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Forbes Graham: Magenta Haze

By Published: February 2, 2010
FG: I'll answer it in three branches. First, for example, I'm a vegan; but I don't really express that in my art. But let me tell you: when I was in the hardcore scene, there was a lot of that. And so when I was there I wrote about feminism and things, but then I stepped back from that ... The other part is, if there's one thing artists could do, it is to try to improve the conditions each other is working in. An artist should try to make it a little easier for the people who come after them; or, at least try to improve the quality of the conditions the community is dealing with. That may be little or none, but they should do something.

I think one reason we're not where we should be is—playing the type of music we should be playing—is we're just not that great with organizing and coming together. And when it happens, everyone's got their narrative and sooner or later everyone kind of fissures. And I don't want to deal with everyone's ego.

Another part, I do think artists speaking out on social and political issues has helped me and in a way is good, but you can't boil down complex issues to three of four paragraphs. You have to go beyond and do research. I've always thought that the hardcore scene is like the Cliff's Notes of music. You go to a show and it's like, "OK. I've written a song about the environment." That's cool, but you don't really become a learned person because you've heard a song about an issue.

On the other hand, I remember buying a record by a hardcore band in high school, and it was about how it wasn't wrong to be a homosexual. And I've never felt that it was, but I'd never been presented directly with the idea that homophobia is wrong. So it's like, Bam! Here's this idea, now deal with it.

AAJ: But music can be free, free jazz can express freedom.

FG: Sure. Music can express freedom. Robust thought. And we've got the expression of not doing what you're supposed to do. And I don't mean that in the sense that, "I'm a rebel," but just in the sense of just what I said. People can do just what they're supposed to do, and end up shortchanging everything. And even within any given cultural paradigm, or sub-cultural paradigm—or anything—I don't want to do that.

Selected Discography

Tatsuya Nakatani/Forbes Graham, Essences (Blaq Lightn, 2010)

Jacob William Quartet, Secondary Deviations (Ayler, 2009)

Walter, Graham, Kelley, Flaherty, End Of The Trail (ugExplode, 2008)

Calliope Quartet, Musike Techne (Self Produced, 2008)

Forbes Graham, I Won't Stop (Blaq Lightn, 2008)

Forbes Graham, Everybody's Gone (Self Produced, 2006)

Forbes Graham, Invocation of a Quadrilateral (Insectfields, 2006)

Kayo Dot/Bloody Panda, (split 12") (Holy Roar, 2006)

Kayo Dot, Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue (Robotic Empire, 2006)

Interdimensional Science Research Orchestra, Tones of Creation (Self Produced, 2005)

Interdimensional Science Research Orchestra, Suns of Ra (Self Produced, 2004)

Interdimensional Science Research Orchestra, Gifts of Creation (Self Produced, 2004)

Forbes Graham, Join Me (self-released, 2004)

Forbes Graham, In The Game 2 Win The Game (Soundeternalsound, 2004)

Forbes Graham, Absolute Terror Field (Self Produced, 2004)

Pay The Price, s/t (Self Produced, 2003)

Alex Nagle/Forbes Graham, Cyan (Ricecontrol, 2002)

Dysrhythmia/Thoughtstreams, (split 10") (Ricecontrol, 2001)

Various Artists, World Hardcore Vol. 4 (HG Fact, 1998)

Amalgamation/Left In Ruins, (12") (Ricecontrol, 1996)

Various Artists, The Snowman (Pep-o-mint, 1995)

Photo credits

Pages 1, 2, 4: Lillian Schrank Graham

Page 3: Stewart Mostofsky

Page 5: Dave Fischer

All Other Photos: Courtesy of Forbes Graham

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