What do you feel when you hear really good music? There’s a chill in your bones. A feeling that the moment can never be repeated. You are at the tip of a cresting wave, a tiny part of a movement that cannot be stopped. It’s almost spiritual. That’s what I feel, anyway.
What if you were to chase that feeling? Spend your time propagating the doctrine of Really Good Music?
There is a man who does this. He is Blink, mastermind of A Low Hum and all it produces. He is a Good Guy. And he likes white trash food.
He says that his favourite would have to be a bacon burger with extra egg and cheese from Paradise Seafoods in Island Bay; or the kung po chicken from KK Malaysian on Ghuznee Street. He also likes Mr. Bun, on Cuba Street.
If you have not heard of Blink’s Good Works, you either do not follow the cult of music or you have been living under a stone. Well, A Low Hum is a thing. In the past it has manifested itself as a monthly magazine, CD and band tour; as a musical camp extravaganza; as a record label. But, in the future, it could be anything.
“A Low Hum is whatever I want it to be,” says Blink (real name: Ian Jorgensen). “One of the things I like doing is fucking up people’s ideas of what it is. There’ll be something I’ll do, like a record I’ll put out that no one will have expected I’d put out. I hate being pigeon holed.” I hope the pigeons around us in Mr. Bun can’t hear this. They might get angry.
And it has undoubtedly been a good thing, because people seem to enjoy it. With his musical mags, rags and hags, Blink has brought bands to small towns that had never before seen amplifiers; given underground acts the support they needed to become known across the country; and created a sense of musical community that is almost tangible.
His favourite movie of all time is Footloose. “That’s how my life is, just one big dance,” he says. “That’s what I’m all about – bringing dance and fun to small cities. I’ve realised that everything I’ve done in my life has been subliminally influenced by Footloose.” Blink is obviously passionate. He has learnt to let his inner exhibitionist run the show.
“That whole monthly magazine and tour was just something I said at a party!” he confesses. “Now, I just say I’m going to do things. That happened with camp; I’d never even thought about doing it until I told someone about it. Then I realised it was a pretty cool idea, and it evolved from there. I like talking shit, because when you put something on record, you have to follow it up.”
Blink has been obsessed with music since his tender pre-teen years. “All kids like music,” he says. “If I met a ten year old kid who didn’t like music, I’d punch him.”
Apart from occasional displays of violence, however, he’s no Russell Crowe. Not only is he much nicer, but he knows when to stop flogging the proverbial dead horse and leave things to others. “I’ve played guitar for sixteen years, but I suck. I wasn’t meant to be a guitarist or songwriter, and I think it would be a healthy thing if a lot more bands realised that pretty early on in the piece.”
What Blink rates as his greatest achievement happened out the back of Wainuiomata and was attended by only about 400 people – Camp A Low Hum. “I always knew it was going to go off, whether ten people were there or whatever,” he says. “I was really stressed, because I couldn’t tell anyone one who was playing! I was like, ‘Just trust me!’”
It was important to Blink that he created a festival he would actually want to be at himself. He seems to have succeeded. “[American folkies] Polka Dot Dot Dot’s set in the forest was the highlight for me. That scene just encapsulated everything I’d tried to do with camp. The surprise. In the morning, no one had heard of this band – and then they were everyone’s favourite. That was the success of camp for me, that moment.”
How about 2008? “Next year, it’s just going to go off! There’s going to be so many secrets!” he says. “People are going to have to be pretty on to it to get tickets.” When asked about the associations between A Low Hum and religious cults, Blink confesses that “people were accusing the camp of being a cult gathering, and essentially it was. There wasn’t any reason for people to go unless they believed in me. If anything, it’s a cult of party!”
However, if you are looking to join the cult of party anytime soon, you may be out of luck – Blink is currently taking six months off from the intenseness of A Low Hum, to pay back some of the debt he built up last year by working as a fashion photographer. He will be sparing a few dollars for French band Ladybird, however, when they play on Friday, May 4th at Mighty Mighty. You can also join the singles club; a chance to encounter interesting and attractive new music every month at www.alowhum.com. Otherwise, you’ll have to hang out until later in the year for more shenanigans – plenty of time to enjoy the rejuvenated music community inspired by Blink’s humming.