Future Twin is a band you want and need to catch up with on a weekly review basis if you intend to keep up. In between their flurry of shows, singles series, numerous side projects, releases, and future projects and releases; our meetings and our conversations have always centered on trading in the DIY philosophies and causes championed by the movements of artists from San Francisco’s Mission Neighborhood, global village think tanks, an array of pop culture theorems, and being active local participants above all. Photographer Jenn Hernandez and I gathered at Thee Parkside’s picnic benches during the Vain Jane & Savage Joe Foundation benefit, where we met with Antonio Roman-Alcalá, Dan “DK” Kennedy, William Cotton and front woman Jean Jeanie to explore Future Twin’s egalitarian and evolutionary model. We began and closed our discussion with thoughts on direct activism in their beloved San Francisco neighborhood.
Jeanie: We all live in the Mission which is currently this neighborhood that is being infiltrated with money and some of us are helping to usher that in, and it’s sort of like how do you marry the forces that be, it’s a reality right? You can try and resist it, and fight against it or you can try and wield it.
Will: I mean, I’m like part of the problem.
J: I’m not saying you’re part of the problem, I feel like people like you came here with, values from New Zealand that you brought with you here.
W: I’m a first generation immigrant, and I’m just here to do awesome shit.
J: Well, tell them about Moon Base that you just made!
W: I don’t want to talk about that.
J: Okay, alright, alright, can I talk about it?
W: Let’s talk about David Bowie.
J: Okay, let’s talk about David Bowie (laughing).
Antonio: In contrast, William came from New Zealand to come here and do something with computers which I know nothing about, so whereas I’m from San Francisco, born and raised in the Mission in this kind of sense of what that’s all about and the cultural dynamics of that, and the political dynamics, and the economic dynamics, and you have to acknowledge that there are these changes and shifts in the different ways that people come here and participate and I hope that our band is about the fact that you can mesh these different things in some way that is ultimately positive and affirming of what things we care about rather than just being blasé like fuck, it doesn’t really matter what happens. People come here for a reason, they don’t come here because it’s some random place, it’s because it’s fucking rad. So we’re just trying to maintain I think our sense of what those things are that make this place worth it.
W: Music is on a different level than the rest of language. And it’s definitely a language that politics doesn’t even deal with. You can have lyrics, put English on top of music and add a political component to it but at the very root of it has nothing to do with language of lyrics, it’s this other language. A political-less , emotionless, feeling-less…
J: But also imbued with emotion is the experience of living here and there is a political pressure that happens. We have been writing new songs because we are putting out our debut album next year and I’ve been going through this eviction, a forced owner move in, no fault eviction, and that of course is going to go into the lyrics of our songs and maybe not this overt, intentional thing, it’s just sort of what I’m feeling at the time and so it will come out but I think that’s really relevant, because it’s more like a time and place, sonic anthropology of what is happening, instead of just writing gleeful, pop songs about how it’s such a summery, beautiful place. There is this beauty but there is this lurking, sort of sinister aspect but then how do you direct it back to a good place instead of throwing your hands up and saying, ‘there’s all these evil forces, I can’t do anything, I’m just going to give up.’
A: I feel like a lot of our songs even if they don’t necessarily have these overt political lyrics, the whole point is you say, write about say a friend of yours, and the dynamics of the friendship with that person and we have specific songs about past experiences but they’re about the feelings you have about those experiences so they are not necessarily political but they are about how you interact in the world and that in itself is political. For me it’s just about being in the band for the sake of the passion of the music because it’s underlying, you can have the most awesome, righteous, political lyrics that I totally relate to with some shitty ass music underneath it, and I don’t want to do that, that would be boring to me. But the whole point is that the passion comes through the music and the atmosphere of what you put around that.
You can hear that in songs like “Sara,” “Yuka”, “Summer Song” a lot of that taking the larger perspective of personal events that are happening; changes, departures, thoughts about causes. It’s curious because there are many fellow Mission dwellers that don’t have that same active response to the neighborhood and the world around it. Like your “Giving a shit is the new not giving a shit” tagline, participating in tonight’s benefit show, and recent activity in efforts to save the H.A.N.C. Golden Gate Recycle Center, the back and forth with the city’s Parks and Rec, the landowning neighbors complaining about the what the center brings…
J: It was the noise…
Or the perception of attracting ‘undesirables’.
J: Yeah, they say publicly it’s ‘the noise’, really it’s potentially other ulterior motives.
A: My point as far as William versus the idea of there being an inside and an outside and these judgments that get made about people based on stereotyped descriptions of what people are like. And people in this town there has always been this, I don’t want to say hatred, but this hesitance to change, because change is seen as a bad thing a lot of the time and it can be really bad, being evicted against your will is shitty, and shouldn’t happen to people and that’s something we should address. I just feel that everyone comes from their own perspectives and they can somehow find ways of understanding the other person, the other person they don’t share their perspectives with and that’s what music ideally can be, the thing that brings people together regardless of those surface level perspectives you have some underlying connection to it and so even if you’re not drawn through lyrics or drawn through a particular scene you’re still hopefully getting that conversation going where it’s positive or at least critical with a mindful focus of trying to understand people and not just dismiss them or not just assume that you have an understanding of the situation better than someone else. Because that’s what I have experienced, I do hate a lot of people that are new to the city, I do have a hard time understanding their values, a hard time understanding why they want to come into this city for all these things and directly displace and ruin all the things that they came here for. I don’t understand that, but then I understand that other people want to take part in that and I want to figure out a way to help them take part in that. That’s how I feel; it’s not necessarily so black and white. Like with the Recycling Center, yeah it is a class issue but then it’s also the Recycling Center has some issues of its own and has to address the issues with a large community of people. It’s not just good people and bad people; it’s not always that black and white.
DK: I feel like music is powerful. When you’re at some sort of protest demonstration, or you’re yelling at people on the other side of a police barricade, it’s difficult to empathize with your opponents and to understand their perspective. Instead, you tend to categorically ignore anything that your opponents are saying. But if your message comes in the form of a song, I personally tend to hear the music before I comprehend the lyrics, so for me, when I hear a song and I'm captivated by the music, that helps to open my mind so that I can listen to the story that’s being told by the lyrics, even if that story describes a different perspective than my own. Like, if it’s a story about an eviction, I might be a landlord and I may even be evicting people, but I’m captivated by this song and I’m absorbing a lyrical perspective that I wouldn’t ordinarily understand or relate to… and that’s the power of music.
W: I don’t want to speak for Jean too much but I feel like I know where some of her writing comes from. I’ve talked to a lot of people that write lyrics and the way that I write lyrics it doesn’t start from this language concept, it starts from the body and the heart and the sounds, the sounds have to match the attitude and the emotion and you write a melody and the subconscious starts hinting at words you know? And I know you do that, everybody does that.
J: Yeah, we have a pretty intuitive…if you’re doing it right, that’s how it should be done.
A: I know as a songwriter as well, it’s really hard to write a song about this thing. And then perform it. And you can do that, but it’s called poetry, it’s not music. You can do that but it’s not the same dynamics of when you’re starting from the feeling or the unconscious level. I feel like we go through our lives having a lot of unconscious thoughts and those are important. For example I don’t agree with William that music is apolitical, because inherently it represents whatever your politics are whether you know it or not but there is this thing about, we live on conscious and unconscious levels everyday and so when you’re doing music you’re tapping more into the unconscious…
W: All that I meant about ‘apolitical’ is that politics is conscious…
A: …and often the music process is not in that realm. And the fact of being in a band there are any number of ways you can operate as a band and those reflect the values of the people in the band even though you don’t overtly talk about it and then all of a sudden…
W: But we do talk about it by playing music!
A: But I mean if there was a band dictator, like Jean could be seen as the band dictator who decides everything about the band but she consciously does not want that to be the case, so that reflects politics on a micro level.
J: We’re a consensus based band.
W: I want Jean to be the dictator.
J: A benevolent dictator!
A: And we got to figure that shit out because we have to know what happens when we have to make decisions as a band like, who is ultimately responsible?
DK: Looking at the way we’re writing these new songs, so the way these new songs are coming about are from these jam sessions that we’re doing, and the lyrical content is subconscious because it’s coming from Jean and basically it’s the things we’ve all been going through, but her especially, and when she has some distance from it, she can see it and she can comment, like she said, on these things that are percolating to the top of what she’s saying. The process Jean uses to create the lyrics, she describes it as…
DK: Aleatoric Process.
J: It’s a John Cage term.
DK: Explain aleatoric.
J: So aleatoric is like intuitive based, chance control, it’s an offshoot from improvisation but a more intuitively based one where you’re not just listening to other people to base what you’re playing off of but rather you’re going to this space where you are more trying to tap into your subconscious so it’s more like a free for all where you’re just letting stuff come out and then we have been recording those sessions as they happen in real time, for the first time ever we’re coming up with stuff and then we’ll go back and review it, and be like okay, this is good and we develop it from there.
W: That’s the real approach.
A: What I like about the recent songwriting is that we had this one particular session where we just jammed, we didn’t play any song, we just jammed as a full session…
J: For like, 2 hours.
A: For 2 hours! And then we went back and listened, and listened and we found these parts and these feelings that we felt were meaningful sonically, but what I liked about it and this is not an approach that we decided on but it just came out organically, we have this aleatoric beginning and we have this kind of enjoyment for playing that happens and then you go back and refine it based on what we want to see happen. And then when we look at it we’re like, ‘well, William plays this rad bass, he all of a sudden was playing drums and was playing this sick, really simple drum beat’, and we said,’ that works, let’s do that and keep that’. So then it does go from unconscious to conscious but it starts in unconscious. I think if you go the other way around you risk a really forced thing…
A: I’m not trying to talk shit but I feel like I get really angry that bands that really just try to sound like other bands become so popular, because sure, I like xyz genre but why would you want to be in a band where you started off with, ‘we want to have that sound’, and all of your work is about achieving this sound that already exists.
Q: There is a real demand to your audience for participation and engagement in your music in one sense or another, “Get Up or Get Out”…
J: Which was actually written about trying to find affordable housing in San Francisco, it’s either get up, have a good attitude about it or get out!
DK: A lot of people are getting out.
J: Yeah, well, with us I feel like the four of us have a very vested interest, we’re not going to be like, let’s move to New York, let’s move to LA. Cotton’s a business owner here, he co-owns a business, DK has a pretty successful freelance career and owns a really raw warehouse in the Mission and has been building it out himself, Antonio’s born and raised here, his mom owns a house here, they’re not wealthy San Franciscans but they have been here for generations. And I’m like the newest person, or maybe Cotton and I came around here at the same time, but I came here being fully invested and participating in an active community and doing something beyond just having a job and going to the grocery store to make dinner and then going to my job again the next day. But that’s the thing, I think people do get caught up in that cycle and then my experience with playing music is that sometimes people will randomly attend a show who aren’t necessarily scenester or rocker types who are out on a Friday night or whatever and they will see Future Twin or my other band Dark Materials and people have approached me and said, ‘this has moved me in this realm of where I felt that for a long time I haven’t seen an authentic music act that wasn’t really expensive tickets, that wasn’t professional musicians but just an emerging act where someone who really didn’t have their shit together but was speaking something that meant something to me’.
At the same time there is some recognition, like with Dark Materials I think you had only put out a demo…
J: Yeah, we haven’t really released any of the studio recordings.
And here was Dark Materials opening up for Light Asylum. You all have built some real partnerships from touring with Lightning Bolt to Two Gallants…
A: We have been very lucky! (laughs) Just so far and having been in bands for hella years and just doing it on my terms with other people on this non-aspirational level it was very cool too. One of my old bands opened up for Lightning Bolt at a show 5 years ago or something and it was really cool to be able to just say, hey, we would like to play with Lightning Bolt and just to be able make it happen right off the bat.
A: Because I mean it’s a show that I would have wanted to go to anyway and we get to go for free and play for the same people we love.
J: And get free beer!
A: Yeah, yeah, and free beer…
J: And talk to them about face masks!
A: Yeah, and talking to them about facemasks, and shooting the shit, and I don’t know, I feel like for me the excitement of music is obviously the music itself and hopefully the reaching people, connecting and doing all that other stuff…
W: Those guys are like, in line with what we’re doing.
A: Right, even if musically it’s totally different.
J: They’re a socially aware art band I would say, I don’t know if I would call us an art band but we definitely support and routinely collaborate with artists that are regularly working in a socially aware capacity.
A: That’s another thing, the whole aspiration as opposed to doing it for it’s own sake where there is a figuring out of that fine line where we are just trying to enjoy ourselves and do this thing for itself but then at the same time you do want to reach people, you do want to play good shows, you know and I feel like I relate to a band like Lightning Bolt because every time I ever saw them until this time I played with them they always played on the floor and they were really conscious of this thing of breaking down this distinction…
A: Between the band and the audience and also just having this kind of punk aesthetic and just being balls to the wall-I mean, I mean I cannot believe that drummer Brian Chippendale plays like that for so long every night, you know? That’s not just dedication…
J: And then he is the most relaxed guy, so not aggressive or high strung at all you know, he’s super relaxed.
A: But that’s what I mean, the power to be able to be a force within the music and that unspoken and non-word-based kind of power combined with the personalities where you’re actually good people and you have cool shit going on outside of the band. I feel like for me I had the moment where I used to like Modest Mouse for example, and then you hear all this shit about how that guy is such a fucking asshole and it just made it really hard for me to appreciate the music anymore because I couldn’t listen to it without thinking, ‘god this guys is so egotistical.’ But I mean you commit to the thing because it has a power you can’t describe its just music, it’s just something that everyone for some reason loves, and they love different things but we all love it for some reason. But then on top of it if you can actually be a good person, I think that makes the music even better.
W: I haven’t figured out a better way to talk to people than music.
It dawned on me that even in the songs there is a transformative quality where “Landslide” takes off into a sonic rocket and “Summer Song” has these emotional moments where the keyboards and the drums do this build. There’s no singing but everything is taking into consideration the entire narrative of going places, moving places, getting a new car, driving plenty far, and you guys have no formula for it. Some songs sound ripped from mod culture and super pepped up and other times super 80s.
W: I mean, we’re not like the Rolling Stones, it’s not like we’re in London in the early 60s and we don’t have these 15 blues records we’re listening to.
J: We’re not ripping off Robert Johnson.
A: A million different things, right?
W: We’re a listening to a million different- I mean, the language of music is just crazy.
DK: We’re very blessed in this age to have so much musical history to draw from, you know? And I think this is the age where I think DJs are exploding because there is all this material to draw from and you can create your own fusion of sounds.
W: We’re like DJs but we just don’t want to have goddamned…
DK: Ha ha, right?
J: We want to make our own beats and spin…we just want to thrash! [laughs]
A: Well that’s the thing. So for me I come from much more of a Lightning Bolt-esque background as a drummer, where my previous bands were way more noisy, way more high energy, aggressive, fast, etc and that’s the kind of drumming I really like because that’s the combination of playing the song and when it locks in…
J: He likes to get sweaty.
A: I like to get sweaty! [laughs] Well, I used to call it ‘athletic drumming' because you’re working hard but there is something about it for me with drums particularly, that combination of the satisfaction of when the songs coalesces and you hear all these things happening together and it just makes sense on top of it you’re active and the physicality of it makes it an even more of an emotional experience, not so much of a you’re going to cry thing but emotional in the sense of…
J: You get goose bumps.
A: Yeah, exactly, it affects you. And that’s not why I recoil against electronic music, my brother is a minimalist techno DJ in Berlin and I’ve heard some of his music and I get it or whatever the 24 hours of dancing to techno on ecstasy or whatever [the whole band busts out into laughter], with us we’re a rock band, we might have different genres of rock music but ultimately we love that…
A: It’s very caveman in the end!
J: Not in a cave, but caveman! We do have “Bad Seed” as a song but that was after a movie called The Bad Seed. [This is a word association reference to Nick Cave and the Badseeds]
A: Good point. I don’t know, I just hope that our music could progress into more complex directions or say we could end up doing an album where we don’t just live track and we do way more textural things and stuff but that is really about you know, refining a piece of artwork into something that has more depth of character or whatever but really when we’re playing, when we’re writing songs together, when we’re practicing, when we’re playing out; it’s just that caveman thing, it’s us experiencing that joy of the playing and having that coalescing of each song.
W: It is very primordial, music is primordial, it’s pre-language.
J: We try to directly cultivate that as a band you know, to actually be a band of people, banding together and it not being someone’s hierarchy or someone calls the shots.
A: Yeah, sometimes we just take off all our clothes, and we start a fire…
J: I have recorded songs topless you know.
A: …we smoke a peace pipe, we bang on the drums, what else do we do?
J: We light some sage…
W: We watch Sports Center…
DK: Yeah, music right now, I feel that rock has, for a lot of its history, had this expectation for everything in rock to be original.
[Discourse is interrupted for the arrival of tater tots]
And, “Getting Theoretical” if you will, your collective drawing from Phillip Pullman’s work to Yukako’s art to the philosophies of ‘becoming who you want to be now’-
A: I have a story about who I want to be, I just watched this documentary that’s, what is it called, “The Sacred Triangle” or something?
A: It’s about how David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed were this kind of mutually influenced group where there is a lot of history there about how they influenced each other and I don’t know a lot of about rock history but it was interesting hearing about David Bowie aspirations about being famous. He really wanted to get something big and do it right. And he was—without really denying it or doing it in an asshole way—stealing or taking aspects from all these other people’s work—but he also brought them up with him—and it wasn’t an asshole thing. But my point was when somebody asked him about it…
J: …called him on it…
A: In an accusatory way and said, ‘you just steal from all these people’ and he said, here’s the thing, ‘I just know what to steal’.
J: He said, ‘my talent is knowing what to take’.
W: The funny thing about that is like, am I stealing words from you when I speak English? I mean we’re just speaking a language.
A: But my point is about what Dan said earlier…
J: He was copying Iggy Pop’s specific dance moves and stuff.
A: No, no, no, but here’s the thing, did Iggy Pop invent dancing? Do you know what I mean, no, he didn’t.
J: Did he invent shredding? Probably not.
A: But my point was what Dan was saying earlier that there is so much to take from that we live in an era where there is so many things you can be influenced by or take from and that’s why we are not consciously saying, we want this sound, or this sound, or this sound, but we all have our affinities and the things that sound good to us and the ideal is that it meshes together into something new. Where we are not going to claim some sort of original eternality, like we just came up with this on our own, but we are also not going to say that we are unoriginal because it has elements of other people’s shit.
W: It comes from the subjective vantage point, you know?
J: I definitely much try to cultivate an authentic sonic anthropology of documenting a certain time and place and people and that’s why I wrote a story-song about The Lockits, an all female moped gang that formed in San Francisco in 2010 and that was part of the reason this band started. But I think that’s what lends ultimately to any semblance of originality when people are authentically trying to capture in a sonic tidbit, a history of a people and so yeah, I’m just trying to write stories through my depth of experience through listening to other people in my community and in my neighborhood and my friends of what they’re going through and talking about that and that’s what people are relating to hopefully. For example, when I get e-mail from people as far away as Japan and London that are like, ‘the “Lockits” song totally spoke to me and now I’m getting a moped’, that’s really awesome.
As the road comes closer to a debut full-length, tell us about various evolutions in progress and developments.
J: Well I think a huge development has been that we’re sharing more of the instrumentality amongst people like DK, who has come forward as a masterful multi-instrumentalist who is a shredder coupled with classical piano and can come up with these amazing things. He and I started practicing together with just the two of us and we’re calling it, ‘the melodic front of Future Twin’ because we’re like the guitar and synths aspect of it.
DK: Sometimes we let Antonio join!
A: Even though I’m just the drummer!
J: And then Antonio has been writing…
W: Normally you don’t let the drummer write songs.
J: But he’s a special drummer, he’s not just a drummer, he’s a songwriter too. I lent a loop pedal to Antonio and he sat at home and wrote some really cool songs on it and brought it to the band. Now we have been working those sonic pieces out but a lot of those original guitar lines that he wrote I have been learning and so has DK; and then Will learns those certain parts and provides a counter melody to it and it just grows from there and it’s really exciting because everybody has this vested, creative input in it so everyone is getting something back out of it as far as like, ‘I am free to express myself sonically within this entity’ and it’s coalescing.
A: I do want to say that Jean is very, super modest about the fact that we all contribute and it’s true that we all contribute and I think that in terms of the direction it is going more towards this collaborative, more towards this kind of…
A: Egalitarian and evolutionary model where things are coming out as opposed to a full song that Jean has just written or something. But in terms of the force of us as a band, as a meaningful unique entity as a band it is a combination of all our efforts but it is drawn together by the unique thread that is Jean’s voice. I think that personally the reason why I like being in the band is because no matter what the sonic underpinnings of the song is that Jean’s voice will cut through it and bring that in relationship to all the other songs. So I want us to play more newer, and newer stuff and we have all these new songs and they’re more meaningful to me having contributed more than the earlier songs that I just kind of came in on but at the same time they all have the same power to me because of Jean’s voice so to me, it’s the lynchpin.
J: But my voice can really only come through in its best way if I have really sick music to sing to so you know…
A: Well of course, if there’s shitty music underneath who wants to do that?
J: But because there is this awesome musicianship that is coupled with pretty good singing…
W: By the way, we never have conversations like this about each other, we just play music, I don’t think we have talked this much ever…
A: …about the music making process.
J: But now we’re doing it and it’s great and it’s all being chronicled and everything.
DK: But I do agree that Jean’s voice is the glue that holds this band together, because what the 3 of us guys believe in the most about this band is Jean’s voice, and that it needs to be heard by more and more people.
J: Well, I did introduce them all to each other but they might have all met in their own right but I was like, hey, these guys should know each other and play in a band with me! [laughs]
A: What I feel like is basically we could develop our own musicality the 4 of us and develop and evolve as a band and come up with a whole new sound that overcomes Jean’s voice as the importance and I think that would suck. I think if it all of a sudden became a…
J: …a prog rock band!
A: A prog rock band, exactly. William I think was the one who pointed this out. He was just saying, ‘hey, we can’t be too focused on all these nit picking dynamics because it’s just too much attention paid to these other aspects we’re losing the emotional effect in this' and that comes back to there being a voice, and back to my musical upbringing: my last punk band was very, very, instrumental, it was almost instrumental and there was voice but it was almost as an additional instrument rather than a melody line and I thought it worked for us because the singer was my friend who, you know, he squawked more than he sang, it’s not like I had an ultimate faith in his capacity as a singer. So I never would want to rely on the singing in that band but in this band if we don’t rely on the singing we lose a lot.
W: We get to have a musical conversation with each other and let Jean talk to everybody else.
A: That’s a good way of putting it.
And people respond to what everybody does from comparing you to Janis Joplin or whoever and I’ve read so many different press things about what you all provide. It could be peppy rock to dreamy, timeless forward leaning sound that is completely different from another song. There are so many evolutions attributed to everybody switching up instruments and things like that, it provides all kinds of new opportunities and possibilities.
DK: I really like switching up the instruments, we’ve all played every instrument in this band, we’ve played everything and that frees us up, too, and it’s easier to not get attached to your part because it might not be your part next week you know, it might be someone else's.
J: We are practicing ‘detachment’ in our band practice also.
DK: Like Will is a fantastic bass player and he should play the bass all the time…
DK: But it is nice to have a structure that allows us to let go of our egotistical attachments in favor of the greater purpose of the song. And I think that’s what we have when we switch things up a little bit in our practices.
There is a real sacrifice of that ego and that’s what has people amazed, it’s incredible how many different responses I get from people to whom I play your music for. Even the folks that are suspicious at the very end are like, ‘okay, okay, I got to hear more’ because even though conventional tropes of music are utilized the conventions of former things that we have referred to as genre could be, might be present sure, but everything together with all the individual stories with the activism element involved it’s something that is transformative to where the music becomes even larger.
J: Honestly I would love for Future Twin to be a vehicle for a pop song and maybe with a bit of an edge. Maybe it gets somebody’s attention and they do listen to the lyrics and it does turn them on to some real issue that is happening and maybe it’s another fellow San Franciscan, there are 800,000 of us or so at this point. The song could capture somebody’s attention beyond just being another sweet, love-y pop song. A song can be really catchy but when the song is also talking about housing rights and like you said, if a property owner was listening to it in some capacity.
J: For example, when I was dealing with my eviction, the new property owners, Austin and Adam Englert, initially served the notice in a very robotic, non-human way because initially it seemed they had their own guilt, and this is me psychoanalyzing them. It seemed they were trying to approach it in a way that was devoid of their human emotions in order to feel ‘okay’ about doing it, to divorce themselves from their own conscience. Because if they engaged on a human level, they would have to have compassion and contemplate how maybe it is wrong to force people out of their home because they, these brothers, want to take someone else’s spot, a spot that is already occupied.
J: We live in a world where space to simply exist, is commodified. We are still living in the dark ages in this regard. Our society, in this regard, is very backwards. In my personal situation, I would send these brothers who bought my long-term home here songs I wrote that were influenced by what they were doing to me, forcing me to leave against my will even though I had done nothing wrong. I am in a writer’s collective and I asked other writers to write a letter of moral support for me to fight this “no-fault” eviction, that referenced me as a person who actively contributes to authentic community. I work for Blue Bear music school, I organize the Clarion Alley Mural Project and music fundraiser. I wanted to show them what an actual meaningful life can look like; later they both admitted to being isolated professionals who were really unhappy with their “jobs.” I had to negotiate with them to make them see me as a real person, not just a name on a piece of paper they can ignore. I forced them to deal with the human element of what they’re doing, and forced them to face their own guilt and greed. I changed the playing table by not accepting what they were trying to simply hand down, without engaging in any negotiation with the people (myself and my roommates) who were mostly impacted by their actions. I forced them to come correct, to acknowledge that ‘here is another human being and I have to recognize their humanity and engage with them on this level of a human to a human and respect what they are saying to me’. It’s intimidating to enter into a negotiation with people who have more money and power then you, especially if you are outnumbered, but if one arms herself with knowledge, that’s where the real power lies. It also helps being articulate.
J: On the other hand, many people go into “fight or flight” mode, and don’t want to handle the stress of speaking out against injustices, directly, to the person or group enacting the injustice. It’s really sad because a lot of voices are lost this way. Instead of people taking the time to stand up and tell their stories and engage with this “other,” people tend to throw their hands up and say,’ oh it’s a class war and I’m on the losing end so I am going to just get out of it’. But the reason I started telling this story because in the negotiation phase I was sending this person our songs, and not necessarily the Future Twin songs but a whole other project with someone that I haven’t released yet so I don’t want to talk about it too much but it’s with another musician named Matty Holt and the project is called In Waves and we just recorded an EP together.
J: A lot of the In Waves songs are about mutual respect and how to fight the dark forces with light in these sort of proverbial terms and so I sent this to the property owner saying, ‘Also this is part of what I am doing, this is the work I am doing, this is the work I am making that you are inhibiting by displacing me and potentially making me have to move to Oakland away from my band or whatever’, and they were like, ‘wow Jean, you’re really talented, I would like to come to your next show’! And by the end of it they paid me way more money than they were originally offering and I got to keep the garage on the property for another 2 months and I even had the property owners helping me move out at the end where I was directing them to put something in the garage, on the street or in the moving van and they weren’t intending to engage on this level and DK was there helping me move the whole time. At the end DK went up to these brothers and said, ‘I appreciate you as humans but I just got to say that you could have approached this thing on a much more human level and it wouldn’t have been so weirdly devastating. And they spoke to that a little bit and since then they have been more human about it. No one deserves to get ahead by walking all over other people, by forcibly taking what other people have created, like a home. It’s a home, not just a house. This is an injustice that we, as the people, have endured entirely too long.
J: The SF Bay Area has made a name for itself as a bastion of innovation, technologically and socially. We, as San Francisco Bay residents, are on the forefronts of creating the future. Decommodifying housing and space is another step toward showing the rest of America what it really means to be classy. It’s not classy to fight over territory like a brute. Come on! Get it Together people!! I really hope those brothers are reading this. Maybe I should tape it to their door like they taped my eviction notice….
J: On another note, we have some successes already, in the resistance against commodification of space, right here in SF. Future Twin is playing a benefit for the Roxie theater, the world’s second oldest art house theater, right here in SF! The Roxie became a non-profit under the stewardship of Christopher Stutton and Megan Wilson, and successfully raised enough funds to continue well into the future, despite prioritizing people and art over profits. SO there you go people, it CAN HAPPEN.
J: The benefit will be held April 5, at the Verdi Club, and will feature performances from Thee Oh Sees, Sonny and the Sunsets, and Assateague. There’s a good chance it will sell out. You can get advance tickets here (via the Roxie's website) with more info on the Facebook event page.
J: Adobe Books is fighting the same battle, against their greedy landlords, who want to make $24K a month off their property at 16th and Valencia. People who actively exploit others to make money off of them should be publicly shamed then banished, in my opinion. We’d be much better off as a society if we didn’t have so many entitled people running around leaching off of the rest of us. You can help support Adobe books this way(via Indiegogo).