BangLocalDads - Very Cool, Very Modern

by: Ali Shana

Milwaukee artist Psychic Abi released his newest music video for the track ‘Giant Killer’ through a website called banglocaldads.com. I had to click the link out of pure curiosity. It took me to an empty page, besides the music video with a little box below to enter your twitter name. Impressed with both the video and it’s unique release strategy, I gave the site my twitter handle.

From there, things got even weirder. The banglocaldads.com Twitter account followed me, with the username ‘a normal site’. The description read: “very cool, very modern”. I found the whole thing hilarious - but more than humorous, I found it simply stuck in my head. I eventually contacted the name I believed to be associated with the site’s creation and asked if I could get an interview.

Turns out, banglocaldads.com was nothing I could have predicted. I learned what the site is and what it will be, concluding that absolutely no one in this city is riding the same wavelengths of these creatives.

Which brings me to my first truth: banglocaldads.com is a group of creatives. Stupid Neel, Dan Black, Phillip J Hoffmann, Sean McAdams, Louis Packard, Casshan, and Jack Suda.  I sat down with Neel, Black, Hoffmann, and McAdams in the banglocaldads.com headquarters.

“It’s basically an online gallery,” says Neel, “and without it we’d all have a ton of shit scattered and out there. This way it’s one cohesive thing.”

A ton of shit is right! The site’s gallery includes videos, music, visual art, gifs and strange moving/looping backgrounds. The website’s background changes completely as you navigate through it.

Although no roles are set in stone, each member is an overall artist. Neel, Black, and Casshan make music and videos. Hoffmann and Suda are visual artists. Packard is a writer and McAdams performs cameos, also operating as coterie human resources.

As a hip-hop artist, Neel’s working on a project to be released during the first fiscal quarter of 2016, executively produced by Casshan. Neel released his debut mixtape ‘Tommy Bahama’ in 2013. The rapper made videos for the songs “Tommy Bahama” and “Plateau” in addition to creating a full-length video mix(tape) to complement the audio. While his music videos have been collaborations with Black and Jeff Djoum, his independent video mixes and edits are not necessarily related to his musical career.

Neel’s video mixes include “Power Hour Vol. 1”, an hour long video made for drinking Milwaukee’s Best Light or Ice (depending on your preference). Of the many videos banglocaldads.com showed me that night, my favorite was a collection of Milwaukee moments captured on camera... for the good or bad.

“So much stuff about Milwaukee has been stupidly, overly positive,” says Neel. Although he’s not from Milwaukee, he gets the impression that things are merely being glossed over here. “Everyone’s like don’t sleep on Milwaukee! Milwaukee’s a real city! - just constantly trying to justify it."

To understand what banglocaldads.com is, it helps to know what it isn't. The group made it very clear that they weren’t a rap blog, which was one of my initial guesses, for several reasons. One being that they don’t feel the need to update the site daily or post articles. They aren’t looking for something existing outside themselves to cover. “I just wanted to make something that could house different types of art without it being a blog,” says Black, “that way every time we have a video to post, we don’t have to reach out to blogs to premiere it. We can organize and present it however we want and have as many things on there as we want.”

The second reason being the group despises rap blogs and the way they operate. “I think a lot of people are just concerned about getting the Facebook share, getting the re-tweet,” says Black. “While that’s how you spread stuff, there’s never any authentic connection with the audience. I’m not trying to say banglocaldads.com is a great user interactive site, but it gives you a reason to go on the site.” We vented on how annoying it is when blogs cover stories that could be summarized in a headline - for example, posts about artists tweeting at each other. “It’s a waste of space, no one’s gaining anything by posting that, aside from the blog getting views. They’re circumventing any actual content and it loses all its value.” Black says overall, these rap blogs are morally and structurally empty.

Black makes experimental music that I can only describe as thick glitch noise. “I like using analog equipment. I’m not a digital producer, it’s more of a hands-on process.” He’s also posted an original short story on the site’s gallery. Creative writing is rarely mixed in with these sort of sites. “Short stories are usually posted to sites dedicated to just that. With banglocaldads.com, we have the freedom to post anything, so, why not?”

The innovative has made music videos, found footage videos, and live videos - however, Black doesn’t treat the craft like a service. “After doing the early WebsterX and Soul Low videos, we had people emailing us like I’ll give you $400 dollars to make us a video, here’s exactly how we want it to be. That’s the exact opposite of how I want to make videos.” Although banglocaldads.com is willing to work on something for the right price, Hoffmann explained their motive behind making videos. “We wanted to do these videos because we really liked the songs and didn’t want to let anybody else make something with them before we could.”

We began clicking through some of Hoffmann’s visual art displayed on the site, which is quite different from the visuals posted on his own site. He says banglocaldads.com’s photos have their own aesthetic, usually more immediate and saturated. Typically, Hoffmann’s photos on the site are expressive in their post production. He digitally alters anything he finds interesting. On his personal site, we see the photographer’s talent in more portfolio styled shots. Those shots showcase a clear subject and message to the viewer, specific and dependent on what the picture is.

image: Philipp J Hoffmann

image: Philipp J Hoffmann

Packard writes from a first person perspective. It is stream of conscious. He reads his poetry live in Chicago and has released two e-books. His most recent, ‘pls drown me in ur bathtub w iced coffee,’ was released through Moloko House. The book’s cover is Hoffmann’s photo of McAdams drowning Packard. On top of writing, Packard has his own images and collages scattered on the internet, one of the collages being the cover art of WebsterX’s ‘Desperate Youth’.

image: Phillip Hoffmann

image: Phillip Hoffmann

image: Louis Packard

image: Louis Packard

Suda is an oil based figurative painter, although he does not limit himself to that format. He does watercolor and dry media drawings, too. He juxtaposes photorealism and expressive abstract art within the same piece.

I finally began to understand what banglocaldads.com was, but I was still curious as to how it came to be. Neel put it in very simple terms for me, “we’ve been bitching about stuff not being cool for the last six months.”

banglocaldads.com’s creation can be summarized as a product of disgust. The group was not satisfied with the city’s music and media as a whole. “I don’t wanna go to another bar and pay $7-$10 to see you do the same set again and again.” says Neel. “Artists doing a show a week is not how you grow a fanbase. You gain loyalty but you need the Internet. It’s not like the 70’s and there’s some A&R in the crowd looking to discover talent.” It’s feelings like these that created a sense of urgency for the group to utilize the internet themselves.

The members quote a YouTube video of country singer Garth Brooks when asked about their intentions: “we want to post cool stuff, slick stuff, neat stuff, and raw stuff.”

The sites live launch was Friday, February 12th. With unlimited creativity, a surplus of available products to come, and no specific demographic to cater to, we can expect banglocaldads.com to be everything but a 'fuck site'.