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The Music Is the Message: Filastine Masterclass

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Anecdotes about riots at G8 summits are not the first thing that come to mind when you think of a masterclass by an acclaimed producer. In the case of a masterclass by Grey Filastine, this is exactly what you should expect. In his case, making a political statement through music is not about using some obscure samples downloaded from the Internet, or about writing whiny lyrics about opression and injustice. As Filastine shows in his masterclass, it’s about getting arrested for playing music out of your homemade speakers during a protest at a G8 summit, getting into fights with riot police, even having them fly in helicopters full of cops on horseback to get rid of you.

The morning after his performance at the opening of the Impakt Festival a small group of participants gets the chance to get to know Grey Filastine, as he tells us all about how he has been making music and traveling the world (mostly combining these activities) for decades, and how this is closely connected to the way music for ages has been a stimulating force in warfare. At first with his Infernal Noise Brigade, which provided war rhythms for the global protest movement, and nowadays as a solo producer and performer, using audiovisual means to spread his message.

After elaborating on the ‘why’ of his work, we dig into the ‘how’, as the hands on production masterclass commences.

Literally disecting his songs, Filastine gave an exclusive look behind the scenes of his advanced global bass beats. Even though he uses a laptop to put his songs together, all songs contain analog, liverecorded instruments. Practically every sample used is connected to a story, ranging from recording a fluteplayer on a market in Marrakech to doing a vocal session in an Indonesian forest during the only quiet hour of the day. Doing all of this the hard way, collecting samples on all these locations under difficult circumstances, is an important part of Filastine’s work, since he feels his music needs to maintain a connection to the real world, to the flesh and blood and soul of the people who play it.

Even though his productions can get quite complicated, Filastine emphasizes a good song not neccesarily needs to be difficult. It doesn’t matter if you use twenty-eight tracks or just seven, if you get it to work in the way you want it’s alright. As it turns out, the master himself does not even know all there is to the program we are using, as he confesses he only recently found out about certain options. Like playing an analog instrument, there is always new stuff to learn.

Amidst a whirlwind of shortcuts, tips an tricks Grey walks around and helps out when needed, as the participants put together a short remix of his track Gendjer. And although we might not have done his work any justice in this high-speed production session, inspiration was a plenty after this intimate get-together. So who knows, maybe in time Utrecht will see a new wave of producers combining international beats with local street recordings.