- Chaz Costello
The fire at Oakland art space Ghost Ship earlier this month radiated throughout the country, affecting many. It's not necessary to have a personal connection to the victims; our humanity connects us. The mechanism and timing of the loss compound the heartbreak: We all dread losing loved ones, but it's so much worse when it happens during the holiday season—a time when we're focused on those relationships, and looking forward to seeing these people. This is sorrow times 36, and it spreads exponentially outward until we all can feel the pangs.
"I found out the following morning," local musician Adam Klopp tells City Weekly in an email exchange. Although he lost no friends or relatives in the blaze, Klopp feels a kinship with them as a fellow human being. The rest of the day was "really bizarre" as he followed the news and awaited confirmation of the victims' identities. "Initially, I read that there were nine confirmed deaths and a predicted 30-40. Meanwhile, people were passing around a foreboding Google doc containing a list of around 25 names of missing people. Everyone was trying to verify if their loved ones were safe."
Klopp relates to the victims on another level—as a fellow creative, someone who toils in the arts for peanuts and, usually, little or no validation aside from that of his peers. Since communal workspaces like Ghost Ship are common in local art scenes, Klopp knows something like this could easily happen to him or someone close to him. "The DIY art/music community is such a tight network ... locally and nationally," he says. "Most of my musician friends knew at least one of the victims personally."
One of them, 22-year-old Cash Askew, played in the dream-pop/goth band Them Are Us Too. The group performed in Salt Lake City three times in the past year—twice at Diabolical Records and once at Copper Palate Press—so Askew had made several friends and acquaintances in the SLC art and music community. Feeling the need to help the victims, Klopp asked The Urban Lounge if he could donate the door receipts from his band Human Leather's upcoming show to the relief fund. It was no problem, of course.
In addition, Klopp and his bandmate Chaz Costello rallied their music-scene peers to put together a benefit CD to raise even more money. The 15-song compilation is a 50/50 split of unreleased and previously released music by Human Leather, Klopp's other band Choir Boy, Sculpture Club, Super 78, Baby Ghosts, Karl JØrgensen, Fossil Arms, Browser, Civil Lust, Bobo, Pet Library, Strong Words, Lauren Smith, Sam Burton and Dallin Kapp. Kapp had a closer connection to the fire. Through Klopp, he tells City Weekly his song, "I Would," is "written for my ex-partner," 29-year-old Nicole Siegrist, aka Denalda Renae, who perished in the fire.
At a time when it's difficult to find the right words, Klopp says he didn't really want to give the collection a title. He figures they'll run with SLC Ghost Ship Benefit Compilation. They pressed 50 physical CDs that, at press time, they planned to sell at the Human Leather show on Dec. 20, which also featured Civil Lust, Bobo and Karl JØrgensen. Any remaining copies will be posted for sale at DeliboyRecs.Bandcamp.com, along with a digital version.
Additionally, Diabolical Records announced that they will send all donations received for Bandemonium 5 to the victim relief fund. And, of course, further donations may be made directly to the Alameda County Disaster Relief Fund online at ACGov.org.