Arts & Culture
The Big Jewcy: Scott Beibin, Evil Twin Booking Agency/Lost Film Fest
Every project Scott Beibin is involved in over the last fifteen years, I’ve been interested in. Whether it’s the D.I.Y. punk/hardcore label he founded (Bloodlink Records), the Jewish zine he was a part of, or the Lost Film Festival he … Read More
Every project Scott Beibin is involved in over the last fifteen years, I’ve been interested in. Whether it’s the D.I.Y. punk/hardcore label he founded (Bloodlink Records), the Jewish zine he was a part of, or the Lost Film Festival he curates, the guy is like a D.I.Y force of nature who seems to never run out of creative ideas.
How do you go from D.I.Y. punk rock label kingpin to film festival coordinator to booking agent for "todays most mind expanding speakers" in one lifetime?
All of the the projects (Bloodlink, Lost Film Fest, Evil Twin Booking Agency, and now Scientists Are The New Rockstars) are pretty much part of the same constantly evolving thread. Early on I was just doing stuff within the punk and indie music scenes, as well as anti-authoritarian activism I was super inspired by the community of people who were organizing projects based on the ethics of fairness and egalitarianism. As I began to feel more serious about keeping the inspiration going by expanding my projects into other worlds, it became crucial to think differently about how I approached what I was doing. With anything new I was doing I had to keep things smart and interesting as well as fun. Bloodlink Records was a project I started in 1991 to put out some records for bands I was friends with from the DIY punk/sxe/hardcore/emo scenes. Over the 14 or so years of its existence I put out 40+ releases for DIY bands of the 1990’s including Struggle, Undertow, Groundwork, Policy of 3, Frail, Chokehold, Ordination of Aaron, Milemarker, Atom and His Package, An Albatross and many more. Originally I just put out vinyl, though eventually did CDs, zines (Mazeltov Cocktail), books, and videos. The packaging for the releases was largely hand-made and xeroxed and designed to give everything a personal feel. Everything was distributed through our underground networks at shows, through mailorder distros and independent record stores, and deliberately kept from being distributed through corporate chain stores. The bands on the label would typically play small DIY venues as well. Bloodlink is usually thought of as a contemporary to other 1990’s DIY labels like Dischord, Ebullition, Gravity, 31G, and Vermiform. In the mid 90’s I started to compile the ‘Super List’ a periodically updated xeroxed resource of people I met in my travels including DIY/indie bands, labels venues, zinesters, activist resources, couches to crash on, places to eat or go dumpster diving, how to get free/cheap photocopies, lists of punk and activist films, maps for urban exploration, etc. It really helped all of our friends to network with each other. There were other resources like Book Your Own Fucking Life, but my list was specific to my own social networks and interests. Through Bloodlink related correspondence, or when I was on tour, or if bands or travelers would come and stay, I’d borrow their tour itineraries, and take notes while picking peoples brains. This way I was able to gather lists of like-minded DIY promoters and venues all over the place (basements, vfw halls, clubs, schools etc). I also gathered a list of record stores where I could sell records and zines, indie publications into the kinds of stuff from our scene, etc. I shared this list with friends who were doing activist projects, were in bands, ran labels or zines, organized festivals, etc. Most of the projects I’m doing today evolved from a combination of doing Bloodlink Records and compiling Super List. Lost Film Fest is a touring multimedia project started with some other collaborators late in the days of doing Bloodlink. I was able to start touring with the LFF very quickly using the resources i gathered while doing the label. The show is my ideal of what I’d like to see myself in a presentation. It’s a combination of improvised storytelling and video projection with content from many of the worlds I walk in. Today the program usually focuses on pranks on corporations, outsider art, hidden histories, and other such nonsense that doesn’t fit into categories that easily. It’s designed to be fast paced and expose people to fresh and new ideas and projects. The lineup changes with each show and exposes people to new material long before they become internet memes or festival fodder. Most of the time I tour doing solo presentations, but I’ve also done shows with Gogol Bordello, Against Me!, M1 of Dead Prez, An Albatross, and more. Curating the Lost Film Fest really helped me to see the emergence of a new kind of genre of open-source DIY storytelling inspired by the concept of the Creative Commons, where people were making their work easily available to the public. Some of the people in this world included video activists like The Yes Men, Big Noise Films, and undefinable folks like Timothy Speed Levitch (The Cruise). The democratization of media through access to digital tools made it possible for people to make films who couldn’t before. The combined cheap availability of digital video cameras, as well the availability of editing programs like Final Cut Pro made content production and storytelling quick and easy. The interwebs also made it super cheap and relatively easy to distribute DVD’s, organize tours, and promote events. It’s interesting that Jean Cocteau once said "Film will only become art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper" because that’s precisely what happened. The Evil Twin Booking Agency was founded shortly after I met Liz Cole in 2002 while on tour with Lost Film Fest. It all started with Liz and I brainstorming on how we could create a big nerdy collaborative project where we could inspire consciousness, travel around the world, maintain our ethics and autonomy, create better social and environmental awareness and accountability, and avoid a 9-5 office job. Thus, the Evil Twin Booking Agency was born in order to set up tours and media campaigns for our friends and collaborators we knew from working with Lost Film Fest, in order to expose them to a bigger and more mainstream audience.
In the beginning we representing a handful of people including our friends The Yes Men. Gradually we started to work with films like The Corporation, and The Weather Underground helping not only to book tours for the directors, and screenings for the films, but creating outreach campaigns as well. Today we work with thousands of venues and media outlets worldwide. We currenly represent 200+ speakers, projects, artists, and films, including The Yes Men, Ed Begley Jr, Dead Prez, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Daniel Pinchbeck, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Boots Riley, Alex Grey, Chris Paine, and many more. We also help provide event services like solar powered concert stages, bodyworkers, and raw vegan catering, You can see a short documentary about both Lost Film Fest and the Evil Twin Booking Agency here.
If somebody came up to you and said "hey Scott, you had a pretty huge impact on the current state of D.I.Y. culture," would you A. tell them to get away from you B. Thank them and run away C. Say something else
It would be awkward, but most likely I’d thank them for taking the time to speak with me, and ask them about what’s inspiring them nowadays.
Do you miss putting out records?
I’m too busy with other things to do a label nowadays, though I’m super glad the DIY punk scene that evolved from the community I was a part of is alive and well. Occasionally when I see an amazing band (The other day I saw a amazing group from Los Angeles called LAS CAFETERAS) It makes me want to put out records again, however I want other people to have the chance to wreck their lives with DIY punk, since I already had the chance to wreck mine.
You were also involved in what I like to think as the starting point for the whole "cool" Jewish magazines with the zine "Mazel Tov Cocktail". Are you surprised how influential that zine was?
Wow, what a fun experience! It was really a ton of fun to do. I credit my collaborator, co-conspirator, and close friend Jennifer Bleyer (who started Heeb Magazine) with keeping the whole thing going and all the things that have been influenced as a result. Jennifer is amazingness incarnate and continues to inspire me to this day. I once wrote in a journal that the zine was a synthesis of my love for Borscht Belt comedy and the Circle Jerks. The project really helped me fully accept that I could appreciate and enjoy my jewish heritage with a whole hearted sense of humor and sarcasm, but not subscribing to any of the trappings of organized religion. A funny memory from back then was receiving a letter from someone calling me ‘sacreligious’, and I responded to correct them that the proper term was ‘sacreLICIOUS’. I still chuckle at the experience drawing the cover for Mazeltov Cocktail. When I was at college deep in the pine barrens of South Jersey I went to a liquor store to get a bottle of Manischewitz to sketch from. When I asked for a bottle, the counter person gave me a dirty look and said in a ruthless and toothless drawl "We don’t sell that kind of thing here. You’re not a jew, are yuh?" OY VEY!!!
Is there a new project in the future that we should know about?
Scientists Are The New Rockstars is a playful and fun live multimedia stage show exploring the intersection between art and science with a strong focus on environmental solutions, evolved thinking, and energetic awareness. I host, and present a diverse world of projects, ideas, concepts, and new discoveries from around the globe. Every unique show allows audiences to connect through participation in hands-on experiments, immersive storytelling, problem solving, and live guest appearances & webchats with scientist rockstars – and then invites them to apply the concepts to their own lives. (People can even pedal a bicycle to power the show!) Inspiration for the show comes from visiting traditions of the past, uncovering the hidden histories of forgotten and suppressed technologies, and exploring projects created by citizen scientist ‘do-it-yourself’ers, tinkerers, makers, and other scientist rockstars like Nikola Tesla, Buckminster Fuller, Vandana Shiva, Paul Stamets, Mitchell Joachim, Natalie Jerimijenko, Dr. Ryan Wartena.