InSoc Interview: Redundantly magazine.

InSoc Interview: Redundantly magazine.

Music has always been an art form almost everyone
can relate to. I think we all have been brought back
nostalgically via a musical reminder to a lost love,
forgotten moment, or a time when things were profoundly
different. With our modern age of mega-corporations music
has become a vital part of the commercialism associated
with those gods of capitalism. Consider the lyrics to a
song by Information Society written in 1983 called Bacchanale:

"In an age of video wallpaper and aural anesthesia, music has become a prostitute. No longer is it a gift from the gods; it has become a pacifier, a tranquilizer, and a tool. A tool to protect us from loneliness, to entice us to buy, and to keep us from seeing how bad things have become. At one time, music was a vital experience. It was physical, emotional, almost religious. Today music is just one more device used by the new sun king called civilization to control itself."

Kurt Harland, of Information Society, graciously agreed
to grant Redundantly an interview. Information Society is
a platinum-selling band known for their hits What's On
Your Mind (Pure Energy), Walking Away, and Peace & Love, Inc.

Redundantly: What inspired Information Society?

Kurt: Television, Advertising, American suburban culture, Kraftwerk, The Residents, Gary Numan, DEVO, Fad Gadget, D.A.F., Yello ..

Redundantly: Has success changed *your* views of music as an art form?

Kurt: Ummm...... I guess. Well, not my ultimate philosophical perceptions. Just my habits and preferences have been influenced. I think I listen to a broader range of music than I would have if I hadn't been in a band (That's not necessarily good) and I get sick of things faster ..

Redundantly: Growing up in Minneapolis, why did you turn to music?

Kurt: Uhhh.... does that mean "Considering the fact that Minneapolis is lame, how did you manage to do music?" If so, I agree that Minneapolis is pretty lame, but there are a lot of people doing music there. I think that since the "scene" there is so small, and everyone knows everyone else, everyone in it is trying very hard, and very much influenced by what others are doing. Once 5 people start a band, EVERYONE wants to start a band. It seemed to me at the time that there wasn't a single person who went to the shows at the 7th St. Entry who wasn't in a band themselves. It was like, 400 people all going to each others shows. We weren't included in that, though. We were geeks, and the people who came to our shows never went to the club EVER except to see us.

Redundantly: As an art form, is it being accepted by the public more or less since you began writing and performing in the early eighties?

Kurt: Is what being accepted? Synth music? Synth music did an end run around being accepted. Or should I say, it dug a tunnel under the wall. "Synth" music became the "MIDI recording industry". You now hear it in every single second of music for television and advertising you ever hear. It defined pop music in the 80's, without ever becoming "accepted". It has become ubiquitous without becoming accepted. Obviously, there are more ways to be accepted doing music with electronic instruments now than there were in 1982. But at least back then, no matter what you did, at LEAST people thought it was weird and unusual. Now, you really have to concentrate on the musical content whether your sounds are interesting or not. I guess that's good. In the early days of any new phenomenon, a lot of low-grade stuff gets attention just because it's among the first. Look at Art Ot Noise.

Redundantly: What is your favorite art form and why?

Kurt: Music. It is the only form that defines small bits of time so meaningfully. Storytelling (movies, theater, etc.) does this, but on a much larger level. Only music can give wonderful meaning to a 30- second period of your life.

Redundantly: Having seen the ins and outs of the music industry, how well is music respected by the players behind the scenes? Is music treated as an art or as a product?

Kurt: Well, the music really isn't the issue at a record company. The issue is keeping your job. The turnover rate at record companies is so staggeringly high, and arbitrary, that the foremost thing on everyone's mind who works there is how not to do anything that might draw unwanted attention, followed closely by how to attach your name to something that is already a proven winner. "The music" has to squeeze into the 23 remaining brain cells...

Redundantly: As seen with Geffen's merger with Spielberg and Katzenberg, music is becoming a big player in all forms of entertainment. Almost every major movie released now comes with its own soundtrack of "inspired" music. The most popular Broadway shows have become big budget musicals. How do you see the proliferation of the music industry across these boundaries affecting it? Does it expand or dilute influences? Does it prostitute it? What is happening?

Kurt: Well, it's true that all the entertainment industries are getting better at marketing band's music (as opposed to music made specifically for something else) as a commodity, but they'll never tame the beast. Entertainment companies hate dealing with bands because they change so fast and unpredictably that you can hardly pin the situation down long enough to profit from it. Besides, there is still no solution to the obvious problem that music made by a band for the purpose of being listened to on your home stereo is rarely appropriate for a movie. The only recent functional example I can think. of is in the new Batman movie...

Redundantly: What do you see in the future of the music industry, both personally and globally,?

Kurt: I see an increase in the diversity of music, Mainly because new high-quality, CHEAP recording gear is available, and because the Internet is producing new ways ot selling records when you don't plan on selling more than 5000 copies. The big record companies are. as usual going to not get it, which will lead to a continuing crop of new indie labels who understand how to produce a record for $10000, sell it on the Internet, and make a small profit. Eventually the big companies will buy these small indies, just like they always have. The big companies let people go out and figure out the new stuff for them, and then absorb this new knowledge into themselves.

Redundantly: Do you have any regrets for choosing this line of work?

Kurt: Yes. Computer programming was a close second. If I hadn't gotten VERY lucky with music, that's what I'd be doing. Programming is actually very creative.

Redundantly: What influences you as an artist the most?

Kurt: Other music, my own feelings, television...

Redundantly: And finally, is *all* music art?

Kurt: Yes.