I was sitting in a public library the first time Cybergrind entered my life.

It’s the only place I could have been. I didn’t have internet at my house, and the radio in rural Iowa certainly wasn’t playing anything new and exciting. There was no local scene, just a hodgepodge of butt rock cover bands and a smattering of punk bands that had more in common with the previously mentioned butt rock than anything actually rebellious. So I spent many hours during the mid-2000s crawling through Purevolume or the music section on Myspace trying to find weird, angsty music. And boy howdy was there plenty to pick from. After I had exhausted my searches for new scene bands befitting my newly swoopy black hair and tight black band tees, I would search random genres, often not even knowing what they meant, just trying to find something I hadn’t heard before. Trying to find the people making music that took me away from the cornfields and hog confinements.

This is how Bubblegum Octopus found me. I don’t know what genre keyword I was searching for when they popped up, but it hit me like an NES to the side of the head. It was so out there. The music was doing things I had never considered. Chiptune and growled vocals? That’s witchcraft. It was something that seemed like it was conceived of the very essence of the internet. It seemed like the natural product of the Myspace music scene. Everyone thinks the music they grew up listening to as a teen was the most important, the most groundbreaking, but they are all wrong if this isn’t the era they are citing. This was music that could only be made with help from the internet. Myspace, Purevolume, and the host of message boards and chat rooms propelled underground artists in a way that couldn’t be done before. Local bands didn’t need to catch the attention of a major label. Someone making music in their bedroom didn’t need radio airplay. You just needed the right weirdos to find your music and share it with all their just-as-weird friends. Cybergrind found the right weirdos.This was community.

The scene cast a spell on me for a time, but it would take years, over a decade even, before it took full effect. I didn’t fully commit to the bit. I wanted to be seen as a serious music enjoyer, even though at the time meant listening to mostly Hot Topic christcore bands (no shame). I was too self-serious to embrace the weirdness. I listened to some more nintendocore bands (I didn’t even hear the word Cybergrind at this time.) I even made a song combining electronics and harsh vocals as Some Kind of Shark. But that was it. I slowly walked away from the scene aesthetics I had been fond of as a teen. Purevolume died, Myspace died, and with them, my connection to this music died. I didn’t make any more music as Some Kind of Shark. I moved on to different genres of music. There were no signs that cybergrind would ever come into my life again. 

And then…

I was sitting in my basement when Cybergrind came back into my life. 

My beautiful flowing locks had long given way to male-pattern baldness and I definitely wasn’t a self-styled teenage outcast anymore. I had graduated college, gotten married, moved around the country and finally settled down. Looking to get back into making music I saw an ad online looking for a vocalist for an online cybergrind project. Cybergrind? That word sounded familiar but I couldn’t exactly place it. After only a few seconds listening, that feeling of being smashed in the face with a retro console game rushing back. I remembered this! This was Myspace music! I couldn’t believe that people were still making this.

I made a tweet saying someone was looking for a vocalist for their cybergrind band and I was considering it. I never got any likes on my tweets, so when Big Money Cybergrind liked it, I was in shock. Both because of the aforementioned lack of likes on my tweets, and because I couldn’t believe there was more than just one random person making this. Turns out there was a lot more than one. I checked out their page and found Corvid Canine. I found Gonemage. I couldn’t believe people were making songs like this and even more so that I loved them. I needed more, so I did something that I had never really considered on my first go-around with this type of music. I didn’t continue to observe from afar and I joined the community. I was welcomed in with open arms. Here were people unabashedly making the music they loved for themselves, and more importantly, with the full support of their peers. It was in this support that I made my second cybergrind song after almost 15 years. And then I made another. And another. And another until I had enough for an album. And after I had an album I played my first live show in a decade. And all of this with the support of a community who truly want to see me succeed.

This is what cybergrind is to me. It’s the online community in the 2000s that I was still too shy, awkward and self-conscious to get into. It’s that same community stretching across time when the internet makes it even easier to find the people who share your interests and your propensities for making things only a select few will want to experience. Cybergrind didn’t stick with me as a teen because I didn’t engage it in the way it deserved. Cybergrind is filled with artists willing to experiment and an audience willing to accept whatever you want to throw at them. Cybergrind is a dedication to the online experience. That’s why it endured through the years and why it is now flourishing again. Cybergrind is a community and I am happy to finally be a part of it.

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