Using Your Music Scene to Change the Culture of Your City - Quiet Entertainer

Using Your Music Scene to Change the Culture of Your City

As I’ve tried to branch out from Nashville, I’ve ended up playing a lot of shows at The Coup in Clarksville, TN. People are always asking me why I keep going back out to Clarksville to do shows. It’s because I’ve met a lot of great people there, including Zach Lerman. He’s one of the owners of The Coup but it goes a lot deeper than that. A LOT deeper. Here’s an interview.


Quiet Entertainer: First off, You’ve been a well known curator in the Clarksville Music Scene. How has running your own venue helped you to do that?

Zach Lerman:Running the coup has given me the ability to see most of whats going on musically in town. Even if something is going on that is not at the coup I usually try to keep up or stop by. I have a very good sense of what is and what isn’t going on in town. This helps me get excited and encourage someone if they are talking about doing something new or exciting.

QE: How did the Coup get started?ZL:

Well I had been wanted to run my own place since I was about 13 or 14. I was playing in bands and constantly on the look out for places to play. It was hard though, as there was never really a place in Clarksville that actually wanted bands to play music there. We put on tons of shows at anywhere we could find. We had a crazy amount of house shows, and loved putting on gorilla show in any where we could find like the post office , the mall and we even put a computer back up for power in the back of a truck and played in a few neighborhood and at a local school at 8 in the morning before class( my band communist prep school in 2003,

ZL: We were constantly looking but no one seemed to want us. A few years ago we started booking shows at the icehouse cafe which was a little sandwich shop that a bunch of our friends worked at. There was some talk of some other people from out of town that were going to start a venue and some sort of fire just came up in us. There was no way we were going to let someone else run a venue in our town. It just had to be this way or else my whole life was going to amount to nothing. We got a little bit of money together from a couple avenues one of which was a friend of ours that joined the military for a few years and saved up a bunch of money. He gave us some start up for nothing in return and we looked for about six months for a building. We finally ended up in the building that we are at after much deliberation. We just started writing every band we could asking them if they wanted to come play. We started getting some letters back and the rest is history.

QE: What is your role with the Coup?

ZL:I am 1 of 3 owners that keep the place going. We have tons of other people that help us out all the time though. I book a lot of shows and run sound.. I am trying to get more involved in traveling more often and hanging out in other scenes to meet people and see whats going in our general area. I am a visionary.

QE: How has the Coup changed the Clarksville music scene?

ZL:Too many ways to count, some good, some great, some not so good. Good in that Clarksville has never in it’s history had so many amazing artists come through and share what they are doing from all over the country. 1000’s of bands have played, we had had everything from burlesque, drag, parties,movies, vegan potlucks, art shows, experimental theatre, spelling bees, political meetings, debauchery, sobriety, recording sessions, movie shoots, more parties, bands from France/ Austria/ Norway/ Japan, noise, punk, hip hop, death, grind, electro, dubstep, triphop, acoustic , math,  doom, and every genre that you have never heard of. Before the coup there was house shows, which don’t get me wrong some of my best memories of my entire life were there, but I would like to think that the coup has brought a legitimacy to the town. Some of the negative things that I feel have happened because of it is that ( I am about to sound like an old man) I feel like a lot of kids don’t understand what its like to live in a Clarksville where the coup doesn’t exist so they take it for granted. You wanna talk about seriously nothing to do, these kids don’t EVEN fucking know. But I feel over all there has been a positive effect.

 

QE: What is the Coup’s role  in the Clarksville electronic and hip hop music scene?

ZL: The Coup has been housing pretty much every type of electronic music you could think of for the last four years and hip hop has for sure been in our top styles of music that we promote. The Coup is a place where all underground music can be nurtured. But we encourage electronic artists and hip hop artists to think outside the box and not just trying to remake whatever they have heard on the radio or where ever else. It’s important to try and do your own thing no matter if there is an audience for it or not. There is something beautifully amazing in creating something new. But the Coup was instrumental in bringing to light the rise in dubsteps popularity in the past few years. But now that it is overplayed we have to tried to move on a little. The coup has brought in some pretty cool acts from Nashville like this is art, wick-it and many more, which I am sure would have never happened if the coup did not exist. There are a number of small producers coming up out of the wood works too which is cool. The coup is also a place were a lot of local acts have gotten their start such as SMOKEE B. CNDYPNTS!TEE-AYE-SEE-OHHand many more. So I would say the coup has been vital in housing and maintaining a both of these scenes and many others.

QE: Tell me about what you’ve been doing in the festival scene?

ZL:Mostly we have just been working with the city of Clarksville parks and recreation in putting on Clarksville’s annual Riverfest. The fest has been around for a long time but a few years ago they let us have our own stage and the next year we had two. So we have been booking acts from all over the state and more to come be a part of this free festival. Last year we booked 53 groups to play in 2 days. We will be doing the same this year.It has definitely brought hip hop and electro into the spotlight a little more because I would venture to say that never before in the history of clarksville has their ever been such a large amount of underground artists together at a city sponsored event at one time. They would maybe book one lucky band that would get to play the fest, now we are booking over 50, so I would say that it is a large blow to the man. This year it is on Sept 7th and 8th. We are also putting on a bike and music festival this year on the 19th of may. Like most other things we do we will incorporate all types of underground music. We also will be hosting our 4th birthday party on the weekend of April 19th entitled Weekend of Death 4.  We have plans for a few other big things that I cannot talk about at this time.

QE: Tell me about what you’ve been doing cross promotionally with Clarksville and Nashville?

ZL:We have a lot of artists coming up from Nashville to play and hang out. Usually they come and have a good time and let others know what we are doing and it brings more artists our way. We have really only recently gotten into cross promotion where we are trying to get some of the Clarksville music up in Nashville. A lot of this has come from me and Smokee B and Tee-aye see-oh going to Making moves at the End and trying to get connected with whats going on there. We are trying to close the gap between Nashville and Clarksville. It’s not that far away but its far enough away to feel like you went somewhere. Plus we like coming up and eating some tasty food at Cafe Coco! So basically the plan is to try and develop a larger sense of community in the TN area through hanging out and playing music with people in other towns more often weather its going somewhere else or having people come to Clarksville.

QE: I’ve seen or heard about a lot of different artistic projects you’ve been working on. What all are you currently involved in?

ZL:My main everything right now is LIBERATE TE EX JESSE SMITH. It is me and my friend Matt Watkins. It is a spacey, hybrid of older indie instrumental rock with some newer electronic perspectives. We use ableton and some guitars and a few vocals but not too many. A lot of harmonious soundscapes with outerworldly synths. It has everything from electronic noise to ambient beds to straight up neo-futurist dance epicism. Every song is different. We really want to help develop the future of electronic music. There is so much that surrounds the fact that if you make electronic music you have to be making electro, house or dubstep. This is just simply not the truth. We are trying to explore some of the more artistic ways to bring music to life using technology. We do whatever we want, if a song seems like it is just starting around the five minute mark then we let the sound develop naturally and try not to put any restrictions or preconceived ideas into the process. For some reason it has come to be accepted that a song is an intro, a verse, chorus, and an outro. We are seeking to destroy this abomination in music. Music has the freedom to be whatever it feels with out the constraints of modern songism keeping it packaged in a nice neat little box that is formulated for the mass public to be able to swallow without any thought. Artists once again need to let the art make itself. We art just the facilitators that can either allow the information to flow freely to open the minds of the people or we can bottle nose it all from the depths of our soul to help keep the public in there drone world of soulless consumerism  We have just finished our 2nd album and will be putting it out pretty soon on GHOST HOUSE RECORDS which is our label that we have put stuff out on for the last 10 years or so. We are also working with a friend of ours by the name of CHRIS LAYTON. We are making a music movie to the new album which he will be filming. He is amazing. The video will be an inter dimensional journey to find truth and fulfilling ecstasy of the afterlives.

Liberate has also been working on our other new album which should be out in a few weeks. It pays homage to Andy Warhol who had the idea that modern suburban culture was plagued with a pop landscape. Everything is repetitive to the point where you can’t define real life from advertisements. We wanted to create a piece of art that takes the inane receptiveness of modern culture and exploits its flaws. We also wanted to take mindless pop music and create sound beautiful and disturbing with it. The track I have put up here is the most palatable of them all.

It uses repetitive themes and and brings in harmonious melodies. It is also a statement about electronic music and music in general. The idea music is a verse chorus and bridge is all too dominant in modern music. Music should be a journey to the unknown not a forseeable infrastructure of sounds.  Music is should not be predictable. We are seeking to dissect pop music and create something unheard of before. The album will be full of ungroovable and introspective soundscapes. Free your mind from the commercial decomposition of suposed music. Music is art and should be treated as such. We are constantly in the lab producing new ideas and sounds that will be a slap in the face to consumer culture. Music should be a journey for the soul not a vehicle for selling goods.

I have been rapping with Smokee B for sometime also. We have recently formed a rap band and will be playing at The End on March 26th. I like rapping a lot but I feel that I have had a writer’s block for the last few years. I really just don’t want to talk about how “I am like” something. Metaphors and similes in modern rap having just gotten out of hand. People just like to make tons of comparisons of things they are like instead of actually just living the life. I just want to make sure in whatever new stuff I write that I’m actually saying something, not talking about how I am going to say something. I used to look up to Immortal technique because I thought that he was dropping so much knowledge. Until someone pointed out to me that he really just talks about how much knowledge he is going to drop and never really brings anything to the table. I don’t want to be like that. I also do 2 solo projects ENIMAL which is my more random electronic music and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN which is my more progressive and chill experimental electronic music. And I do have a little house ish music made with Clarksville’s best producer Ryan Shoulderswho is about to drop some for real shit on the world

QE: I’ve also read a couple of your newsletters. Tell me about those.

ZL:I started making zines about the same time we opened the coup. I had tried to get a bunch of stories in the local paper but they really seemed not to care about what we were doing. We could get a few stories in here and there but it was always on the back page. We really needed a local publication that was telling about the music scene and what was actually happening in the town. I started with Empire of Honesty which is a zine about music art and life in Clarksville. I have covered many local acts as well as Nashville and Murfreeboro bands. I moved on to put out a few stories that I wrote about some crazy times that I have had in my life called “trackmarks” . These were detailed accounts of drugged out craziness that I went through when I was younger. I put out a few other peoples stories and have put out “The truth about drugs” which is a non biased look at some of the more popular recreations drugs. I recently put out my newest creation which is ” Damn the Man” . It is a guide to living apart from corporate influence in the modern age. I like to put things out that could open peoples minds, I for sure want to empower those who already feel the same as I do but I want Clarksville to transform. The only reason it is the way it now is because someone made it that way. All it needs is some people that care and live what they believe. It is also just about putting the power back into the hands of the people. To do this we have to stop buying stupid crap. The corporations who are buying our government our doing so because we just cant possibly live without updating our iphones every 6 months. We are the ones with the power. We need to bring a sense of community back. Every single person needs to have a garden if they have space. Imagine eating food from the ground everyday instead of having to go spend your hard earned cash on it. No one would be hungry and there would be enough variety to trade freely between everyone. We do not need the corporate gods. They are trying to make it to where humans don’t know how to survive with out them. We rely on them to exploit third world countries so we can have a new t shirt that looks slightly different then our other ones. They are not people, they do not have feelings, they do everything with one goal in mind and that is to maximize profits. We can have an amazing future if we create one, but if we sit back and watch tv and listen to the mainstream media then humanity might be doomed forever. Seriously.

QE: Has your involvement with the Coup given you an additional platform to spread your ideas?

ZL:Yeah, I get to talk with and meet a lot of people who share similar ideas and I get to let other people know whats going on who maybe have never thought about reality beyond what they have been told. Having the zines is a good way to get stuff out there though. But yes it has given me a platform and I think that the Coup is rapidly developing into a vital part of the Clarksville community which means that our ethics and way of life are seeping into the collective consciousness of the town.  We want to destroy the corporate mentality. We want to transform Clarksville into a model town that survives on its own art, food and ideas. It will be an uphill battle. But we are a thousand times closer to this reality then we would be if we didn’t have the coup.

QE: What do you have planned for the future? Future of the Coup, future of Clarksville, in general?

ZL:The future is bright. The Coup will be a center for free thought for all of the world to see. We will continue in our fight for bringing humanity back to the people. We will be working hard to make Clarksville a hub for artists all over Tennessee. I have this relative plan to run for mayor that I have been thinking about for the last few years, but who knows that seems a little crazy, but some might have said opening up the coup was crazy. Everytime you accomplish a goal it gives you the insight that you can do things. I am not only what I am right now. We are the future if we choose to be. The Coup is choosing to be the future. One where people have minds of their own and govern themselves. “DAMN THE MAN, SAVE THE EMPIRE”.


You can email Zach at zachlerman@gmail.com
Check out the Coup and its upcoming shows at www.coupclarksville.com.
To book a show at The Coup, email: qxcbooking@gmail.com

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About the Author Quiet Entertainer

Quiet Entertainer (that's me) is a DJ/Producer that blends ambient electronica with hip-hop. I'm based in Nashville, TN.

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