WORDS : EMANUEL MATOS

When Sunny Singh started filming hardcore punk shows back in 2008,  more than anything he was following a long tradition of archivists and people who have documented their local scenes through a camcorder. Yet his attitude was different. 

By housing his Hate5six project in a dedicated domain and wearing his politics on his sleeve – from the play on the communist hammer and sickle for the logo to the voting system that “democratised the release of new videos” – Sunny demonstrated a focused approach. From early on, it became evident that this was more than a hobby.

The impact of Hate5six in the hardcore punk community is felt beyond the gratuitous videos, especially when smaller acts are concerned

In March 2018, after ten years and thousands of videos later, Sunny decided it was time for a leap of faith. He invited viewers to financially support Hate5six via Patreon subscriptions, which would allow him to turn the project into a full-time occupation and subsequently increase the quantity and quality of the output.

The hardcore community came through, and two years later Hate5six is nearing 1,900 patrons who have enabled an operational enhancement and also made it possible for Sunny to travel overseas with bands and record shows in Japan, Europe and Australia.

Although it took the better part of six months after launching the Patreon for Sunny to feel confident in the new model, he now speaks enthusiastically about the viewers whose contributions allow him to do what he loves and who effectively “vote for what comes out first.”

The impact of Hate5six in the hardcore punk community is felt beyond the gratuitous videos, especially when smaller acts are concerned. Sunny has demonstrated the so-called “bullhorn effect” several times over the years, asserting that he genuinely believes that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, meaning people that discover new and smaller acts via the platform.

 Each month, 8.56% of the platform’s income is donated to a charity selected by viewers and Sunny has been a long-term supporter of local social movements in his current home of Philadelphia, having also participated and documented the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country

This year, COVID-19’s nefarious effects on live music events challenged Sunny to enter a new playground: online live streaming. His first test was none other than Code Orange’s latest album release show. “I was in touch with Jami to record the show, but 48 hours before the gig he told me they had decided to play to an empty venue, so it was going to be streaming only.”

Supported by the band’s touring crew and staffers from a local audiovisual company from where they sourced extra gear, the live performance and Twitch stream ran like clockwork, in what became one of the first pandemic real-time live concert streams. An impressive 10,000+ people tuned in from all around the world and the feedback was so positive that Sunny already repeated the feat – albeit to a smaller scale – with Delaware’s Year Of The Knife and is “in active talks with multiple bands” to expand this new offering.

With hardcore being the fuel to the engine of Hate5six, it’s no surprise that Sunny has always been outspoken towards social justice causes while also pairing his archivism with direct action. Each month, 8.56% of the platform’s income is donated to a charity selected by viewers and Sunny has been a long-term supporter of local social movements in his current home of Philadelphia, having also participated and documented the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country.

More than visual documentation, Hate5six now represents a commitment between the online and the real world

When asked if he’d be willing to document other social movements and issues when going abroad, he promptly replies that such an endeavour has been on his mind ever since he recorded shows in Australia. “Next time I go overseas, I will give myself more time to attempt that.”

Little over a decade ago, multi-cam videos with a good sound mix were reserved for last shows of impactful bands. Hate5six changed that. One focused individual made hardcore more accessible and created a platform for a global scene to thrive, his online videos now being synonymous with immersive live footage that you can watch for free, from anywhere in the world.

When it came time to support one of their own, the community recognised the value in Sunny’s hard work and the ethos behind it. More than visual documentation, Hate5six now represents a commitment between the online and the real world.

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