Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

On Punk as Ethic Vs Genre

Some time ago, I had a song on some social media site, can’t remember which one, but I remember this comment a person left…

‘This song is not punk’.

It took me by surprise, as it was a punk song, atleast in my mind. And then I got angry.

I got angry because, well, how could a person tell me what MY music is? And then I remembered that music is, essentially, constructed in the ear of the listener. So his statement, to him, and his reality, was valid.

But to me, it was far from accurate.

To me, punk was a social group I fell into in my early teens. It was a community here in Richmond, that put out our own records, put on our own shows, and sung about what was on our minds. It was a thing we did because we HAD to do it. And for myself, and many other people I knew, it was a place to be creative, to learn to make things and value them. It was an alternative to a world where we were expected to consume; where only special people can make things, and only those anointed by some gatekeeper could have a voice. And it happened in communities all over the world: people making their OWN thing.

Today, punk’s legacy of the Do It Yourself spirit has become an ethic wider than those punk subcultures. But to me, in the way I was introduced, it is still extremely relevant to me, the way I live my life, and how I view the world.

So it is with that understanding that I, now a middle-aged person, can call what I do punk. It may not sound like the genre it grew into, but the recipe, the process, and the intention is exactly the same as many of those things that sound a certain way.

It’s the culture I belong to, and believe in.

It is my ethic.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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