Headlong into Change: The Silence Industry Speaks Out

Hi, buddy, I wonder if you are familiar with The Silence Industry?At a time where most bands seek solace and dreaminess in heavy metal, these guys are down to earth with their messages, and inspiring ones at that. And their new single, ‘Headlong (General Strike!)’ is a true masterpiece – an electronic-gothic post-punk track with a clear revolutionary message in terms of music videos.

These are the native sons and daughters of Vancouver and they preach their music with passion and conviction that is similar to those protest singers and activists in the past. It’s like they are reinvigorating that cause for a new era.

Thanks to the opportunity to talk to the leader of the band, I learned what inspires them and how they create such meaningful music. We then discussed the meaning behind the band’s name, how they write and compose their songs, and his own transition from a child who just started listening to music to a musician who speaks for social justice in the present generation.

It is inspiring listening to a band who has so much to say and strive to do it while being aware of the fact that most times the world would rather let the music die. The Silence Industry is not a just an music group – they are revolution. Let me take you with me and tell you more about them and their powerful story.

Listen to Headlong (General Strike​!​)

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What is your stage name

the Silence Industry. Sometimes this gets abbreviated as tsi or TSI.

Is there a story behind your stage name?
I mean, band names are cool and coming up with them is fun. I had kicked around a couple of other ideas but these turned out to already be taken.

“the Silence Industry” made sense to me because in a way I saw what I was doing as a reaction to the way that most of our institutions around music play an active role in alienating people from their own ability to make music and in having a voice in the broader cultural space… which is to say I guess that “the music industry” plays an active role in silencing people. Therefore “the Silence Industry” would be my own voice!

Also, the Silence Industry tends to be pretty noisy and I like irony. It also has a certain dystopian ring to it, especially fitted for the depths of the neoliberal “end of history” moment in which it was born. I mean, it’s just a name, but it has meaning to me on multiple levels.

Where do you find inspiration?
Most importantly, from living. The day to day life that we’re all embedded in is the greatest inspiration. Of course I’m also inspired by the other music I hear, whether through active listening or just whatever you hear on as background noise in the shopping mall or whatever. Sometimes I get inspired by the semi-rhythmic noise of the extractor fan of an HVAC system running at work.

I take a lot of inspiration from other art forms, like photography, painting, film, architecture etc. Especially literature. I’ve probably read 300+ trashy sci-fi novels in my life and I’m sure that this has had some impact on how I write lyrics. I’ve taken more active inspiration from poets like Mayakovsky and Neruda.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
When I was about 5 years old I can recall nabbing the little brown yamaha portasound keyboard that my family had gotten for my older sister’s piano lessons, turning on the sustain and hammering out minor chords on the “organ” setting like I was JS Bach or something. It felt awesome and that is something that always stuck with me.

Managed to get my hands on a guitar at about 12 years old. It became my everything.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Sorta. Neither of my parents took the time to learn to play, but my grandpa used to hammer the banjo pretty hard. I never got to spend much time with him though. Both of my sisters play in some capacity. I think I have some cousins that play as well.

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Neither of my parents took the time to learn to play, but my grandpa used to hammer the banjo pretty hard.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
There was never much of a question for me about making and releasing music. It was just a natural evolution of where I was at. I wanted to write and release my own stuff since I was 12 or 13.

I guess the fact that punk-rock as a movement existed, and that there was this tradition of people getting records pressed and released, regardless of whether or not anyone else thought they should or whether they’d been formally trained, or could play or sing or anything like that was encouraging though.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I did have the fortunate experience of getting to take some guitar lessons as a kid, but beyond that just from messing around on my own really. I see it as an ongoing process for all of us. Actively engaged listening was part of this process of course.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
Jeez, I’m not sure I can remember… if we’re not counting things like the local highschool bands’ performance (which part of me thinks we should count, actually), maybe U2 during the ZooTV tour?

How could you describe your music?
Hmmmm… maybe Progressive-Noise-Goth?! That’s the best I’ve been able to come up with. I keep on inviting people to do better than that for me, but nobody has yet. “Somewhere vaguely between the Cure and Ministry” works as well I guess.

Describe your creative process.
I tend to write on guitar or piano. When I’m writing a structured “song” I’ll often switch back and forth several times between instruments to get it to really gel in my brain. Sometimes these days I’ll use my phone to record this just for making notes. Drum sequencing comes after this.

I find it’s good and healthy to switch up the process though. I like doing more experimental stuff and the cool thing about that is that these sort of pieces can start in any way imaginable.

What is your main inspiration?
Living life in the 21st century.

What musician do you admire most and why?
Interesting question. Do I admire other musicians? I think I admire everyone who is out there flogging their art against all odds. I also admire any musician who has either built themselves a platform or acquired one through dumb luck and uses it for good.

I admire Justin Sullivan from NMA quite a bit, now that I’m thinking about it. Fantastic songwriting. Committed decent human.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Yes. Not really through an awful lot of conscious choice. Just through the process of always being open to new ideas, new influences, and always wanting to challenge myself in various ways. This is a big part of what keeps the process fresh and exciting for me.

Who do you see as your main competitor?
I don’t see underground / alternative artists as being in competition to each other. I really value the friendships of other musicians working in similar territory that I’ve made over the years.

Our main competitors are the tech-bro barons of our increasingly techno-feudal century.

What are your interests outside of music?
Political theory. Science fiction. Martial arts (especially efforts to bring traditional wushu into the modern era).

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
Ha, I am very happy to be able to make music alongside my day job as lighting technician and stagehand.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
Not having enough hours in the day, but I’ve found ways to make time.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
More music. Less pretense

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
It presented itself from the lyrics. I tend not to have titles until a song is finished.

What are your plans for the coming months?
Getting a full-length release together. Putting that out. Writing more!

Also gonna play around with offering something like a lyric-book zine companion to the release. Still working on the details.

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
Constantly inviting friends and fellow artists to throw stuff down on tracks. A lot of the time it isn’t in ways that are obvious though. Hope to keep doing that. Always down for more.

What message would you like to give to your fans?
Thanks for listening as always! Thanks for following tsi for all these years. Y’all mean the world to me! There will be lots more.


Mister Styx
Mister Styxhttps://musicarenagh.com
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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