The ethnomedialogue podcast is dedicated to the critical exploration of media narratives in the digital age. The primary goal of “the ethnomedialogue” is to investigate power and representation in media–specifically the structure, scope, and the ideology of media narratives. I like to call it media with a capital “M,” or “mediology,” really it’s the study and analysis of specific aspects of media narratives, as well as how and why those narratives are created, used, and exchanged. I’ve been interested in the gap between where culture is performed and where it is defined, and I think in our present world, media sits in the midst of that gap where it represents the primary mode of control over the articulation of “Culture,” broadly interpreted, and subsequently our (various communities’) connection to it. I began the podcast just before the pandemic, and have released four article-style episodes thus far. I plan to continue as I have the time to dedicate to this work.
Published in print, 2019 (and online in June 2018), The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation is an edited volume comprising thirty-eight chapters from contributors working in regions all over the world. This collection highlights studies exploring sonic repatriation in its broadest sense in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The volume provides a dynamic and densely layered collection of stories and critical questions for anyone engaged or interested in archival work and repatriation projects. Its chapters constitute a body of thoughtful explorations that demonstrate through contemporary examples how negotiating ownership of and access to sonic heritage crosscuts issues involving (and challenges assumptions regarding) memory, identity, history, power, agency, research, scholarship, preservation, performance, distribution, legitimacy, commodification, curation, decoloniality, and sustainability. These examples set a precedent for musical repatriation, while also problematizing the historically transactional nature of returning archives. The Handbook explores these interdisciplinary streams and provides a dynamic space for critical analysis of archives and musical repatriation.
This recording project was the culmination of a creative collaboration between myself, the band Rhumba Kali, and two East African artists: Hassan Rehani Bitchuka, one of Tanzania’s most beloved rhumba singers (JUWATA Jazz Band, Mlimani Park Orchestra), and Damascus Kafumbe, a well known Ugandan musician and composer who works in several traditional string and percussion idioms. This project is unique because it documents the (re)union of two of rhumba’s African subgenres (Tanzanian + Ugandan), which have developed separately over the past fifty years. I had the pleasure of working with Bitchuka and Kafumbe, arranging many of the songs on this album both old and new, and injecting my particular blend of electronica into the mix. My partner, Jaime, also performed vocals with us on two of the tracks. The album won best world music title on WVFS in 2015.
Human Skab is the brainchild of Travis Roberts, is a proto-grunge, psychotic, post-apocalyptic, hardcore, punk-rock blues band based in the Pacific Northwest. This film tells the poignant story of this band and its front man who led the group as a young child since 1986, accompanied by his siblings, friends, and cousin Frankie. The music that they created and recorded in the late 1980s as a result of the boy’s adventures and creative explorations gathered a dedicated following in the cassette underground. After two years of making music, life caught up to young Travis. He finished school, grew up, and joined the army, serving as a soldier and contractor in Egypt, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Rife with amazing synchronicities, Travis’s music, both old and new, not only provides a powerful creative vision of American society, but offers a wealth of insight to present politics, “outsider music,” life as a war veteran, and personal healing.
A selection of my scholarship in articles and reviews can be read in the following peer-reviewed journals:
—The Journal of Anthropological Studies
—Foundation for Endangered Language Proceedings
—Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
—The British Journal of Culture, Health, & Sexuality
My dissertation explores a Bakhtinian approach to genre and musical-social interaction, and the ways in which they serve the invention of various categories of identity, as evident in the milling frolic, a social musical gathering where people celebrate their cultural heritage through the singing of a body of Scottish Gaelic songs, while reenacting a labor tradition. The genres consist of an ever-growing and ever-changing repertoire of songs that ebb and flow in a continuum of music that perpetually reinvents and rediscovers concepts of tradition. Bakhtin observed that people communicate through genres—contextually defined and articulated expressions that negotiate perception and interaction. I further this notion in that, beyond a simple taxonomic classification of varying styles of music, genres constitute the communicative framework through which all musical-social distinction is made relevant. If language is one type of communicative social interaction, then Bakhtin’s literary genre model can be applied to other social interactions in the same theoretical sense; specifically with music and other performative social situations, genre is a pragmatic link that brings together text and context, form and function, performer and audience—genre networks—in varying hierarchical dimensions of both communication through music and speech utterances about musical experience and reception.
Industrial music was born in 1976 in London, England with the creation of Industrial Records. Originally, “industrial music” referred to the musical output of the label, which included a variety of experimental, electronic, often noise-oriented compositions, altered instruments, and music-accompanied performance art. The first artists that recorded at Industrial Records were Throbbing Gristle, Non (Boyd Rice), Cabaret Voltaire, The Leather Nun, Surgical Penis Klinik, and Clock DVA; each sharing a similar anti-bourgeois rejection of mainstream culture and social order. Since those early days (often deemed the “first wave,” 1976–c.1982) industrial music has come to represent any underground electronic music either directly tied to or influenced by Industrial Records as well as those musicians who share in the cultural and musical aesthetic of industrial. This thesis examines the elements that comprise this broadly-encompassing music genre, the influence it has had throughout history, and its current concepts and practice in order for a well-informed and contextually working definition to become evident. It is a look into the history of industrial music since its inception three decades ago, as well as a genre-based approach to music.