Centers of Universes
This starts with llamas and leads up to stand-up comedy. Fact-file cards about camels shuffles toward spoken-word artists. It starts with frayed National Geographic clippings of Alpacas taped to poster-board and winds up to acrylic on canvas.
In the middle, along the way, there is lots of weird music, played loudly, often inspired (or relying upon) psychedelic imagery.
It started ...but it doesn’t end, or it hasn’t yet
Because these guys in these bands keep finding new friends who have other bands and have different tools, unique tricks and new so-crazy-it-might-work ideas, that they just keep wanting to try the next thing
See if it sticks. Try it together.
Some people want to be on a stage in front of thousands of people but others just want to be able to do what they want to do. Maybe I’m speaking specifically of musicians. Artist-types, you know
Meanwhile, there’s many who know what they want to do but have no idea how to do it.
This is where Axis Mundi Collective comes in.
Well, the nebulous network of five local DIY/homegrown record labels doesn’t “come in” in that grand-entrance-sense, whisking in and providing a save-the-day solution to the weekly frustrations inherent to the modern artist and their operational/inspirational travails.
This isn’t about them.
It’s about the new psychedelic music scene sharing brains, sharing goals, sharing certain uncanny rhythms of how they go about doing things
Because once Jason and Frank get off of work, when their day-jobs are done and their shifts’ end at the organic fruit market or the vitamin shoppe, they’ll take off their aprons or put down their clipboards and burrow into their basements to finally, late into the evening, finally
get weird, weirder
loud and weird.
Louder! And they’ll feel fulfillment. And they’re always looking for new ways to express their own inner-weirdness; are doubly inspired when they find contemporaries who are creating works equally weird but in more unique styles.
Jason Worden and Frank Lee have been banding around Detroit for nearly a dozen years now. They both realized, early on, between playing in avant-garde groups like Red China, that they shared the same brain. The more people they met, though, the more bands they played with and the more we, as social animals, wandered the wilds of the Internet, commingling and retweeting and sharing links, they found they “shared brains” with various other creative types in town.
Worden doesn’t want this to sound "too hippie." He also doesn’t want to sound egotistical but: Axis Mundi essentially means “
center of the universe.”
Okay. Bare in mind that in an hour’s conversation, these two would-be label heads (who started their own Forget Records three years ago) reiterate five or six times: “
it’s not about us
“The idea is that every culture or society has its own center of the universe – be it the Eurasian Shamans and their World Tree or ancient Japanese looking towards Mt.Fugi,” Worden said. “Everyone involved in the Axis Mundi Festival has their own center of the universe.”
Right. So, next Saturday, as a quintet of labels working together, they’ll host an Arts Conference of sorts, presented as a Festival.
Forget Records – Sonic Lullaby – Communist Daycare Center – Algae Tapes – Dead Letter Office – five local labels: each specializing (or not-specializing-at-all) in their own unique styles of music (or approaches to recording), will band together like a swap meet, sharing their various experiences in specific arenas of Arts-Operations.
If one band on one label wants to tour, they can patch into the Axis Mundi network and find another band from another label who maybe knows a bunch of dudes in Toronto or Toledo who can put them up for a night while they play the choice underground rock club for that one weekend
Oh, you need screen printing done? You have poster-aspirations that require a graphic artist? Someone, somewhere, in Axis Mundi, has already worked on that for one of their bands or for one of their own labels – dial tem up. She’ll help you
. We’ll help you.
Each label has its own story, its own roster, its own web strands dotted with DIY basement-songwriters and each label is run, or administered or spearheaded (or dreamed-up) by a specific musician/artist of the scene and they all have their own takes or their own aspirations.
Lee can barely articulate his own aspirations so how could he, the ostensible co-organizer of the Axis Mundi Festival, even dare to speak for everyone involved
BANDS: The Dirty Tongues - Future Slang - Sea Turtle Restoration Project - The Anonymous - Coleman Youngbloods - The Oscillating Fan Club - Pupils
Tala - Whodat - Jura - Adam Pierce - Superbomb - Dandylyon Whine- Pewter Cub - Robin Veresh: Live Projections
SPOKEN WORD: Burns - Carmen Maria - Lianna Lebertine - Phreddy Wischusen -Tom Budday -
Live DJ performance sets by Lt.baD
VISUAL ARTS: Alana Carlson - Beth Amber - Katherine Craig(Splash Murals) - Chris Kennington- Chris Zagacki - Kirill Slavin - Kyle McBee - Lianne Schultz -Liz Kenningto - Mike Ross - Natasha Beste from Gold House - Tre Puttane
Worden and Lee have opted for embracing a directionless feat – to find, rather than seek; to walk the path rather than surely know the path. Path? What path? Yes, it sounds hippie-ish, but maybe we should just get over that. This collaboration is sprung from the beautiful chaos of “chance— ”
“I’m more for watching and seeing what we're doing as opposed to planning a trajectory and working towards something,” Worden said. “It’s because I’m always ‘working towards something,’ but it’s just, that, I don't know what that ‘something’ is
But if Worden can accrue enlightening elements from your “center” of the universe, he can then embed them into his own projects and hopefully have them bloom. You might want to borrow Worden’s djembe drums or figure out how he got that one noise from his pedal board. Ask.
it sounds like a commune. Sounds hippie. But get over it.
“I love seeing all this work together,” said Lee. “It’s like making a giant mix tape with people, with music artists. Everybody in this city needs to work together. I know, I know it sounds very ambitious, but it’s not about being big or huge
wait. Let me rephrase that. It’s about “all these people” rather than just five labels who carry their own flags, it’s about seeing what comes out of it, or who comes out of it, what creations come out of it.”
Worden and Lee see the Axis Mundi Festival (and, perhaps, its raison d’etre, if it has one) to be a grand experiment; some kind of chemical reaction exploding in slow motion day to day to song to song
The plume of said experimental explosions slowly unfurling fire steadily calcifying creations, from a new psyche-rock creation or a new painting or a new essay
“Look at who recorded music in the 40’s,” Worden says. “It was by people who could afford it, the unwieldy equipment and the cost. Not very many. Who recorded in the 80’s? Much more people, but still not everybody. Now, everone records music, everyone has a computer or everyone wants to do stuff but I don’t think anyone knows what to do. We want everyone to be able to do what they want to do. We don’t want any credit, it’s not about us. It’s about people doing what they want to do. Not Us with a capital U. We put on shows and we can get a bunch of people in the same room and then stir them. If something comes out of that and we really had no part in it, it’s still awesome.”
The All Tomorrow’s Parties Festivals were a big inspiration on Lee and Worden in their ambitious pursuits. “If I can live to one day host my own All Tomorrow’s Parties Fest by the time I’m like 60, then I’ll have won. I can die. But, ya know what, I’ve already won!” Lee takes a breath. “Because I’ve gotten to make cool music with a bunch of different friends of mine and find ways to help release music with a bunch of other friends of mine and finding other people who are totally cool, who I also then want to make music with some day
Keep finding new Centers of other Universes.
Axis Mundi Festival
April 12 – April 13 - - Northend Studios in Detroit
5101 Loraine, Detroit, MI
Doors at 8:00pm, Show at 8:30 - 21+
$8 for one night, $12 for a wristband for both nights
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.