Posted: March 10, 2011
Interviewed by Chris Richards, March 2010
Filastine is a Barcelona based musician who travels and performs worldwide. A former member of the Infernal Noise Bridgade andTchung!, Filastine has been utilizing music to express his political views for over a decade. His most recent album, ‘Dirty Bomb’, is currently available via Soot Records.
Greetings, Can you give us a brief explanation of who you are and what you do?
I work under the AKA of Filastine, it’s primarily a music project using electronic music, percussion, and voices and strings. Since it also involves video and graphic design, we might call it a “new media” or “digital arts” project. Some people call me a DJ, but I think they are just confused. What Goals do you have with your music and its impact on the world? To quote Bertolt Brecht: “art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” The Filastine hammer is banging out some of the ideological trusses that reinforce the trance of everyday life.
What message or messages are you trying to instill in your audience and listeners?
We are the slow-motion apocalypse. Our habits, desires, and way of life are unsustainable. It’s a smaller violence to sabotage the current system than it is to collaborate in it’s continuation.
What first led you to the decision to utilize your gifts as a musician as a tool for expressing your personal views on environmental, social, and political issues?
In this case the egg arrived before the chicken. I learned how to make music out of necessity to communicate. I wasn’t a musician who was later radicalized, but rather a radical who developed music as a means expressing himself.
Ideally, what experience or impact would an audience member take away from your live show?
I’d prefer they left with a vague feeling rather than an articulated thought. The sound and video don’t use text, so nothing in the live gig is so didactic. It’s more about deeply planting sentiments. The audience can read books or see documentaries fill up on information, my job is simply to incite, to make complacency impossible.
Do you have advice for other writers, musicians, or artists who are creating politically focused art?
The most difficult path to find is how to not insult the intelligence of some of your public, without getting too abstract or academic for the majority. It’s difficult to produce something that functions both for a punk kid in Idaho as a professor of sociology in Paris. There are no simple instructions for how to do this. I think I often fail, but it’s something I’m always thinking about and encourage other producers to consider.
What personal lifestyle choices have you made which reflect the views and opinions expressed through your music?
I’ve been loosely vegetarian for my adult life. I bike instead of drive, buy most my needs second hand, I consolidate or refuse gigs to avoid flying frivolously. Many other details of daily life that are so background that I no longer notice.
Is there any hope for success?
For the earth we’ve already permanently damaged it, but nature is resilient. Chernobyl has highest density of wildlife in Europe, just for the simple fact of being left alone for 25 years. As for humanity we’ve got to get accustomed to lives of diminishing returns. Since the time of our grandparents we’ve already seen our quality of life go down in terms of basic needs like air (dirty), water (ditto), work (precarious), and shelter (unaffordable), and that’s just speaking of the privileged few in developed world. The situation looks a lot more stark if you are in one of the world’s new megalopolis like Jakarta, Mumbai, or Nairobi, where most people live on the thin edge of survival. It’s an exciting time to be alive, the world is full of amazing people, culture is mutating faster than ever, great music, art, and social movements are springing up like wildflowers, but we are definitely, undoubtedly, wholeheartedly fucked! But that’s not an excuse for apathy, we’ve got to do the best with the situation we’ve inherited, at least minimize the injustice and ecological wreckage.
How important do you feel it is for artists/writers to communicate and discuss these topics and themes via their art and writing, as opposed to spending their time developing sustainable personal practices?
Why not do both? Everything takes time and energy, but a balance can be struck. But if a “content provider” can make influential piece of work, I’d say give the priority to that work instead of living like a saint.
Given that your music is partially instrumental, what devices or techniques do you use to communicate your message(s) non verbally?
This is where video is useful. One example, instead of ranting about big brother and the security state you can see collages of CCTV cameras, satellites, fingerprints, scanners, it’s a way for people to see reminders of the invisible networks of social control that are constantly surrounding us. Most of the live videos are like this, themes without explicit instructions. Also, I bang on and kick a shopping cart onstage, which is the kind of simple non-verbal message that any child can understand.
Thanks for tuning in, if you haven’t already, please check out Filastine and support his ongoing work: