Welcome to my new weekly column: Banned From The Rave.
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time and a part of IHEARTCOMIX (and myself) that got away from me: Writing. Specifically speaking my mind on subjects the really matter to me. I used to keep a Live Journal for years. Later, when I started IHC, the weekly write up in the news letter was my way of talking about some of things happening around me. As the business grew it began to feel inappropriate given the context, so I stopped. Now, with this new website there is a forum for it to exist again!
I’m not looking to get back to the writing of old. No more emo journals or positive messages showered with promotion, now it’s time to say something. I feel like I have a very unique view point in the music scene. I’m as much successful as I am not. I’ve made an impact while still remaining very much entrenched in my roots. I’ve earned the respect of my peers and therefore a lot of access and to be honest, sometimes when I peak behind the curtain I don’t like what I see.
Nine times out of ten the entertainment industry is full of good people trying to make the best choices with what they are given. It can be a tough industry, often seedy, but rarely on the shoulders of one person, just on the shoulders of IT IS. It’s a giant, sweeping current of trying to keep up. The more people grow, the more money is on the line, which means the less likely people are to speak up for fear of losing it all. The more everything conglomerates into one giant corporate machine, the less it would matter if anyone said anything anyways. This is where I want to raise my hand and scream (I’ll speak more of this in a later column).
I have a very punk rock world view. It’s what informed me growing up. Punk Rock was what taught me that I could be anything I wanted in life, all I had to do was get up and do it myself. It has been an influence in every single choice I’ve ever made about anything ever. It’s taught me to be cautious, yet ambitious and risk taking. Ultimately punk rock (and the attitude that comes with it) has been the catalyst behind every major change in my life, including the start of Check Yo Ponytail.
The original Check Yo Ponytail started way back in April of 2006. I often joke that it was a party ‘born in anger’ due to it following the very public break up between myself and my then DJ partner, Steve Aoki, but the deeper underlying truth is that I was just unhappy with what things were changing into. This caused a lot of problems between myself and Steve. Two different ideologies fighting for the same pot and ultimately it lead to the split.
I wanted to get back to my roots of doing shows. While the flirtation with fame and Hollywood has always excited me, it’s never been the substance that fueled me. It’s always been about being a part of the culture and making a mark. In Hollywood I saw a lot of plastic mixed in with a lot of potential. I really wanted to do something that was an expression of all the things that had inspired me and I saw it as a way to add something to LA at a time that few others were bringing anything to the table.
I’ve always felt that if you can’t add something new to the conversation then there isn’t any point in joining in. This was the main reason behind CYP starting in the first place and why the original came to an end. The time was over. The statement we had wanted to make had been embraced on some level either directly or indirectly. The world was catching up with what we wanted to do and my interests laid elsewhere, so it was time to say goodbye.
The same reasoning was a large part of the relaunch and origins of Check Yo Ponytail 2 in 2010. There was something that needed to be said, both for the local culture and for myself. CYP2 was a statement and continues to be. It’s us attempting to say that there is a better, more interesting way to do things. That putting on shows doesn’t also mean that you have to succumb to the title of ‘just being a promoter‘. That this is an art form. There is a relevance in creating a brand/culture/scene that makes it just as important as any artist. It is totally possible to be that vehicle of change while also playing within the system.
As we are now hitting the 3 year mark with Check Yo Ponytail 2, some of these basics come back into question for me. We’ve had a great run of shows and Check Yo Ponytail over the last 3 years has existed as SO MUCH MORE than just a monthly Los Angeles party. We’ve toured the United States as CYP, hosted festival stages, put out a 7″ record and a whole line of merchandise through Mishka. CYP has been an ongoing web show on Pitchfork TV and now we are the cusp of launching a Kickstarter campaign to make a feature length documentary movie, BUT like stated above, there needs to be a reason to continue on. While CYP2 has successfully pushed the boundaries on so much, it must keep doing so and build upon those foundations it’s built. Without forward motion all becomes stagnant.
Check Yo Ponytail hasn’t been everything we’ve wanted it to be these last few months. Don’t get me wrong, the shows and the artists have been great, but we’ve been growing as a business at IHC and CYP2’s creative vision has been neglected as it’s just one of many things we do. CYP2 was never intended to be just a show, it’s meant to be a movement, even audacious, arrogant and over-the-top. Culture right now is in a constant state of motion. That’s something CYP2 needs to be a part of, so rather than retreating back into the night, it’s time to double down and lead the charge.
2014 will mean new beginnings and a new mission statement for CYP. Only big & bold ideas allowed. This is our flagship night and it will be treated as such, not just in LA, but around the whole world. Time to go big again, the conglomerates be damned.
Check out our mini-doc ‘More Than A Show‘: