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Interview: Kylewilliam Campol On The End Of imadethismistake, The Joys Of Cassettes, And Being A Conflicted Hip Hop Fan.

Kylewilliam Campol has spent the last ten years writing, recording and touring under the moniker imadethismistake. At 23 that equals a considerable portion of his young life spent dedicated to one project. Now the time has come for Kylewilliam to retire imadethismistake and move on to other projects. Our editor John-Michael Bond recently sat down with Campol to answer some questions about the end of the band, punk rock in general, and what it’s like to be a queer Odd Future fan. Continue reading for the complete interview.

John-Michael: So why do you feel it’s time to bring imadethismistake to an end?

Kylewilliam: Well it’s been ten years. I started this band when I was 13; I’m 23 now. So it’s been the most constant relationship in the entirety of my existence pretty much. I’ve had this band longer than I’ve been able to drive so being able to look back and see that I’ve done three full lengths, a ton of EPs and over a thousand tour dates it’s been a really fun, beautiful experience. But it’s come to a point where I feel like I’m at a different place in my life and I’ve got different priorities.

The two main reasons are that I’ve been doing it for so long and the second is I feel like Bow and Quiver, the last record we put out, was exactly what I wanted to write and say. And imadethismistake has always been very based off what’s going on with me personally. My state of mind, how I’m feeling at the time, and things have gone in the past that I need to express. It’s been a open diary band and I’m really comfortable with the level I’m at now and I’m excited to move on to different projects and priorities.

JM: Was there anything you wanted to accomplish with IMTM that you didn’t do?

KW: I didn’t get to sell out, which is unfortunate.

JM: That sucks.

KW: I would have loved to have cashed in. That would have been great, but the whole spoken word poetry thing made it kind of hard. (Laughter)

JM: So after ten years how much do you hate the term folk punk?

KW: I don’t hate the term, it’s just always been an unjustly attributed to the band. It’s because I started playing acoustic around the time when Ghost Mice and Defiance, Ohio were really prominent and everyone was really big on the whole folk punk wave, so I kind of got lumped in. I come from a different background, and I never really felt like I played folk punk. But we got labeled as it and I don’t mind. It’s whatever. I just don’t think the term applies to us anymore. I mean would you call imadethismistake folk punk?

JM: No. But… here’s the thing. I think there are reasons genres exist. As a music reviewer I’m stoked to be able to easily throw something out there and have people know what I’m talking about. But I think sometimes terms get misused and it causes people to not check out bands who don’t sound like how they’re being described. I mean The Clash used acoustic guitars and folk arrangements but no one tries to label them as folk punk these days.

KW: I think because I had an acoustic guitar and a particular kind of voice doesn’t mean I was a folk punk artist, but if you break down the term “folk punk” and use folk as a term for storytelling and punk as a term for aggression, then yeah imadethismistake was a folk punk band. It’s all storytelling and it’s all aggressive.

JM: I the term started to mean more political movement than it did musical movement.

KW: Yeah, at the end now it’s being used as a negative term. I like to think that we’re an alternative punk band. I’m just happy that people listen. Without being on a larger sized label imadethismistake has done well and I’m thrilled about how well it’s gone. The people who are really into the music are truly into the music. I really appreciate that. I can’t even begin to count the number of really intense hour long discussions I’ve had with people after shows because of a story we told that hit them personally. You get to hear people’s life stories and they’re always really interesting. It’s cool to be able to relate to people like that. That’s probably the best thing that ever came out of imadethismistake.

I’ve never taken those people who came up to me after a show for granted. And for everyone who comes up and wants to talk there’s another person who absolutely hates this band and I’m totally comfortable with that. Firstly I get so much enjoyment out of writing and playing with this band, and to have people relate is beautiful. There was a girl I met in Wisconsin who had self tattooed lyrics to a song from It’s Okay on her forearm. Like strait up stick and poke.

JM: Ouch.

KW: It was “You wouldn’t know honesty if it hit you doing 90 on the interstate” tattooed on her forearm that she did herself. Those people made all the people who didn’t like us okay. Like the death threats we’ve gotten. Those people made that shit totally worth it.

JM: Why were you getting death threats?

KW: I played a show in Carrboro, North Carolina that was amazing. I love that town and I got to play with one of my favorite bands called Systems and it was just a beautiful show. There were two heavy as fuck metal bands playing, which you know I love, and then there was us. This was right before Bow and Quiver came out so it was the electric version of imadethismistake. And two weeks after we played I got an email from this dude saying “I saw you at the show, I know you were shit talking at the show, I know who you are, if you ever comeback to Carrboro I’ll fucking kill you.”

So I sent that person back and email saying “hey, I’m sorry if I did something to offend you. I apologize. But that response is totally irrational, and I’ve got no idea where it’s coming from. Would you like to talk about this in a mature and rational way?” And he wrote back “I’m not mature and rational. Don’t ever fucking come back to Carrboro.” It’s amazing.

JM: So now that you’re not going to be doing IMTM, what projects are you working on now?

KW: Music wise I’m currently playing bass in The Two Funerals from Richmond, which is amazing because they’re one of my favorite bands that has ever existed. The Two Funerals are the band that politicized me. They’re the band that showed me there is a radical state of mind different from the one I had before that works. They made me unashamed to be a male and call myself a feminist. And that was a really big deal for me. I grew up in a house of all women, all of my friends are women, I identify as a queer male. So that was a band that really politicized my feminist issues that I believe in.

I’ve been able to work with them over the years, and even released a 7” for them, and when they lost their bass player they asked me to join. Playing bass with them is really fun and I’m thrilled be a part of it. I’m also living in Fort Lauderdale again after many years of not living in Florida and have a new band in the works that we just started called Best Days. My friend Camilo who used to be in a band called Go Rydell is playing in it with me, but it’s very different from anything either of us has ever done. We’re taking influences from things like Tides, early Baroness, Red Fang, and a little bit of early Sabbath. It’s really heavy and we’re really excited about it.

JM: Will you be putting that out on Cottage, and will you be focusing more on Cottage Records now that IMTM is done?

KW: No, Cottage is on a indefinite hiatus as of last year. We had the honor of putting out some great releases. I’m really proud of the Mose Giganticus 7” and the Two Funerals 7”s we put out. We got to release a cassette EP collection from one of my favorite bands Battlefields. But while I love music and I’ll always be a part of it my major focuses are kind of shifting a little bit.

So one of the other projects I’m working on is a book called Safe Travels through Microcosm Publishing that’s just a guide on how to tour. It’ll have road stories, a bunch of comics inside, the cover art was done by Lauren from the Measure, and the inside will have art from CCraig Horky, Joshua Mikel, and Jeffrey Lewis. There’s just a ton of artists and people who are contributing in someway. So that’s a big focus. I’m also going back to school in August, which will be interesting.

JM: Why have you decided to release music on cassette? One of our writers is about to put out a cassette release and I’m fascinated by the sudden resurgence of cassettes in punk.

KW: I don’t think it’s a sudden resurgence, it’s just be quiet. I mean they’re a really cheap option, that a lot of people still use. I mean how many people do you personally know who still have cars with cassette players inside. It’s probably a good amount. Not everyone has an iPod or a CD player in their car so it’s a good way to have portable music. They’re fun, they’re warm. Personally I love the fuzzy crunch. It’s my favorite way to listen to some of my own records even. It’s Okay sounds perfect on cassette. And that’s something I’m kind of proud of, that record never came out on CD. It was just vinyl, cassette, and digital download. And that was in 2007.

JM: Were you inspired by having a cassette player in your car?

KW: Maybe, I mean I never abandoned the medium of cassettes. I’d always buy them when I could find them. Looking through a record store and finding a used copy of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic on cassette, I mean are you kidding me? 99 cents? So I have a giant collection of cassettes. And when it came down to it I didn’t want to put out It’s Okay on CD and so we put it out on vinyl and cassette.

JM: For me cassettes have been something I associate with black metal bands and punk demos, at least for the last decade.

KW: A cassette is a great way to release your demo. Especially if you include a digital download.

JM: Just because I love talking punk with you what’s the one trend in punk rock right now that’s driving you crazy?

KW: The one that really drive me crazy are bands from the UK who sing in American accents. It really pisses me off. I’ve spent a lot of time in Britain, I’ve toured there a lot and most of my really good friends live there. And they have a beautiful accent, and a great way of pronouncing things, and then I hear people singing and they sound like Chuck Ragan. And it’s like “You don’t sound like that! You’re from Wales! You have a very thick accent! Stop singing like you’re American!”

JM: In those bands defense it’s hard show an accent through the Chuck Ragan voice. It’s hard to shout and scream in a British accent.

KW: It could just be them screaming the way they scream, but for me it’s just a matter of pronunciation. I use Canadian pronunciation, so when I pronounce the word “project” it sounds different from if you pronounce “project.” Just don’t cover up where you’re from. So yeah, UK bands using American pronunciation.

I think my favorite trend in punk rock is the early 00s emo revival. I’m so happy with it right now. Mid 90s to early 00s emo, that metal and hip hop are what I listen to, so just to see bands like Balance and Composure and Tigers Jaw come out and just rock that early Brand New before Jesse Lacey went all introspective and discovered acid sound is just awesome. It’s really exciting. So yeah, British bands singing in American accents would be my least favorite thing and emo revival is my favorite thing.

Oh, and honestly I’ve started to be annoyed by how many bands are playing the Hot Water Music style of punk rock.

JM: Just too many of them?

KW: There’s so many of them, but it’s not that there are too many of them so much as they’re all writing the same songs. And these bands all get big to a certain degree because there is a community of guys who play in those kinds of gruff punks bands and only listen to those bands and the whole thing just kind of pisses me off. It’s been done, so capitalize on it. Do something better with it. If you’re going to play by the numbers genre music do it right.

Teenage Bottlerocket is a good example. They play by the numbers punk rock and pop punk. But they do it with their own little flair to it and that’s why so many people like them. They’re not Screeching Weasel 2.0, they’re Screeching Weasel Plus. So when I hear a band playing gruff punk I just want to hear them play something original. I don’t want to hear a lead ripped off of Chris Wollard. That’s not cool.

JM: I think that’s due to bands getting discovered before they’ve developed. They build a following quickly and don’t have time to figure out what they want to bring to their influences so the influences win out. And then they break up after one or two records and never develop.

KW: And those bands never get huge, they just play to their genre specific crowd. But it takes a band like Teenage Bottlerocket or The Menzingers, bands with real work ethic who work on their craft and develop over time.

JM: There’s been a lot of discussion recently about ignored sexism in punk (punk news/I Live Sweat) and ignored homophobia in indie music in general with the rise of Odd Future. Do you think the two are necessarily connected? We like to think sometimes that the punk crowd is its own thing, its own scene, but there’s a lot of people who aren’t involved in the scene who just like the tunes you know?

KW: Well the “punk community” as we’ll call it is a glorified fraternity. If you take a frat bro and remove his white baseball cap and Jeep Wrangler, to bring back the Emo Game, and replace it with a jean vest and trade Dave Mathews for Hot Water Music you’ve got the punk scene. That’s what it is, a glorified fraternity. That’s just fact.

Now with that comes a lot of inherent sexism, racism, and classism that happens in punk rock. It happens in every single community. It happens in hip hop and jam bands and everything. It just takes on its own unique form. It’s just a matter of how accepted it is in each culture. So for me, homophobia in hip hop has been accepted since the beginning of the genre. It was the first insult people went to.

JM: There’s also a great deal of homophobia in the African American community historically in American history.

KW: Absolutely. I think the main point is that every culture and community and race has its own kind of classism, racism, and sexism. A big thing for me is that there was once a show I almost didn’t get to play a date on a tour because I was a guy. I have experienced reverse sexism where I’ve played a feminist show and almost got kicked off because I’m male bodied and identify as a male. There’s a lot of different sides to it.

JM: I’ve had that happen to me, not with playing shows but where I’ve gone to see radical feminist bands and been told I wasn’t welcome as a white male oppressor. And I’m like, I just came to support the cause.

KW: There are radical segments of the feminist community and those experiences are unfortunate.

JM: And that’s the thing for me, I feel like the most radical feminists can give a bad name to the whole movement.

KW: It’s a complicated issue. The people who are on the far corners of any issue are always going to be the absolute worst. While they call out bigotry and hate their actions show bigotry and hate. But getting back to the connection between the hip hop and punk community, I think they relate because they’re both music communities.

The only difference is in the underground punk community there is a very large vocal group who are staunchly against sexism and racism. As a group we preach going against mainstream values, like being antigay. Which is great. I don’t appreciate being called a faggot. That’s bullshit. And I think we as punks can do better.

As far as the Odd Future stuff goes, I’m at a very weird crossroads with Odd Future. Tyler, The Creator’s beats are untouchable. They’re phenomenal. He’s a once in a decade producer. Before him it was the Neptunes, and Dr. Dre and Kanye West. You know what I mean? And he has the ability to be that. Syd the Kid does a phenomenal job mixing. They’re great.

As for what they say, I don’t appreciate the incredibly high amount of sexism and homophobia that goes into their music. But then again I’m a fan of horror movies, which often have people getting slashed up because they’re slutty.

JM: And I’ve seen them point out that their DJ Syd is a lesbian and say “well obviously we don’t actually hate gay people, our DJ is a lesbian. It’s just words” And that’s the problem I’m having with them right now, I’m conflicted. I think if you take out all the uses of “faggot” and the sexism…

KW: You’ve have a half of the record left.

JM: Yeah, but the other half that’s left has some really beautiful and introspective shit in it.

KW: My favorite thing about Tyler, the Creator is the song “Bastard” of the album Bastard. That’s one of the most incredible hip hop songs I’ve ever heard. His open diary lyricism makes me jealous. When he’s introspective, as opposed to storytelling about rape and misogyny, it’s amazing. Truly amazing. He’s gifted and wonderful. But the second he starts diving into the rape fantasies… Look, I understand that he’s saying that shit as a joke. I don’t think he or his crew is really going to rape anyone, I don’t think they’re going to kill anyone. It’s a horror movie. They’re writing a horror movie, and it’s got some really interesting aspects to it.

Do I appreciate the rape scene in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes? No. But I’ve still watched that movie. I don’t appreciate or like or stand for it, but going between the lines and seeing what’s underneath it he’s a very gifted lyricist and producer and I respect that. I don’t respect what he’s got to say about rape and misogyny though.

JM: Yeah, I think what I see with Tyler is an hyperactive kid who figured out how to get a rise out of people by saying certain words. I think that’s why it’s so disturbing and also why it’s so easy for people to write it off as just kidding. Even when he’s saying something that sounds like a hate crime under normal circumstances…

KW: He’s saying it with a smirk.

JM: Yeah, it’s done in such a playful way that people can just say “well he obviously doesn’t mean that.”

KW: My question for people would be this. A lot of the critics who have issue with him are people who would probably still put on Eminiem’s first couple of records, or at least listen to the singles from them. And 15 years ago the exact same debate that people are having now over Tyler, the Creator was happening over Eminem. He talked about rape and misogyny.

JM: I think the difference is Tyler has Twitter, where he’s free to be as retarded as he wants all day. And I do appreciate the irony of using the term “retarded” in a discussion about sensitivity of language.

KW: And that’s the problem. We’re all hypocrites. Everything is hypocrital in some way, and if you can recognize that we’re all hypocrites and you can accept it that’s how I’m able to accept the fact that I own Goblin, I own Bastard. I listen to Tyler, the Creator’s records and I listen to them. I love the production, I love a lot of his lyrics. I hate all the misogyny and I hate all the rape shit. It’s pretty simple. That’s my take on Odd Future. Every genre has to deal with these questions.

JM: It’s funny, I know we’re going to get some email saying we’re only asking about that for page views, but honestly you’re one of my favorite people to talk about hip hop with. You’re a massive hip hop nerd.

KW: Yeah, it’s funny for me because when people look at me they just see a stoner kid but I’m a massive hip hop and metal fan. I don’t listen to punk, I just play punk.

JM: It’s like a dream come true, I get to ask you something about gender politics AND hip hop? And I think those aspects fit into who you are and want your band represents. Thanks for being willing to talk about it.

I know you used to be a big vinyl collector. Do you think vinyl is a fad right now or do you think as cd sales die out it’s going to be the format of choice for physical media?

KW: I believe it’s already become the choice for physical media. That’s my opinion. We’re obviously not counting the large mainstream culture. It isn’t for the Billboard 200, but for the rest of the world. I mean 95% of music is stuff that doesn’t sell a thousand copies and with those releases I think vinyl is becoming the go to medium. You can do vinyl, CD or a download. I love it. You get a 12” package with beautiful art, and it’s something you know will last that you’ll be able to play again and again even into the space age. Vinyl is here to stay.

The collecting bubble, million variants stage is gone. I’m happy that Pokemon stage is over because it was kind of fucking stupid.

JM: Of course there were a bunch of different covers for It’s Okay.

KW: Yeah, but for that record it wasn’t so much about having a lot of variants so much as I had a bunch of friends who were artists. I had three covers for that record before I ever recorded it. So I figured I’d just do a bunch of different covers because I thought the art was cool. It wasn’t about making a million covers so I’d be able to make a million dollars off selling them as a three pack.

JM: So are there any final plans for imadethismistake?

KW: Well what’s happening is this. imadethismistake played our last US show a few weeks ago in Virginia beach. We’re going to do one last UK tour next summer which will be the actual final tour and I’m working on a retrospective zine that’s going to have lyrics and guitar tabs for every song, stories behind the songs, and that will come with 3 songs I wrote before I decided to give up the band. Those are recorded and just chilling until the zine comes out. Those are the final plans for the band. It’s going to be a nice final goodbye zine, followed by the final tour next year. It’s going to be great.

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  1. Congratulations on a brilliant analysis of bigotry and the lyrical responsibilities of an artist.

    Comment by GrizzlyTeacup — 23/05/2011 #

  2. Thank you. I’ve always been impressed by Kylewilliam’s views on gender and hip hop.

    Comment by John-Michael — 24/05/2011 #

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