Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Big city after dark

Photos by Mike Lau (the photographer who took the badlands cover) Thats me looking like a damn fool circa 2002 in Honolulu.

Its been years since I've been called a hipster by friends I know, not by people who don't know anything about me on the internet, cuz that happens quite often nowdays getting shit on by people who I don't even know what their username is, perfectly shielded by anonymity. I'm talking about my close friends.

The first time I can recall was in 2002 when a band mate looked at my thrift store dress shirt and black tie, and said "god when did you turn into a fucking scenester?"

From as far as I can remember playing in bands from 1999 to now, me and my friends always had a name for people who don't create anything, but just like to mingle at shows and socialize, not really there for the bands either. They just dress very fashionably and have drinks and talk a lot thru out bands sets. I'm not talking about non musicians, cuz a lot of my friends were mostly photographers, film makers, skaters/surfers/tagger, etc. I'm talking about people who don't make or do anything. NOTHING. Honolulu was a very small town, so everyone pretty much knew everyone. We just labeled those people as scenesters; pretty people who talked a lot and did very little.

Fast forward to 2007 in Montreal, My friend Chris Baang who is a classical pianist by trade was having a few beers at my place, and he looked at me and said "your a hipster, Alex." By automatic association of the definition I provided above, I was furious because I had been slaving washing dishes at a crappy vietnamese/french fusion bullshit restaurant (putting shame to both cuisine culturally) and coming home and writing and recording 2 dirty beaches albums and Ep's (later released on Fixture Records) I was hauling ass, nonetheless. "did you just call me a fucking hipster?" I said, almost in shock.

In which Chris replied, "yeah, look at all the fucked up thrift furniture you have and this cool camera you found at a thrift store, your a hip guy. Your into cool shit. Hip movies that no one has seen, nothing wrong with that. Why are you so angry about being called a hipster?"

Perhaps somewhere along the line, the terms started to confuse me. What is the definition of hipster or a scenster? aren't they the same? If we are simply judged by what we wear on the surface, it doesn't even matter how hard you work on your art, but if you dress a certain way, your labeled automatically. Perhaps that's the biggest difference between growing up on a small island versus a big city like New york or LA. In small towns we knew everyone, we know what elementary school you went to, who you dated in high school, and that you played football or was on the wrestling team, and was a surfer. We know the first band that you were in. And the last. It was easy to figure out who was someone that can have a positive and inspiring presence in your life versus someone pretty that will just talk your ear off for the rest of the night. Or you can just be nice. I like nice, friendly people. Unfortunately beautiful and fashionable people are predominantly not nice.

Perhaps in this ever confusing world we live in, like many of our problems, this is merely a first world problem not even worth mentioning in the greater scale of things.

The cities that I've longed for gets dark at night, and I don't know shit.

That's a fact.


  1. sometimes I'm glad to be called anything

  2. michelle:
    sometimes its best to not think and just be

  3. 4 or 5 years ago if I called Max or LuLu a hipster in any context they would both get pissed..... hoping the word is on the wane! Dapper Dan is a good phrase tho, the h word has become pretty derogatory thru over use.

  4. I agree with your definition of hipster. I always thought scenesters and hipsters just fed off cool ppl such as yourself, so when they hang with their less cool friends they seem so fucking rad. Me, I'm a aspie with severe agoraphobia. I dont mind the term hipster being applied to me as long as it doesn't sound malicious or threatening. It's kinda like when your mom tries to be cute and calls you hipster or some shit. Some ppl however can just have that threatening tone. You can tell they are disgusted because they are jelous. That I cannot deal with.

  5. jennifer:
    you definitely raised them into beautiful people. They are probably the most unpretentious beautiful kids I know. You should really write a book on how to raise children. I would be the first one to buy that book. xo

    I never thought of myself as a cool person, but for a very long time in my mid 20's i was plagued by this bullshit elitist idea that I was better than people who didn't get my "taste" in things. I'm glad I'm no longer in that mentality. Cuz it was lame.

  6. "They just dress very fashionably and have drinks and talk a lot thru out bands sets. I'm not talking about non musicians, cuz a lot of my friends were mostly photographers, film makers, skaters/surfers/tagger, etc. I'm talking about people who don't make or do anything. NOTHING."- couldnt agree more with this idea. I also dig the photos. Brings the Seaside EP to mind.

  7. "Hipster" is a pejorative now, I guess, but it's really been so overly used and misapplied that it's lost any real meaning.

    People will label but c'mon, we're all intelligent folk here, we can all see that one word can't adequately describe an entire person, mind body and soul.

  8. Alex, first let me say what a pleasure to have found your music. I apologize for taking so long, but as with the way things work- what's done is done.
    I heard your song, "lone runner" in a surf vid on Surfline last night and I haven't been able to get enough.
    Absolutely incredible! Everything I've ever wanted to hear in music- you throw it all in. I live in San Francisco and I surf Ocean Beach. Im spreading the word about your music, and the response is magnifying. Just checking in with you, as it's been along time since i've been completely blown away by new found music.
    I'll be checking your tour dates and iTunes for your album. Sorry to kiss ass, but finding your sound has been profound. Peace out, Brother.
    Sean Slater

  9. nico, sonic youf: thanks guys

    sean: thanks brother, I appreciate the kind words man. You can stream all my past releases here:

  10. I left the country where I was born 17 years ago right after finishing a degree on Art Theory, History and Critics. I was very young at the time and everyone I knew or I studied with wanted to "create" something. I also remember many people thought that moving to another country (first world country I mean) will suppose you will do or create something incredible or at least special, that if you'd left your own country was just because you were meant to do or create something incredible, make a difference and of course you were supposed to have a girlfriend/boyfriend who was also doing or creating something,otherwise you were a looser who moved abroad just to be a normal 'unspecial' person.
    Well I quickly realized that moving to another country, and getting to know and take part of a foreign culture is quite less romantic than it looks like from the safe distance of inaction. My 'creative' pretensions never faded but just transformed into something different and I found myself recycled in a job that was at odds with the one I thought my degree will lead me to.
    Just the simple fact of moving to another country (any country) takes a lot of courage and puts your world upside down and usually things turn almost always significantly less 'creative' than you imagined when you have to pay the bills and leave your 'artistic transcendence' pretensions aside. It's so easy to put tags everywhere, as for the thrift stores, and second hand furniture or clothes, well some people gets them because that's all they can afford and then just one day all the stuff nobody wanted to keep becomes "the" trend.
    Nothing makes you more creative than lacking resources and that's exactly what gave a push to most creative trends we've seen in history; a good punch from reality.
    I think there's so many tags against too much fucking reality, specially now when information travels so fast we get bored easily and have turned so hollow we need new trends ceaselessly as we watch the world fall appart for so many people everywhere and hardly do anything to make the place any better. Let's keep in mind that not everyone has to be creative. Some people is just not aware of how inspirational their ideas can become because they're basically focusing on surviving as strangers in a strange land.
    By the way, I'm so glad something like your music exists. Something so different and familiar at the same time, made from the richness of lacking so many things and mostly having to do all by yourself. Thank you for every good time it gives me. Peace

  11. pooltrip:
    that was a very thoughtful comment, you mind if I repost it on my blog? I think it summarizes all the talk everyone has pitched in on this subject in this comments section. Thanks man.


  12. You are very welcome! Do as you wish man, wow! I feel honoured. Pleasure to meet you.

  13. I heard all that from pooltrip. I'm making music on a nintendo ds, mini amps, shoe box tape recorders,I did manage to go halves on an iPad with my gf recently which broadens the horizon slightly but shit I'm basically trying to live on 300 bucks a week and it is barely possible. I been wearing the same set of threads for 3 years. Thrifts stores are not even an option. Then all the while your dumping 1000 bucks into a vehicle!

  14. another annoymous comment, not really sure I catch your drift, but thats life dude, EVERYONE goes thru that in my friend circle. Don't bitch about it to me.

  15. i'm a little late to the party but...i find the defining characteristic of seperating creative people is those who DO and those who DON'T.

    All of the superficial, image nonsense can be appropriated by anyone. I find those who create and have the courage to put it out in the world tend to be less condescending and self-important. They don't have time for that.

    Also, the so-called hipster/scenesters tend to project themselves onto an environment rather than inhabiting it. They don't think about what a community lacks, they only think of what they, as an individual, need.