Most of the time Facebook groups or event invites are something we see so often that we disregard them. I’d say in most cases we’re justified in doing so. Things tend to get repetitive and opinions overshadow real conversation.
Imagine if someone created a Facebook group that’s sole purpose was to bring people together with one common interest: music.
The idea seems so simple, yet I can only thing of one instance that has created a movement and real community.
Enter Mark de Lang with H.E.M.I.S.P.H.E.R.E. A place for people to come together from all over the world and discuss music. Many of the members have traveled to other cities to meet up for shows, etc.
Somehow, a little group on social media is bringing people together both in real life and on the internet.
We spoke with Mark about how this all started and where it’s headed.
Nick: Where did the idea for HEMI originate?
Mark: “I must have been in the 4th or 5th grade. (I was 24 when H.E.M.I.S.P.H.E.R.E. was started) I had wanted to put to use the musical knowledge I had attained of a plethora of various unheard bands in a more productive manner than not paying attention in class & writing them on every school notebook I owned. I decided that I wanted to create a music zine. I came up with the name H.E.M.I.S.P.H.E.R.E., each letter representing a different genre. I created the cover page & a few different sections but that’s about as far as it ever went. Over a decade later, I had a friend who would continuously post on Facebook amazing underground finds & would tag 50 people in each post, I wanted to create an easier platform to share all this music & a way to have it all indexed. I created a Facebook group & the name just popped into my head for the first time in a decade like it was always meant to be. I incorporated the “family & a place to call home” influenced by the fact that growing up there was never a place that I felt more connected, on a spiritual level, with myself & everyone around me than when I was at show, I wanted to integrate that into the group & somehow pass that feeling onto others. It just sort of blew up from there, I never in a hundred years would have imagined it would manifest into what it has today.”
N: I know starting out with HEMI, you never expected it to gain so much traction. Is there anything you would’ve done differently if you had the chance?
M: “I never in my wildest dreams expected it to grow into what it has today, & it keeps growing & blowing my expectations all the time in different ways. Since I was very young I have struggled greatly with addiction. I have no shame in announcing this today as I understand it for what it truly is, despite a lot of societies’ miseducation or uneducated stigmas that addiction/alcoholism is some sort of a moral defiance. It is a medically declared disease & illness of the body & brain, one that is progressive, chronic & fatal when left untreated. It hijacks every aspect of your life & can make things very unmanageable & when I first started this I was in & out of active addiction still. As a result of being in & out of being homeless & in treatment centers & a lot of other insanity that comes along with this, I missed out on quite a bit of opportunity raising this to the potential I believed we had & bringing to life all the aspirations I had eventually set for HEMI . I’ve never had a child but if I could ever imagine what that love,excitement,potential & hope that a parent feels for their child I might compare it to my feelings in regards to our community & purpose. I know that might sound a little strange or exaggerated but I feel as though shortly after this was created I had made a decision that I wanted to give my everything to this & watch it grow & be there & as a result of addiction I missed out on HEMI’s baby years & watching it grow up. That’s time I can never get back but I am forever grateful & blessed that I have been fortunate enough to have some extremely caring,& loyal co-administrators, that adopted HEMI while I was unable to be there. In the same regard, a very large majority of our community were extremely supportive, empathetic & loyal to HEMI through this time & that meant more to me than I can easily articulate with words. As a result of this, one of the projects that I’ve started for Hemisphere is a Music Therapy Services Street Team, which I’ll explain further at another time. If you struggle with any sort of mental illness, anxiety, depression, alcoholism/addiction, please reach out to someone, anyone & get help. This came closer than I’d ever imagine to killing me. It’s something that I’m very passionate about as it almost took my life & I know what a hopeless & lonely way of life it can be, so I try to keep my words as raw & uncut as possible in reaction to this so that maybe one person might be able to relate & find the courage to get help. I’ll celebrate 1 year clean in February & the blessings that have resulted from that are truly beyond my wildest dreams. If I can do it, I promise anyone can.”
N: What are some of your favorite bands you discovered thanks to HEMI?
M: “There has been so so many. I don’t think I could limit it to five honestly. A lot of my favorites are members of H.E.M.I.S.P.H.E.R.E themselves which is one of the most amazing things seeing a post from one of them show up. Some of these include: Abelia, Adventurer, Alaska, Brock Landers, Covet, Dora The Destroyer, Fall Of The Albatross, Hail The Sun, Helecis, Ingdorf, In(our)finite Space, Luke Dowsett, Oranges, Pfloog, A Place Beyond Giants (these guys are amazing and wrote song titled in honor of HEMI), Playing God, Sea In The Sky, Steven Rose, Stolas, Televangelist, Trees On Mars, Velocirapture, Vital Pilots and Whale Bones. I know that’s probably almost 25 instead of 5 but I couldn’t limit it to just 5 and there’s so many I forgot and have so much love for. All of these bands are so deserving of everyone’s attention and I can not suggest strongly enough to anyone reading this to check each and every one of these bands out on Bandcamp and on Facebook. On top of the bands I’ve found, the relationships I’ve formed and the friendships that I like to consider family, I’ve never been able to find so easily anywhere else in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful to share these connections.”
N: We as a group at Teal Cheese share a favorite band with you: The Sound of Animals Fighting. How were you introduced to them? What’s your favorite song?
M: “Ah yes, The Sound Of Animals Fighting. Undoubtedly my favorite, & one of the greatest supergroups, to have ever existed in my opinion. I was first introduced to TSOAF during an Equal Vision Records commercial, which aired on Fuse probably a decade now, promoting “Lover, the Lord Has Left Us” I believe. I still remember the commercial clearly & seeing them wearing only costumes & masks & hearing the beautiful & most experimental music I had ever heard & hearing Anthony Green’s mesmerizing vocals soaring over it. I will probably never forget that day. Favorite song? I honestly don’t think I could choose just one but if I had to I’d say the remixes at the end of the Tiger & the Duke re-issue. Those or “We Must Become The Change We Want To See” documentary as a whole, live footage recording the only show they planned on ever playing at the time. What an absolutely magical spiritual experience. Although I was not able to make it to any of the shows, one of the happiest days of my life musically when was when they announced the series of reunion shows.”
N: What artists do you think deserve more attention right now?
M: “I’m sure you guys at Teal Cheese & most everyone at HEMI already know my answer for this (he laughs) but I’d have to say Save Us From The Archon. That band changed my life forever & introduced me to a seemingly spiritual synchronicity of musicianship though an unseen dimension of originality,perfected flawlessness, technicality, precision, energy, complexity, the ability to musically paint imagery, intensity, beauty & emotion in relationship to music that never imagined were possible to such a degree. I’ve never experienced music that could bring me to the verge of tears almost every time I listen. I started an additional Facebook group in honor of them which just broke 1k which is pretty exciting, it’s called “…So you had a dream about this place.” if you would like to stay updated & show your support for them it’s a great place to do so. They just recently signed to Tragic Hero records, released their third LP, “L’eclisse” & finished up a tour with Intervals & Plini so they’ve been pretty busy & on top of all that they’re in the process of recording their fourth LP which I could not be more excited for & is going to blow everyone away. Sometimes it truly perplexes me, like, how is something like this even physically possible? How I am even hearing what I’m hearing right now? Their music is true musical wizardry at hand & everyone that has ever listened to music ever should give them a chance!
N: What are some bands you haven’t seen live yet but are dying to?
M: “As much as I’ve just buttered them up, I’ve unfortunately yet to actually make it to a Save Us From The Archon show, so first & first & foremost it would be them. Additionally I’ve yet to catch a CHON show & I’ve been following them since the 2008 demo was released so that’s long overdue. Besides them, I’ve been listening to a lot of math-y prog fusion over the last year or two & would really love to see some shows with live horns this next year. A few these include The Arturo Complex, Father Figure, Monobody, Velocirapture, Litaoa, Dumb Waiter, Hadean & Mid Atlantic Title. I’ve yet to catch Anthony Green in any of his acts so catching Saosin & Circa Survive is super overdue & a must as well. Who knows, maybe The Sound Of Animals Fighting will do another set of shows. We can dream right?”
N: What are a few of the best concerts you’ve seen?
M: “There’s been so many amazing shows. I must say that the best shows that I’ve attended though have without a doubt have been local bands playing a house show, at an undisclosed location somewhere, with 30-50 people all packed into someone’s basement or living room. A lot of these shows were in my hometown when I was growing up at 12 or 13 & still getting introduced into the scene. A few of these bands include, The Degenerates, Beach Parade, & a band called Speria. There’s just this characteristic of interconnectedness at more a personal as well as an emotional level that I always feel at house shows. I more recently had the opportunity to catch Vasudeva with a band called Hit Home which was a favorite of mine as well. On a larger scale level, I had the opportunity to finally catch The Fall Of Troy during their Doppelganger 10 year anniversary tour a year or two ago. Andrew their drummer had guest listed myself & let me invite a few friends & it was without a doubt one of the happiest nights of my life at a show & everything I had dreamed about (literally, actually) & more, since they had broken up.”
N: I’ve been hearing about lots of things coming up for HEMI . Could you shed some light on your short & long term goals?
M: “Absolutely. All of this can be perceived as a bit overwhelming & complex so I’ll do my best to simplify & articulate everything. Our purpose is the promotion of any band or artist that is or would like to be represented on our roster, through any variation of any of these outlets. I’ve developed an organizational system which contains a series of different street teams that anyone interested may join to help bring these projects to life. There is a core street team & a series of sub street teams. The core street team works under the name “The H.E.M.I.S.P.H.E.R.E. Music Movement Street Team NEXUS”. The NEXUS is responsible for the organization, management, & promotion of every sub street team that we run & additionally the bringing of any new ideas for projects/street teams to the group. The teams that the Nexus carries include: Social Media Teams that include an official website street team, Tumblr street team & an Instagram street team. Additional Streaming Platforms street teams that include a Soundcloud street team, Bandcamp street team, YouTube street team, RadioStream street team, LiveStreamingSessions street team, & an Android/iPhone app street team. Physical Representation street teams that include a Graphic Design street team, Merchandise street team & a Magazine/Ezine street team. Additional Resources street teams including a Music Therapy Services street team, an Interview Team, a Booking & Promotion team & a Music Lessons street team. Last but certainly not least a HEMISPHERE Music Festival street team as well as a U.S. tour street team.”
N: What message would you like to bring to musicians & music lovers everywhere?
M: “I know it’s cliché, but clichés are cliché for a reason right? Follow your dreams. Never give up on them ever. The passions you have are of no coincidence, they are your calling.
And stay tuned for more with HEMI throughout 2017!