B. Dolan Interview

First off thanks for taking the time to do this interview and it’s a pleasure to have you at 0161 Festival this year, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve got going on at the moment?

I’m currently touring a new project w/ Plain Ole Bill, a talented producer and DJ from Minnesota who’s backed Atmosphere & Doomtree members on tour.  He’s been quiet about his beatmaking through the years, but a year ago we spent a long night in his studio listening through a treasure trove of bangers, and are about to start to releasing new music together under the working title “FIGHT NAKED”.  It’s also the 10 year anniversary of “Fallen House, Sunken City,” and I’m bringing some of that material back into the new set as well. 

Let’s talk some more about you going “offline” so to speak, and taking away Facebook / Instagram as main modes of promotion and going towards Twitch and Discord, what was the thought behind that, is it working?

When Facebook first came along, a lot of indie musicians made the jump to it instinctively from Myspace, once it was clear that that’s where all our web traffic was going.  In that way a lot of otherwise critical people got swept up in the current, and wound up giving endless free promotion, creativity, and now marketing dollars to a company that deeply sucks.  Mark Zuckerberg is a malignant sociopath who made a website to rate girls in his college on attractiveness.  Along the way he’s inserted his apps into all aspects of our daily lives and interactions, and now monetizes indie artists to death while shitting on democracy and public discourse daily.   We want to stop giving that website clicks, and interact with people in an environment that’s not mining our analytics for evil while financially squeezing us.  

The Discord experiment is off to a good start.  A lot of people are ready to interact somewhere else, and get the hell away from Facebook.  Discord allows us to use the @everyone tag and send a push alert directly to everyone who’s turned on notifications about ‘new shows’ or ‘new merch’, for example.  It’s a way of interacting that feels more genuinely like a private community of like-minded people, which is where cool shit can germinate on the internet musically.  I’m planning on expanding all that with more livestreaming and a Patreon  in 2020, allowing people to fund our work directly and see work in progress more often.  All in all it’s been inspiring.  Makes me hate my phone (and mind) less.

Do you feel that for creative output artists and people involved in the arts are being shafted more and more by social media and larger conglomerates? Or even more so than before?

Every single thing we do is being commodified by social media.  People are being turned into mini corporations.  Your interactions and enjoyment of them are all being analyzed and commodified on those sites, so naturally artists end up bending toward where the sunlight is (or appears to be).  Streaming and changes in how people consume music also have a lot to do with artists’ output, and have arguably changed the music itself for lots of artists.  I try to keep it all compartmentalized though.  Interacting with these sites and machines is one part of my job, but the human part is on it’s own track, hopefully.  The human part involves making things I find beautiful or important or interesting, and giving those things to listeners who give me many forms of support in return.  

Moving on from that, Makeracistsafraidagain and filmthepolice hashtags, they both have gone massively viral, can you tell us a bit more about that and how they came about? 

They came about at separate times, years apart, but are part of a general strategy of mine when it comes to political art.  I try not to indulge in empty political rhetoric, and dislike a lot of the political music I hear.  For me, political art has to meet a strict standard; it has to be worthwhile activism and good as art… if your politics are on point but your song sucks, you should be a politician.   If your song’s great but you’re confusing or misleading people on political topics, then I think you’re sort of an idiot and end up disappointed.   So in both those cases, songwriting or stagecraft (the #MakeRacistsAfraidAgain idea started w/ me making myself a hat to wear as part of a stage costume) led to a political idea or lyric that I felt activists could use.  In both cases, lots of people know the hashtag without knowing the origin, and to me that’s a victory… It means I contributed something helpful to organize people around, and that’s my standard for trying to engage in activism within my art. 

What have you got in the pipeline over the next few months that people should know about?

I’ll continue to release the music I’ve been making with Plain Ole Bill under the “Fight Naked” moniker in the next year; we’ve got a bunch of cool songs in the pipeline.  I’ve also got some more songs w/ another producer which will hopefully start seeing the light of day in 2020.  The score of the movie “Vault”, which I composed 2 years ago, will finally get a vinyl pressing this year, and I’m continuing to write music and movies in between (and on) tours.  IAMBDOLAN.com has all the details of what I’m currently up to, as does the Discord server.

Make Racists Wear Milkshakes again, a great design, taken from when a lot of the right wing in the UK were getting milkshakes and other assorted drinks thrown over and at them, how do you see the rise of the far right in the US at the moment and what would you say we should be doing to fight that?

Whatever it takes.   Literally whatever the fuck it takes.  Antifa and anti-racist training, teaching and organizing all matter.  I was inspired years ago by Antifa in Greece who had started their own printing press and were re-printing revolutionary literature and books about black liberation, the origins of hip-hop, and all sorts of topics in Greek, distributing info for free and organizing at big music events.  Work like that, and the visibility of people wearing t-shirts in public, demonstrating and making themselves known are all part of it.  Facing down these cowards and racist pricks wherever they decide to throw a parade or bake sale, or knowing how to react if people are being harassed in your presence.  Showing up in numbers to let racists know there’s more of us than them.  In the US those types of clashes are increasingly armed and potentially violent, but that can’t be a deterrent to us showing up.  Solidarity and coherent strategies and principles all matter, when shit hits the fan. 

Again a great pleasure for us to have you here at 0161, we’ve always been big advocates of having a big variety of musical acts on the bill, for anyone who might not know your music, what should they be expecting from a B. Dolan show?

A very hype rap show, in the vein of Public Enemy.  P.E. meets DMX, ideally.  I love playing mixed festival bills like this, especially when there’s a unifying principle of “FTP” among those in attendance.  Energy.  Bass.  Lyrics.  Noise will be brought.  I look forward to turning up w/ a rowdy Manchester crowd. 

Any other comments?

If people would like to check out the Discord server and how we’re using it to organize fans and activism, there’s a link from IAMBDOLAN.com.  You download either a desktop app or app for your phone, and use various channels to communicate about various topics.  People familiar w/ Slack will find it pretty similiar. We stream there weekly and discuss all types of shit.  Plus everytime you login, Mark Zuckerberg sheds a salty, delicious tear.  Thanks for the opportunity to rock and see you soon!

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