INTERVIEW: Bang Hai Industries – The Future of Boomtown?
With only a few weeks until Boomtown Fair, we were invited for an exclusive tour of Bang Hai Industries' new headquarters, and an audience with their CEO...
Almost exactly one year ago, I had an audience with a man in a mask who claimed to represent the salvation of Boomtown. A few months after that, he led his comrades and a hastily recruited force of fair visitors in a hostile takeover, culminating in the dethroning of Comrade Jose and the destruction of her mighty palace (head here for a more detailed history). Although I was there to witness all this chaos, I never came into direct contact with him again, and I haven’t heard from him since.
As a matter of fact, nobody has, and in the time since the revolution the town has become fragmented and rudderless, according to rumours. Up until recently, I hadn’t been back to see it for myself, but then I received an invitation. This wasn’t like the last one, there was nothing to decipher, it was almost blindingly clear; an invitation to take a tour of Boomtown’s latest and most exciting new enterprise – Bang Hai Towers. The ‘Bang Hai Industries’ name was plastered all over the graphic-laden email. And the pamphlet I got in the post. And the personalised video invitation. And the novelty mug.
Ostentation aside, I could hardly say no. The odd thing was that the invitation didn’t specify the exact location of the tower. Instead, a map on the back highlighting a spot in Mayfair as the meeting place. Mayfair has always been Boomtown’s wealthiest district, so it made sense for a rendezvous spot – it was a reminder of what Boomtown could be, at least according to the old money. The building I was asked to wait at the bank, and while I was waiting something caught my eye, a new addition to the building – what appeared to be a stock exchange.
It’s not the kind of thing you expect to see in the wake of a revolution, that’s for sure. So I waited, and waited, and finally after almost an hour a slender, tall man arrived to greet me. He introduced himself as a representative of the CEO of BHI, who was apparently going to meet with me inside Bang Hai Towers.
There’s no better word I can think of to describe them than ‘monolithic’. Huge, glittering spires like points on a crown, and below them a whole spectrum of flashing lights, satellite dishes and projected screens. And it was stood right where Bang Hai Palace had been. I got so lost in the blinding wonder of the thing that I hadn’t even noticed that someone had emerged from inside.
Walking towards me was an older, rather rotund man chomping a cigar in his wide, Cheshire cat grin. He closed the distance between us until he has only inches from me and slapped me hard on the shoulder. “Ah, excellent, you’re here!” He said, at an uncomfortably high volume, “A pleasure to meet you, really a pleasure.” Before I had the chance to respond, he placed a disconcertingly moist hand against my back and began guiding me into the black jaws of the building. “Come now, no time to waste, I have such sights to show you.”
From context, I realised that this man must have been the CEO of BHI, but it became even more evidence once we went into the entrance. People scuttled around him like termites, handing him documents to sign, a lighter for his cigar, ice for his brandy, and at one point I’m certain I saw someone quickly run in and trim his beard.
It was hard to stay focused in any one direction though, the inside of the tower was alive with light and colour. Almost every wall was covered by a screen, all of them broadcasting near endless streams of ads and promos. Sports wear, cruise holidays, hair products, even a social media platform. One screen in particular was showing drone footage of Sector 6, the old revolutionary stronghold. According to the marquee, it was being reactivated by the Bang Hai Energy division. I was so engrossed in all this that I’d almost forgotten I was meant to be asking questions.
“So what do you make of all this?” The still nameless CEO asked me, catching me off guard. “It’s very impressive, but why bring all this here? Why Boomtown?” I shot back, causing his smile to widen. “We’ve always been here, in one form or another. BHI is the lifeblood of Boomtown, but we have been expanding in a lot of exciting new ventures recently. Here!” He said, thrusting a portfolio into my hands. A brief leaf through it revealed information about dozens of different departments and planned changes for the town, images, diagrams, photographs of people with unsettlingly shiny teeth. “Can I keep this?” I asked. “Don’t worry, we’re putting one in your gift bag, you’ll receive it at the end of the tour.” He replied.
With that, he placed his hand back on my shoulder and guided me through a dark doorway. On the other side was a film studio where Boomtown News was being filmed. The presenter, Ambrosia Firestorm, was sat by herself practising smiling in a mirror while someone readied a ludicrous blonde wig to be placed on her head. Next door to that was another set, in which three people dressed in a kind of colourful, nu-rave bastardisation of the revolutionary garb were dancing in front of a green screen. As we walked past them I glanced at the CEO, but he just winked. He winks a lot.