GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With CONTRACULT Collective’s Svrt

GID: So, in hindsight, what are the songs you feel best represents CONTRACULT?

S: If I was gonna play three songs for somebody to give an overall vibe of what the band is, I’d say “It’s The Water” is a good one that showcases all of our strengths, “WDYT” for sure and I’d throw “Hogtied” in there too.

GID: The EP does succeed in showing all aspects of what you guys do. You have songs that are dark and brooding and then there are others that make you want to dance. And actually, you have another EP on the way. What can you tell me about that?

S: When we were searching for a producer for this EP, we ended up doing two songs with a really good friend of mine named Arthur Rizk, who’s produced Powertrip and Ghostmane. He also has a band called Eternal Champion and another called Summer Lens. He’s an all-around excellent producer, mixer, and engineer. We did two songs with him about two years ago in his dingy little studio in Philadelphia. I really liked the way they came out, but we weren’t sure what we were gonna do with them, if we were gonna try to rework them or if they were gonna go on another record. When quarantine hit, we had some time to sit back and really listen to everything we had recorded over the years, whether it be demos or samples with different people. We really felt just as strongly about those two songs as we did when we walked out of the studio the first time. So, we’re dropping that two-song EP called Follow. It comes out on October 30th.

GID: Can’t wait to hear it! Previously, you mentioned the songs you write are very personal, which can be cathartic. But when you share something that comes from a personal experience, do you ever worry that you’ve revealed too much?

S: Yeah, to an extent I worry. I will always have vulnerability even if I feel and seem unforgiving in things I say and do and the way that I am. I always have some sort of deep-seated anxiety that someone who inspired a song, or a lyric will realize it, and either be hurt or challenged by it in the wrong way. I don’t have any apologies for anything I’ve written but just like any artist, I fear being judged by it. At the same time, I try my best to be as poetic as possible because lyrics are subjective and open to interpretation no matter what they’re about.

GID: And that open interpretation lets people really connect with your music on a different level, which I think is important. Looking at CONTRACULT as a whole, the has close ties to the S&M scene. You hear it in the songs, you see it in the videos, and you’ve been very open about it in interviews, which is great. Unfortunately, it’s still seen as wrong or taboo and this promotes an open, honest conversation about it. It shows there’s a supportive community where anyone who’s interested in it can feel safe. So, why is it important to incorporate this into what you do in CONTRACULT Collective?

S: It’s something I’m inspired by. I think industrial music, in some way, whether it be rhythmically or sonically or lyrically, has always had a strong relationship with the S&M and kink communities. I’ve seen lots of bands over the years, especially more recently, trying to run with the image and utilize it and there’s no actual connection within that community. I base this off conversations I tried to have with certain members of bands that use a lot of the imagery. Even if there is internal interest, it still gets perceived and executed in a heteronormative capacity – a Christian Grey viewpoint of the community – rather than anything that’s actually yours from experience and maintaining yourself in a safe space. [The scene] is really beautiful. I’m a visual person in general, so if something sounds good and I feel like the music and the energy of the project triggers an emotion as strong as lust or submission or dominance it’s really important as a consumer and as someone who appreciates the art to have that image coincide with how the music makes me feel. Lyrically and sonically, along with the persona I like to enact on stage all kind of ties in with the S&M imagery, so that’s why it’s important for me to use.

GID: It’s awesome how open you are about it. As you mentioned, I’ve seen lots of bands use the imagery, but they don’t really talk about their involvement with the community, so it’s refreshing to see that positivity around it.

S: I appreciate that. Thank you.

GID: Industrial music never really died, but over the past few years it’s seen a resurgence. You have newer bands like 3teeth, HIDE, and Youth Code bringing it into the forefront again. Then you have established acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry still making music. Why do you think we’re seeing this resurgence now?

S: I feel there are a few primary reasons for the resurgence. For one thing, industrial is truthfully the best it’s been since its second wave in the ’90s. Without naming any bands, the genre went through a bit of a corn-ball cyber phase in the early-mid 2000s where everyone used the same samples, soft synths, vocal effects, and neon dread extensions. While there were some important genre staples at that time, it became more of a meme than a legacy. I don’t think the thirst for the sounds went away, but people grew out of goggles eventually.

Another reason for its resurgence is the apocalyptic times we’re living in. Millions of people are jobless, homeless, incarcerated, and hopeless in masks trying to protect themselves and loved ones from a deadly influenza virus while raging class war in the streets against a fascist dictator and his murderous racist militia. Can you think of a better soundtrack for the viral generation?

GID: When you put it that way, it makes perfect sense. Previously, you’ve talked about making people uncomfortable with your music– getting that visceral reaction from them. That makes me think of being scared shitless hearing Ministry’s The Land of Rape and Honey for the first time or seeing Marilyn Manson’s “Tourniquet” as a kid and getting nightmares, yet I love both those bands. Thinking about that what’s an album that made you scared or made you uncomfortable the first time you heard it?

S: The couple that come to mind are [Nine Inch NailsThe Downward Spiral] and Cleanse Fold and Manipulate by Skinny Puppy. Part of the reason I chose them is I really didn’t like them when I first heard them. Downward Spiral is more palatable than Skinny Puppy’s album, but I still think it fucked me up. It definitely fucked me up seeing the “Closer” video for the first time or even hearing that song on active rock radio. You can bleep out the word “fuck” as much as you want but you still know exactly what he’s saying.

And then Cleanse Fold and Manipulate – Skinny Puppy was always this band I just really wanted to hate. I wanted to hate it musically and hate the imagery and hate the name and everything. Finally, in an effort of I want to hate this so much and strangle the life out of it, I got ahold of the album; it was the first one I could get my hands on. I listened to it and I hated it. I hated Ogre’s voice, I hated all the electronics, I hated everything about it. I kept listening to it to hate it. Then realized I was totally in love with it. So, those two would be those kinds of records for me.

GID: The EP is out now, so what are your plans for the rest of the year? Can we expect a full-length album any time soon?

S: Yeah, we’re hoping to have a full-length album by very late next year. We’re still working on some logistics as far as how we’re gonna go about recording and talking to a few people we might work with in the future. Until then, we’ll try to release other content and see what other cool, creative things we can do in this time until we can hopefully get on the road at some point.

GID: Finally, Halloween is upon us, so what’s your go-to Halloween movie?

S: I’m definitely a big horror fan. Pretty much any genre or subgenre of horror I’m a fan of. The classics I always seem to watch around this time are Halloween, Hellraiser, and Audition.

GID: I love Audition but holy shit it’s intense. Kind of like what we were talking about with music earlier, it’s one of the few movies that gets under my skin and creeps me out.

S: It’s pretty rough! I rewatched it the other night and the needles in the eyes and all the needle stuff sort of got me, even though I like needles, but I think the part specifically [that gets me] is when she does the first couple ones in his stomach and then mounts him. She has that moment where she just slides her whole body up on to his shoulder blades. A big chill runs up and down my spine every time.

CONTRACULT Collective’s new EP, A Cult of Opposition, is out now. Stream it here. Catch the band on Cold Waves’ Season of the Glitch Festival Friday, October 30th at 8 PM CST on Twitch. CONTRACULT Collective will also appear at Aftershock Festival 2021 alongside headliners Metallica, My Chemical Romance, and Mastodon.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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