21st Century American DIY: An impressionistic glimpse into the DIY worlds of Walter Gross & Skrapez
Shot, edited & mixed by Walter Gross.
Additional camerawork by Lumiere Soto.
21st Century American DIY: An impressionistic glimpse into the DIY worlds of Walter Gross & Skrapez (Tenshun & Psychopop).
To be perfectly honest, I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life. I remember being 7 or 8 years old walking around in my front yard daydreaming about making movies. Slang Yourself is a small step, but a step nevertheless. After everything that has happened, I am just glad I still have the desire to make something. I made the film for a class I’m taking at the Los Angeles City College. I’m 27 years old and have never been to college until now. I get some money through financial aid, supplemented with a minimum wage part-time job that pays under the table, I get by, I live according to a schedule and I’m able to expose different people beyond my friends to what I do. I found an SLR consumer-grade camera that shot in HD for a reasonable price, enrolled in my 3rd clinical drug study for 2 months enduring 2 spinal taps and some new pharmaceutical drug, got out, got paid and applied for a credit card with 400 dollars on it. I officially upgraded.
Six minutes is either way too short for a documentary or the perfect length to give you enough of a slice of our lives to want to know more. When I met Skrapez in 2005 through the small time French label, Vulgar Records, I felt a sense of tangible encouragement with what I was pursuing knowing that not only are there other like-minded artists I can personally relate to but they’re also scattered all across the globe. And then when I moved out west in 2008, they invited me to play with them at an art show in Santa Ana. I remember walking up the stairs to the gallery and they had already started, we briefly shook hands for the first time in person, said a few words and then I plugged in and we got lost in the session. These are the kinds of people that make such great friends, not much needs to be said, things are already understood and when the creative energies merge, very little is ever frustrating or an issue. The other important factor is that we’re just as formidable, defined and strong as solo artists, as we are when we collaborate or when Tenshun & Psychopop create as Skrapez. And that leads to a certain freedom, sense of security and an absence of any form of co-dependency that can arise in artists’ circles. We do our thing and when something needs to get done we know how to do it without any outside assistance. Collectively we’ve created close to 100 releases, Tenshun being the most prolific with over 40 albums under his belt.
I’d be lying if I said I never felt jealous, embittered, pathetic and wanting to quit. When you pour your heart and soul into something, carefully craft each one and then find it impossible to sell 15 copies of it, one starts to wonder, “What’s the fucking point?” The problem with that point is one doesn’t choose this life, I wholeheartedly believe it chooses us. The faith you must have in yourself to constantly be in mode, eyes open, ready to execute at any given hour is beyond anything of this world, in my honest opinion. There is something pressing in us that drives us to carry on despite the lack of support, major label help or even general approval & exposure. I’ll never forget those that have supported me from day one until now but at some point you have to ask yourself how long can I keep this up. And this is the driving spirit behind what we do. I know for me, it’s my language that won’t let me shut-up as well as self-therapy. Anger. Love. Inspiration. Gratitude. The ability and awareness to watch the world pass by and process it through your imagination onto some thing that a person I may never meet can hold in their hands, listen to and keep. What more could I ask for?
I’m discontent with my culture. I’m ashamed of what we’ve become and what we seek. Engaging in a creative process is the least I can do to have any form of positive impact on the world so that I don’t die as someone that just consumed and poisoned the earth. Whether or not we’ll have someone to help us along the way hasn’t been an issue for quite some time. I take heed to natural selection and remain faithful that what is sincere, powerful and with substance will live on and serve a real purpose to the people. You never know when life might get in the way, or when death may take you, so as anyone compelled to create something I believe it’s our duty to make as much as possible before the artistic clock stops ticking. It takes time to build a dimension, a mosaic for people to understand the larger picture of an artist’s aesthetic and a creative context in order to progress naturally and create without inhibition. Empires are falling apart, things are losing its meaning and life is as ambiguous as ever; we must carry on as only we know how.