Nan Warshaw /Bloodshot Records/: Ovo je hobi u kome nam se posrećilo da možemo da ga radimo i kao posao

Nedavno je Bloodshot Records objavio kompilaciju Making Singles Drinking Doubles, koja je označila njihovo stoto izdanje. Nakon stotinu izdanja etiketa koja je javnost upoznala sa žanrom nazvanim Insurgent Country i dalje ima mnogo toga da kaže. Povodom stotog izdanja urađen je intervju sa Nan Warshaw, koosnivačem etikete – razgovarao je Aleksandar Lazarević.

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INSURGENT COUNTRY: It is music that is as informed by George Jones as it is The Clash – if not in sonic content, then in aesthetic outlook. Nan & Rob

Desperado: U početku beše svetlo ili beše Bloodshot?
Nan: Ne sećam se baš tako davno. Bila je to neslana šala sudbine koja nas je potakla da 1993. oformimo nezavisnu etiketu koja je probila barijeru koja razdvaja old-school country od underground rocka i punka.

Moj partner Rob i ja smo osetili da su country i punk pri kraju snaga. Zapazili smo da ima dosta insteresantnih i uzbudljivih grupa pod uticajem old-school countryja i punka koje su svirale u Čikaškim underground klubovima tada. Počeli smo da razgovaramo o mogućnosti da izdamo kompilaciju sa tim grupama. Nakon brojnih sastanaka po barovima i neprospavanih noći zbog skupljanja i beleženja podataka, shvatili smo da imamo dovoljno znanja, naivnog i zdravog prkosa (više nego dovoljno) prema trenutnom stanju u muzičkoj industriji da oformimo našu etiketu. Naše prvo izdanje pojavilo se jula 1994. (ništa bez JUL-a : – ) – prim. prevodioca). Bila je to kompilacija For A Life Of Sin, slika tadašnje Čikaške underground country scene. Od tada, Bloodshot je proglašavan prvom linijom nacionalnog fronta alternative country-ja. Decembra 2002. pojavljuje se Bloodshotovo stoto izdanje “Making Singles, Drinking Doubles” kolekcija out-of-print singlova i neobjavljenih pesama.

Desperado: Bloodshot – posao ili strast?
Nan: Hobi u kome nam se posrećilo da možemo da ga radimo i kao posao.

Desperado: U Bloodshot/muzičkom poslu najviše uživaš u …
Nan: Ja žalim muzički posao. Muzika Bloodshot grupa me pokreće.

Desperado: Šta je za tebe najlošije u ovom poslu?
Nan: Najgore je to što moramo da radimo sa ljigavcima unutar muzičke industrije da bismo mogli da prodamo izdanja naših bandova. Muzičku industriju interesuje samo trgovina, a ne i briga o grupama i onome što one rade.

Desperado: Kada bi sada morala da počneš sve od nule da li bi pokrenula Bloodshot ili uzela svoj novac i propila ga?
Nan: Nismo pokrenuli Bloodshot da zaradimo novac. Ali pošto zarađujem za život radeći za grupe koje volim, ponovo bih to uradila iz sveg srca.

Desperado: Koga bi najradije dovela na Bloodshot?
Nan: Teško pitanje. Najverovatnije grupu za koju još ne znam. Volela bih da radim sa grupama kao što su Slobberbone, Freakwater i The Handsome Family, ali oni su na nezavisnim etiketama gde imaju dobar tretman pa nema razloga da to menjaju. Zatim, tu su velika imena kao što su npr. Neil Young, Emmylou Harris ili Johnny Cash koji mnogo bolje pristaju terenu velikih etiketa, jer bismo mi morali mnogo da promenimo strukturu Bloodshota kako bismo uspešno funkcionisali sa autorima tog nivoa (kako bismo prodali više od pola miliona njihovih albuma).

Desperado: Po kom kriterijumu birate grupe koje će Bloodshot “blagosloviti”?
Nan: Blagosloviti ili potpisati? Postoji velika razlika. Nisam sigurna da blagoslov od ateista kakvi smo mi ima značaja. Zaista, interesantni su nam samo autori koje volimo. U njihovoj muzici postoji nit old-school country muzike kao i uticaj punka i underground rocka. Grupa treba da ima petlju i granicu. Generalno, sve što je očigledno komercijalno nije nam zanimljivo. Grupe koje nam privlače pažnju su one koje nalaze nove i originalne načine da kombinuju i ističu svoje uzore.

bs100_cover_1Desperado: Da li je bilo nenamerno to što se kumovali insurgent country podžanru ili je to bio deo plana?
Nan: Znali smo da bi kreiranje identiteta puno pomoglo našoj šansi za uspeh i dugovečnost. Videli smo kako su druge etikete kao što su Stax, Motown, Touch & Go, Amphetamine Reptile, TwinTone, SubPop, SST
kreirale njihov prepoznatljivi zvuk i potom to dalje razvijale. Mi smo stvorili izraz Insurgent country da jasno odvojimo našu muziku od komercijalnog countryja i podcrtamo punk pozadinu. Danas se taj izraz koristi od strane mnogih grupa i autora koji ga upotrebljavaju na način na koji mi to nismo zamislili, ali taj termin nam je u početku mnogo pomogao.

Desperado: Koliko Insurgent Country podžanr dozvoljava autorima da mešaju različite žanrove?
Nan: Mi biramo grupe sa kojima želimo da radimo, a one su slobodne da prave muziku kakvu žele. Ukoliko, recimo, jedna od naših grupa napravi album sa elektronskom muzikom, ne bi imalo smisla da mi ti objavimo zato što ne bi smo znali kako to najbolje da prodamo. Pomogli bismo toj grupi
da nađe pravu diskografsku kuću i objavi taj album.

Desperado: Da li imate u planu (da li ste zainteresovani) da potpišete nekoga ko se ne bavi samo Insurgent Countryjem?
Nan: Nećemo da počnemo sa hip-hop grupama ili klasičnim orkestrima, ali već smo se pomakli od insurgent countryja, tj. proširili sam pojam.

Desperado: Aktivnosti po pitanju video snimaka su daleko iza ostalih?
Nan: Nikada nismo pravili video snimke. Veoma su skupi kada se uzme u obzir da ima samo nekoliko mesta koja bi ih emitovala.

Desperado: Bloodshot u Evropi? Evropa je veoma pogodno tle za Američku muziku. Čini se da nije bilo velike promocije Bloodshota na ovim prostorima (malo sam poranio sa uključivanjem naše predivne zemlje u Evropu, ali valjda će biti i toga – prim aut.) Grupe sa Bloodshot-a ne gostuju previše, nema ih na festivalima ….?
Nan: Naše grupe dobro prolaze u Skandinavskim zemljama. Tamo imamo sjajnu distribuciju. Naše grupe često gostuju u Engleskoj. Želeli bismo da naše grupe češće gostuju u Evropi.

Desperado: Koja je bila ideja sa “iskopavanjem” autora koji su svirali početkom prošlog veka? Šta se desilo sa tim reizdanjima? (Pitanje se odnosi na posebnu ediciju reizdanja autora iz 20-ih i 30-ih godina prošlog veka).
Nan: The Bloodshot Revival edicija nam omogućava da edukujemo mlade koje old country ne zanima previše kao i da evociramo uspomene na stare autore.

Desperado: Distribucija?
Nan: Distribucija je najveća propast za nezavisnu etiketu. Kada smo se malo učvrstili mogli smo da radimo sa većim i pouzdanijim distributerima (koji plaćaju na vreme!). Ali je još uvek tužno videti Walmartizaciju Amerike. Bilo je ozbiljne konsolidacije u maloprodaji. Odlične male nezavisne prodavnice su izbačene iz igre, a lanci prodavnica koji ih potiskuju, kreću se u pravcu autora koji imaju visok minim prodatih primeraka. Neki od lanaca će kupiti izdanje samo ako mogu da ga prodaju u više od 5000 kopija. U svakoj radnji će radije staviti 200 kopija albuma Britney Spears nego dve kopije svakog našeg izdanja. To čini da je mnogo teže prodati prvih nekoliko hiljada CD-ova i stoga se stvara veći jaz izmedu elitne gornje klase i svih ostalih.

Desperado: Šta je tako posebno u Čikagu? Mislim na Touch& Go, Bloodshot i mnoge druge sjajne etikete koje se nalaze u Čikagu. Niko od njih ne objavljuje komercijalna izdanja već odličnu alternativnu muziku.
Da li je to viski, smog ili ludi Srbi? (Čikago je drugi najveći srpski grad na svetu : – )
Nan: Naravno da su to ludi Srbi… Ustvari naša kancelarija je u srcu Srpsko, Hrvatsko, Bosanskog susedstva (da li to nagoveštaj ponovne mogućnosti bratstva i jedinstva dolazi iz Čikaga? – prim. aut.). Tu je jedna mala prodavnica pića, koja pretenduje da bude bakalnica, na uglu gde uvek ima gomila ljudi koji piju u svako doba dana (definitivno su naši – prim aut.) Niz ulicu se nalazi prodavnica “Beograd”. Čini se da Srbi, Hrvati i Bosanci u Čikagu izlaze jedni sa drugima bez problema. Postoji takođe veoma jeftin fast food sa Meksičkom hranom na drugom uglu i predivan istočno evropski restoran preko puta. Bloodshot ne bi mogao da uspe ni u jednom drugom gradu. Ima puno klubova koji nas podržavaju i koji se prema grupama odnose blagonaklono. Postoji neverovatan osećaj zajedništva unutar veoma različite Čikaške muzičke scene. Mislim da je to zbog toga što velike etikete nikada nisu našle uporište na ovim prostorima. Nezavisne etikete iz Čikaga se ne takmiče, ustvari mi mislimo da jačim zajedništvom svi dobijamo.

Desperado: Bloodshot od početka nije samo izdavao cd-ove i singlove. Dizajn vam je bio značajan koliko i muzika? Stekao sam utisak da želite da svorite čitavu ikonografiju oko Bloodshot-a.
Nan: Mi smo takođe zajubljenici u visual art koji se nalazi na našim cd-ovima, Lp-jevima i singlovima. Srećni smo što su članovi nekih naših grupa u isto vreme i odlični umetnici. Jon Langford (Waco Brothers, Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, etc.) je uradio veliki broj sjajnih omota, Melisa Swingle iz Trailer Bride je naslikala većinu omota njihovih albuma, Neko Case je napravila fotografije koje se nalaze na njenim izdanjima, slike Rico Bell-a se nalaze na omotima njegovih albuma. Želimo da omot albuma bude dobar koliko i muzika tako da muziku predstavi na odgovarajući način. Takođe smo radili i sa jednim sjajnim dizajnerom, Markus Greinerom iz Get-Go-a.

Desperado: Bloodshot for happy childhood? Šta se dešava sa programom izdanja za decu?
Nan: Još uvek nema dečijeg programa, samo jedan CD za decu The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs For Bumpy Wagon Rides. Mnogi autori sa naše etikete imaju decu, tako da je potpuno prirodno da su napravili pesme za decu. Želimo da taj album funkcioniše na više nivoa, da privuče podjednako decu i odrasle.

Desperado: Bloodshot ezoterija – urbani kauboji širom sveta. Koji je najdalji deo sveta odakle ste dobili poruku. Da li postoji plan da se infiltrirate medju Ruse?
Nan: Dobili smo narudžbine iz Hong Konga, Jukona, Novog Zelanda i širom Evrope. Iako bih želela da naša izdanja budu dostupna i u Rusiji, dovoljno je teško naplatiti i od zapadnih distributera, tako da nema trenutno nema takvih planova.

Desperado: Koju muziku slušaš osim Insurgent Country-a?
Nan: Slušam punk rock, garažni rock, stari blues, klasišni rock, nešto od metala, povremeno novi talas, novi nemački talas, klasičnu muziku,a prošle nedelje sam završila sa slušanjem Božićne muzike (intervju je raden neposredno nakon nove godine).

Desperado: Kako je prošla žurka povodom stotog izdanja?
Nan: Nisam se usudivala cak i da pomislim da cemo stici i do polovine od tog broja. Oduvek sam se potajno nadala da cu dati otkaz na poslu kako bih provodila svo vreme radeci za Bloodshot, ali bilo bi glupo i neodgovorno traciti na to. Ovo je ekstremno promenjiv posao i mi smo jako srecni da smo došli do pedesetog ili stotog izdanja. Imali smo žurku povodom stotog izdanja u Cikagu polovinom Decembra u Hideout, našem
omiljenom baru u gradu. Želeli smo da napravimo žurku u znak zahvalnosti fanovima i poslovnim prijateljima koji su nam pomogli da održimo Bloodshot. Besplatno pivo je obezbedio Three Flyods (lokalna mala pivara), a hranu Hot Dougs (lokalna hot dogdžinica : – )), imali smo i mnogo poklona tako da svi koji su došli su dobili nešto. Devil In A Woodpile su svirali njihov akusticni country blues, zajedno sa tubom i daskom za veš, Deano i Mark iz The Waco Brothers su imali svoj set, a glavne zvezde su bili Diesel Island, vodnjikavi 70-ies outlaw cover band zajedno sa nekoliko clanova the Bottle Rockets. Kelly Hogan se pridrucila Diesel Island u jednoj pesmi. Novac zaraden od tombole je bio donacija za Open Hand Chicago, organizaciju koja obezbedjuje hranu za obolele od SIDE. Koncert je bio rasprodan u 22:30. Bilo je sjajno.

Desperado: Na kraju Bloodshot – kinta ili slava?
Nan: Izabrala bih slavu. Da sam htela novac, bila bih bankar.

Desperado: Čime se još bave ljudi iz Bloodshot-a?
Nan: Neki gradovi imaju crkvu na svakom ćošku. Čikago ima “komšijski bar” na svakom ćošku. Zabavno je videti atmosferu na tim mestima, a ako imaš sreće možeš naići i na sjajne džuboksove koji super idu uz viski koji piješ. Čikago ima vrlo dobar “fudbalski” tim The Chicago Fire – ne baš na nivou evropskih fudbalskih klubova ali idu ka tome. Pošto Čikago ima zaista sjajnu muzičku scenu ima uvek najmanje nekoliko koncerata nedeljno koje želim da vidim. Za novu godinu je bio Bloodshot koncert na kome su svirali The Bottle Rockets, Robbie Fulks, and Devil In A Woodpile; bio je to najbolji mogući način da se dočeka 2003. Nedelju dana pre toga the Waco Brothers, Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys i Andre Williams and The Sadies su imali sjajan koncert, tako da najveći deo onoga što me zabavlja nije puno drugačiji od onoga od čega živim; gledam sjajne grupe.

*****

Bloodshot Records recently published a compilation Making Singles Drinking Doubles, marking its 100th record. It seems that, even after hundred various records, the label – which has introduced the genre, Insurgent Country – still has something to say. Marking the 100th record, there is an interview with NAN WARSHAW, one of the co-founders of the label by Aleksandar Lazarević.

Desperado: In the beggining there was a light or there was a Bloodshot?
Nan: I can’t remember that far back. It was the bar rag of destiny that swept us together in 1993 to form an indie label that straddles the fence dividing old-school country from underground rock and punk. My partner Rob and I felt that both country and punk were moribund. We noticed that there were a number of interesting and exciting bands, all informed by old-school country and punk, playing around town, Chicago that is, in the underground rock clubs. We began talking about the idea of releasing a compilation of these bands. After numerous barroom meetings and sleepless nights excitedly jotting down notes, we realized we had enough composite knowledge, naďveté, and healthy contempt (more than enough) for the industry status quo to form our own label. Our first release came out in July of ’94. It was For a Life of Sin, a compilation snapshot of Chicago’s underground country scene at the time. Since then, Bloodshot has been lauded/lambasted for being on the national forefront of the alternative country movement. December of 2002 marks Bloodshot’s 100th release, Making Singles, Drinking Doubles, a collection of out-of-print 7″ singles and previously unreleased tracks.

Desperado: Bloodshot – bussiness or a passion?
Nan: A hobby in which we got lucky enough for it to operate as a business.

Desperado: The part you enjoy the most about Bloodshot/music biz is?
Nan: I deplore the music business. It’s the Bloodshot bands’ music that moves me.

Desperado: What is the most paintful thing in this biz?
Nan: The most painful part is in order to sell our bands records we have to work within the slimy music business. The music business is only about commerce and has no concern for art and the artists.

Desperado: If you are about to start again would you start Bloodshot again or would you pick your money, go and drink it?
Nan: We didn’t start Bloodshot in order to make money. And since I get to make a living working for the bands I love, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Desperado: The band you’d like to sign the most?
Nan: That’s a hard call. It is probably I band I don’t yet know about. There are bands like Slobberbone, Freakwater and The Handsome Family with whom I’d love to work, but they’re on indie labels that treat them well, so there’s no reason for them to switch. Then there are huge name artists like Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, or Johnny Cash who may be better suited in major-label-land because we would have to change the structure of Bloodshot too much to successfully work with an artist at that level (selling more than half a million copies of their records).

Desperado: What is the criteria for choosing a band to be “blessed” by Bloodshot?
Nan: Blessed or signed? There’s a big difference there. Plus I’m not sure that a blessing from atheists likes us is meaningful. Really, the bands we love are just that. They tend to have a thread of old-school country running through their music and are informed by punk and underground rock. A band has to have guts and an edge. We generally find anything
obviously commercial to be uninteresting. Sonically, the bands that grab our attention are ones that find new and unique ways to draw from and mix their influences.

Desperado: Was it unintentional that you gave name to one sugbenre (insurgent country) or it was a part of a plan?
Nan: We knew that establishing an identity would greatly help our chance for success/endurance. We saw other labels like Stax, Motown, Touch & Go, Amphetamine Reptile, TwinTone, SubPop, SST, create their own identifiable “sound” and then go on to expand that. We came up with the term Insurgent Country to clearly separate our music from
commercial country and imply our punk background. Today the term has been co-opted by many bands and writers that use it in ways we didn’t intend; but the term helped early on.

Desperado: How much Insurgent Country subgenre allows it’s authors to play wide variety of styles?
Nan: We pick the bands we want to work with — they’re free to play whatever music they want. If one of our bands made, say, an electronic record, it wouldn’t make sense for us to release it because we wouldn’t know how to best sell it. So we’d encourage that artist to find the right label to release that specific record.

Desperado: Do you plan (are you interested) to sign artists who are not playing just Insurgent Country?
Nan: We’re not going to start working with hip-hop bands or classical orchestras, but we’ve already moved beyond insurgent country or greatly broadened the definition.

Desperado: Seems that activities regarding videos are not so intense? I know a few VJ’s who asked me for videos of music i play on various Radio stations but i couldn’t offer them much.
Nan: We’ve never made videos. They’re very expensive considering the few outlets there are to air them.

Desperado: Bloodshot in Europe? Europe is very fertile ground for American music. There wasn’t big Bloodshot promotion here? Not much touring, no festivals …
Nan: Our bands do well in the Scandinavian countries. We have excellent distribution there. Our bands also regularly tour the UK. We would like to get more of our bands to Europe more often.

Desperado: What was the idea behind of “digging” authors that played in the beggining of last century? What happened with reissues?
NanThe Bloodshot Revival imprint allows us to educate the young’uns that old country does not suck, as well as bring back some fond memories for the old folks.

Desperado: Distribution?
Nan: Distribution is the bane of indie label existence. As we’ve become more established we’ve been able to work with more thorough and reliable distributors (that pay and pay on time!). But it’s still truly depressing to see the Walmart-ization of America; there has been serious consolidation at retail. The cool little indie stores are being pushed out and the chain stores that do the shoving are moving to centralized buying with high minimum buys. Some of the chains now will only take a release if they think they can sell over 5,000 copies. In each mall store they’d rather stock 200 of Britney Spears record than 2 copies of each of our releases. That makes it much harder to sell the first couple thousand CDs and therefore creates a bigger gulf between the elite upper class of musicians and everyone else.

Desperado: What’s so special regarding Chicago? I mean Touch&Go, Bloodshot and many other great labels are stationed in Chicago and no one of them is releasing commercial music? Is it whiskey, smog or the crazy Serbs? (there’s over 2 000 000 Serbs living in Chicago)?
Nan: Of course it’s the Serbs… Actually our office is located in the heart of a Serbian/Yugoslavian, Croatian, and Bosnian working class neighborhood. There’s a little liquor store, that pretends also to be a grocery store, on the corner where there’s always a bunch of guys hanging out drinking at all times of the day (so far they’re harmless).
There’s also a great deli down the street called “Beograd”. It seems that the Serbs/Yugoslavians, Croats, and Bosnians in Chicago all get along with each other just fine. There’s also a great fast food, very cheap Mexican restaurant on the other corner and a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant across the street. Bloodshot couldn’t have thrived in any other city. There are a handful of clubs that are extremely supportive and treat the bands well. There’s an amazing sense of community within Chicago’s diverse music scene. I think it’s because the major labels never gained a stronghold here. Chicago indie labels don’t compete, instead we believe a stronger indie community benefits us all.

Desperado
: Bloodshot was not releasing just cds and 7″ from the start. Art was important to you same as music. How much you pay attention to art (from covers, shirt designs to adverts)? I get impression that you’re trying to make complete iconography.
Nan: We’re also passionate about the visual art that’s on our CDs, LPs and 7″s. We’re lucky enough that some of our band members are excellent artists; Jon Langford (Waco Brothers, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, etc.) has provided us with a plethora of amazing covers, and Melissa Swingle of Trailer Bride painted most of the art on their CDs, Neko Case took the photographs that appear on her releases, Rico Bell did the paintings on his CDs. We want the release artwork to be as good as the music on them and to represent the music well. We’ve also worked with one great designer, Markus Greiner, from the get-go.

Desperado: Bloodshot for happy childhood. What’s going on with children program?
Nan: Not a children’s program yet, just one kids CD The Bottle Let Me Down; Songs For Bumpy Wagon Rides. A number of our artists have kids, so it only seemed natural to have them give us songs for a childrens compilation. We wanted that record to work on a couple levels and appeal to both kids and adults.

Desperado: Bloodshot esotheira – urban cowboys from all over the world. What was the uttermost part of the world you got answer from. Is there a plan to infiltrate among Russians?
Nan: We’ve gotten mail orders from Hong Kong, The Ukon, New Zealand, and all over Europe. Although I’d love to see our releases available in Russia, it’s hard enough to get paid by western distributors — so no current plans.

Desperado: Other music you listen besides Insurgent Country?
Nan: I listen to punk rock, garage rock, old blues, classic rock, some metal, occasionally new wave, neue Deutsche Welle, classical music, and last week I finished listening to Christmas music.

Desperado: 100th release party?
Nan: I couldn’t have dared dream we’d make it half this far. I’d always secretly hoped that I could give up my day job to spend all my time doing Bloodshot, but it would have been stupid and irresponsible to bank on it. This is an extremely fickle business and we just got super lucky to make it to 50, let alone 100 releases. We had our 100th release party in Chicago in mid-December at our favorite little bar in town, the Hideout. We wanted to throw a “thank-you” party for the fans and biz-friends
that have helped keep Bloodshot in existence. Some free beer was provided by Three Flyods (a local micro-brewery) and food from Hot Dougs (a great local hot dog place), and we had tons of give-aways so that everyone who came won something. Devil In A Woodpile played
their acoustic country blues, complete with tuba and washboard, Deano and Mark from the Waco Brothers did a set, and the headliners were Diesel Island, a sloppy 70s outlaw cover band featuring a couple members of the Bottle Rockets. Kelly Hogan joined Diesel Island for a song. We also raised money through the raffle and donations for Open Hand Chicago, an organization that provides food for people with AIDS. The event was sold out by 10:30 pm. It was a hoot.

Desperado: At the end: Bloodshot – a buck or a glory?
Nan: I’m going for the glory. If I wanted money I would have been a banker.


Desperado: What are the activities of Bloodshot personal besides the label?
Nan: Some cities have a church on every corner, Chicago has a neighborhood bar an every corner. It’s fun to check out the atmosphere at these places and if you’re lucky you can find a great jukebox to go with your whiskey. Chicago also has a very good soccer team, The Chicago Fire — not quite European league level yet, but getting there. Because Chicago has such a great music scene, there’s always a at least a few shows a week I want to go see. On New Years Eve there was a Bloodshot show with The Bottle Rockets, Robbie Fulks, and Devil In A Woodpile; it was a hell of a great way to bring in 2003. The week before the Waco Brothers, Rex Hobart & The Misery Boys, and Andre Williams and The Sadies all played excellent shows in town. So really most of what I do for fun ain’t much different than what I do for work: see great live bands.

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