Whether it’s Modeselektor prepping for Sonar, journalists fighting to give the music its due credit, Wighnomy Brothers coming to terms with their success, or promoters cracking under the weight of emotional strife, Speaking In Code, a new documentary bent on showing all the gritty details of daily life in the music biz, thrives on the people who create, play, write about, and promote electronic music. Boston-based director Amy Grill has been working on this film for over two years, and in preparation for its release, she sat down with XLR8R to give us a taste of what she’s learned.
Why did you choose to make an underground electronic music documentary?
I shy away from making grand statements about Speaking In Code and its purpose. A lot of documentaries have tried to justify the importance of electronic music to the cultural masses. I'm just trying to tell a good, funny, and fascinating story about people who have chosen electronic music as a lifestyle. Along the way, we might break a few stereotypes in America about electronic music.
After two years of shooting, what would you say bonds DJs and producers together?
Each of the Speaking In Code characters (DJs, producers, promoters, and journalists) have their own story–the robot builder who loves to dance, rambunctious bad-boy producers who love their moms, the techno evangelist, the inventor/electronic-music genius, the jet-setting journalist. Each character values the importance of independent music and media, and most of them see right through mass media's conceits.
What’s completely fascinating is the astonishing difference between the reception (or lack of reception) of electronic music in America, and the very rich electronic-music culture in Europe. You see those differences very clearly in Speaking In Code, through the personal experiences of people living different electronic-music-centered lifestyles.
How do you think the electronic music subculture has changed since the days of rave?
You don't as see as many crazy rave pants these days. The Internet and new technology have changed a lot of things. While I can't tackle all these issues in Speaking In Code (it is not a survey film of the history of electronic music), through the characters you'll hear and see some of the changes for yourself.
Where do you see electronic music’s future headed?
There is no clear universal answer to the future of electronic music, because there are so many [genres]. Straight techno will probably never have a mass appeal in America, but I think as interest in electronic music grows here in America, more people will come out for shows. There is a network of aging, out-of-touch bookers and promoters, and they have a stranglehold on the cultural capital. Hopefully they'll wake up and realize that they can't book sad old rock acts and epic trance forever. Electronic music in Europe is a thriving community. With the Internet, digital distribution, social networks, and viral marketing, I'm not sure “underground” exists in the same way it used to.