So as some of you may have noticed, I don’t post about the minutia of running Silber like I used to. In part because it has become less interesting to me & I feel in general that makes writing about it less interesting to the reader. Another main reason is the amount of negativity that seems to be surrounding pretty much everything lately & I don’t feel a need to add to the feeling of division & seclusion that marks so much of life these days. But over the past little while some stuff has been happening that I feel a need to mention. So back in November I released Baptizer’s Holy War Renewal, which is a throwback record to 1990s industrial & power electronics complete with deliberately controversial song titles & samples as you may remember from the era. During the promotion process in early December I posted about it on a local noise group & there was a comment from someone saying that Baptizer was white power noise that had no place in the community or on Silber in addition to three likes on the post. So I deleted the post. Then the guy sent me a message saying it was a hateful record as was obvious from the cover & I had a moral duty to not have it available. I sent what I thought was a pretty elegant note explaining why I didn’t believe that to be true & received no response. In the mean time I asked around to some people trying to figure out why an image of crosses 600 years old would be so vehemently met & found out it had been used by some alt-right folks recently, which I had no idea of & Jim had no idea of. Then a couple weeks later I got an email from an artist formerly associated with the label asking “is this a straight up white power record?” I said, “no” & asked if he’d listened to the record & he said “no, but I can’t see any hope for it to be anything but blatantly racist.” I gave him a list of things I thought seemed reasonable refutations to the accusation of Baptizer as a racist (working in prison to help folks get GEDs, working with minority population in ESL programs, etc.) & was told “you know as well as I do that those things don’t prove anything” shortly followed by “either Baptizer’s catalog should be removed from the label or mine.” I don’t personally like bullies or censorship, so I said if that’s what he wanted I’d take down his material. A couple of weeks passed & he wrote me that he wanted his catalog taken down, I did it that day & had the digital aggregator pull down his Silber material from Spotify, etc. last week. I told him the material was taken down & his response was he was glad I respected his wishes because hateful music has repercussions, which I thought was just speaking about karma & the big picture of life. Then yesterday he posted six posts to Twitter about “Silber/Brian” being racist & xenophobic which got a lot more traction than his average posts on Twitter do & I suppose boosted his gamification for today when he posted that he had a new release available on Bandcamp (just a coincidence I suppose?). Whatever, free speech is still a thing (even if it is only done to be personally malicious to me & my business & the community I have been trying to build with Silber for almost 25 years) & I get an attempt to gain some footing on an imaginary moral high ground to boost one’s ego. I get that there’s nothing to be done to prove against racism & that trying to would just encourage the negative behavior on his part (remember 10 years ago when it was all the rage to call me a misogynist because I did a comic with Dave Sim?). I debated whether I should mention it at all, but everyone I’ve talked to has said I should put some kind of damage control in place, so here we are. I’m glad to not be associated with a cyberbully & I’m sorry to say I was for this long & was unaware of it & I apologize for that. I was told that I should mention Baptizer’s record has performed better than those of the former artist & that I don’t believe in censoring artists on the label & that in the end no one talks about Rozz Williams, Patty Smith, or Ian MacKaye being racist though they certainly could make a case for that in the current era. Brian McKenzie of Electric Bird Noise says I should call the guy given the history & friendship we had, but I kinda feel like if the guy had any good intentions with where he was coming from & what he was doing that he would’ve called me in the first place. I tried to get in touch with some other folks that had been close to the guy & it seems a lot of people have severed ties with him in the past few years for various reasons & it just makes sense for me to bail out as well because I can’t imagine a situation where I’d feel like I could trust the guy to not try to be hurtful to me & my work again. All that said, I hope for the best for him even though I also hope to never know what the rest of his journey is & I ended up wasting the day doing my best to erase evidence of him from my digital footprint.
In other news to put things in perspective about what Silber actually is & is about, an artist called me today to tell me that he had fallen back into alcoholism & his girlfriend kicked him out & took away his keys & he couldn’t afford to go to rehab & he thought it might be in the world’s best interest if he fell asleep in a snowbank & didn’t wake up. I told him if he could make it here, he could stay here (which isn’t a great offer from 1000 miles away) & if not he should go on Priceline & find a hotel with a heated pool at an affordable rate & call me tomorrow to let me know what’s up.
So yeah, that’s my day on top of my day job & trying to be a good dad.