Started this last night in bed when I couldn’t fall asleep.
Discovering cool things in a really old playlist I don’t remember making.
Started this last night in bed when I couldn’t fall asleep.
Discovering cool things in a really old playlist I don’t remember making.
Since Mike’s friends and fans are used to podcasts, I’m going to write this out for my readers as if we were talking like you do on a podcast. Years ago I learned the power of print in fandoms when I started transcribing podcast interviews for hearing impaired fans. Although I was asked to remove them, they’d already been translated and warehoused all over the world and are still searchable years later. Links will be red, Mike talking back to me will be blue.
I first met Michael Bilinski through the Snarkalec Radio podcasts , which were pretty awesome, Mike, with you drinking shots out of a doll head you called Judith from the Walking Dead series. That hooked me as a Mike Bilinski fan before I ever knew all the other stuff you do. I particularly love your new Opium Den series and clearly you have a prolific cult pull, but if it’s ok with you, I’d like to stick to print since it’s my own medium. Apologies for making you talk through a keyboard to me. 😊
(Q-1) My top question regarding your new album release Dead Girls is about the song title “Killing Culture” (click to listen free!), Carl Kavorkian is overlayed near the beginning with audio from a television show? Did you guys create that affect or lift an audio snip? (source?). And then Carl uses that intro to go directly into story mode. (elaborate?)
The song Killing Culture came from a confluence of events that took place in the months leading into the formal writing/recording process for the album. My friend Shane Ryan is the creator and star of the Amateur Porn Star Killer series. I was an executive producer of the third film and wrote and directed a sequence of the Faces of Snuff anthology project that is a direct byproduct of those films. Shane ran into a great deal of trouble while casting for a new project but while that was going on there were a number of books and articles heavily referring to the APSK franchise when discussing the relationship between this type of adversarial art and our culture.
All the while there seemed to me a surge in interest in these projects. I’m used to people bringing up Evil Bong, its easily the most commercially successful project I have been involved with, but around the time I started writing this song someone approached me in a bar and told me APSK 3 changed their life. I still don’t know how to take that exactly. Their demeanor implied they meant this in a positive way which poses a number of questions. Days later another person told me they prayed I never had children. Especially a daughter.
All of this had me thinking about how we as an audience consume and interpret violent imagery. I feel strongly that the job of any artist isn’t to gloss over challenging subject matter, or ignore it completely, but to make their audience feel some kind of weight behind such serious actions. So the song and my contribution to Faces were created in tandem to reflect that. When Carl got involved with the track he put his own stamp on it by pointing out that videos of violence involving police that we see on mainstream news outlets are actual “snuff” films. Someone is being injured or killed and people are profiting from the recordings of it.
The audio clips that bookend Carl’s verse are taken from the Ed Wood film The Sinister Urge which contains some overlapping themes. The 911 call at the end was acted out by our vocalist Jennifer Renée Price. The song title was inspired by the book Killing For Culture which itself references the APSK films.
(Q-2) You mentioned in an interview with BraveWords that this album Dead Girls is themed, that there is a common thread running throughout the process. Would you call this an art performance think piece? I know part of the process of experiencing the music is not over explaining, but you definitely have a motive and a goal going on, and I’m also wondering if this ties in overall with previous albums or is a stand alone work?
My previous music project was an ambient soundscape with a post apocalyptic theme. I wanted to follow that with something more personal. As Christian Menses and I began talking out possible themes we decided that we needed to be more open and introspective than we have ever been in our past work. Strip away any buffer and make the album as raw as possible. This carried over to the music ad well. The album has more of a live quality. We limited the number of takes for each piece and often used our first or second pass on the final track. I recorded my synth parts using analog equipment and playing through a guitar amp with a mic set up in the room. This led to a number of unplanned moments that made it to the final product. The most blatant of these is the ending of Scarlet Seduction.
I knew there would be songs about specific women in my life and as we started mapping it out I realized that my interactions with these women created a framework of my life from our last proper studio album, A Season In Hell, until now.
Christian, Jennifer and I seem to have these bizarre parallels in our personal lives so the stories they brought to the project fit perfectly. I don’t know if that is a good thing but it certainly drove us creatively.
(Q-3) Wildly switching gears, I noticed on your facebook share that you did some work for State Farm? Does this make you a corporate provider now? (lolz) In years past, some of my fave music for movies has been done by Van Halen and Dire Straits. Do you see yourself going down that road one day? (which I personally think would be cool!)
Yeah Pagan and State Farm sounds like a wild cosplay mash up but honestly my writing is inspired more by film and television scores than any particular band or genre. I think about the atmosphere of a song first and usually start with a synth pad as my foundation instead of a guitar riff or a beat. Because of that I think many of our tracks lend themselves to being paired with visuals. I am particularly interested in creating original material for projects which was the case for State Farm. My good friend and podcast partner Kelly Thul set that up and I am extremely grateful. Working with State Farm will help people get around any preconceived notions they may have about what type of material our music can work with.
(Q-4) Some people might not know you have an old blog laying around, a myspace account, a facebook page, an official dotcom, a twitter account, instagram, an abphy account, plus all the stuff you have on vimeo, and not least, an official youtube account. You create and produce everything from music to film to radio broadcast to- did I miss anything? lol
Most people don’t know this but I was a freelance writer for a few years. I don’t hide it or anything like that, it just rarely comes up. I worked primarily for AOL and Yahoo through their various subsidiaries. During that time I also wrote a few short stories that were published by various magazines, sites and an anthology book. I never actively perused fiction writing so each story was tailored for that specific project. Ultimately the market became over saturated and the standard rates dropped rapidly. I went from earning a living to losing money on jobs and had to move on. Pagan has proven to be the most healthy outlet for me to express myself so I’m probably better off in the long run.
(Q-5) Part of my stalking obsession leads me to little gems that I sift out of mountains of material in search engines. When I first started looking for more info on you and Pagan, I got so much junk in the way that I feel like you need to make a page pulling all your press releases, announcements, and interviews into a menu. (Don’t ask me to do that though, I’m busy, lol.) I’ll share a few samples here and please let me know if there’s more you’d like readers to check out.
PAGAN – New Album Title, Cover Art Revealed; Box Set In The Works 4-6-13 “I wouldn’t say this is a true concept album,” Bilinski explains, “but their is a loose apocalyptic theme that runs throughout. That is what led to the idea of the “Survival Kit”, which is going to bring an almost interactive element to the album by providing the listener with all the tools they need to immerse themselves in a world we have created a soundtrack for.”
Basically, readers have a hard time finding “Pagan” in a search engine since human history and culture is so saturated with pagan everything imaginable, so I put “Michael Bilinski Pagan” into the search bar and find your stuff a lot faster.
The name has been a double edge sword. Pagan started as my solo project but I didn’t want to use my name as I was largely associated with my work in black and death metal and this was something different that I wanted people to approach with a clean slate. It’s easy to remember and the associations it creates in the minds of most people fit well with many of our themes. As it became my focus and evolved into a band with Jennifer, Christian, the live band and the new addition rhythm guitarist Corey Torres, there are times I wish we were an easier Google search. That being said I also find our search results to be a solid gauge of our expanding visibility.
Disclaimer- this post is a fan write up by a fan for fans. No compensation in any form is given for linking and sharing this information. Permission is given to translate and share this post in whole or part to other sites, kindly please link back to this source.
I’d like to profusely thank Mike for taking the time to respond to my questions, and I wish him all the best with Pagan’s success. Again, you can listen to Killing Culture for free, click to go to the pre-release freebie and keep an eye out for the album release of Dead Girls on April 28.
All pix click to sources.
Artwork source. “Old school #nintendo #gameboy variation of the album cover #pagan #deadgirls #goth #industrial #rap #hiphop #horror #horrorcore #rock #metal #studio #studiolife #gamer #skull #sugarskull”
“Killing Culture“, featuring Carl Kavorkian, is currently climbing culty single release sales worldwide, as evidenced by sites making it available in Russia and other countries, and of course in the U.S. on Amazon. Killing Culture is a featured single on the album Dead Girls by Pagan.
Michael Bilinski touched base with me last month about Part 1 of the Dead Girls album release coming up on April 28th and linked me to a playlist on Pagan’s official youtube channel. Part 2 will be released later this summer.
You can follow Mike on Facebook for up to date announcements, like this one– #vga Killing Culture art for all our old school #gamer friends. On #420 we are going to need your help making the video number 1 on #amazon We already hit top 10 on the #rock and #hiphop charts and we want to take over to celebrate the upcoming release of #deadgirls part 1! #pagan #goth #industrial #rap #horror #horrorcore #metal #studio #studiolife #skull #sugarskull”
What is the big deal, we wonder… So many are already jumping on this, so little is actually searchable about it besides the excellent (but quite short) BraveWords interview. What else is there to know about this whole Dead Girls thing? I could so easily launch into how beautifully the sugar skull symbolism portrays the content, and what the “connecting thread” for all these women must be. I am so intrigued with the commitment Michael Bilinski has made to using this theme in world sales coinciding with his contributions to a very hotly debated and reviewed Faces of Snuff released last November, described by Amazon and other outlets as “The world’s first snuff anthology, with disturbing films collected from around the world from over 20 filmmakers, who all push the boundaries of how far cinema can be pushed.” I could grab it and run with how it relates to some of my own life experiences. But honestly, I’d rather keep digging and find out what’s going on in Mike Bilinski’s head.
The really fun part of stalking someone is when they actually give you stuff to stalk. Mike isn’t the wordiest guy in print about how prolific he’s becoming producing music and controversial film, and I’ve already mentioned in past that digging up more is hampered by so much of human history and world culture being umbrellaed and even buried under words like Pagan and Killing Culture. But that’s the point, isn’t it? The dark world that lies underneath mountains of real life and distraction and entertainment. The truth being debated as art and intention versus the weight of portrayal of truth. The beauty in human minds, souls, and spirits overlaying the shadows in our hearts. When I try to put anything Mike is doing into words, I wind up in a land of poetry and get lost wondering what Poe would make of Pagan.
I love Pagan’s music in general. I was intro’d to a dark ambient goth-rock visual in Aftermath during a driving need for distraction, nearly to the point of transcendence in order to deal with pain, which I first mention in Be My Pagan Valentine. On a very personal level, I tend to drift away from mainstream while I deal, and I’m noticing I seem to fit in with other people who do the same thing. The ‘common thread’ Michael brings up in the BraveWords interview might be a sort of common thread for many of us.
This newest release, Dead Girls, strikes an extremely personal chord with me. Humans internalize, own, and recreate, that’s what we do. Pagan’s sugar skull art covering the somewhat explicit and very human sounds and commentary coming through with the music is a vehicle that carries us into darker recesses that we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to pontificate. We might see it around us as entertainment, we might even live it and block it out, but the music opens the mind and allows us to stand on that bridge connecting intellectual assessment and instinctual fear and horror. Well, some of us. I know there is a chasm between assessing and actually living this level of art.
Quote from the BraveWords interview about tour dates- “Dead Girls will be supported by Pagan’s largest scale tour to date with Michael and Vex taking part in the third annual Snarkstock event June 11th and 12th in Baltimore, MD, Christian joining Psychotica for a US run beginning late July followed by Pagan dates in the Fall and Winter that will see the band play across the US with dates in Canada and Europe.”
I really do love this guy. I don’t think I’ve ever stalked anyone so hard, but it’s fun because there’s so little really out there. This pic clicks to source on Mike’s Facebook. You know, so you can stalk him, too.
I’m still holding out hope.
I still lurk around the ‘fear’ fringes when the mood strikes. It used to be a lot harder to find stuff about *cough* masonry *cough* and all its crazy connections around the world through time, like a giant web, but now that it’s more fashionable to discuss it openly, I have fun skating across the riskier parts of the pond to see if I’ll fall in. Internet thrill sports, as it were.
I like Lady Gaga, she’s weird and aggressive and she got game. She’s the sort of person you can model from with questions like- What would I be willing to do, how far would I be willing to go to get fill in the blank? I’ve ventured further into some quests than many people I know, and a lot of it was me being willing to risk losing over and over in order to win.
Last night I wondered what Lady Gaga would answer if someone asked her what the lyrics to Venus meant, and I wound up in some pretty wild places. I love wild places. This one is my favorite. It reviews a different song, but explains a lot. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but it reads like the coolest Hollywood reveal movie you ever saw. Among the many thoughts and questions that popped into my mind reading it was “So THAT’S what the monarch was all about in Under The Dome?”
If you liked that and want more, scroll down to just above the comments and there is a list of related articles and the tag ‘lady gaga‘, which will take you to more.
I’m not promoting Lady Gaga, and I’m not a ‘vigilant citizen’, but I’ve had my own brushes with mind control, mostly via other people’s experiences. Mind control is not a new thing. It’s all around us. Even if you are a free citizen who gets to decide where you work, what you eat, how you recreate, and pay in some form for your own place to sleep, you are still embedded in a society of mind control. Yeah, I know, you think I’m talking about big corporate and commercials, sellsellsell. Or political propaganda slamming our eyeballs at every turn. Money and fear turn the world faster than anything, and it’s so easy to get caught up in money and fear. But that’s not what I mean.
Someone you know is living in an abusive situation and either can’t escape or is afraid to escape. That is mind control.
Someone you know knows someone who has gone missing into the underworld of human trafficking, which has grown exponentially along with world markets. That is mind control.
Someone on your street or at your work or even in your church is tangled up with something illegal and living two lives. That is mind control.
Someone you know grew up being ‘punished’ into certain behaviors, and someone else you know is obsessed with evil symbolism, and someone else you know likes to toy with making people react over words that pull all the right strings in all the wrong places. These are all mind control.
Mind control is a real thing. I’ve met people who have gone through programming from childhood and escaped, I’ve met people who run underground organizations, and I know several families who’ve lost loved ones to the mists- just vanished. Nice People are not immune. Nice People sometimes believe in a much bigger cause and future than you can imagine. You being distracted by commercials and the news is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.
So, back to Venus. I don’t care one way or another about all the big symbolism and the shocking reveals. My question is- If Lady Gaga’s whole career is a big ongoing reveal about the dark side of the industry and the sacrifice she made getting into it, if her entire career is about this story, then why is it being told? IF she really went through monarch programming (pick and choose from those articles, it’s fascinating, I’m rather fond of this one), why is the programming being revealed? As an unfolding story, no less.
I’m the sort of person who ‘broke free’ from in the box thinking at a fairly young age in a very restrictive environment. My kind of breaking free was cognitive- my parents were ultra conservative and I’m a big scifi fan. There is way more to it, but unless you’ve lived in an emotionally and mentally restrictive environment, you have no idea what freedom really is. The freedom to think one’s own thoughts is very dear to me, a thing I stand up for daily, and even though mine is a tiny little story compared to this one, at least I stand with open eyes among closed eyes all around me.
My next question is- did Lady Gaga pursue programming in order to win, or was she born into people who already knew how to track her toward this goal? I have utter respect for anyone who goes into programming with a purpose and comes out accomplishing their goals, but I would never hand my mind over to someone and let them take charge of my thoughts. On the other hand, I have absolutely no respect for any industry or religion that programs children. Several religions (aka industry covers) that I know of program children from birth.
I love this video, it’s delightfully pink. And I don’t care if it’s a reveal or just a story, because it’s weird and creepy, and I can’t help watching it. (I wonder why they show Hello Kitty…)
“I feel free.”
I’m understanding now why I’ve been fascinated with her for several years. I’m understanding as I get older why I’ve been so fascinated with mind control most of my life. And I understand what this means. If something isn’t a secret any more, it’s no longer a conspiracy. If something is known, it’s part of life. If something is shown as successful, it’s a signal to new buyers.
Think about that.
One last question- what programming would you choose? If you had a choice between being a commodity and being a tool or weapon before your brain was stripped out and remade, which would you choose? I keep saying the brain chips are coming…
And now I understand my fascination with Kai.
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