when the time comes! A piece for Girls Room, that has asked me to contribute a written experience, so I’ll be writing about Endropi, what it means to me and why I think it’s important for similar such groups to exist. And  N o w  h e r e  #3, an interview zine with some of the most interesting people in the current punk, electronic and experimental underground scene here in Athens. The output has been very special these last couples years and I think it’s worth documenting their projects and trajectories. Including (hopefully) interviews with Andreas Kavvadias (dE), Venus Volcanism & In Atlas, Blakaut and more!

Lastly, Barcelona show in January was great, and even though I think most people were kinda blown away, I like to think they experienced something new and different compared to the current Athens sound. Next up, hoping to book one of your all-time fave hardcore bands from the US for September. More infowhen I got it! No spoilers yet!

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Greek Punk Mixtape

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A few months ago MRR Radio asked me to do a guest show for them focusing on Greek punk. Based on that, I figured i would do a mixtape with some of my personal favourite Greek punk tracks from 1983 to 2016. You can listen to that radio show below.


As for the tapes: Final wholesale orders went out today (12/4/17) and I will try and do another run of 100 or so tapes after the summer – maybe get a bunch made in the UK as well – I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can get copies, while they last, at the below distros.

For copies, visit:

Static Shock Musik in Berlin, Germany

Trapdoor in Münster, Germany

Kostas in Stockholm, Sweden (garidisk@gmail.com)

Juan Carlos in Texas, USA (thisisaustin.not.that.great@gmail.com)

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If you like what you hear, consider checking out the bands online and buying their records or going to their shows. Greece is not the easiest place to get to (or leave!) and we always enjoy and appreciate the international connection! I am not in Athens at the moment, but am working on a post for punks who are traveling here with some ideas for things to do and places to see, so stray tuned for that too at some point.

Until the next episode of Storm Stereo, coming soon, go here to check out previous episodes, or go here to download MP3s of both Storm Stereo shows and the Greek Punk Mixtape. Please note the MP3s and the mixtape tracks are not exactly the same, and not in the exact same order, but it’s basically the same set of songs. Either way, MP3 tracklisting follows below.

If you have any questions about this tape, the radio show, Greek punk or anything in between, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at lydia_ath@yahoo.co.uk.

Until next time, stay posi, stay strong! With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

GREEK PUNK MIXTAPE – SIDE A

METRO DECAY – Kimília / Remnants (1983)

EX-HUMANS – Enófeli Epivíosi / Pointless Survival (1984)

ΣΤΡΕΣΣ / STRESS – ‘Anghos / Stress (1985)

ΑΔΙΕΞΟΔΟ / ADIEXODO – Soundtrack yia Odomahíes / Soundtrack for Street Fighting (1985)

ΓΕΝΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΧΑΟΥΣ / CHAOS GENERATION – Kinoniká Ypoproiónta / Social Byproducts (1985)

ANTI… – ‘Anthropi Fytá / Human Plants (1986)

ΟΡΑ ΜΗΔΕΝ / ORA MIDEN – Thánato stus Piités / Death to Poets (1988)

ΟΡΑ ΜΗΔΕΝ / ORA MIDEN – Mona Liza (1989)

ΝΑΥΤΙΑ / ΝΑUSEA – Hrysí Neoléa / Golden Youth (1989)

GULAG – Apología / Apology (1989)

ΧΟΑΤΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΣΗ / CHAOTIC DIMENSION – Kommatiká Exartiméni / Political Party Dependant (1993)

ΠΙΣΣΑ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΥΠΟΥΛΑ / PISSA KE POUPOULA – Xypnáte, Pethéno! / Wake UP, I’m Dying! (1993)

PANX ROMANA – Synágermos / Alarm (1993)

ΧΑΟΤΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΣΗ / CHAOTIC DIMENSION – Tréxe / Run (1996)

ΟΡΕΞΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ / OREXI YA TIPOTA – Korítsi Viázi Agóri / Girl Rapes Boy (1997)

FREE YOURSELF – Ethismós / Addiction (GULAG cover, 199?)

GREEK PUNK MIXTAPE – SIDE B

ΟΡΕΞΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ / OREXI YA TIPOTA – Gnísios ‘Ellinas tu 2000 (1997)

VODKA JUNIORS – Athens (2001)

ΧΕΙΜΕΡΙΑ ΝΑΡΚΗ / HIBERNATION – Yálini Mitrópoli / Metropolis of Glass (2000)

GO FILTH GO – Future No! (2010)

LAST BREATH – ‘Ιsos Miá Méra  / Maybe One Day (2010)

ΠΑΝΔΗΜΙΑ / PANDIMIA  – Vasílio tis Parakmís / Kingdom of Decline (2010)

ANTIMOB – Dógma (2012)

ΟΔΟΣ 55 / ODOS 55 – Attiki Victoria (2012)

ERA OF FEAR – Mizéria (2013)

GUTTER – No Chances, No Choices (2013)

DIRTY WOMBS – Derail (2014)

YOUTH CRUSHER – Incurable (2016)

ΧΩΡΙΣ ΟΙΚΤΟ / HORIS IKTO – Argós Thánatos / Slow Death (2016)

 

GREEK ΠΑΝΚ Mixtape

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-38-08-pmIn light of Maximum Rocknroll asking me to put together a Greek punk special for the radio, I put together a mixtape with some Greek punk from 1983 to 2016.

To start, this tape should by no means be considered an exhaustive list of Greek punk. For that you can visit anexartisi.gr and click on Bands (ΣΥΓΚΡΟΤΗΜΑΤΑ) and there you’ll find an alphabetical list of every Greek band considered ‘punk’ (ergo DIY and political) from the scene’s early stages right up until the present day. It’s an excellent resource and one day I’ll go about translating the whole thing so it’s more accessible to the non-malakas.

It would be impossible to make a tape with Greek punk and have nothing to say about the lyrics. I always thought non-Greek speakers were missing out on the tragic ironies, bitter loses and gutted realities spoken about in Greek punk music; the stories they tell, the buttons and boundaries they push. From ANTI…’s ‘human vegetables, without morals’ (the cops) to NAYTIA’s ‘Golden Youth’ created in God’s image and guided by convention, and from ORA MIDEN’s call for the death of all poets because they turn shit into sun and sea, to PANX ROMANA’s anthem ‘Alarm’ (‘I bring fear to your inertia’) or PISSA KAI POUPOULA’s cry for help on ‘Wake Up, I’m Dying!’ 1980s Greek punk was firmly rooted in the discontent with and the critique of the establishment. Sure there were songs that diverted from the political, but only marginally. Punk in Greece was definitely protest music, a political stance that went beyond just words and lyrics, but which for many became a way of thinking that went on to deeply influence the unfolding youth cultures of the time. (More on these underground youth cultures of the Greek 1980s and how they brought about a wave of gritty teensploitation movies – whether punk or punk-adjacent – at another time.)

Institutions such as the state, the military, the church and the EU (which Greece had just entered in 1981) all came under scrutiny and judgment by punks, who I like to think more often than not stood (loosely) organized against them, and mocked concepts such as ‘democracy,’ the corrupt justice and education systems, the state snitches (teachers, journalists), the suffocating conservatism of Greek Orthodox society and its insidious enabler, the nuclear family. To quote CHAOTIC END, ‘we live in darkness waiting for death.’ To the youth, all of these concepts were remnants of a past they not only felt disconnected from, they felt this past like tangled, gripping roots they couldn’t get away from. As CHAOS GENERATION sang in another song: “Chaos! No hope!” accompanied by some of the best guitars and drums in the game – their whole first self-titled record is a bleak masterpiece that brilliantly sums up the sense of isolation, claustrophobia and frustration prevalent at the time.

They felt cheated and abandoned, and, if Greek punk lyrics are any kind of public record to go by, then indeed the 1980s were a rough time: young people dying from heroine overdoses, committing suicide in army bases, and getting locked up in mental institutions thanks to medical and societal ignorance. Not to mention the regular day-to-day struggle of being poor, a minority, queer, or just different in some way. The bleak themes run throughout: ‘Trekse’ talks about running as far from this place as you can (20 years later that song’s theme still rings true for many) and ‘Kommatika Eksartimeni,’ which translates to ‘Political-Party Dependent’ which, besides having an absolutely killer riff, warns that ‘your vote is your death, your vote is your punishment,’ while on ‘To Megalo Spiti,’ (‘The Big House’) ode to the historic, now-evicted Villa Amalias squat in Athens, FORGOTTEN PROPHESY gave Greek punks the same kind of mantra CRASS were delivering overseas: Η μόνη εξουσία είναι ο εαυτός σου; there is no authority but yourself.

You will notice a lack of women on this tape, and that’s because there really were very few of them in the Greek punk scene. On this tape we can count Sonia, drummer and vocalist for NAYTIA, Yianna, drummer and vocalist for HIBERNATION (and NUCLEAR WINTER before that) and Eleftheria, bassist and occasional vocalist for OREXI GIA TIPOTA (MOOD FOR NOTHING), but that is not an all-inclusive list either. (On that note: I’m on a quest to compile an archive of female and non-male Greek punk scene participants, so more on that at a later date. Feel free to get in touch if you have info you’d like to input.) On the OREXI GIA TIPOTA track ‘Koritsi Viazi Agori’ (which translates to ‘Girl Rapes Boy,’ the only track where Elftheria sings alone) she says: ‘you think that because you are the boy, you can say that I deserve what happened to me, but now the roles have been reversed, and I’ll teach you about the pain that you ignore.’ An extremely potent narrative, and even more significant because it is a woman (and not a man) discussing this matter in a highly straightforward manner.

Given how (basically) homogeneous Greek society was and still is, it was refreshing to hear of FREE YOURSELF, a Düsseldorf-based band made of second generation Greeks. Their cover of GULAG’s classic track ‘Ethismos’ was, in my humble opinion, not only a hair-raising rendition of the original, it was also a turning point in Greek punk history abroad. ‘Time is a punisher, time is an addiction.’

Greek punk today may still lack a certain level of diversity, but the music undoubtedly evolved, even if rather slowly: we had thrasher skate punk, we had grungier rock, lots and lots and lots of crust and metal-influenced hardcore throughout the 1990s, and, annoyingly, too much metalcore – this explains the chronological leap from 2001 to 2010 on the tape, during which time there were many beyond-mediocre metalcore / mathcore / beatdown hardcore / “extreme metal” bands. They didn’t cross over with the DIY / political punk scene that much thankfully, which in the early 2000s was still happily riding the crust wave like it was 1996 — oh wait, that still happens!

We also have the obligatory DIS-band (noise-not-music fans should seek out GO FILTH GO’s split with BESTÖVEN), Burning Spirits-influenced hardcore like ANTIMOB and DIRTY WOMBS, and, in recent years, a return to Greece’s rich synth-punk and new wave/goth history, with bands like ODOS 55 and ERA OF FEAR (‘darkíles’ as we call them back home). We also had PANDIMIA, the most revelatory of bands for me in the late 2000s after ANTIMOB. Their track ‘Kingdom of Decline’ has lyrics which sum up the modern situation quite aptly: ‘People show you that they are happy, they’re crying on the inside, but on the outside they smile.’ Despite some drawbacks and tendencies that seem hard to break, punk in Greece remains no less political and DIY today than it was in the ’80s, with hopefully more diversity and inclusivity on the horizon. There’s no more exciting time than the present and, if the past is anything to go by, the next few years should see a boom in bands, styles and participants. I’m glad I’m back in Athens to be a part of it.

 

Until next time, stay posi, stay strong! Thanks for supporting Greek punk! For updates, go HERE.

—Οβσέσσιονιστ

Infatigables

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Hello my loves!

Cor blimey what a fantastic time I had in the UK! I went to Bristol, Brighton, Weston, Clevedon… Got high in cemeteries and drunk on champagne beer, bought a bunch of sick records, some of which I’ll jam on the next radio show… Which has now been renamed to Storm Stereo… (Yeh, I just changed it… ’cause I can!) Now I am back in Athens for a couple of weeks, taking care of some business while also trying to take it easy, finalizing some projects, turning 30 (!) with my twin sister, seeing the new French Oi! sensation RIXE at our new and improved tropical basement… The new RIXE track is banging by the way, check it out!

MRR Year End Top Tens 2015
Eagerly awaiting my copy of the MRR Year End Top Tens issue. Til then, I snapped a pic of a copy I found in the UK!

I’m also working on the second part of the Ex-Yu Special for MRR, alongside Habi from NE! Records, coming mid Spring 2016. After our Ex-Yugoslavia Special Part 1, with bands from Slovenia, we are moving on to Part 2, this time covering bands from Croatia, such as the beloved PARAF and KAOS form Rijeka! (One of the many cities on my “Punk Cities to Visit” bucket list)

When it comes to my obsession with Yugoslavian punk, PARAF was the band that started it all for me. It was the mid 2000s and a friend was getting rid of a bunch of his zines. One of them, called I believe Where The Wild Things Are, came with a CD-R comp, with something like 32 bands on it from all around the world. One of those songs was PARAF’s hella catchy “Fini Dečko” (Fine Boy). From the first strums of the guitar and the creeping keyboards I was intrigued. By the time the impressive vocalist had finished the first verse, I was in shivers!

Who was this fascinating band? Where did they come from? Where can I find more of this? (This was pre widespread internet access mind you.) I had already been on a frenzied search of all things punk, new and old, the weirder and more remotely-located the better. A decade almost went by, and by cosmic coincidence I ended up in San Francisco in 2012. While there, I got to know Habi from NE! Records, who specializes in Ex-Yu punk. Six years after that, I have just finished editing interviews with both PARAF and KAOS. And the rest, as they say, is history…

I have also just finished up an interview with Charles from Le Turc Mecanique Records, based in Paris. I’m very excited about his label and outlook, and that should be on the internets at some point soon. I’ll keep you posted. I have also been asked to guest review something by the nice people are Delayed Gratification, but I won’t give it all away too soon… 🙂

Diat Tour
Click pic for more info!

I’m hitting the road again on March 21st, as I shall be performing roadie duties for one of my fave current bands right now, DIÄT from Berlin. They’re going on a mini tour around the EU and UK, and I’ll be heading back to Berlin with them for a few days afterwards. Berlin punks, hit me up! Oh, I’ll also be DJ-ing the Glasgow show! If you see me, come say hello and tell me all about your local scene and why it rules!

To close off, I’ll share something I was reminded of while jamming NTS radio recently. Absolutely killer one-man project from France, which I first learned about while going through the MRR record vault a few years ago—fantastic stuff. If you liked QLOAQA LETAL that Metadona Records recently reissued, then check this out!

Until next time, stay posi, stay punk. The world is ours to reclaim.

 

With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

Slovenian Punk: A Brief Introduction

I have had a great deal of interest in how and why bands form under extreme political environments, and so when we decided to work on a series of special features focusing on bands active under socialism in the former Yugoslavian Republic, it was the perfect opportunity for me to dig deeper, do more research and look into what has already been written about Slovenian punk; and one article in particular was immensely helpful in understanding the historical events which lead up to the explosion of punk in Slovenia and the rest of Yugoslavia. I am not a historian, and surely history is better documented and passed on by those who made it happen, so that is what we  aimed to do, beginning with part one of our ex-Yugo series in MRR #378. The bands featured  have some incredible stories, which will surely make other punks around the world revisit their own ideas and ideals, but I figured a short introduction and some background information might help frame the greater political and social picture a bit better. Knowledge is power and we still have so much to learn.

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Tozibabe

It was 1948. WWII was over. The leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the charismatic bon vivant Tito, had just split from Stalin and the Soviet Union, entering Yugoslavia into the newly formed Non-Aligned Movement. The country’s trade depended heavily on the Soviet Bloc, and with Western politicians “keeping Tito afloat” in hopes of appeasing Yugoslavia into neutrality and weakening the Soviet Bloc, the country plunged into an economic crisis. This was ideal ground for the introduction of a capitalist economy. What followed were two decades of “liberalization” in the ’50s and ’60s (less party involvement in the economic sphere) and a decrease in personal spending due to post-war displeasure, which was in turn met by heavy promotion of consumerism by the party. This lead to an increase in spending, as Slovenian families shrunk to an average of 3.5 members per household. People were buying TVs, record players, washing machines and scooters, many traveling to Trieste, a neighboring Italian city popular for shopping.

An unplanned side effect of this gradual shift towards consumerism meant that, surprise surprise, people pushed aside collectivist social notions for more individualistic consumption-driven ones. As Gregor Tomc says in his enlightening chapter, “A Tale of Two Subcultures, A Comparative Analysis of Hippie and Punk Subcultures in Slovenia” from the book Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia, “Nobody seemed to notice how the emphasis of socialism shifted from creating an alternative to capitalism to entering into a competition with it.” This liberal economic change also brought about a rise in unemployment, which the party dealt with by opening the borders (the known Gastarbeiter), meaning lots of young people could travel abroad and be exposed to Western culture and youth styles. The results of this increased familiarity with the West is what helped the radicalization of the youth movement, and the growth of the hippie and punk movements.

During the ’50s the Yugoslav republic viewed jazz with suspicion, and it was even debated amongst top communist officials, saying that its “unhealthy outgrowths […] have nothing in common either with music or with dance” even though “it can—with its modern expressive means—positively influence the mood of the working man, his cheerfulness.” The only two recording studios were state-run and hard to get into without a record deal, which was contingent on a band’s lyrics, which were subject to the “Committee of Trash,” which basically regulated lyrics and made sure they did not oppose the party. This made access to self-expressed ideas and independent cultural media more difficult. For example, Pankrti recorded their first double single in Italy and any band that did release records made in state-owned studios had to “adjust” their lyrics, giving the art of reading between the lines a new meaning in the context of anti-authoritarian lyrics.

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92 aka Grupa 92

Something to remember, though, is that youth culture in Yugoslavia was developing in a socialist society gradually experiencing the assimilation of capitalism, while still being under the watchful eye of the Party gatekeepers, who were also having to learn how to react to, confine and/or control these new, “decadent” “imported” ideas from the West. This disapproval only made it all the more appealing, of course.

Something to remember, though, is that youth culture in Yugoslavia was developing in a socialist society gradually experiencing the assimilation of capitalism, while still being under the watchful eye of the Party gatekeepers, who were also having to learn how to react to, confine and/or control these new, “decadent” “imported” ideas from the West. This disapproval only made it all the more appealing, of course.

It is hard to imagine a life split in two the way it was for Yugoslavians: on the one hand a public life appropriate for state controlled activities (class-integrated neighborhoods, party-controlled school system, state-run cultural industry) and on the other a private, “spontaneous” life not structured by or around the official state norm (playing in rock bands, joining a commune, or being active in political youth groups). The hippie subculture was an important part of youth culture in 1970s Slovenia, as was the subpolitical student movement, which in some cases resulted in students being more radicalized that the party elite, as expressed in a popular student slogan of the time, “Communism against ‘communism.’” Western student movements were influential in this radicalization, leading Ljubljana University students to protest against dorm rent increases, the Vietnam War, Nixon’s Yugoslav visit, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, lack of Slovenian minority rights in Italy, and more.

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Hard-Core Ljubljana Complication

The student youth party was instrumental in the growth and dissemination of youth culture, and so when in the mid-’70s the state forced it to merge with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), it left a sort of void which neither the hippie culture (which bored suburban youth) nor the socialist realism movement (the dominant one until then, a mix of traditional working class culture, Soviet block art and Western “progressive” ideas) seemed capable of filling. This was the ideal time for the party to strengthen its influence and, of course, for something new to flourish in the wake of its reaction. Over the next couple of years the punk movement grew tremendously, with more bands surfacing in Ljubljana and all around Slovenia—bands like Pankrti (Bastards), Lublanska Psi (Ljubljana Dogs), Grupa 92 (Group 92), Berlinski Zid (Berlin Wall), KuZle (Bitches), UBR (Uporniki Bez Razloga [Rebels Without a Cause]), III Kategorija (Third Category)—and this just in Slovenia, not to mention the rest of the Yugoslav federation.

One of the things about punk, not only in Slovenia but anywhere where punk has flourished, is that its characteristics are not that of a subculture stemming from the mainstream. Instead, punk springs as a reaction, a counterculture. Of course this meant that, even if the societal background in Slovenia was not necessarily adverse to youth cultures (as Slovenia was one of the most developed states in the Yugoslav federation) the system, which was losing control over media during the ’70s and ’80s thanks to new media technologies, viewed them with suspicion, even confusion. So, once the party finally declared its disapproval of punk, this opened the way for increased suppression from the state police. A number of incidents occurred, but perhaps the most well-known was the “Nazi punk affair,” when a populist newspaper wrongfully assumed three Ljubljana punks, who were sporting “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” pins with swastikas crossed out, to be members of the Nazi party. This resulted in their arrest under the charges of secretly trying to start their own IV Reich(!). It was clear that punk was no longer considered to be just a symbolic threat.

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Indust-Bag

The student movement, despite having merged with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), was still a major contributing factor to the evolution of punk. The elderly party elite figured it no longer played a leading role in the political landscape and dialogue, since it was now under party regulation. However, they underestimated the student movement power and, with the help of people like P. Mlakar (a poet, philosopher, artist, book editor and more), Igor Vidmar (a radio DJ, concert promoter, political activist and more) and other members of the student movement, they supported punk by playing punk bands on the radio, promoting their shows, publishing their comics and recording their records. If Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance” is where capitalism and totalitarianism meet, then Slovene punks were having to balance the thin line between the two, stemming from the former and growing into the later. Such a system clash is ideal for the eruption of youth movements, especially one as vivid and forceful as punk. Much like when two tectonic plates collide and mountains are formed, Slovenian punk rose, growing past the police interrogations, the arrests, the censorship, even Tito’s death. It would not be wrong to say that the punk movement in Yugoslavia helped society further open up to the concept of revolution, and this is perhaps where its strongest appeal lies: in the manifestation that, yes, punk can be more than just music, concerts and records; that, in fact, punk was and can still be a powerful force of social change. In his introduction to an interview with another Yugoslavian band Pekinska Patka, from Serbia, Spencer Rangitsch says that they “didn’t just ‘push the envelope’ of what was deemed socially and politically acceptable, they also broke boundaries in radical ways which helped create new spaces and possibilities for a youth subculture to thrive.” And that sounds pretty fucking punk to me.

These is much to be said about this unique time and place, and my short introduction is by no means a comprehensive deposition of all the facts—one could fill books and books and still have more to say. This was, however, the most relevant information I found, in large thanks to the aforementioned paper by Gregor Tomc. There is probably less written about punk in Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars that followed Tito’s death, but that is not to say that it did not exist. The idea behind this Ex-Yugo Special is to learn more about how and why punk erupted in Yugoslavia under socialism, and to shed more light onto how punk survives during and after wartime. Hopefully in the process we can broaden our horizon of punk history, helping us better frame our own perceptions of it. One of the most important characteristics of punk, for me, is the realization that, since we chose to create, and thus define the culture we engage in and the life we lead, then it is also up to us to preserve and document it. I am honoured to be able to offer these pages to some of the unsung progressives of the first wave of punk, and in doing so express my admiration for their contributions to it. Ladies and germs, Slovenia.

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Quod Massacre

I have put together a shortlist of some of my favourite Slovenian punk songs. Not a comprehensive list by any stretch, as there are many bands missing, but here you go anyway. In no particular order: