GET FAMILIAR: SCREAMO LISTENING SESSIONS
This Get Familiar is powered by New Balance on the eve of the release of the New Balance 990v3 on Friday, November 5th in-store at Patta Amsterdam and Patta Milano.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and let us know a little bit about what you do?
My name is Marvin Schippmann and I am living in Amsterdam. I grew up in the North of Germany (near Hamburg) and moved here to study about 8 years ago. Six years ago I started an internship at Patta and got the opportunity to stay on - and I am still here, specialising in the field of production & logistics. Patta, their mentality & values - played a huge role in my decision to move to Amsterdam and being a part of their family, it feels a bit like a dream come true. More recently, I also got the opportunity to host a monthly radio show on Echobox - a new online radio station based in Amsterdam. The show is called Screamo Listening Sessions and I am trying to take listeners on a little journey through fractions & facets of a genre that I am very passionate about - yet is often perceived as discomforting by others.
You have quite a deep archive, how long have you been collecting for?
I started collecting - or rather cherry picking - screamo records a little more than three years ago - but to be honest I wouldn’t refer to myself as an outstanding collector compared to other’s extremely comprehensive collections and knowledge about this genre. Back then, I also thought that I had a good idea of what screamo was & is until I went deeper and it hit me. Nonetheless, I agree that my own collection might be quite deep as in specialized, but it still consists more out of fractions than being representative of the genre as a whole. I guess that trying to make my collection more “whole” turns me into some form of an uncommon collector after all.
What were the first tapes or records that you remember really hunting for and what was that experience like?
Quite exhilarating, although I have to admit that I am buying the majority of my records online - but still from either the bands, small / independent record stores, independent / DIY labels or private people / collectors. Growing up in the countryside of Northern Germany was quite isolating and there is little to no access to physical record stores - apart from large multi media outlet chains. For me, the internet became & still is a crucial point of access to music and subcultures in the “real” world. The first records I really hunted for were copies of the “early” Jeromes Dream. Especially their split 7” records with bands such as Usurp Synapse, July, Amalgamation were records I got extremely excited about once I actually managed to secure copies. During the research for the show, I am also discovering a lot of old music new for me and out of the sudden I find myself hunting for records that I didn’t know existed before.
Do you still have those “grail” pieces?
Yes, I do. There are even a few more pieces in my collection that are personal grails, but I feel like there are even more grails, I wish to be a part of my collection. In the end, I am trying to hold myself in content and accept that I simply can’t have them all - not even starting to talk about space or money or greediness. Regardless, having something physical, long-lasting & “somehow '' special of a band / project / label & people that one admires is still a nice way to appreciate music - especially if you get to share it with others in my opinion.
Do you collect music to hold on to (to hoard) or do you play most of the music you get?
Definitely play it. The radio show actually started with the motivation to share & listen to my collection with others instead of just keeping it to myself. Furthermore, I also never buy two copies and try to avoid buying music in multiple formats. For me the focal point is the music, not necessarily the format. I admit that I prefer vinyl over tapes - and I still love tapes - but this wouldn’t be a reason for me to get a vinyl version of music I already have on tape.
The “vinyl revival” has been a journalistic buzz term for the last 2 decades but how do you feel this resurgence in people collecting cassette tapes will pan out?
Nowadays, a lot of record releases are reminiscent of hype sneaker releases - and copies sell out within seconds. As mentioned, it’s quite exhilarating if you succeed in getting a copy, but a lot of times demand is drastically exceeding the limited supply - which leaves many empty handed. I guess that this is part of the beast that the vinyl game has become.
Personally, I am very happy & supportive about the revival and hope that this is giving artists & DIY labels more ways & means to put out music & potentially eat of their art. At the same time, almost every rise is followed by decline sooner or later - and I am worried about the time to come that people lose interest, move on to the next thing and let an industry crumble behind their backs of which they expected to deliver to their high & rising demands in the first place. Regardless, I hope that the revival will keep a steady & organically growing momentum - despite material shortages and backed-up production not helping and even putting the revival in jeopardy. Especially the DIY community is struggling due to already very little means to put out music in the first place and other well-funded labels trying to skip the queue at pressing plants by paying more. I guess we will have to wait and see what the future holds. All I can & try to do for now is give the musicians and the DIY community as much support as possible.
Wow, so you’re part of the first wave of creators on the Echobox platform, how did this come about?
That’s true, thank you - but I guess the timing was right. For about 15 years, I have been frequently going to live performances with special interest for punk, hardcore and metalcore, but I have always been more of a nerdy fan than actively involved in the hardcore / screamo community - and never played in a band myself or booked / promoted shows. Yet, the music & DIY culture evolving around it have always fascinated me and even influenced the decisions that ultimately brought me to Patta - who share similar DIY mentality as the hardcore & screamo community and also value passion, authenticity & people over [max.] profits or fame. Although I had never dared to actively do anything music-related (apart from dancing)
I often fantasied about ways to express & share my passion for music with others - in particular emotional hardcore & screamo. So, when Echobox made an open call for people to pitch their ideas for radio shows - I just took my chance and still can’t believe that they actually gave me the opportunity to do this show.
And is this your first time doing radio?
Yes, this is my first time doing radio. As a teenager and prior to proper internet access, the radio & metal mail order catalogs were my first introduction to rock, some (popular) punk & heavier music. Basically, rock channels on the radio introduced me to heavier music and inspired me to explore its various styles. As mentioned, I grew up more in the countryside and had to drive by car to get anywhere, listening to the radio in the car. I am humbled to be part of Echobox as one of their radio makers who all share their passion for music with others, (potentially) introduce them to the unknown and even inspire them on their musical journeys.
Your style is very unique, it reminds me a lot of college radio aesthetics from a pre-internet era and the curation features a lot of very deep cuts. Is the show made with the purpose to get people to go find out more and you just give them the map?
Thank you, but it’s unintentional. The show is from the perspective of a nerdy fan with amateur knowledge about doing a radio show (myself) - who tries to provide well researched info for more context and discovers a lot of things along the way - which he also tries to squeeze in. By sharing the things that I know and come across during my research, I try to take listeners with me on a (thus far rather subjective and personal) journey through a genre that I am very passionate about and am still discovering new facets of myself.
Thus far, it’s just me - but I also want to make the show a platform for other people who were and / or (still) are actively involved in the DIY hardcore & screamo community - by featuring interviews and guest starrings on the show. This way, listeners and myself are likely to get even deeper insights into the facets of a genre that is touching very personal as well as extremely discomforting topics - often requiring extra context by the people who are making the music in order to fully grasp its meaning (if such as a thing should even be possible).
Screamo Listening Sessions is a very informative show, you take the time to really explain and contextualise the music that you play - it's plain to see that you really love the music. What do you appreciate most about these genres that fall under the umbrella of “Screamo”?
I appreciate the genre for its sincerity, revolutionary politics and boundary breaking approach most of all. There is something very earnest & pure about screaming at the top of your lungs in combination with self-reflection & intellect plus a whole soundscape performed by a band / group of people - making it somehow even more meaningful to me. Similar to the genre emo, the genre has an introspective yet doesn’t solely occupy itself with introverted thoughts and feelings, but portrays these in context with external factors such as socio-cultural and political issues. The genre stresses the relevance of expressing discomfort, especially if its cause evidentially originates in the unjust actions of others and foremost affects more than just oneself.
However, listeners often seem to easily neglect the genre as a desperate cry for attention, but if acknowledged as a form of last-resort / a final attempt to get people listening - this music expresses an urgency and hope for change which very few genres are able to. By practicing this style / making this music, musicians allow others who are willing to listen - to identify with them and / or investigate topics touched in their music on their own. The genre manages to raise awareness, build alliship and give a degree of comfort for those sharing these emotions and knowing that they are not alone - trusting that we can make it through life together and actually achieve some change.
What was your entry point to discovering a heavier sound?
As mentioned, earlier listening to the rock channels on the radio and going to live performances were my first entry points to discovering a heavier sound. Once I had proper access to the internet, myspace was an incredible source for various heavy subgenres of music, ranging from mathcore to cybergrind and far beyond.
Nowadays, social media platforms still play a huge role for discovering old & new music - but I can also highly recommend checking out Bandcamp and Hate5Six. The latter is an incredible media platform, founded & operated by Sunny Singh - who has recorded 4500+ live performances and shares them to create avenues for bands & audiences to discover each other.
During lockdown, the thing that I have missed the most is the live musician. Being in a room with a real drummer or an actual vocalist. Can you explain to someone who's never been to a punk show what the atmosphere is like seeing a group of musicians collaborate on a live performance?
This is a tough one. To be honest, I have to admit that the first times were a bit intimidating at the start - but once the music is playing there is nothing else.
Suddenly, you don’t care and even embrace being squeezed with strangers in a small, dark and (most of the time) grimy basement - getting drenched in sweat and bruised whilst trying to keep your head afloat in the mosh pit.
Especially these DIY show basement shows hold a very special place in my heart for their intimacy that couldn’t be trumped by the most extravagant pyro technique a large stage could be staggered with.
So yeah, they are magical in their own weird ways and I wouldn’t want to spend another year without them.
In your last show, you played a band where one vocalist was known for not even using the microphone in their live shows - what was this band called because that to me was a really stand out record from the inaugural 2 shows that you’ve played so far? Do you know any more stories about this era of 90s hardcore bands that really separate them from their post punk and grunge counterparts?
The band’s name is Jeromes Dream, who I mentioned earlier. Their early style definitely stood / stands out and made them one of the screamo pioneers (before anyone - not even them would call it “screamo”).
There is definitely a lot of interesting info about this time. Most noteworthy that this style developed without the internet back then and the DIY scene was a proper peer-to-peer endeavour. Having heard stories, I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to organise a tour and get to know other bands and labels to release music with. Another aspect that is interesting to mention is that the 90s had a strong focus on politics which became less and less in the mid 2000 to late 2000’s. Nowadays there is resurgence of politics in screamo - as the rise / revival of the genre can also be linked quite clearly to the extremely tense political climate in the US whilst socio-cultural issues have not improved & creating even more urgency / frustration to actually affect change - one of the driving forces & motivations in / behind screamo.
To get a glimpse of the influence of socio-cultural, economic & political climate on the genre in the US over the past two decades, I can recommend to check out this article by Alexander Rudenshiold who also plays in bands such as Infant Island & Mattachine.
What is the contemporary screamo scene like? How important is physical music sales for these bands that you have been supporting on your show?
To be honest, I feel more like I am observing and looking from the outside in - so I can only judge this to a certain degree. As far as I can tell, very little screamo bands can actually eat from their music & art - so putting out physical copies of your music is most of the time not for profit per se - but rather to embody their music / creative expression, allowing people to connect with it and share it even beyond the bands existence. A lot of the bands that I have played on the show thus far are not active anymore and they only profit to a very little to no percentage from physical record sales (at least not if purchased from private sellers / collectors on Discogs) - except it’s a re-issue the band is actually involved in.
There is a promotional value involved in physical copies, especially when it comes to limited runs. However, in this genre it feels more genuine if people put out a limited run of 25 DIY tapes or lathe cuts (a substitute format in place of vinyl due to mentioned shortage) that is not making any profit - but offers them another medium (next to their music) to creatively express themselves in various forms (layout, graphics, texts, etc). People / listeners have a way to show the band / project their appreciation and even if it seems “just” like a small gesture - it’s still a very personal gesture because this genre often touches on very personal topics. This way listeners can even affirm that they identify and / or support the bands’ / project’s message. A physical copy allows Listeners to engage with the music to their liking (on their terms) and even share it further with others (I am not talking about or promoting piracy here - especially not for profit.
Of course, a lot of this can be & is achieved through digital music formats, but I personally engage on a deeper level with music I am listening to on physical formats in comparison to digital ones. In the end, nothing comes close to experiencing the music performed live in the same space as oneself.
Where can people find more from the Screamo listening sessions online?
The show is aired live on echobox.radio at 8 PM (CET) every first Thursday per month. The next shows will be on the 04th November and 02nd December 2021 - so feel welcome to tune in then. Previous episodes were recorded and uploaded to mixcloud and you can find here.
On my IG account - you can also follow up on latest announcements and find pictures of the records that were played on the show - including general release info and lyrics for a bit more context. Hope you dare to get familiar.
Marvin Schippmann wears the New Balance 990v3 which will be available on Friday, November 5th in-store at Patta Amsterdam and Patta Milano.
Artwork by Robbie Smith
Photography by Piet Oosterbeek
Styling by Tirino Yspol
Words by Passion Dzenga