Future Twin - EL RIO DEC 8th

There’s a lot of discussion and debate these days about gentrification in the Mission. Which is good, because it’s an issue we should definitely be discussing and debating. But it’s even more important that we take action—i.e. do something—to make the Mission and all of San Francisco a livable city for all. If you agree, then you might want to come on out to El Rio on Sunday night, when Future Twin will be headlining a benefit for the San Francisco Community Land Trust.

The SFCLT, which counts Future Twin lead singer/guitarist Jean Jeanie as a board member, seeks to keep San Francisco affordable for everyone via an innovative model of land ownership. According to their website: “The San Francisco Community Land Trust is a membership-based organization whose mission to create permanently affordable, resident-controlled housing for low- to moderate-income people in San Francisco through community ownership of the land.”

The intersection of politics/activism and music is one that fascinates me, so I got in touch with Future Twin to see what was up with this benefit, how the band got involved in the cause, and what they think their concert can contribute. (All questions were answered collectively by the band, so I’ll just be crediting the band.)

Check out the interview below. And here’s the video for Future Twin’s “Landslide,” off their Situation EP:

Mike G.: How does your music intersect with the SFCLT’s mission?

Future Twin: We write songs about our lives, and since we live in a densely populated urban area, our lives include the efforts and struggle to find affordable housing. We write songs about shelter, about descending into the mire of human bitterness, about modern isolation, but also about cohesion, resilience, and prefigurative thinking. The band name itself is about prefigurative thinking… the act of manifesting the kind of society you want to live in or the kind of person you want to be.

The San Francisco Community Land Trust is an emerging model of how to stop displacement and create permanently affordable, resident-owned housing in densely populated urban centers, aka cities. The first modern urban or community land trust in America started in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1981. Its a fascinating model that includes dual ownership, perpetual affordability and responsibility.

For too long, we have been adversely affected by displacement, as individuals and residents, as noncom-modified (NONCOM) artists and community members. We recognize and openly acknowledge that displacement and the people or entities that perpetuate it, are committing an immoral and unjust act, that is still considered “legal” just like slavery was considered legal at some point, or hitting women if they disobeyed you. Like other unjust practices and the laws that enabled them, displacement is unjust. It is not right. It is archaic. We are committed to helping stop it. Now. Today. With a proven model that helps people de-commodify space and more equitably share resources as a start, and hopefully opening up more people’s eyes to paths towards a more aware and just lifestyle, and perhaps outlawing displacement once and for all.

MG: How’d you get involved with the SFCLT?

FT: Jean Jeanie serves on the Board of Directors. She stepped up about a year ago, after being displaced from her family-style home of many years here, to help other people to not have to go through that too.

MG: What do you hope the benefit show will contribute to the cause?

FT: We want more people to be informed about emerging systems that actively decom-modify space… getting this article out to fresh and wisened eyes is doing just that.

We have a fundraising goal of $5,000. All funds raised will help existing properties we steward, and then will also help the land trust itself, with operating costs, so that we can help create more permanently affordable resident-controlled housing.

MG: In a more general sense, what do you think music and bands like Future Twin can contribute to political and social movements?

FT: For one, they can breed enjoyment that goes beyond ‘fun’. ‘Fun’ is for unimaginative people who need someone else to tell them what is worthwhile in life, or just something to distract them (i.e. drinking, nightlife, youthful socialization) from the shittiness of contemporary society. Making LIFE and challenging structures of DEATH is what constitutes many movements, and that can include bringing humor and unconventional thoughts and actions into ANY situation whenever possible. It means not taking the conventions of the music industry for granted, not taking the tropes of the “show” for granted, and not taking yourself too seriously. At the same time, engaging with the important issues that affect you and others, that’s something that anyone can do, starting from any political position or level of awareness. The operative model is “grow up, show up”.

Too often, artists are expected to say “well, I can’t speak to that, because I’m just an artist”. Well, become more than an artist then! If you exist within movements and think about them, and share experiences with others in them… you can’t help but have something to say, even if it’s just a question that no one else will dare ask.

Fela Kuti, Nigerian musician and activist, said “Music is the Weapon” in the struggle against oppression. Because it unites, it educates, because dancing makes you smarter. But mostly because there is magic in coming together, as anyone having a transcendent experience at a Lightning Bolt show or a protest or riot can attest to. If we want to be political or socially engaged artists, we need to strive for that sort of feeling, and we need to direct it towards not only hedonism, but a sort of hedonism-PLUS, that sees our enjoyment and togetherness not as the ends of music but as the beginnings of something larger, transformative, and more important.

MG: Would you call Future Twin an “activist band,” however you might characterize that? Do your lyrics contain political messages, for instance?

FT: Well, isn’t it a bit pretentious, to consider one’s musical group to be on the level as important social justice organizing and class struggles? Regardless, we can be “activists” to the extent that our actions are “active” in working towards new and better ways of living on the planet. Sure, our lyrics might be relevant to contemporary social issues (housing in San Francisco, the destruction of the Colorado River by mass agribusiness)…but the content isn’t as important as the messenger, when it comes to defining what is or isn’t an ‘activist band’. How many mainstream musicians can easily adopt a ’cause’ without meaningfully engaging with it? How many songs about seemingly non-political topics still have political implications? Really, all acts are political, it’s just about whether or not we acknowledge the implicit politics within them. Obviously, playing a benefit show for a cause is but one way in which Future Twin tries to be active, to be in solidarity with others, to show that we give a shit. But we try to show that with our lives in general, not just our songs.

MG: Are you planning further benefit shows? If other bands are down for the cause, how can they get involved?

FT: The Land Trust is planning another benefit early next year. We are looking for additional talent. If you’d like to get involved, please write the land trust directly at info@sfclt.org. You can also write Future Twin at hello@futuretwin.com and we can point you in other civicly-engaged directions. We also help organize benefits for Clarion Alley Mural Project aka CAMP and Adobe Books, both of whom have weathered the storm of displacement and continue. We’re Here.

Future Twin, Annie Girl & the Flight, Baby Alpaca
December 8, 2013
El Rio
8pm, $10-20 sliding scale