When December arrives, KSE will have released 18 or 19 albums in calendar year 2015 (I won’t even mention the 6-8 poetry chapbooks we’re putting out this year). I’m not someone who likes to put limits on the future—-by definition, the future should be unlimited-—however, I can promise you that we will never again repeat that feat.
Considering that I work more-than-full time ten months of each year, that I have a family life, that I am a working poet producing a significant amount of poetry each year, and that KSE financial resources are limited, it’s stunning that we can go through all the many steps necessary to release each of the 18 or 19 albums in a year….and then get them out into the world, get the artists their copies, send out review/airplay copies, promote the releases, service individual Paypal orders, etc.
Why the deluge? Well, I can see two reasons.
1) People smarter than I am probably picked up on this sooner, but when I entered my 40’s, the realization that I did not have an infinite number of days left on this planet somehow became tangible. I FELT it. When I was younger, I could piss away days or weeks on useless activities or on cheap thrills. In terms of my creative work, I could dabble in this or that with no real focus. Circa 2004, I realized that this was my only go-round and that I’d better make my move now….or I’d never have the chance. (Of course, I was also a single parent of two for 13 years, which is more than a full time job, but I won’t use that as an excuse because so many single parents are able to achieve so much, particularly in these sad, worker-unfriendly times in which we live, where people must work multiple jobs in order to avoid eviction, keep the car running, keep food on the table, and keep health insurance.)
2) We are living in a Golden Age in all the arts, but especially in the world of Experimental Music. Even a cursory look at VITAL WEEKLY or the WFMU playlists (not to mention 300 other sources) would show you that there are too many excellent releases out there for anyone to follow, let alone hear or own. In fact, I could probably create a label that focused exclusively on Austin or on Buenos Aires or on Mexico City or on Oslo and release an album every two weeks and not even scratch the surface. Imagine if you ran a small label in, say, the Memphis of 1955-56 or the Los Angeles or San Francisco of 1966-67. Wouldn’t you try to release AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE? You would have been in the thick of it, in a world where even the so-called third-string “marginal” artists were of a depth and power that NEEDED to find an audience. That’s what we face today, except on a global scale, with a seemingly infinite number of local streams feeding into the river. It’s not so much how can KSE release more than an album per month; it’s how can KSE not release more than an album per month. There is so much amazing and original work out there, and with our low-overhead business model, we can get by with small pressings and still have funds enough to issue the next album or poetry chapbook. One thing history has shown, over and over, is that the depth and breadth of the arts being produced in any period are not appreciated at the time. The over-hyped crap promoted in THE WIRE or the pretentious and derivative poetry coming out of MFA mills and their sister “small presses” will soon be forgotten (as will be the product of anyone silly enough to label his/her own work “transgressive”), but the rich veins of independent and/or experimental work UNDER THE SURFACE and produced and issued in non-traditional ways will take hold of much more than the limited local exposure (if any) they get the first time around, and intrepid arts explorers 100 years from now will STILL be unearthing important and original works and also fine-tuning after-the-fact assessments of what exactly is going on right now in the 2010’s. We’re in the eye of the hurricane. We lack the distance and perspective to make such judgments, so why even try? Better to DO, to CREATE, to bring something new into the world and send it off onto the sea of tomorrow like the proverbial message in a bottle. As bad as the political and economic and environmental situations are now, it is a great time to be alive in terms of creativity and of the ability to transform aspects of the imagination into three- (and eventually four-) dimensional creations….and ultimately creations that transcend finite dimensions. Whenever I see a baby or a toddler, I think of how his/her world will be so much more advanced than ours and how he or she will have the potential to not screw up as badly as my generation has, to transcend us on multiple levels without even taking very high of a step….how they will look upon us as primitive and provincial and stuck-in-various-ruts the way we tend to look at previous generations. However, the contemporary arts from this period will exist (those that are stored in more than digital ways or in multiple formats, that is) to provide a kind of secret cipher handed off to our as-yet-unmet comrades in the future, to help them understand and contextualize our present thinking and experience and to provide a foundation for future creative people, the way creative giants such as, say, Gertrude Stein or William Burroughs or Cy Twombly or Paul Blackburn or John Wieners or John Cage or Morton Feldman or Sun Ra or Jean-Luc Godard or Andy Warhol provided shoulders to stand on for my generation. That is inevitable and it is good and it is what progress is all about. The hills with peaks we cannot presently see will be clearly viewed and clearly mapped in the future. We need to let go and trust that future. But right now, we need to DO… and to create…and to share those creations.
That is why KSE has issued a boatload of albums this year. We cannot do that again–we’ll have a lesser number of releases in 2016–but I am glad we’ve stretched ourselves in 2015. These artifacts exist in a real, three-dimensional sense and will continue to exist in the foreseeable future. They are gifts to the present and payments to the future.
Thank you for your support. Also, as all of our releases are limited editions, usually of under 100, you’d better grab what you want NOW that it’s in print. The early 2015 releases will be sold out soon, then out of print. Check the AVAILABLE KSE MUSIC & POETRY page to the right on this blog–that’s what is available now.
We’re already making plans for 2016, which will be KSE’s 10th Anniversary, but let’s get through 2015 first….all 18 or 19 albums of it (and don’t forget those 6-8 poetry chapbooks too!).