freeNRG : notes from the edge of the dance floor

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freeNRG : notes from the edge of the dance floor - AliaK

AliaK spoke with Graham St John regarding his new book about Australian electronic music community, travelling sound systems and DiY party culture.

GRAHAM ST JOHN : EDITOR AND COMPILER OF "freeNRG : notes from the edge of the dance floor" @ FRIGID (HOPETOUN HOTEL, SYDNEY)
SUNDAY 17 MARCH

"freeNRG : notes from the edge of the dance floor" is a book about music - electronic music, the sounds, and methods of creating and sharing these sounds with other likeminded individuals. It's about people, the passionate people who live on the fringe of society celebrating electronic music with their DiY ideals and also the spiritualistic insights that music can bring. It's about technology, and how technology can be used to spread ideas and keep people informed. It's about information, information that cannot be suppressed by traditional media. And it's about history, the history of one sector of the Australian electronic music community, which to this day, hasn't been documented as completely as in this book. It's a book of great importance. Anyone who deems themselves passionate about electronic music should have a read and keep it as a reference as to how electronic music industry in Australia has come about.

"freeNRG : notes from the edge of the dance floor" is an amazing book, not only because of the topics covered, or the depth and breadth of research done by the contributors and Graham St John, but also because of the amount of personal insight gained from reading the ideas of the people interviewed. In great detail, the book delves into the undercurrents of one of the more active aspects of the Australian electronic music community, their social, ecological and technology based roots and leads the reader on a journey from which their ideas may be forever changed. Each chapter includes a comprehensive listing of references which, if the reader were to follow, would lead them on new paths of discovery and knowledge.

Here is the transcript of a quick chat with Graham St John at the Sydney launch of freeNRG.

[speaker key:]
::: AliaK
>>> Graham St John

>>> I'm Graham St John, the editor and compiler of "freeNRG - notes from the edge of the dance floor". I guess the best way to describe it is the fact that it's all about how art is raised to inspire the imagination, is mobilised in the service of a cause. The art being electronic music, techno music and the various aesthetics that orbit around electronic music throughout the 90s. The causes are many - from establishing s sense of community, to intercultural reconcilement, to defending natural heritage. It's kind of an undercultural history, or a history of the underculture of the 90s, which has really been only documented in subterranean sort of formats - preaching to the converted. This is a book that hopes to reach a lot more people in the broader community.

::: Definitely, I don't think I've ever seen one written as an actual book, I've only seen articles on the websites and email lists so it's good to see. You've done a great deal of research for this work, cross-references and in-depth studies..

>>> It's a pretty solid compilation

::: How long did it take to compile?

>>> It was pretty miraculous really - it only took a little over about 14 months from conception to holding it in my hand. There`s an electronic version as well - it's also available as an e-book (pdf), so it can be experienced in an electronic format.

::: Will it have updates of future events and future studies?

>>> Well yeah, there's a possibility for a second print run as well. It's pretty uncertain territory, electronic publishing, e-book publishing, it`s never been successful in the past but I think there's an international tech-savvy readership for this type of thing and the very fact that there has not been this type of documentation of the culture of electronic music in Australia even though there's a lot of stuff coming out of the UK and their experiences there, and the States - this is the first compilation of such very inspiring stories.

::: Australia's got such a long history, such a tribal history, it seems sometimes that we haven't really delved into it as much as we could, but this book seems to do that?

>>> It does. Like I said, there's an underculture, a very vibrant thriving underculture that is captured in this book. The connection between politics and electronic music culture is the thing that`s inspired me, particularly Earthdream. Earthdream 2000 was the principle inspiration for the book