In the early 1980s, Chicago was becoming an epicenter for a new genre of electronic music that experimented with unorthodox themes and often abrasive sounds, known as industrial music, and Oak Park resident Julia Nash had front-row seats.
That's because her father, Jim Nash, was cofounder of the legendary Wax Trax! Records store, formerly located at 2449 N. Lincoln Ave., and subsequent record label that released albums by cutting-edge bands like Ministry, KMFDM, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Front 242.
Nash and her husband, Mark Skillicorn, have spent years working to preserve the history of the record label — their most recent effort is producing the documentary film Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records.
The two have given test screenings of the documentary in Chicago and Los Angeles and are close to completing the final cut of the film.
Skillicorn said in a recent interview that they began working to preserve the material they gathered when Jim Nash's longtime partner, Dannie Flesher, died in 2010.
Nash and her brother traveled to Flesher's home in Arkansas following Flesher's death and found a stockpile of video footage and other memorabilia hidden away in his barn.
Nash arranged a three-day reunion show, known as Retrospectacle, at the Chicago concert venue Metro a year later with performances by Wax Trax! Records veterans like Front 242, Chris Connelly, En Esch and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult.
At that show, Nash said she learned for the first time how much the music meant to the fans. People approached her throughout the show say, "Thank you," and, "The music rescued me and saved my life," she recalled.
"It really fueled the documentary being filmed," she said. "I felt like this has to be done for these people. They need to know more about the two guys behind it."
Nash and Skillicorn have spent the last several years reviewing hundreds of hours of video footage and traveling the globe conducting dozens of interviews with former Wax Trax! artists and others connected to the record label.
Nash said the documentary was originally envisioned as a supplemental video to a live recording of the Retrospectacle show, but ultimately the couple refocused their energy on the documentary itself.
Skillicorn said they are now working on the final cut of the documentary and aiming to begin showing it at film festivals in 2018.
"We're plowing through this next year trying to get as many of those [festivals] as possible to get it in front of people," Skillicorn said.
Releasing the film commercially on DVD and through online streaming websites could take longer to negotiate, he said.
This is all as the two juggle their professional lives – Nash as a nurse and Skillicorn as a professional illustrator – and caring for their children.
"It's not a big studio with a big budget," Nash said. "This is a cliché but it's a labor of love, not just for us but for the people who [chose to] be part of it – it's their story."
More information about the documentary is available online at www.waxtraxfilms.com and Nash maintains a website, which shares a brief history of the label and record store, at www.waxtraxchicago.com.
Answer Book 2017
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