By Noah Hubbell
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Since immigrating from Russia in 1992, Ivan Ovchinnikov — better known by his stage name, Scum — has grown into one of the best-selling horrorcore artists in the country, through relentless touring and with Lyrikal Snuff Productions, the label he founded more than a decade ago. In that time, Scum has built up a massive underground following.
"I came from Moscow in '92," says Scum, who didn't speak English very well as a high-school student in the U.S.; as a result, he found himself somewhat isolated from his classmates and turned to music as a refuge. "I started listening to death metal," he recalls. "I didn't get into rap until I understood the language more." And once he did, he began to express himself in a way that has clearly resonated with a legion of fellow outcasts.
"When people are having a bad day, instead of doing something bad, they can pop in a Scum CD," Scum points out. "The genre is not for the rich guy with the awesome body and the model girlfriend. That guy is going to be talking about popping bottles, where the horrorcore fan can't afford to pop a bottle on their paycheck."
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This relational bond extends beyond fans. With Lyrikal Snuff Productions, Scum works with an array of like-minded artists. Since launching in 2002, the label has issued more than forty releases, by acts such as Insane Poetry, a twenty-year veteran of the horrorcore genre from California; Dark Half, from Wisconsin; Diabolik, from Ohio; and Smallz One, among others. Scum himself is held in high regard in horrorcore, and from the sound of it, it takes a lot of work to maintain that status.
"I have fifteen people who work exclusively on the whole persona of Scum," he notes. "I am not in the top, but I am definitely in the top ten" acts in the genre, he says. Indeed, Scum is in plenty of fine company, having appeared on numerous tracks with acts like Esham, Mastamind, Prozak, Doomsday, Q Strange and King Gordy, all horrorcore mainstays.
And contrary to popular opinion, the movement is only getting bigger, according to Scum. "If you go to Google right now, you will find articles saying horrorcore is dead, but it's not," he declares. "It is just scattered all around the world."
It's certainly alive and well here in Denver, thanks to Scum, who runs the Roxy Theatre with Troll of Slo Pain, who handles booking. "It actually works well, because Troll is the exact opposite of me," says Scum. "I hate dealing with booking and he hates working with numbers. So he holds the place down when I'm on tour." After playing shows in other venues, the two finally found a home base for their burgeoning scene. "The Roxy really helped us, because I'm banned from so many places in town," says Scum. "I used to have to lie to venues to play there, and they would be like, 'What's up with all the juggalos?' 'Uh, we fliered an ICP concert?'"
No need to conceal the truth anymore. The underground is thriving, with no plans to stop anytime soon. "I feel like now I have to do it for the Scum fans," Scum concludes. "If I quit, I'm going to let these people who love me down. I have people who have my logo tatted on their neck."