Their festival has no wristbands. Their lineups aren’t blowing up on socials. But when Gays Hate Techno throws a party or does a compilation – like the one that just dropped – what you get is nothing but musical spirit.
It’s just the kind of subversive attitude that has infused the best electronic music. Since we can’t all make the gathering, Gays Hate Techno compilations can bring you some of that feeling directly through the music. The comps have easily become must-hear events, and version 4.0 is no different.
I spoke with GHT founder Matt Fisher and compilation producer Benjamin B. Orphan Eksouzian to get insight into how it all comes together. They bring a hopeful message for anyone who feels like they’re not finding community in electronic music – and a template for how to work together to get that groove back.
Oh yeah, and – since this is a compilation, we’ve got something to queue up for listening. (Don’t miss the corker of a track by friend-of-the-site David Abravanel, whose music has the perfect wit for the task.) There’s a full megamix of the music (which you can also get by subscribing to their podcast):
Images courtesy GHT, from their gathering.
Peter: I know this is a unique kind of group; can you explain how you imagine this group and how it works?
Matt: Gays Hate Techno isn’t a commercial promoter in the traditional sense. We don’t have a set roster, resident DJs, or a particular agenda. We organize around doing projects like the gathering and compilations that support the online community, not the other way around. In that way, the compilation and the gathering have the same objective — they’re ways we can promote and celebrate relationships that otherwise exist only or mostly online.
Peter: The people I know who have been to your events say it’s a really special chance to come together. How does the gathering function for the group?
Matt: The format for the gathering is modeled after radical faerie gatherings and Burning Man-style encampments, so it has objectives that are different from, say, a commercial music festival. We’re a low-cost slumber party built around music, but a community-building event first and foremost. What I mean by that is that we rely on participation, volunteering, and spontaneity more than maybe a festival would. We also try to be as low cost as possible, and we maintain a travel fund that defrays costs for our women, trans, nonbinary performers and performers of color.
Peter: So how does the community work – how do people participate?
Matt: Anybody can and should participate. Our structure is built around facilitating personal interactions as much as it is producing a music lineup. We have an open call for performers, and we leave room around our curated program time for an open program for spontaneous sets and projects.
People volunteer to cook meals, help park cars and help set up stages. We ask everyone to donate 2 hours of their time. They also bring art, conduct harm reduction training, act as our medical team, give massages, do yoga and meditation. Obviously an event our size doesn’t particularly need 400 volunteers. The objective of the volunteering is much more about shaking people out of spectator mode and giving them an excuse to make new friends while being part of the event, not just part of the audience.
I think that the social focus leads to better performances, by the way. We set up an environment that makes for relaxed, enthusiastic listening, and people who’ve let their guards down a little bit, and encourage the DJs and musicians to pursue more personal, farther-out ideas than maybe they normally get to explore. There’s a great feedback loop there. We’re all there as music fans, and as a supportive network.
Benjamin: In terms of the compilation process, as Matt stated above, we view these compilations as a creative product of the members of Gays Hate Techno. Our aim is to promote our members’ art and to showcase their original work as expressed through the musical genre of techno.
To that end, each year (cycle) we announce a call to participate to the current members of the facebook group, email contacts from previous compilations, as well as a Discord group for folks who have decided to leave Facebook, but want to stay connected to the gathering and community. Members create all of the content – music, album artwork, promotional video work, press release copy, and in most years the audio mastering of tracks.
We encourage volunteer work and participation to create a compilation that reflects our community. We require the artist to declare the work as their own and to confirm that it doesn’t contain samples that could present a licensing issue. Outside of that, we don’t reject works from an aesthetic critique standpoint. This year, for example, we had more artwork submissions for the album artwork than we could use and decided to let the Facebook group vote to determine the final piece to represent Gays Hate Techno IV.
Peter: At the risk of making you explain a joke, I have to ask – what’s the story with the name?
Matt: Gays Hate Techno is a joke name that came out of a conversation I had with friends in NYC back in 2010 or 2011. They were running a party at the Stonewall Inn that featured techno, tech-house, and minimal more than what at the time was typical gay male club music. It was the answer to the question: why’s it so hard to get people to come out to listen to better music?
Each of the three words was meant sarcastically, of course, with a sort of Kathy Griffin-type ironic dismissiveness. A couple of days later, I put together the Facebook group as a way for us to just toss around and post tracks we liked. People invited friends, and it very, very quickly became an international group. People would comment that they didn’t know any other queer people who liked the music people were posting. So there was a desire to connect with other people this way.
CDM: Thanks to this whole crew – I’m tempted to call this group “Haters”? Do support the compilation and this wonderful community and give it a listen – and buy it if you like it.
Jarvi aka Acid Daddy shares some of the background with us about their track – and it’s an essential and powerful story:
“i am honored to be included in the fourth edition of the Gays Hate Techno compilation! my track, “what they took from me i will never get back”, is a step towards healing. a sonic representation of my state of mind post-trauma, and the strain it has put on my interpersonal relationships because of the inflicted fear and pain. i am a survivor, but the memory is there with me each day i wake up, until the moments laying in bed before i drift to sleep.
since my abuse happened back home in michigan, it is important for me to give back to the queer & trans folks there without medical help or accessibility. detroit, and michigan in general, have limited resources for LGBTQIA+ family, and there is no facility exclusively for queer and trans survivors of sexual abuse and rape, which is an important factor when you’re navigating this type of trauma. i have decided that i will match the sales of this record until december 18th of this year, and will be donating that on top of my own contribution to the Ruth Ellis Center, an organization in detroit that provides safe living for homeless queer and trans youth, support services, a drop in health center for wayne county residents who are medicaid eligible at no cost, and transition resources for trans youth, just to name a few. therapy is key in the healing process, and giving queer youth access to that is crucial.
i hope y’all enjoy the compilation. thank you for the continued support!…” –Jarvi Guðmundsdóttir aka Acid Daddy (excerpt from FB post)
More details and pictures from the gathering can be found on the official site: