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  • Ian MacKaye on the Power of Punk

    Camera and interview: Charlie Weber
    Editing: Harry Zhu

    Some people may think of “punk” as just antiauthoritarian music consisting of little more than three chords. But in this interview, Ian MacKaye—frontman of influential bands Minor Threat and Fugazi—describes punk with a much wider scope.

    He calls it the “free space”: where new ideas and creative expressions are welcomed and encouraged. This openness has helped fuel the punk scene in Washington, D.C., for many decades, establishing a nurturing place for young musicians and artists without requiring them to “make it big” in New York City. In fact, he claims punk is more “folk” than contemporary folk music. It’s by, for, and about the people.

    A fifth-generation Washingtonian, MacKaye has been releasing local D.C. music with this ethos since 1980 on his record label, Dischord Records.

    Hear more insights from MacKaye in the video, and then find Dischord and other local independent record labels at the 2019 Folklife Festival, as part of the D.C. Music Preservation Pop-Up on Saturday, June 29.

  • Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.