Street Sects Wrestle With Yuppies and Displacement on Their Gentrification Series
“I can’t stress enough that this series isn’t meant as strict social commentary. For me, it isn’t anything that grand or complex. It’s personal. It’s a lot of stuff that has been building up inside me for years.”
Leo Ashline has a deeply personal story to share about why his experimental industrial trio Street Sects chose the topic of gentrification around which to create their latest series, but it’s probably not one you would expect. With the release of Gentrification III: Death And Displacement coming this Friday, August 2nd, he has opened up on the birth of the project, stemming from his personal experience and observations throughout this decade.
After moving back to Austin, Texas in 2013 with over a year of sobriety under his belt, the vocalist got a job in a rapidly changing neighborhood on the east side of the city slinging $15 cocktails to people he refers to as “spoiled little yuppies” who lodged complaints of areas being “rough.”
“I’m not from Texas, I have no connection to the history of these neighborhoods, but I had an emotional reaction to what I was seeing, what I was hearing,” he explains of his experience working in the shifting enclave. “I’d often make conversation with people walking the street, people who had lived in the neighborhood their entire lives. I wouldn’t even have to ask most of them what they thought of it all because it was the first thing they’d want to talk about. Some of them were speculative, suspicious, but most people were just angry.”
The singer is quick to ensure he knows he isn’t in the same boat as the affected minorities, but he found a camaraderie with their stories through remembering his own struggles with addiction and the way those outside of it viewed him. “I’m not comparing the consequences of my poor choices to the experience of being a minority,” he explains, “But it got me thinking.”
That thinking led to the five year project that sees the release of this new EP, and today you can hear a B‑Side, a track titled Boxcars, that fits neatly into group’s unorthodox song construction and technique for the project as a whole. Abrasive and complex, it extracts elements of genres from electronic industrial, harsh noise, and even a touch of abstract techno to create a nuanced snapshot on the tumultuous topic at hand run as processed through the lens of empathic creativity.
So have Leo or his bandmates Shaun Ringsmith or Michael Lauden’s views on gentrification changed since the series’ inception? Not much, outside of believing it’s only become a more widely-discussed problem among the general populous since the singer’s move in 2013. Despite the unshifting narrative at hand, he maintains the project is reflective rather than reactionary.
“I’m not interested in talking about whether or not I think these things are right or wrong,” he reaffirms. “I’m interested in the smaller stories that take place within these larger cultural phenomena…I guess I hope that if people enjoy this series of records for the music and the artwork, maybe it prompts them to think a little more about their own gut level and perhaps even their subconscious reactions to the world and the people around them.”
Hear Boxcars below:
You can preorder Gentrification III now and catch Street Sects on tour:
TREET SECTS, ON TOUR:
17 — Austin, TX @ Carousel Lounge ^
22 — Chicago, IL @ Metro (Cold Waves)
15 — Tilburg, NL @ Hall of Fame *
17 — Aarhus, DK @ TAPE *
18 — Copenhagen, DK @ Mayhem *
19 — Jonkoping, SE @ Schenen Sofiehof Underjord *
20 — Gothenburg, SE @ Musikens Hus *
21 — Malmo, SE @ Plan B *
22 — Berlin, DE @ Urban Spress *
24 — Gdansk, PL @ Drizzly Grizzly *
25 — Lodz, PL @ DOM
26 — Vienna, AT @ GrillX
27 — Budapest, HU @ Aurora
28 — Zagreb, HR @ KSET **
30 — Prague, CZ @ Cross Club **
^ Pinkish Black
* w/ Trepaneringsritualen
** w/ Imperial Black Unit
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