Sunday, June 3, 2012

Interview: Sunny Singh (

In between the man's wild schedule of filming feature length movies and capturing footage from the best hardcore shows in the country, we were able to get Sunny Singh (proprietor of hate5six) to answer a couple questions for the blog.   Enjoy.

Toxicbreed: What is it that drew you to the Hardcore scene in the first place?
Sunny Singh: I pretty much listened to Rage Against the Machine on infinite loop throughout middle and the beginning of high school. It was focused anger that I hadn't been exposed to before and I loved it. That caused me to give Inside Out a listen which took everything to a different level. It wasn't so much a focused anger rooted in politics as it was more intrinsic I guess. As I explored what else hardcore had to offer I found different degrees of anger and dissatisfaction manifesting themselves in ways that were foreign to me. Not only that, but I also felt like hardcore was something far more accessible and easier for me to relate to and interact with personally.

TB: You've been recording shows for a few years now; what kind of impact do you think you've had on the current hardcore community?  Also, how would you like hate5six to impact the scene moving forward?
SS: Some people have issues with me documenting everything, but that's the point: I'm documenting. If we don't take the appropriate measures to preserve what we have and create institutional memory (especially given the turnover rate in hardcore), who the fuck will? Granted, it can be argued that some events are better preserved in our memories, but as an objective observer that's a discussion I can only take so far. At some point I have to separate myself. I hear anecdotes from time to time about people discovering new bands through my videos. Or I get e-mails from people in countries completely cut off from touring hardcore bands who say my videos make them "feel" like they're AT the show. I even get messages from people who are terminally ill or have severe medical conditions who can no longer go to shows and how hate5six enables them to stay connected with hardcore. That stuff is so heavy and hard to handle sometimes, but it pushes me to keep going and take things to the next level. That, I hope, will be a testament to the purpose of project ultimately designed to connect people to music while bypassing unnecessary commercialization, and one intended to chronicle the progression (or regression) of our scene. Filming shows is something I think about every day, so if people reflect and see value in the *way* I documented--whether it be stylistically or procedurally--then that will be a huge honor. I dove headfirst into hate5six when I was in a very dark time in my life. It gave me meaning when all meaning seemed nonexistent.  It kept me alive in many ways and I never want to half ass anything involving hate5six. It represents my growth and progression through life, so I can only hope that it shows in the work I produce. How do I hope hate5six impacts the scene moving forward? That sorta leads to your next question...

TB: A while back you released a collection of sets you'd filmed on dvd entitled "The Hate5Six Diaries", with all proceeds going to the group One Hundred for Haiti.  Tell us a little bit about how this project came to fruition, and what made you chose that particular charity to work with.
SS:  Greg Bennick gave a really compelling speech during Trial's set at Burning Fight in 2009 and it ate away inside of me for the next few years. He argued that hardcore is this "thing" full of unbridled energy and emotion and he questioned what sort of impact at large would result if we were to take those feelings and screams and do something more with them, specifically in relation to the world outside of hardcore. When he launched One Hundred for Haiti in response to the earthquake in that region, I remembered how I felt when I first heard that speech and decided to take some sort of action. I can point a camera at bands every weekend and post the videos online so kids can relive their stagedives and mushmouthed singalongs, but if there's an opportunity to harness all that and repackage it into direct action and global change, then why shouldn't I/we do that? Society conditions us to be insular, emphasizing the importance of labels and boundaries and definitions that do nothing more than to alienate and divide. What the fuck is the point? For me, being able to do hate5six, let alone go to shows regularly, demonstrates some of the many privileges I have in life. I don't set out to do the "nice" things or fulfill some sort of misplaced savior-complex. I do what I think makes the most sense and The Diaries is the most logical off-shoot of hate5six that comes to mind. So far The Diaries has been able to raise over $2300 for the organization and that money is being used to buy motorcycles to serve as transport systems for doctors and patients in remote villages. They also serve as taxi-cab services in order to empower the Haitian people to earn money and pay off the micro-loans One Hundred for Haiti has provided them for the vehicles. Being proactive means doing more than just raising money and throwing it at a cause. I think One Hundred for Haiti has the perfect approach; they're helping to empower the people of Haiti to rebuild their livelihoods. I do hope to continue this project with future Volumes to benefit other charitable organizations, but I haven't given much more thought than that just yet. I could still be doing more. Everyone could still be doing more. Never settle, never be content with anything.

TB: You've had the opportunity to film so many shows over the last few years, which one (if possible to chose), really stands out as your personal favorite? 
SS: There have been so many memorable individual sets, but in terms of shows I'm gonna have to go with Burning Fight in May 2009. I know it's almost cheating given how stacked the lineup was, but I don't think I'll ever attend a show that tops it. It was the first time I was taken seriously as someone who documents and it was an amazing honor to be a part of it. Plus, some of the sets that weekend are among my top 10 all time favorites: 108, Trial, Unbroken, etc. I lost count of how many times I pulled away from the camera viewfinder and literally said, "wow" as I watched mayhem from unfold all around me. As for shows that I didn't film personally, the most important one(s) to me were the 1/08/11 weekend shows with 108. Specifically the 108/Damnation AD show in Philly on 1/09. I obliterated my body but found so much solace in the process.

TB: Lets say you have the opportunity to put on a five band show and can book any act (past or present).  What 5 bands would you chose and why?
SS: In terms of hardcore bands...I'd go with my favorite bands from each of the "eras": Minor Threat, Inside Out, 108, Damnation AD, Pulling Teeth. Here's why: Minor Threat is obvious (though I'd prefer they never play again for the sake of their legacy). Inside Out was my gateway band. 108 and Damnation AD have helped me through some pretty bad times in my life. Pulling Teeth was one of the of the more current bands that I completely adored. The fact that they managed to cause kids to pulverize each other in support of gay marriage is the most brilliant thing to ever come out of hardcore. And Jud Jud would play the after show. There have been rumors that no one can corroborate about how Jud Jud actually played shows and would bring drums and cabs, set everything up, and go on with their a cappella set. I want that to be real more than anything.

TB: I thank you for your time Sunny, but I have one more to go.  Say its 11:30 PM on December 20, 2012.  You only have time to play one last record (hardcore or otherwise) before the impending Alien Apocalypse/Japanese nuclear meltdown/meteor strike/or Karl Buechner Firestorm, what would you chose?
SS: This is something that changes frequently. I might have to go with All Else Failed--specifically "Route 1". I slept on that band but shooting that song at This Is Hardcore 2011 was one of the most chilling and emotional moments ever and I often think about how I would capture it again.

Toxicbreed Funhouse would like to thank Sunny for his time and effort.  Be sure to check out the links below and help support hate5six!