Popular Music in the Post-Digital Age by Ewa Mazierska Les Gillon Tony Rigg

Popular Music in the Post-Digital Age by Ewa Mazierska Les Gillon Tony Rigg

Author:Ewa Mazierska,Les Gillon,Tony Rigg
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781501338380
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Published: 2018-10-25T00:00:00+00:00

Graham Massey: payment from punk

Graham Massey was born in 1960 and like Hook, is also from a modest working-class background, being the third of four brothers raised in Levenshulme, Manchester. At the time of his childhood and teenage years, progressing to higher education was not common in his social milieu however, his academically gifted older brother attended grammar school and later studied at Oxford University. This success provided a context of expectation for Massey, even though, by his own admission, he was not particularly academic. Massey considers that the success of his brother contributed to him gravitating towards an ‘arty persona’ however, opportunities to become such were not facilitated by the education system. Despite his fascination with musical instruments, he was denied music education at school due to not passing a simple test to get into the choir: ‘I felt aggrieved that music had been shut out of my life at school,’ he confessed to us.

Another factor contributing to his draw towards music was the contradiction of Thatcher’s Britain. There was an expectation that everybody had to get a job, but actually finding a job was not a ‘serious option’ in the 1980s, especially in the North of England where the Fordist order was crumbling and unemployment rates were very high, fuelling frustrations, especially with the younger generation. Under such circumstances, in some ways very similar to the situation in contemporary Britain, where opportunities for young people are very limited, taking up music seemed like a natural thing to do, as it offered a chance of channeling one’s energy and making a career.

Consequently, despite not having formal musical training, Massey taught himself how to play a range of musical instruments. In this sense, not unlike Peter Hook, he was a product of punk, with its rejection of virtuosity and putting attitude higher than technical skill. Another source of inspiration for Massey were ‘noise artists’ such as Brian Eno, who likewise were not pursuing conventional virtuoso practices. That said, he was also influenced by styles such as progressive rock and space rock, where musical virtuosity was treated with a higher esteem.

Between 1978 and 1988, Massey was involved in various music projects in the Manchester area, representing different genres and influences, including punk, jazz and hip-hop. This period he describes as a time of preparing himself for the music industry. Massey’s first record release in 1980 was the Weird Noise EP under the mantle of ‘Danny and the Dressmakers’. This was a nine-track seven-inch record featuring four additional bands. Massey describes this as an LP condensed onto a seven-inch vinyl. The allegiance to punk aesthetics and ideology of this production was not just reflected by the low-fi recordings and the degradation through format choice but also the name of the record label, Fuck Off Records, which was based in a squat in London and was affiliated with Better Badges and Rough Trade. Massey himself admits that at the time, despite the dominance of punk ideology, getting a record out was ‘a rare thing’.


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