The No Wave scene according to Lydia Lunch

lunchThe only better way to describe Lydia lunch is by referring to her as the Martin Luther of the ‘no wave’ movement. Born in 1959 as 'Lydia Anne Koch’, the singer/artist dubbed her name 'lunch’ after stealing lunch for her friends from a punk band, The Dead Boys. It is impossible to mention no wave and not mention Lydia lunch in the same sentence- then again most artists of that era have since moved-on and tend not to bring the name of the movement up in conversation. And then again- in a time when smooth music was all the rage, Lydia and other bands of that era began making purposely 'noisy- uncoordinated’ music.

No Wave music began in the lower east side, New York City, at a 5 day music festival in a gallery in Tribeca featuring 10 unknown bands in the lineup. Each band generally sung in a fast pace, loud and noisy, unconventional in style and somewhat inspired by jazz and punk but followed no set order in exact style, after all- it was held in art gallery and promoted as a music festival. One of the bands happened to include Lydia Lunch, being one of the founders of: 'Teenage Jesus and the Jerks’ in 1977. Lunch admited she had always been a rebel and is said to have championed the actual name: ‘No Wave’. In an interview by Roy Trakin, when he asked if the music she was producing was new wave, she hastily retorted “more like no wave!” Yet according to Brian Eno who was producing a compilation album featuring 4 bands (out of the original 10) who were at the 5 day music festival was told by those bands the name of the album should be: “No New York”. Shortly after that- once news emerged, it was dubbed ‘No Wave’ as a play on words between New Wave and No Wave. Since Brian Eno was already famous for producing New Wave music for the band “Talking Heads” at that time- convinced Island Records to put up the money for making a compilation album of these unknown NYC bands who were just trying to live from day to day in a defunct urban prison. Thus it was Eno- who perhaps was the first to exploit and profit from the ‘No Wave’ music moment.

Despite the No Wave movement being very short lived, its impacts are still felt today in film and music industry and we cannot ignore the efforts of Lydia Lunch’s contributions. It is impressive that a teenage rebel could champion through a movement that has influenced the current industry. Despite facing numerous rejections and backlash, this particular No Wave musician had thick skin and through survival in the East Village for so many years, she percivered.

Some people suggested that no wave music was a rebellious response to punk rock and jazz, but the multi-talented musician, spoken word poet and public speaker (Lydia Lunch) once equated the feeling of ‘No Wave’ to an apocalypse! Like the world was coming to an end and nothing else mattered. She admitted that day to day life in the ‘Village’ was doing anything to survive including lying, cheating and stealing in order to get by. In the 1970’s, New York City was the perfect place for people to not conform to the norms, which is most likely why Lydia moved there. The East Village was like an abandoned town that had been cut off from the rest of civilization, facing massive problems like shortages of local funding and poor housing conditions coupled with ruined abandoned buildings. Much of NYC as a city was virtually bankrupt. It turned out to be the kind of setting where ‘No Wave’ began as many struggling artists wound up there, living in abandoned buildings. Artists and film makers who lived there- began to thrive while documenting a newly created movement.

And though Lydia has very dark views on the world in general, her mission carried on as a purpose. A strong underdog cause that saw her producing her own music that depicted the world in a nihilistic manner. She later progressed in her efforts through experimental music, films and spoken poetry. Now she has found a new found success in this millennial era that looks to authoritative figures with similar views that they share. Lydia once again thrives among those who need to relate.