And some noise bands have offensive names

Experimental noise musicians once again have a regular place to perform in Vancouver. Fake Jazz Wednesdays, a weekly noise night, had a three-year run at the Cobalt, until that venue closed in 2009. After a brief hiatus, the event is back in full strength, though they are now hosting the event at Lick, launching right into a five day Fake Jazz Festival in March.

But why do people enjoy listening to noise? The audience for Fake Jazz (not strictly a noise event, though predominantly so) has been growing. “The regular crowd at the Cobalt helped,” explains organizer Jeremy Van Wyck. “I think the scene has changed. There is definitely a lot more dissonant music on the airways than there used to be.”

Perhaps the success of the genre lies in the offensive band names. One Wednesday night hosted two bands called Gross Placentas and Rape Fantasy, respectively. Rape Fantasy, in particular, was a point of contention for the organizers, who decided to censor the band name on that week’s poster. In retaliation, Rape Fantasy (comprised of the lone Tristan Harling) created shirts with the band name on them. Several Rape Fantasy supporters were wearing the shirts, which upset certain audience members. One woman actually left before their set began, stating that the shirts were “completely insensitive.” 

Harling explains, “When I first decided to call myself Rape Fantasy, I knew it was offensive. My best friend was raped at gunpoint last year, so I’m not pro-rape or pro-violence against women, I just try to stir up some stuff.”

The idea of “stirring up some stuff” with their art, rather than create conventional music, is the exact attitude that the musicians at Fake Jazz appear to uphold, though in some cases it works better than others. Patrick Robley, an audience member and avid noise fan admits, “Some of this music is obviously more fun to play than it is to listen to.” 

To perform at Fake Jazz isn’t difficult, as the organizers are very open to give emerging artists a platform on which to experiment. “We try to be really open to new bands and performers,” says Van Wyck, “so that people can take their ideas and put them on stage.” In this way, Fake Jazz is facilitating the growth of the noise community, rather than setting an arbitrary standard for performers to reach before they can participate.

The music at Fake Jazz is completely free and without rules, unlike other genres that typically have to follow some kind of structure. Much like free verse poetry versus sonnets, experimental noise musicians push the boundaries of what is classified as music.

Van Wyck began experimenting with noise music as a teenager, creating feedback tapes with his friends. “We didn’t know that it was music, we just knew it sounded really fucking cool.” Thus could be said for all the acts at Fake Jazz. Nobody is positive if it’s music, but everyone sure is digging it.

Ranging from the extremely soft-spoken, to the extremely abrasive, noise musicians are as diverse as the music they play. Tristan Harling fits more into the latter category. He explains why he himself enjoys playing noise: “Its offensive and it annoys people. Sometimes I’ve cleared a room just by playing a set, and it’s the sweetest compliment I could ever have.”

For more information about Fake Jazz go to www.myspace.com/fakejazzwednesdays

//Sarah Vitet

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com