SAFE CRACKERS presents FUTURE DAYS 2: Sci Fi / Krautrock / Trip Hop
- Oliver Payne interviewed by Eleanor Bleier, July 2015
Eleanor Bleier: I’ve been reading about your work and it seems to me that a lot of it deals with finding parallels, and one way Ethan put it, obsessive detail hunting. This interested me in regards to Future Days and your screening of AKIRA, so I want to hunt some of these details. I read an article where you said of your video game references that they are ‘articles of low culture,’ do you feel similarly about Anime/Manga informing your work? Have you read the AKIRA manga or are you content with the film?
Oliver Payne: I never read the entire Manga to the end although I’m aware of the differences between it and the Anime. I was lucky enough to see the astonishing Katsuhiro Otomo GENGA exhibition in 2012 in Tokyo. 2,300 pages of the original Manga was displayed in 100’s of vitrines in a vast room. Alongside replicas of Kaneda’s Bike and Jacket. To me, AKIRA is so much more than the story, characters, and ideas contained within the narrative. The film is an explosion of lights and drums and color. It has a pulse that runs through it that you feel on a physical level. It’s a total body high.
Anime will often contain super interesting ideas and create remarkable tones – Steins Gate, Serial Experiments Lain, Neo Genesis Evangelion, all the work of Leiji Matsumoto are some examples. But I am mainly drawn to Anime for the color, the light, and the editing. There is nothing like it. Again, see Neo Genesis Evangelion. Mecha anime has the best edits, cuts and wipes because everyone is talking from inside a robot but all the action happens outside the robot. A few lines of dialogue between 4 or 5 mech pilots can have the screen spliced into 8ths whilst everyone is shouting and everything is exploding and you are thinking ‘what the fuck is going on and why can’t everything be as mad as this ?!’
EB: AKIRA is set in 2019 – only four years from now. It would be cool to do a screening that year also. What other past versions of the future interest you? I think I remember hearing something about this year being one of the years referenced in one of the Back to the Futures. Do you feel like some media ‘predictions’ are more interesting than the future we live in today?
OP: I have fond memories of how the future used to feel. And yes, I am particularly disappointed that the fashion predictions of BTTF 2 are nowhere to be seen on the streets of 2015. I was more excited about Double Ties than I was about Hoverboards. Some depictions of the future can set us back. Minority Report has temporarily committed us to ideas about floating, gesture controlled interface for many years to come. Totally lame and impractical and super tiring to impersonate a conductor for hours.
Imagine if there was a film from the late 80’s or early 90’s that, beneath its fun adventure plot, contained alarmingly accurate depictions of our current time – the Post Era Era, where everything is switched on all at once, forever. In this film, humans are Ubering and instagramming, same sex couples are getting married all over America and you can buy skunk weed down at the shop, we have incredibly powerful mini computers in our pockets and we use them to play Candy Crush Saga and swipe left…
Steven Spielberg is confirmed to direct a film adaption of Ready Player One, the debut novel by Ernst Cline. Spielberg is the only person on earth that has a chance of successfully doing this.I genuinely believe that the release of this movie, if timed with the consumer availability of Virtual Reality from Oculus, Valve, Sony and Samsung, will completely change things and most likely, forever.
It seems extremely silly to think a movie could have major cultural impact in 2015. And positively insane to propose it could alter the course of human kind. But if VR is here and it fulfills its promise, it could be the disrupter that the internet was. But in order to make that shift that the internet made – that is, to go from a bunch of networked computers that most people assumed they had no need for to a completely connected world of information that uses more energy than all the worlds air travel, I think VR will need the helping hand of multi million mega blockbuster 2 hour advertisement.
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone in the world will see the movie and then buy a VR headset, but I think some people, probably a really massive number of people, will see it. If Spielberg does a half decent job of realizing this virtual world – the Metaverse, or the Sprawl, or, as it is known in Ready Player One, the OASIS – that will inspire enough of those people to want to make VR a place that everyone will want to be.
EB: You said about punk music, ’[…] there’s no real way to engage with it collectively. You can only engage with it in an individual way.’ Do you think this applies to Krautrock, Trip-hop, etc? I’ve been listening to Tago Mago alone in the basement of 356 while writing this. What’s the effect of this music, and also a screening an anime film, to a group of people as opposed to listening/watching in solitude?
OP: Well, it’s about creating a discussion and proposing an idea. Most of my work is about creating parameters and hopefully allowing something interesting to happen within them. Although, with my zine Safe Crackers, I’m more about simply sharing my love of certain things and just taking a moment to publicly give props to something for being so wicked. I don’t have a mission statement with Future Days, i just wanted to experience the atmosphere created by playing drum centric music by far out young Germans in the 60’s and really stoned bedroom producers in the 90’s, whilst watching trippy bold visions of future from the past. Hopefully others can draw their own conclusions about the similarities and links between these mindsets that went into the studio to create these ambitious , idea driven , very human and very danceable movies and music. But none of that is even really necessary to enjoy getting high and watching AKIRA then nodding your head to DJ Shadow.
EB: In regards to things to watch in solitude- have you seen the recent Krautrock documentary that Noisey did? I’ve been meaning to watch it – I heard the guy from Rancid narrates it. What are your thoughts?
OP: I have heard about this but I am yet to watch it. Noisey is that thing that Vice magazine do, right? yeah, not sure about that…The Rancid dudes, on the other hand, I have no real problem with. They are probably nice guys. I think some early skateboard videos would definitely lose something if the Operation Ivy songs weren’t there.
EB: What do you think about how these genre terms like Krautrock and Trip-hop can be blanket terms for music that varies in sound from one to the next under the same name? This parallels/can also be said for the entire genre of sci-fi, with general overlying themes of space/future. Space music could also be another umbrella term.
OP: Genre titles can obviously be super limiting. I like Space Music. That sounds like the sort of thing that would be written on an early Mo Wax 12″ – ‘Space Music For Dusted Headz’ .One very direct similarity between Krautrock and Trip-Hop is that neither genre really, truly exists. They are total media invented terms .
Whilst Krautrock has always enjoyed critical respectability and has never fallen from favor, history has not been so kind to the dusted beatz of Trip-Hop and it remains to be a deeply unfashionable type of music. However, 7 minutes into a certain particularly cosmic bass and drum loop , most folk would be hard pressed to answer if the repetitive funky out-there break beak was coming from San Fransisco, Bristol, Munich, Hamburg, 1968 or 1998.
EB: Also worth mentioning that when I was looking up a more definitive definition of trip-hop, Wikipedia suggested ‘See Also: Chill Out Music.’ Have you done or are planning to do any more Chill Outs in the near future? That event here, as well as your exhibition Shadow of the Colossus / In a Landscape here at 356 were both meditative experiences, but screening a movie like AKIRA seems like it will provide a more out of control/kinetic energy. Is this what you had in mind?
OP: I have done Chill Out in Detroit, Milan, and Rome since then and am always looking to take it to new places. Despite what I think about AI, Nanotechnology, and Immortality – I don’t think I will live to see a day when mankind won’t need to be told to just chill the fuck out. Chill Out is an important, spiritual event for me. Amongst may things, It says, hey – me and you don’t know each other but lets both turn our phones off out of respect for one another and let’s all be present in this moment, together.