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American Teknival Culture On The Rise – How It All Began

By Foodstampz / Renegade Virus (www.RenegadeVirus.org)

1996 marked the landing of the Spiral Tribe on the west side of the meridian, spiraling coast to coast as peaceful conquistadors having conquered small patches of Europe that would later blossom into fields of diverse soundsystems there to “make some fucking noiz” as quoted from one of the tribe’s early 1992 flyers. Burgeoning on the profits of unity, peace, love for music and direct action, the Spiral virus was born. With adventure at their disposal the tribe set off to spread their alien vibes across U.S. soil, arriving by boat with over 50,000 watts of sound, they where kindly welcomed by smaller networks of activists, ravers, punks, spiritualists and fellow nomads who would assist them in starting the panic.

They hit the east, the south and west with a thumping non stop – non commercial psychedelic tekno, hardkore tekno and breakbeat sound. Some major destinations where New York City, Oklahoma, Texas and California where their influence would help inspire the growth of American freetekno soundsystems. Although most of the music played by these soundsystems is European, the autonomy of the culture is boundless. Since its arrival, American beat makers have been pushing the boundaries of this electronic sound just as hard as its original Euro influence. The gathering of multiple sound rigs was dubbed “teknival”by its English originators, a festival of dance, visual art, technology and most importantly commercial free music. The summer of 1996 marked the 1st year of the now annual 7 day A.M.F., a West Coast teknival gathering with two or three sound rigs. 2003’s fest gathered as many as nine rigs encompassing 23 crews and performance groups. 2004’s week-long Mutant Fest will attract even more rigs and individual musicians as well as crews of DJs willing to showcase on other rigs.

Since Mutant Fest there have been a few other teknival gatherings in the Midwest and East Coast; the most exciting of which has been 2003’s Teknival Toronto, a festival that brought together 12 soundsystems for a weekend long, free from civilization party deep in the woods of Ontario, Canada. The summer of 2004 will be host to the annual Sound Unity Project gathering on the East Coast, Mutant Fest and Teknival Toronto ’04. There is no need for a soundsystem census; once you’ve found the teknode you are sure to find a system near you. You don’t need much money to partake in a teknival, clearly separating this aesthetic from mainstream festivals and raves. The attitude is monetary free which in essence is free from the bullshit.

Soundsystems rely on makeshift bars vending a plethora of beverages and food to support the high cost of sound and maintenance as well as traveling to the gatherings. Some rigs have turned to a true D.I.Y. (do it yourself) system, bottling their own beer and juices and even converting buses to vegetable oil fuel to avoid the nuances of gasoline and diesel. You will also find D.I.Y.clothing, soundsystem shirts and records galore. The Western chapter of the Spiral is blossoming with a few new crews and soundsystems appearing every year. When there’s no teknivals in site the crews throw free and inexpensive parties in parks and warehouses in their towns and cities called Outlaws.

Does more soundsystems mean better? Not necessarily; what the teknivals need more than anything are more conscious party people willing to motivate the adventure of the teknival, to move and dance for days in front of walls of sound for little or no money, to keep growing safely and independently into a festival open to all tribes and cultures. There is No System within this soundsystem community, no cult and as of yet, no shady elements. It’s a backlash to the political system threatening world peace and human survival and to greedy pop music empires threatened by the thought of free music. Lets have fun and make some fucking noiz! Dance now before the cops come.

For more information about teknival culture and how to locate a soundsystem near you, please visit some of the following links: