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ordered mayhem
12 years ago
angaym k oss
Comments (5)
Santa Fe musicians built a collective that brings in all kinds
By Marisa Demarco

Organized chaos: Folks from Santa Fe’s High Mayhem prepare sound equipment for a live recording,
"The process is more important than the end result," Carlos Santistevan says. "We're just trying to keep the process moving."

It's the kind of thing a collegiate art teacher, a good one, is likely to say—process before results. Santistevan is the program director at Santa Fe's High Mayhem, a record label, recording studio and performance space that grew organically in a little house accessible via a strange gravel road.

It's hard for Santistevan to pin down when High Mayhem, as it exists today, really came into being. The first solid festival the collective put on was in October 2002.

Before that, there was a house.

Max Freidenberg lived there. Bands began renting the studio space for rehearsal, and Freidenberg, who is today the program’s director, moved next door. The musicians built a stage and painted the place, adapting and adopting it. These days, there's a room for live performances and a recording studio, and, like every good home, the kitchen remains the hub, a place for recording bands and traveling acts to hang and be nourished. "The space has a homely sense to it," Santistevan says.

The 10 or so people who run High Mayhem bring in all kinds. "What we're really trying to do is present art and performance, but really pushing the boundaries of what is the normal paradigm," Santistevan says. There's flux and turnover from show to show, from production to production, he adds. "Each show is a unique experience in itself. Sometimes that makes it difficult for people to understand what we do."

High Mayhem's website ([ @ www.highmayhem.org) in ] explains it pretty succinctly: "If artists are being true to themselves in what they craft, if they have removed societally imposed obstacles to fashion an expression of their own, we embrace them."

Loose translation: All kinds.

Documentation is key, and musicians are often paid in recordings of the live show they put on, mixed or as raw tracks. The three-day High Mayhem Emerging Arts Festival on Oct. 6, 7 and 8 is recorded, compiled and sold on the collective's label. It takes about 50 volunteers to put on the festival, Santistevan estimates. The recording makes the event pretty tech-heavy, too, which means it's usually just a sole stage. Acts are curated entirely by submission and come from as far as Lithuania and France.

Given the diversity of artists, it's pretty clear that you will probably never see the same show twice at the venue. "We have people coming to shows regularly for a year, and they still don't know what we're about," says Santistevan. But that's OK. This is, after all, mayhem.
5 comment(s)
agreed, I mean, I'm not here to draw lines in the sand, or anything like that. I hope that HMF is huge, I'm sure that it will be. perhaps someday I will play it, but I can't forsee that happening, since my sound is not fitting for it. That's ok, as I'll always have oscillation. (by botkiller 12 years ago)
yeah, i understand, that was an issue for me with last years osc, no experimental or noise, which i had always included in the past, there will be this year! I can't tell you gow amny times i have had issues with playing bars that booked me because my sound is "too much", forget all that we do what we do and keep it bad ass... (by angaym k oss 12 years ago)
I think it's the fact that there is supposed to be this whole feeling of "open to everyone, artisitcally, sonically, etc." with HMF, but it's not, as it leans towards genrefication like so many other things. osc. is the same I suppose, but we have always been open to many forms of music and we dont' shut people down. oh well, HMF isn't for me, and it's their freakin' loss.

long live oscillation.
(by botkiller 12 years ago)
As far as the actual high mayhem festival that would make sense as it is an experimental/avant garde fest. I know i've seen acts like megman, derail and a few others that could be considered straight forward musically speaking. But then again i don't know what your experience with them actually was. Cheers to Oscillation6! (by angaym k oss 12 years ago)
the only thing is, it's not open to "all kinds". I was told I am not "out there" enough to play high mayhem, or that the expectation would be that I'd do something "out there" were I to play it ... well, I ain't gonna do a lot more than rock the stage like I always do, so it's hard for me to see what I'd need to do to be acceptable enough.

this is not a jab... just my thought on having applied to play in the past, and what I've been told in relation to my music. congrats, nonetheless, on the publicity
(by botkiller 12 years ago)
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