Today the universe decided that it is time to put an what deems to be an important and interesting guest article on YIKIS: the political or non-political statements of a prominent netlabel that had been around since 2002 and recently promised (even though the owner has severe health problems) to stay at least alive for another 20 years! If interested, you can read the netlabel announcement regarding all this and its promise of a bright future for this source for free music!
Im not aware of the ancient netlabel ever revealing such a open showcase of the spirit of what’s been behind its success & long levity, but today within this guest article we are allowed to look inside the head of the netlabel owner that had been running this mothership of lobit for all these years. It also takes us on a journey through time and netlabel space, dealing with the politics and non politics of this netlabel, but also name-dropping quite some other well-interesting things.
I thought that placing this statement will give an exclusive look to what makes a netlabel like 20kbps became such a success, but also what kind of character and characteristics the person running it must have to keep this ship going and growing so passionately. I have always loved 20kbps (the label in question) because of what felt like a high playing ground for open mindedness and experiment. I never felt that the label had hate-idiology running around, if only; there had been humorist or sarcastic things to my eye and ear; coming across to me as a label that had been armed with a good sense of humor & been refraining from extremism and left or right wing politics. But I could have only felt that, as never before there had been a statement as stated down below around. More honest, deep and real you can’t possible find it. Journalists, psychiatrists, artists and future netlabel owners will probably lick their lips from this insider info!
So without comedy appeal, or absurd absurdity, but just to give us that wikileaks-feel or make that fact that fakebook calls us ‘journalist’ a bit more less hilarious; I’m happy to continue this hot bed of dipping our toes in political content of a netlabel legend. But before we go on, I wanted to make a little personal dream come true by placing for the first time an super official disclaimer! Oh look, it looks so impressive – hope it will hold up in court!
“The (Non-) Politics of 20kbps’ had been written by Origami Kapitalistika in his personal capacity.
The opinions expressed in this article below are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Yeah I Know It Sucks.”
By Origami Kapitalistika
The 20kbps netlabel started in the early 00s. Now, 18 years later, I’m placing my lobit baby into the safe hands of Jonas Santosa. He has taken over 20kbps because of my bad health and the respect he feels for my netlabel. I’m forever thankful to him for turning up in the hour of my greatest need and saving an important part of me. I’m generally a very optimistic and humble person,which makes it hard for some to imagine what hell my girl and I have gone through. Maybe I’m gonna write a book about it soon but I fear that people will not believe me. Of course, mostly because of my girl Denise, a couple of friends and my pug, Sheila, I have at the same time , had the most wondrous and enjoyable time of my life.
UBIQUITOUS SYMBOLS ONCE POLITICAL
This is an article about 20kbps and politics. Should a netlabel even have a political stance?
There are some symbols, of course, that once had a political meaning, or at least a connotation, but that are now so overused that the political punch is all but gone. So, I would never be bothered by a party flyer using some fancy hammer and sickle or a swastika on the cover art of some underground stuff. I’m thinking of Patric Catani’s notorious Hitler 2000, one of the few vinyls I think I still have. I also used the swastika myself in one of my Gert 3000 releases, in the Disco Hitler lobit ep that was released on starpause’s mp3death, a label so good, that had it existed before 20kbps, I feel noone today would care for 20kbps anymore. Well, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here, but there was some kind of battle going on between us and 20kbps didn’t always get the upper hand. mp3death btw. has not died as a label (although it was on a hiatus for some years) but it stopped being a lobit netlabel. This did hurt me so much more than if it would just have died, like so many other lobit netlabels, unfortunately. But then again, I’m happy it’s still around and that Jordan (Starpause) is liking my tweets from time to time. Speaking of this first generation of lobit labels, let’s not forget NORTH AMERICAN HARDCORE run by the glorious Seth (He has settled down now and has become a father. I love to hear from him via e-mail every couple of years or so: Hey, if you’re reading thing, please write with a picture of your daughter and tell me how life is treating you and your family. I would love to hear from you). He was kindly introduced to me through Jordan. And he would deserve his own article but this is about Netlabels and politics, so let’s leave it at that. I’m just saying that NAHC wasn’t always only #3 in in our lobit battle. With its many quality releases, it was a serious contender for the lobit crown (ofcourse, this talk is all “fun”, we’re not a monarchy and certainly don’t want to be one. Monarchism sucks, despite what a social scientist, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the discoverer of argumentative ethics, has to say about it, and for which I respect him). But there’s something I just need to tell you: my personal, favourite release from NAHC was Super Great Casio by CancerKid. Ironically, it’s because of cancer that I have to give my netlabel now to Jonas. Back then, Jonas was already around, leading for a short time his own lobit netlabel Stars in Rehab. A friend of his, Pimuri, who has promised to send something for the “new” 20kbps, had for a short time his own hibit netlabel kellerloch. On which I released my unspectacular Sylvia Saint EP. So, enough of the old times now and back to the theoretical problem. Well, just one moment: Abulia Concept also belonged to the first generation of lobit netlabels and should be mentioned as well, even if there’s no apparent reason for it. It was run by hertzcanary, someone I deeply admired, as his visual work was just as good as his music. Unfortunately, he doesn’t respond to my e-mails anymore… Hertz-Ca. —if you can hear me, please answer me
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ETHICS AND MORALITY
Is it morally appropriate for a label to make political statements? I know that we have freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of arts, etc. but I’m not asking an ethical question, i.e. I’m not asking whether netlabel runners should be penalized by the State for making such statements. I do not question the label head’s natural right to make statements as he or she seems fit. That would be idiotic. And I’m origami kapitalistika not origami idiotica.
What I’m asking is whether it is prudent to do so. If you still don’t get the difference -and I’m not nit-picking here, the world would be a much better place if the difference between morality and ethics would be properly understood –let’s take an example from my political views: I’m pro legalizing crystal meth and all other drugsout there but I’m very reserved about taking them or suggesting them to others. Being in the techno scene for over 20 years, I had a couple of joints (more than was good for me), but otherwise only legal stuff: a lot of nicotine and alc. But my consumption pattern would look very similar if all drugs were allowed. I think it’s morally wrong to consume drugs (with some exceptions: to reach a higher state of consciousness, pain relief (even if you can get a prescription for other pain meds) and religious ceremonies. But socially I’ve become increasingly conservative over the years, seeing the damage wrought by drugs. In contemplation of their lives, people would be better advised to read a book about how the economy works, rather than to seek enlightenment in narcotics.
Another example would be gay rights: I don’t see why the government would have the right to interfere with people’s sexuality, or with whom they want to marry or adopt. Only people with a serious mental deficiency would impede themselves with such questions or thoughts. But this doesn’t mean that I have to exercise homosexual practices myself or even like them, or the people who practice them (of course, I’m not saying anything here about my personal attitude towards gay people)
I know what you’re thinking now, I’ve spent way too much time explaining the difference between ethics (what needs to be, according to an absolute, universal objectivity) and morality (what someone wants to see happen, according to his or her subjective, or inter-subjective reasoning). Just tell me about a relevant political discussion where this wasn’t an issue, only 15 minutes into the exchange. If you’ll find one, just one, I will shorten this part of the text and credit you here for your heroic waste of time.
POLITICAL STATEMENTS AND NETLABELS
Having now made clear the important distinction between ethics and morality (and no, I’m not interested in what your ethics teacher has to say about this), we will proceed to the question: Is it appropriate for netlabels to make political statements? I think that under certain circumstances it is appropriate or even advisable to make political statements. For example, in the case of a political netlabel: if it would make no political statements it would simply be no political netlabel (unless their releases are very political). Take for example D-Trash, although not a proper netlabel, as they had in their past also CDr releases. They’re proud of themselves for “thrashing your world since 25 years” and have releases with sometimes juvenile, albeit sometimes likable political attitudes, though I think more so in the past, than now. Everybody grows older. It wouldn’t be a problem for such a label to publish a political statement. For some labels, their aesthetics alone imply the possibility of a political statement. Take the aforementioned NAHC, or maybe even the sweeter aesthetics of a label like dramacore (defunct in 2006) or l0bit (which hopefully doesn’t get defunct, the lobit scene needs it!).
I believe, that a label like 20kps needs to be open to musiciansand artists from all political colours (there could be exceptions to that, i.e. a non-ironic, deadly serious album where someone wants to resurrect Adolf Hitler through having sex with underage dolphins. In such a case I would have interfered, not becauseof legal concerns but for moral ones.
SO WHAT IS THEN THE PROBLEM WITH POLITICAL STATEMENTS?
There are are two!
THE FIRST PROBLEM
First, a label’s political statement associates all its artists to it. It does not matter a lot, whether you write that this statement doesn’t reflect the views of your artists. You associate your artists with a political stance and that may be something that not all of them want.
You might counter that you asked all your artists and that they all stand behind your message. This might work for a new netlabel, where you still have the contacts of all your artists, I for example, though I’m a lousy person, have the contacts from not more than half of all artists. And there’s sometimes nothing you can do. Netlabels attract younger people who often don’t make it to digital labels (or they don’t feel good in that world). When they get older, steadier, get a wife and job, they sometimes don’t want to be associated with their *wild* past anymore, so they just drop everything and become unresponsive to their former colleagues. There’s nothing you can do about it, except accept it and move on. Still, with a political statement you will lure them in again, against their will and this might create a problem for them..
But let’s say you’re a young label and still have your artists’ contacts, what could then be the problem? Again, if you’re a political netlabel everything is fine. If your netlabel has the name “KillAllJuice” and then one of your artists is “concerned” about the issue of political statements, it’s really a problem for them, not one for you. Though you may have other criticism, at best the tracks might display a very black sense of humour, at worst… well, I don’t need to tell you that antisemitism is highly immoral and that you should start working on yourself before you start a netlabel.
But let’s take a normal netlabel where you have all the contacts, and you tell me, that all of them have approved of the message. In that case, I have to make the objection that some people might have felt pressured into agreeing, possibly out of fear that you’re not going to release their next release. Is that the working atmosphere you want for your netlabel?
THE SECOND PROBLEM
The second problem is that it tends to exclude people. With 20kbps I was always hoping that everybody feels at home with my netlabel. Every artist was able to express his or her views in their releases, I think I never even inquired into the political views of my artists. Frankly, they never interested me that much. Exceptions were Adam Crammond (c4, graffiti mechanism) and Adam Sigmund (Origami Repetika). They both have tendentially similar political views with me, which gives me much joy (anything said here that is shocking is of course solely my own view and has nothing to do with what they think)
But generally, the 20kbps artists are, well, artists, and as such, they are cherished by 20kbps but if I want a good opinion on politics, I can ask someone who has studied political science, economics (preferably praxeology) and ethics based on property rights. Asking (20kbps) artists about this would be like asking economists for good music (well, to be honest, I’ve been listening to Murray Rothbard’s favourite 50s jazz artists for some time now, people like Harry James, Roy Eldridge, Billy Butterfield, Bunny Berigan, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Coon-Sanders Kansas City Nighthawks and The Wolverines and it isn’t so bad). Experiments like this can be amusing but after a while they’re not that funny anymore.
LIMITS TO MY OPENNESS
So, with one exception explained later, I remained mute on the topic of politics. I let artists express their political views on my label, but remained a “white sheet” myself, so as to not overshadow the artist. I remained calm when Bush started an idiotic war in BOTH Afghanistan and Iraq, undermined the individual’s privacy rights even more, or when he let the FED inflate so much, that the whole price signalling system stopped working correctly, ending in a gigantic bubble-burst in 2006/2007, inaptly called the subprime crisis. I remained calm when Obama started new unnecessary wars or attacked the health care system of his own country. I also remained calm when Trump made it “illegal” for some people to come to “his” country, when he put people, who have committed no crime, in camps that they obviously didn’t belong in, when he released a perverted murderer from prison just because he belonged to the military, when he “ordered” the FED to keep interest rates low, or when he implemented protectionist measures like increasing the trade tariffs. Of course, I bemoaned these facts privately, sometimes even publicly, but never as the head of 20kpbs. I see this calmness, this muteness as the role of any non-political netlabel.
I was lucky in a way, that I didn’t get demo submissions with hardcore political views unless they were meant ironically. Honestly, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable releasing National Socialist or Bolshevik Communist propaganda or the denial of the Shoah or any other genocide for that matter. But everything between these two extremes I would have felt okay with. But to explain why I draw these lines is harder than to draw them. It has to do with us being told, since childhood, and rightly so (it’s a damn shame that I even have to say this, but with all the internet-crackpots out there…), that these extremes are beyond good and bad, that they are simply in acceptable. I accept that other world views , like national chauvinism, (democratic) socialism, bellicism, trumpism, democratism with its endless legislating would or will lead to horrible catastrophes as well. Some of these ideologies might at the moment even be more dangerous than the ones we have already tried and whose tragic consequences we have already seen. So, it was simply good manners that would have kept me from releasing these extremist views, not some higher, nobler reason.
But then again, that’s okay. It’s us in a society who have to decide what’s acceptable and what is not. That’s not the role of a netlabel head.
WHAT’S ACCEPTABLE OR EVEN FAVOURABLE FOR A NON-POLITICAL
NETLABEL TO SAY POLITICALLY?
As I said before, there is one political statement that a non-political netlabel can or should make, when the times demand it. And that is, when the netlabel itself is affected. That is, when the freedom of expression of its artist is limited or destroyed. That is, when the internet is censored more and more. Also, the freedom of the press and freedom of speech are relevant to the proper working of a netlabel. These are the rights that, when taken away, or limited in any form, be it only “small”, always necessarily impede the functioning of a netlabel. This is why I sum them up under the term “netlabel rights”. There are other rights, which under other circumstances can, when restricted, have the same effect, as the restriction of the netlabel rights. For example, if there is a positive law or decree that puts an artist in prison, even though he has committed no crime and only smoked some pot to get inspiration for a release. Or if some positive law puts an artist in detention, in a concentration camp or death camp. Etcetera, sadly I could go on forever here.
The point to take home is this: If these freedoms are taken away, it’s morally the best thing to protest these incursions. I’d like to clarify this with an example from my radio-show slackjackerz that I’m running with Jimmy SL. Two years ago, there was a people’s initiative that demanded that all radio stations would be compelled to be auctioned off every three years and go to the highest bidder.
A moronic infringement of the property rights
of the owners of the radio-stations and the air frequencies. It was started by some bat shit crazy anarcho-capitalist libertarians who had either completely misunderstood Murray Rothbard, or had gotten sold out by the advertisement lobby (who could have made much money out of this). This was a menace to the “free radios” (unfortunately they became less free over the years) of Switzerland, who fulfil an important role in the otherwise boring, propagandist and state-controlled radio landscape. Our beloved Radio Station Kanal K is part of those important free radios and we told our listeners to vote no. Happily, that’s what they did, as did the rest of the populace and the fake wannabe Rothbardians were crushed.
And in those cases, when the label is under direct attack, you also don’t have to ask the artists first, because how could someone want to create (by being an artist) and at the same time be okay with someone else taking away his or her ability to create. Only a complete idiot could not see the contradiction. But what if the incursion restricts only a label mate? Couldn’t such an artist, who is not affected demand that you refrain from making a political statement? Only a complete asshole could lack the solidarity to a label mate who needs help. And because one never has to listen to complete idiots or complete assholes, one can publish a political statement in good faith
I have to say, 20kbps only once got involved with politics, asfar as I can recollect. In the early 2010s we used a twitter logo that said Stop SOPA and we blacked out our website on January 18, 2012, as did 7000 other websites who protested SOPA and PIPA.
20kbps could have been much more active, there would have been more than enough occasions. But frankly, I was simply too lazy. That was my right. And this is the right of my successor, Jonas Santoso. He has said to me once that he would like to make sure that 20kbps is there for another 20 years. It meant a lot to me that he said that. It means a lot more to me tha the’s trying it. He sees himself as a conservator. But a release here and there is what happened on 20kbps, so as a live conservator he will release something from time to time. Just this week we got a gorgeous release by Kai Nobuko.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING
Why am I writing this article? First, I found it to be very important stuff, but halfway through writing it I realized that it was merely a case of some common sense stuff being applied to netlabels. And it’s hardly going to help anyone dealing with his orher netlabel now. But nobody knows what the future is going to be like. However, if I’m allowed to make a speculation: Santoso’s twenty years will look vastly different than my twenty years. Trends can change anytime of course, if there’s a reason. But let’s face it, the internet will become a more regulated space. I first noticed it with the cookie laws. Though I think the laws are only European, a website outside Europe gets banned if it doesn’t implement the brain dead ‘Yes, I accept’-button whose sole aim is to destroy the visitor’s UI experience. Luckily, 20kbps is still too small to get banned. But it happened to the websites of some smaller newspapers I wanted to read. But I couldn’t. Not because I was in Iran or China, no, because I was in Switzerland and the small newspaper agency or their webmaster didn’t understand that Switzerland wasn’t (luckily!) in the EU. At first I wanted to write them, telling them they can take us from the list. But then I thought, we’re already so entangled with the EU, their lawyers would never go for that risk. Tough Luck! The bigger newspapers have more money and can afford their dev team spending time to solve the problem. But the cookie legislation clearly didn’t solve anyone’s problem. It’s just an annoying check box to click so that it goes away before you can access a website’s content. Since it was always clear that it would do nothing but suck and now that we have it, it is even more obvious. Why was the law put in place and why hasn’t it been repealed? Why aren’t people outraged? I do not understand my fellow internet users anymore. But something is clear to me, the lobby which made the cookie law real, knew what it was doing and why. Is it trying to bore us out of websites so that we only hang on social media sites? I know, I’m a conspiracy cuckoo, but can you come up with a better idea?
Last year was another low ebb for Switzerland’s internet freedom and the gambling community. All foreign gambling platforms got banned, simply to promote swiss gambling sites, which are much worse for gambling addicts (but who cares for them anyway, right?). I lost about 600 CHF this way. That’s not a small sum for someone who can’t work because he has cancer. There’s still a chance I might get it back. Foreign poker and sports bets providers can apply for a Swiss certificate (probably to prove that they suck just as hard as the swiss providers). And let’s not kid ourselves, this is only the beginning of a new, more controlled internet. So, while Jonas is making sure that 20kbps stays the same, everything around it will change over time, and sadly, not only in a natural, dynamic way but in a way that is more and more politically run, and not as now, economically. There might even come a time when running netlabel is seen as subversive, as something political: after all, why not present your music on platforms designed for it, like Beatport, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp (Just to clarify: I have absolutely nothing against all these services and would love to have 20kbps on them)?
Who knows what the internet will look like in 20 years from now? I’m not claiming to know the future, nobody knows it. I’m usually cautiously optimistic concerning the future. My pessimism concerning the internet stems from the fact that people simply don’t seem to give a fuck as to whether the internet remains free, they’re happy aslong as they can send and receive their dick pics, play the most stupid games on smart phones and post boring photographs and selfies on Instagram. The politicians are not aliens from another planet that have laser guns to rule us. If we would show them that we cared about the internet, we could beat the lobbies and have a free internet that free adults deserve. If not, at least Jonas will make sure that 20kbps will stay there.