In the early 2000s, music commanded more attention than nearly anything else in my life. I would spend most of that decade promoting raves in Montreal and Ottawa, putting together a small independent record label with a partner in order to release my own electronic music, and touring in a hardcore techno act as a guitarist/producer.
It was a time in my life where I really felt that music was going to be my future, from a professional standpoint. That didn’t come to pass for a variety of reasons. It’s a difficult business even in the mainstream, but the underground offers its own challenges. I saw the road ahead, and what would have to happen to continue on the path I was on, and made a different choice.
I consider myself lucky to have spent that much time immersed in rave culture. I’m still madly, deeply, truly in love with electronic music, and it’s something that remains a part of my daily life, albeit in a non-professional capacity.
It’s also something that I knew I needed to explore in the Code 45 graphic novel, and from a completely different perspective than the one I had while I was neck-deep in PLUR. The experience of the book’s hero, Vanessa, is of someone doing what I never got to do: attend a rave as a complete outsider, and gradually become involved in the subculture as a fan.
The very first rave I ever attended was to work security, and I never even set foot inside the first event I helped fund as a promoter. I never got to be a ‘raver,’ which is fine with me, but it’s far more interesting for readers to be able to identify with Vanessa as someone who’s bridging two subcultures as an absolute newbie than it is for them to read any of my jaded war stories from the dollars-and-cents side of the equation.
Code 45’s rave culture also helps the narrative in a number of ways. It offers a colorful counterpoint to Vanessa’s day-to-day darkness in the tunnels, it make it possible to introduce louder-than-life characters, and it serves as a conduit through which drugs and mayhem can seep into the aspects of her story line that begin to challenge what we collectively agree to call reality.