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Melting Pot Massacre

Melting Pot Massacre

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 27th May, 2013 9:41AM

Melting Pot Massacre are an Auckland-based punk band who write about things like the male oligarchy in music and the issues of immigrants and ethnic minorities in New Zealand. They are releasing their debut EP, Diaspora this week and playing CLITfest this weekend, and UTR caught up with the band to discuss the political issues close to the band's chest.

How did Melting Pot Massacre form?

Melting Pot Massacre formed in 2011 when a bunch of Asian feminists, who happen to be friends and can play music, got really bored with the overcrowding of white male machoists in the music scene and a decline in political punk over the years. Plus even in politicized spaces, no one seemed to be creating music to connect the rage and experiences of people of colour in Aotearoa. It was just about bloody time.

Did you have an idea of the sound you wanted to achieve when you started out or was developing it a more organic process?

I think it was definitely a more organic process. I don’t know if this is what other bands do but we spent a whole year figuring out what our personal influences are, not just in music but in terms of life in general, and we did a lot of thinking of the impact we want to achieve as a band, rather than the sound we want to be known by or whatever. We definitely were into mixing it up a bit and not wanting to get stuck in any particular genre. Having said that, we were sick of seeing crazy good female bands get immediately labeled riot grrrl in hardcore/punk just because they were female-oriented. So we decided that we would state from the start that we are a hardcore feminist punk band and thereafter people would just have to deal with whatever sound that comes out of us!

You guys are also quite political: was part of the reason for forming to get your political ideologies across?

“Quite” is probably an understatement. Aside from a few of us being involved in various social justice causes and activist movements, we’d like to think that the very nature of our band being visible and self-determining as people of colour, amongst other things, is a political statement in itself. I think when we first started out, myself and MZ the guitarist definitely had intent to write and perform our music to raise awareness on some of the socio-political issues that exist, but it was never intended to be just about that.

Tell us a little bit about your political ideologies.

We can try! In a nutshell, we believe the world is a shitty place because some people fucked other people over historically which leads to lots of fuck ups today. We talk a lot about doing decolonization, and that has to start from challenging white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy through telling on racism, violence and sexual discrimination in Aotearoa. So we obviously refer to our own lived experiences as immigrant youth, but also our shared sense of responsibility and solidarity with indigenous people in Aotearoa. All the intersections of gender, class, ability, sexuality seem to fall into place and connect in when we do our music this way. Some of us are also vegan, so animal rights has a place in our politics too.

Your political ideologies are related to place, immigration and race: how do you think any of these factors have affected your sound?

Yeah I guess when politics is mixed in music, it can be a very interesting space to be in where people will either love us or hate us. The question for us was who do WE WANT to love or hate us! We definitely wanted to perform and speak to people who’ve experienced the stuff we sing about, so it was incredibly important to us that we do our best to hook them in. Musically thus far, our song structure and melodies are kept pretty minimalist and simple so the lyrics and the style of our performance come through. As a vocalist, I put a lot of thought about which parts of the song I would do a screamo sound or a hushier sound etc. I think about “will this help us amplify the emotion behind what we’re singing about here?" I’d like to think that’s the only fair way to do it.

What are you working on at the moment?

We’re just preparing for our EP CD release, and getting excited about our very first show in Wellington at CLITFest on Sunday 2nd June. Also trying to get round to making our first music video.

You're releasing an EP this week: tell us about writing and recording it.

Over the past year, people have been asking us when we were going to release a CD, or something, and so we figured to start with an EP. This limited press EP is entitled Diaspora, and is a preview of what Melting Pot Massacre is about: four key milestone songs that hopefully encapsulates what growing up through migration, and living on the margins feels like. In terms of the actual recording process, we have no real recording experience, everything we know is D.I.Y, trial and error and based on trust and goodwill in people. Shout out to our mates Nat for soundproofing their garage and Dave for helping us record in the garage!

Was their anything - musically or otherwise - that you wanted to discuss or get across on the EP and if so, please explain.

This EP is a bit like our arrival scene to show people where we've come from, politically not just geographically. We put in a lot of thought and effort into making the CD art. We really love it and want everyone to enjoy it but with limited funds can only do 100 copies. So come to our release shows to get one!

Were you inspired or influenced by anything in particular when writing this EP?

2013 has been THE YEAR for us in terms of getting our act together. I personally think we got really motivated after playing with Badd Energy (whom we’re big fans of) at their Underwater Pyramids album launch few months ago. They were just amazing, full of aroha and super-encouraging, and positive attitudes are one of those really rare sights in the independent music scene. I also had a few conversations with a couple of music industry dickheads as well during this time, who were either discouraging or cynical or fluffed us around when we approach them for support. All of the above influenced us to get our shit together and just fuckin do it ourselves!

More generally who would you describe as your musical influences? Any other key influences or inspirations?

We like so many: Artistically, we'd say MIA, Tribe 8, King Ly Chee, Melt-Banana, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dead Prez, Envy, Yellow Rage, the Decolonize Crew in Auckland, Whaitiri Mikaere, Rai Ko Ris, JD Samson, Glory Hole and.. oh so much more! We were really psyched to have played with Badd Energy and are looking forward to playing alongside Wellington fave Fantails at CLITfest this weekend. We're also life inspired by feminism, bell hooks, anti-capitalism, radical (qtpocs) queer and trans people of colour, global indigenous movements like IdleNoMore... so much inspiration out there to draw from and for us to do what we do.

You're based in Auckland: tell me a little bit about your involvement and experience in the Auckland music community. Has it been supportive? Special venues you enjoy playing at?

Not as supportive as we would like it to be. When we first started out, we played quite a bit at the former anarchist space Blackheart, student pubs and house parties though we mostly had to organize gigs for ourselves. Sometimes I think being a new band is kind of like being a new migrant, you know you gotta find your way around, and no one seems to wanna be your friend and you have to figure out how to settle in and work triple hard just to make your existence matter. I’ve been told that’s how any band gets any recognition here in New Zealand, but then again I have seen young bands pretty much get thrown gigs at them, don’t even have to organize anything except turn up and play, so what’s that about? But apparently music industry elitists don’t like it when we talk like that, and call it playing the “victim-card” and that’s not cool. Whatever man, it’s just an observation - we’ll play anywhere!

What are your future plans with Melting Pot Massacre?

Doing a New Zealand-Australia tour is in the cards for the coming year and we’ve had massive love from friends in Asia and Europe to decolonize over their way too. We really want to cut an album and need the support from anyone who can help us get there. One step at a time. Peace.