One of the highlights of last year for me personally, was being invited into one of the most friendly and supportive music groups I’ve ever witnessed on Facebook. The Avant-garde and Prog Metal group. My first impressions were of a well-oiled machine, with operators who truly and really cared about all that the group stood for. Passionate music-lovers and devotees to music’s more extreme, subversive, and experimental side. So much great content. So much to listen to. It is almost impossible to keep up with the wondrous work this group’s admin team do, so it seemed time to reach out and find out more about the talented and selfless individuals that make all this magic happen.
It would be great to learn more about the history of the group! How it came to be founded back some four years ago? Was it through a lack of friendly progressive music communities online, or a desire to just do something different? I’d love to learn about the group’s early growth too, and the branching out into the YouTube channel and other areas of operation. Related to this, how did the team of admins grow to accommodate a group that now has well over 5000 members? And finally, who are these admins?
Hugo: Well I joined this wonderful and magnificent group 1 year ago at Victor’s invitation and it has been a completely different experience to other music groups I have been in. When I joined the group it was around 2k members, and now we are almost at 6k members, it is something really exciting and that makes me happy!
What I see in this group is that it’s very different from other metal groups, is that you can share different music content whether its rock, pop, even folk music and without getting any toxic comments from the “trves” To me that’s the basis for the group being successful; not having toxic people that are irritating with their tastes in music.
The YouTube channel was launched in the beginning, with the idea of making the group and the wonderful music more widely known (the idea came from a desire to expand, where Victor, Andres and I coincide, and with the enormous help and importance that Pan is giving to the channel, we have reached more than 300 subscribers).
I want to give my thanks to my colleagues who from the first day I arrived, received me in the best possible way, and I hope that this group continues for many more years and we continue to grow and enjoy the music as always.
Andrés Carvajal: I knew about the group when I was on another group called “Melomaniacs” (which was formerly about “Doom Metal” and then became open), which started to bore me because a lot of boomers entered with their “Real Metal” lol. Then Víctor invited me to be part of the admin team, and I uploaded some unboxing videos to the Youtube channel. That´s a comeback to the days when I co-hosted a radio show about Metal sub-genres, and my past experience interviewing bands for zines. My goal with the unboxing was to present bands, mostly from my country and city, because people often tend to relate Colombia with Ultrametal and their clones.
Pan Intentropy: I think I was invited to be an admin about 18 months – 2years ago perhaps? (Victor Invited me.) When I joined the group initially it was pretty cool to see that there was a certain amount of freedom…. in that there weren’t any hang ups about genres etc.
I’m generally online a lot due to the nature of my work, so I can keep an eye on things during most weekdays. On a side note, as most members will know, I’m amongst the ranks of musicians here in the group (and am in an Avant-garde project). I can listen to anything minus reggae and punk… and have been listening to experimental and Avant-garde music for as long as I can remember.
In regards to the Youtube channel… the idea sprung about whilst discussing things in an admin chat. I’m fortunate enough to know a few musicians, so the album streams just kind of naturally happened. I’m still adjusting things on it to be fair, and it does require a little record keeping and countless emails and pms to bands, but I think the members and the musicians appreciate the nature of the channel, which is all done for free btw. We don’t monetize videos, we don’t ask for bands to “donate” (like some some channels do), and we don’t really care about when a release is out as long it meets some loose genre criteria. We also accept requests on the channel and I have stressed this to members, that they are welcome to submit their projects; as well as the labels, and musicians I contact through other means. If I see something interesting, I’ll generally ask for it on the channel.
Victor: I formed the group with the idea of opening a unique space for people to share whatever they want. I was in other groups and they always limited members with their posts and they were very strict with their rules. Honestly, I was surprised by how the group has grown in the last 2 years, in 2019 we were only 600 members.
Personally, I have been obsessed with Avant-garde metal since 2006. My favorite bands in that style are Kekal, Carnival in Coal, Thy catafalque, Aarni, Sigh and Devin Townsend among others. In my country Guatemala, the metal scene as in others, is dominated by Thrash, Death and Black, therefore, the group was born as a place to share artists that go beyond musical borders. I hope one day to form the first Avant-garde doom metal band in my country!
Regarding the community of administrators, I chose practically all of them because of their musical taste, and I could talk about each one and the bands that they have shared and I have loved, but this interview would be very long lol. Each one has different tastes and that allows us to grow as a group.
Harrison Clark: I’ve been into Avant-garde metal since high school, although that is only about half a decade ago now. I come from a town located in the middle of one of the biggest metal scenes in the world, that being Long Island, New York. Despite that, the metal scene in my town just so happened to have died about a decade before I got into it, so I had to look elsewhere for interactivity.
When I started college, I was looking for groups related to music discussion, leading me to finding this progressive metal shitposting group called Blackwater Posting. I spent most of my time there, but after a while, I began wanting a place for more serious discussions that didn’t just circlejerk Anthony Fantano, haha. Victor would eventually advertise this group in the shitposting group, catching my eye, as I felt as though I had no one to talk to when it came to the music I was the most into. This was sometime in 2019. After occasionally posting in it, I started to become quite invested in the Avant-garde and Prog Metal group, and when Victor asked for any admin applications, I jumped on board. This was in early January of 2020.
At the time, there were only a few posts a day, if any at all. Activity was basically nonexistent some days. However, Victor and the other admins decided to make pushes to promote interactivity, which is what I believe to be the biggest factor in the group’s growth. This included recommendation threads, the Youtube channel, and our playlists. I think another major factor in the group’s growth has to be our openness to self-promotion, which has led to many brilliant musicians finding their way into our group. Currently, I’ve been the one creating and maintaining the playlists. I leave them public with links to our group just on the off-chance some random person comes across it and wants to join us.
Gonzalo Cofré: I personally got introduced into the group just by mere luck, when it was like… 1 year old, to find people who loved experimental music just like me. I also wanted to find some material for a blog I was writing called “Frecuencias en el Espacio”, focused on progressive, art and experimental music. To be honest, before that I was not very active on Facebook but was on Russian blogs instead, especially one called “united-metal.ru” (R.I.P) where I discovered a lot of amazing and weird music.
We were like 1000 members when I got into the group and most of the time Victor was the one uploading a lot of amazing albums, so a year later I decided to start uploading a lot of stuff I discovered on blogs, to the group.
My first introduction into this genre was through the S0und0fChaos series of “Introduction to…” during late high school when I was 17, especially after listening to “Gangrene” by Mirrorthrone, which was a shockingly innovative album for me as a teen and is still really meaningful for me nowadays.
I always wanted to share my favorite music to a more open-minded group of people and I definitely found my place for it. It is awesome that nowadays there is also a chance to interact with the artists I listened to years ago.
Thank you everyone for sharing and letting us know more about your music taste and the group’s foundation and success! Let’s detour from music for a moment now, as I’d like to ask you what you do for fun, aside from listening to and promoting music? What other interests do you have and enjoy doing or learning?
Andrés Carvajal: I like to play retro videogames (emulating of NES, GBA, GBC and GB). Also I have a DS and 3DS, but I have previously owned a PSX, PS2 and Wii. I like to watch movies, read, write (I´m a published writer) and have fun with the other YT Channels where I translate interviews in the entertainment industry (B Cinema, Box Office Success, Cult Cinema, Adult Cinema and even music). I quit a horrible job as a journalist and I came back to my family house, finding out that they now care for 20 cats! So I became a male Karen and work freelance, which is hard but doesn’t get me nearly as stressed as my previous job.
Harrison Clark: Most of my free-time I spend by either playing an instrument, playing video games or doing stuff with my friends, Gaming is probably my biggest hobby, next to music, and I find myself playing a wide variety of games, although they mainly tend to be first person shooters or indie games.
Horror is something that I can say I am obsessed with (you may even call me a sick horror freak, hehe), having grown up playing horror games with my dad and my brother. I’ve also picked up game development this year, as I finally met someone that’s as equally insane as I am. Other than that, I usually like walking or hiking through the local parks, finding new restaurants to visit with my friends, going to shows when possible, watching anime like the vile creature that I am, and finding time to go to the shooting range (when weather and wallet permit).
Victor: My favorite hobbies beyond music are sports, especially football (real football, not that “egghand” stuff, lol), ping pong and basketball. I like to read graphic novels and some articles on anthropology to keep up to date. I’ve been learning German for a year and even though I like it a lot, it’s a very difficult language to understand. And of course, playing video games, especially those of Quantum Dream and the defunct “Telltale”.
Gonzalo: I love audio editing, one of my biggest hobbies is to make personal mixtapes on ProTools, selecting my favorite music and getting insane with transitions, effects and stuff, and usually listen to them while working. I have also played trumpet since I was in my high school marching band, but lately not too much due to work and not being part of a band anymore. I’m a big fan of RPGs and RTS, really enjoying a lot of Age of Empires IV lately and the Fallout series too.
Pan Inentropy: If we’re talking non-music (so omitting anything musical instrument related); I like the souls games… like ALOT. Bloodborne, Nioh, Dark Souls, Sekiro. I have a fascination with insects and arachnids. I will generally watch any decent documentary that I can find on them. I don’t watch much TV though, if any (which might be a weird horror film… it has to be gory or strange). I enjoy long walks too, like Harrison, though obviously with us being on different continents we do them separately.
I stargaze a fair bit (I can usually find the celestial bodies I’m looking for fairly easily). We have one of those scopes that can take pictures and all that. I like to spend time with my pets too, and enjoy a fair bit of experimental cooking (much to the dismay of my partner sometimes). I have an interest in cars as well, aesthetics of objects, and the microcosmal word too, those creatures are strangely beautiful.
I generally have an avid interest in local wildlife, and not just the big stuff, the little critters and bugs as well. I read a lot too, random things such as be science journals, occulttexts, cookbook, creepypastas, maths journals, manifestos, comical stories etc.