In Pasadena, California on November 23, 1973, the musical group called Smegma humbly came into being. Despite having no formal art or music training, several friends decided to experiment with playing “real” music. We tried a ” band without musicians” concept, by allowing musicians only for special parts as needed. The only other rule was, “NO HIPPY MUSIC” or any other contemporary sounds. We developed our own “primitive suburban folk” approach and traditions. At first, we felt completely isolated. We were aware of the LA freak scene (Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Wild Man Ficher), but it was only a distant influence. John Cage, Harry Partch, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, Buckminster Fuller and many other great minds of previous generations were more influential than our peers.
Most of the band moved to Portland Oregon in 1975. Simultaneously, we became involved with the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), contributing audio LPs, cassettes and visual art. Contributions to LAFMS recently culminated with a collective performance at The Getty Center in Los Angeles in 2011.
Our approach of playfully respecting the great music of the past and pushing it into the future engages a small but interesting group of people from all over the western world and Japan. In the 1980’s, we were contacted by people from the U.K. Japan, Germany, France and others to contribute to several vinyl LP’s and cassettes. These releases included an early 45 rpm single on Mute(UK). Since 2005, we have been honored to perform in festivals in the UK and EU.
So far over 100 people have performed, recorded with, and/or helped work on projects with SMEGMA.