High and low

EoIpso: Does art have to be elitist to be valuable? And isn't that belief characteristic for High Culture and thus a counterpoint to what the whole Punk and Independent movement originally was about?

DPQ: I certainly don't think art has to be elitist to be valuable. This point crops up because the most popular music tends to be the most easily consumed and that which requires the least effort on the part of the listener. It's no more elitist to argue that a lot of people who casually listen to music are less well-informed than it is to argue that a dental surgeon probably knows how to fix my teeth better than I do. I think that High Culture and Punk do have some things in common, probably the things that matter the most. They are both attempts at the same goals, just with different social backgrounds and with different drawbacks.

EoIpso: You have art exhibitions on Punk culture these days and Vivienne Westwood at the Victoria and Albert museum, so you're probably right.

DPQ: After a while, all culture gets swallowed up into the huge melting pot. Things that were originally regarded as being opposite end up being combined. And that's a good thing in my opinion. The current age is always the age with the most influences and work to draw upon. It can take a long time to sift through it all, find the good stuff, but we continually have a richer and richer cultural heritage. It may make it more difficult to find new areas to explore, but it also provides a vast amount of material to become inspired by and use as your starting points.

EoIpso: I have to say the whole separation into High Culture and Low Culture seems rather outdated anyway, as the contrast has often been overdrawn and gets more and more blurred, not least thanks to Avantgarde artists who have never felt comfortable in either camp. Would you agree?

DPQ: I certainly don't feel comfortable in either of those camps alone. It originates from the notion of a class system which is definitely becoming more and more blurred in the West. There is of course quite a stark difference in the mentality of those traditionally associated with one camp or the other. The smug over-intellectual, self-satisfied and moneyed High, and the aggressive, penniless and dissatisfied Low. It's a distinction concerning social status or power, personal comfort, and satisfaction. But they are just two extremes of the same axis, and most people that I know are very much inbetween the two.

If I had a lot of money, then Suilven Recordings would be wrongly regarded as High Culture, because of the avantgarde and intellectual elements. Since I don't have any money at the moment, Suilven is seen as a genuine independent label, if pretty powerless and ignored in the wider scheme of things. Being seen as part of the "Low" camp gives you more credibility, since it requires so much more perseverance to reach a larger audience and make a proper success out of it.

EoIpso: Aiming for street cred to me is just an excuse for not having own ideas.

DPQ: I'm not saying it's a good thing, rather that it's how such things are perceived. But I think there is something to be said for when hard work pays off under difficult circumstances. You can appreciate successes more. You can run out of steam more easily if you're too financially comfortable. It's something you should avoid if you ever get to the point where you could have it, because it can have a destructive influence, creatively speaking. I think that's why people like Mike Oldfield are never properly regarded for what they've done. Great music, particularly his early work, but he had too many advantages that most listeners would never have. So there's an immediate resentment which is totally justifiable.

EoIpso: Since your music and the record label don't earn you any money, how do you make a living?

DPQ: I stand around at an art gallery in Edinburgh with a variety of unusual characters, mostly a lot older than me. It's popular with people who are descending into retirement and want to top up their pensions a bit. It's a security job, not well-paid at all. One benefit is that it is about as far away from a career as you can get, which is ideal because I wouldn't want to have to feign interest in some field other than the music. And there are far more interesting people working there than you would ever find in a conventional office job. It's the kind of thing a sitcom should be written about. That said, it does take its toll after a while.

Epilogue: And all lived happily ever after, allegedly...

(rh 10/MMV, pictures suilven, undiscovered scotland, and dr. les savage)

>> Suilven website

Forthcoming album "Don't Look Down", a collaboration between Daniel Patrick, DAC Crowell, and Kurt Doles

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