Daniel Abecassis - taken byJoan Teixidor

DIY OR DIE: DANIEL ABECASSIS Q&A

Daniel Abecassis - taken byJoan TeixidorFrom promoting underground music in Denmark and beyond, to organising the first DIY death and doom metal festivals in Europe, Daniel Abecassis’ passionate and ethical approach to the music industry keeps him busy. The man behind the awesome Kill-Town Death Fest, new festival Heavy Days in Doomtown, and the recent Sonne Adam European tour, caught up with ZT to discuss Doom, Death and DIY.

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Hi Daniel, tell us who you are and what you do

My name is Daniel and I’m part of the collective that organizes Kill-Town Death Fest. I’m also part of another collective that organizes “Heavy Days in Doomtown – A DIY Celebration of All Things Slow And Heavy”. Both festivals are organized through the organization “Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme”.
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What is Undergrundsmusikens Fremme and how did it start?

“Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme” is our legal front if you can say that. We chose to organize ourselves in an association in order to be able to deal with public institutions and to be able to interact in the political cultural debate. Our aim is create a higher awareness of DIY and its potential as a self-organizational tool. We aren´t a political group as such, but we try through our events and happenings to inform people about DIY and spread the ideas behind it. We are currently negotiating with the City Council of Copenhagen on a number of issues and we hope to be able to create change in some of the cultural policies. We have no idea if this will lead anywhere… And we don´t have much faith in politicians so this is just an experiment. We will see where it takes us.

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What is it about DIY that you are so passionate about?

Well it’s the ultimate form of concert organization, duh!?! No, we do this because we are passionate about the music and the culture and not to make a living out of it. So we aren´t in that sense professionals even though we are getting pretty good at this… Most of us have been involved in the DIY punk scene/community for many years and grew up on this form or way of organizing shows and events. We thought it would be an interesting experiment to try to spread these ideas out to other genres of music and that’s how KTDF and now HDDT came about.

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As a political and ethical approach to music DIY offers parallel structures to the mainstream corporate music industry. DIY paves the way for bands that might otherwise have no chance in the corporate music industry. This structure embraces all bands and gives them an equal chance to be heard, record and publish their music. This is the way that crappy punk bands has been tormenting the world for decades now and we think all bands should be able to do that! Fuck the corporate music industry – we can do it ourselves!

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We realize that there is a downside with this way. It’s very hard getting old in these structures, because at one point musicians get tired of investing a lot of energy and money into being able to play. Plus, eventually you get tired of eating pasta, sleeping on dirty mattresses and playing on crappy equipment. We would like to be part of changing that. We are still just paying the bands travelling expenses, and not any fees, however we will do our best to make their stay and performance as good as possible. We will have good equipment, great catering and nice accommodation. But the bottom line for us is that music is a passion and you do this because you love to play or organize gigs and not to make a living out it. We respect people who do, but we chose not to.

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Do you think it’s possible for organisations or movements similar to “Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme” to start in other countries?

DIY is not a Danish phenomenon… It’s very international. We as an association hope to inspire others in other regions of Denmark and other countries to pick up on this organizational approach and start doing it themselves. We believe that strong parallel structures to the corporate music industry will not only benefit the bands, but also the music listeners. As mentioned earlier, the punk network is extremely strong and you can hardly find a European town where you don´t have punk shows somewhere. We think other
underground musical genres should start to organize themselves this way to get out of the rehearsal space and into the international arena.

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You also manage Kill-Town Bookings. How do you think the recent Sonne Adam tour went?

I think it went really well! Most shows were pretty well attended and we had a fucking good time on the road! I think the Israelis were mind-blown by seeing and playing Europe like this. This seemed like a really big thing for them. I’m glad that I could be part of doing that for them.

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On to your newest endeavour. What prompted you to start Heavy Days in Doomtown?

The idea to start Heavy Days in Doomtown came as a result of Nikolaj and I’s hangouts, we would talk a lot about music, DIY and about how much Copenhagen sucks… Both of us are very passionate doom freaks and listen to a variety of slow music. Nikolaj is a musician and I organize concerts. Nikolaj was interested in starting to do shows and then the idea came up to do a festival
that was organized in the same way as KTDF, but with a much wider musical approach. Then we called for an open meeting and invited a bunch of people from Copenhagen that we thought would be interested in organizing such an event. In the end we ended up being a collective consisting of 5 people; me, Nikolaj, Emma, Natalia and Karin. So far we are a pretty well-oiled machine when we work together.

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For those who don’t know, can you tell us what Heavy Days is about?

Well HDDT is as far as we know the very first DIY doom/sludge/stoner festival in Europe, maybe even in the world… At least it’s the first of its kind in Denmark and in the history of Denmark… HDDT will be a 4-day event taking place from May 3rd to May 6th, 2012 at 3 different venues/places in Copenhagen. We will start off with a warmup show at the alternative venue Stengade. That venue hosts metal and doom shows on a regular basis, so we chose to kick the fest off there. On the Friday and Saturday we will move to the main venue of the fest, the infamous Ungdomshuset known for its many years of being one of the main focal points for DIY punk  in Copenhagen. There we will have 2 days of music, art, events and madness! The majority of the bands will play there on two stages playing simultaneously.

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On Sunday we will move our activities out to a cool-down, chill out Sunday in Copenhagen’s free-town, Christiania. We are working on a number of ideas for this day, but we haven´t sorted that out quite yet. We want to do concerts at two different venues (one in the afternoon and another at night) and besides that have an outside acoustic concert plus movie screenings at Christianias cinema “Byens Lys”.

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Musically we don’t want to be delineated by one specific genre, but rather on the contrary move around in a wider field of musical genres, such as doom, sludge, stoner rock, psych, heavy rock and more. You will see that when you look at our lineup so far.

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Our goal is to bring exposure to Scandinavian and international underground bands, as well as promote Do-It-Yourself culture and ethics to areas of the rock-world that usually aren’t exposed to these ideals. By doing so we intend to create a concrete alternative to the corporate music industry and create an event that will gather music enthusiasts across borders from near and far.

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What does Heavy Days offer the festival goer? How does it differ from other festivals?

We will give you a hell of a good time! This will be the first edition of this fest, so it’s hard to say what will be the outcome, but if we should look at KTDF and the experiences drawn from that, then the guests can expect some very nice well-attended concerts with good sound, lights and a very chilled out atmosphere with a very dedicated international crowd. We are very much dependent that people will travel here from the rest of Scandinavia and Europe because the scenes in Denmark are not big enough to pull off such an event. We expect this to become quite big, looking at the amount of attention and band requests we have received since we announced it less than a month ago…

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Which bands are you most excited to host at the fest?

Well, we have booked all the bands, so we are very excited about all of them… But of course there are a few I am personally very proud of being able to host. Among them are of course UK doom legends Pagan Altar! I think its amazing that when you have been playing music for all these years that you still accept playing and supporting small underground initiatives like ours. And they have been so cool working with us on this. Much respect to them for keeping it DIY!

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Some of my other favorites would be Worship from Germany since I’m a huge funeral doom fan! Also Griftegård from Sweden, Procession and Burning Saviours are all regulars on my turntables! Devil will be a blast too! But overall I think we have gotten a pretty tight lineup together! And there are still 10 more bands to be announced, so look out for more great names in the coming weeks… I’m actually really proud of what we have achieved so far, coming more or less from scratch…

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What is the Scandinavian doom scene like?

What scene?!?!? Hahahaha…! Well we are based in Denmark and here its very small and a very limited amount of people and bands around. There are some pretty cool things happening here though; worth mentioning is a guy who does Doomed Denmark. He sets
up a lot of good stuff mainly at the venue Loppen in Christiania. For bands there are few good established acts like Baby Woodrose, Dragon Tears and Spids Nøgenhat. But also some newer fresh blood like Moonless, Bottom Feeder, Torchlight, Sinister Creation, Double Space, Rising and Whelm. As for Sweden, Norway and Finland you better ask someone from there about how the scenes are like. But musically, I think Sweden and Finland speak for themselves! Those countries keep spitting out so many amazing bands all the time!!!

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Tell me about it! Speaking of Scandinavia, are there any upcoming tours Kill-Town Bookings have planned?

Yes, we are currently working on two tours; A tour in February with Funebrarum (us) and Undergang (dk). The tour will be called “Dead of Winter Euro Tour 2012”. We will be on the road from February 11th to February 26th, so look out for announcements on that soon! The  tour will be Funebrarum’s very first European tour and it will be promoting the second album of Danish Undergang called “Til Døden os Skiller” out on Xtreem Music February 2012. We will also do a split tour 7” in cooperation with Czech label Doomentia in a limited edition.

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The second tour we will do is a Disma (us) / Undergang (dk) summer tour in 2012. This will be a joint collaboration with Dutch Doomstar Booking. We haven´t really stared on that yet, but it will most likely start in late June and continue to mid July. We hope to hit some of the metal fests around Europe at that time.

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Are there any developments or announcements for Kill-Town 2012?

Yes, we almost have a complete lineup booked! We are just awaiting the last confirmations and then we will start announcing the bands. This will hopefully happen in mid-December. We are working on launching a new website with next year’s theme colour, green… Hopefully this site will be a bit more user friendly than the last one… Look out for updates and band announcements on our Facebook or HERE.

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Pre-sale of tickets for both festivals will start January 15th.

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Lastly, what is your ultimate goal/vision for Heavy Days, Kill-Town, and Kill-Town Bookings?

The ultimate goal is world revolution… No, hahaha, as mentioned above we hope to be able to inspire more people to get involved in their local area by setting up concerts, tours, making labels and recording studios. With Kill-town Bookings we hope to be able to send bands out on tours in Europe that normally would have a hard time touring without a bigger label supporting them.

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Cheers Daniel

That’s it for now. Hope to see all of you at HDDT or KTDF in 2012!

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Doom or be doomed, HERE
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Photo courtesy of Joan Teixidor

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