There’s a super cool interview up on Tinymixtapes with Dan Deacon that was done by Ze Pequeno. I’ve posted an excerpt from the interview where he discusses the Providence music scene and how the station nightclub fire fucked up the local art scene for quite a while.
DJ Pauly D vs. Dan Deacon for Rhode Island Dance Music Supremacy!!!
Looking back now, I’ve been trying to do research on another project about Elephant 6 and all the other art warehouse collectives that were happening in that time period. And it surprises me that, of the current art warehouse projects that still remain, the only one that really seems to be thriving at this point is specifically Wham City. How does it feel, being around such a major community?
Well, the thing is, it doesn’t exist in a physical space, it’s a group of friends. But yeah, it’s great, it’s nice to see so many people are still self-identifying as artists. I think one of the main things that end an art scene or ultimately bring on its demise, are as people get older, they stop self-identifying with what they create and start to identify with the job they have. The dream fades that one day, they’ll be something. And I feel like in Baltimore, it’s a good atmosphere to not think that way. People are still self-identifying with the work that they make, it’s affordable enough where people can work jobs to make it easier for them to live off of their art, and there’s enough of an active arts community to feel like you have peers to see your work and to see new work, and to build off of that and have your work be an influence to others. I think that’s what makes Baltimore a great place to live and work for an artist.
Oh, definitely. I think the art community aspect is important. It reminds me of what happened with Providence: The early part of last decade, there was an active arts community, and then it just fell apart at a very moderate pace. And for a while after, there wasn’t much of an arts scene.
Well, they got screwed pretty hard.
Yeah they did. I mean, I grew up south of Providence, so I was quite familiar with some of the things that happened.
GSP: Where abouts?
GSP: I’m from Cranston.
Oh, Cranston! That’s cool. But anyway, they really did get screwed over. Especially, in the end, with Fort Thunder…
I’d say more so with Fort Thunder, especially after the Great White Incident. After the Great White shit went down, all the warehouses in Olneyville got vacated, and it took a long time to find a landlord that was willing to let people have shows there. I remember when Kites were coming through Purchase and they stayed at my house. They were talking about how everyone got evicted in the middle of winter and it was 80 people in live/work spaces.
I remember that! It made the news and all that. They got evicted on what was essentially the coldest night that anyone could remember. It dropped below 0 that night, which doesn’t happen in Rhode Island. But yeah, the Great White Incident definitely played a big role in that.
It was huge in the altering of the underground throughout the whole United States. That was when the Chicago scene really got reined in. Art spaces and underground venues across the country were getting screwed over by the fire departments in a very different capacity all because of a fucking has-been metal band with pyrotechnics they shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.
GSP: I could see the fire from my house.
You definitely bring up an interesting point, because that really brought things down in Providence, though things were already in decline at that point because of [Mayor] Buddy Cianci’s arrest. There was no active patron of the arts at that point to defend them.