Thursday, April 25, 2013

cooled out and warmed up

I wanted to give a belated shoutout to the cats of Cool Out! The party I played last weekend in Bushwick. (nice write-up here) I was invited to focus on the more strictly Jamaica-centric aspect of my musical repertoire.

I decided to take the chance to do a set of all vinyl --not because I fetishize its audio quality, but because I have stacks of records - 12"s, 7"s and 10"s - which are not digitized (or I haven't tracked down good quality audio files for), and I haven't had a chance to play out in years. It was also the only set I've played in AGES to stay sort of within a genre, but it really gave me a chance to explore the delights of 1990s dancehall in particular. It is still one of the most creative, wacky, experimental genres, especially in terms of sonic variation, plus there are so many lyrical and vocal innovators playing around with sounds.

Some of my favorite moments were:

I opened with

And mixed into my favorite find, Lady Saw on the same riddim, singing "pumpum before gun" which is a great sing that begins with the time-honored phrase "SALUTE DI COOCHIE."

And another favorite - I had to drop some UK tracks - was Top Cat's "Pirate Radio Station"

WE wandered all around through some of my favorite riddims from "heavy metal" to "shanghai" to "grass cyaat" and a little hop to Germaica for the Pharoah Riddim.. It was not your typical dancehall set, I think I have a pretty unique take on it. Besides the hard, dark, wiggy, percussive vibe, themes included: some of the great female vocalists: Tanya Stephens,  Lady Saw and the underrated (in the US I think) Macka Diamond probably dominated, but Lady G, Cecile, Patra and others got a look-in. One other favorite from that night:

The whole night was perfectly sweet and ran till 4 or so... Dj Oliver Rivard (Cluster Mag) held down a nice rocksteady opening. Regent Street played pretty much all the crucial 4/20 appropriate tunes, and I was followed by Max Pearl (Cluster Mag) playing classics from various eras.

Big thanks to the three hosts for giving me a chance to revisit my collection with fresh ears!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rocking-the-body-politics : speaking at CMU/Pittsburgh today

I’m speaking today about a topic that I’ve been living for years, and only recently (and with the help of awesome Dj/Activist/thinkers like DJ Ushka) been able to articulate in a public way, and combine with my other scholarship: “Rocking the Body Politics; Musical Spaces for Resistance & Survival.” This is an extension of the workshop Thanu/Ushka and I organized at the Allied Media Conference last year on “Radical Organizing from the Dancefloor,” combined with ideas from my research and dj experience that I also presented at the Clandestino Institut in Göteborg, Sweden last year (Exile, Resistance, Occupation, Music).
I’m thinking about the value of remaining outside formal systems of law, of technology, of dominant social norms. This comes from my experience of squats and warehouse parties, underground nightclubs, pirate radio, rent parties, and street dances – I’m thinking about how people whose identities – and communities- are defined as abnormal or pathologized as dangerous and broken (from immigrants to queer kids to people of color to poor folks in general) carve out spaces to foster and express their shared culture. These spaces are often illegal and hard to find, which is sometimes discussed as a negative, but in some ways this protects them from being assimilated, digested and erased. By remaining outside and claiming that space, communities build up social power which can allow them to engage more assertively with the mainstream. At least, that’s what I see, and part of why I am wary of simply extending institutions that serve the powerful (from copyright law to property licenses) to people who are marginalized. Because inclusion on the wrong terms just maintains the overall hierarchy. This is stuff I try to think through in my dj sets, and increasingly in public conversations, using sound and music.
This will be my second time speaking at CMU, and my third time speaking in Pittsburgh – the first time I was lucky enough to give a talk (here’s the video! and a nice review!) at Dorkbot Pittsburgh, also with the help of the awesome Studio For Creative Inquiry, which shakes things up around art & technology in all kinds of ways, especially with the help of the super cool Golan Levin who designs interactive art and sound artifacts & experiences as well as teaching at CMU.
This is part ofa longer set of interesting musical conversations that Carnegie Mellon has been hosting as part of its “Listening Spaces” media initiative. I was invited to speak at their symposium “21st Century Perspectives on Music, Technology and Culture” last year, alongside the awesome Jonathan Sterne (whose recent book MP3: the meaning of a format, is super fascinating for all of you interested in the mechanics, history and politics of audio processing), as well as Trebor Schulz who does interesting work on online labor, and Graham Hubbs, a philosopher who works on ethics in digital spaces.
(the image at the bottom of the poster is from scenes from Pier Kids – the Life, a forthcoming documentary about the queer and transgendered youth of color that congregate at the Christopher Street Piers in New York, who are fighting erasure from mainstream society and also as their spaces at the margins are being erased by property development – check the “safe spaces save lives” campaign from the amazing FIERCE for more.)

Monday, April 01, 2013

Dutty and FAT : /Rupture & Ripley go gold on Tuesday

On TUESDAY, April 2 from 7-9pm at the FAT Lab (hosted at Eye Beam) DA will be repping hard on a panel called “Rights, Rogues and Refugees” – as part of this week’s celebration, by the Free Art & Technology Lab, of over 5 years of “thug life, pop culture, and R&D.”

 I’ll be moderating (Larisa Mann aka DJ Ripley), and the discussion features fellow DAer and former Eyebeam Fellow Jace Dj /Rupture Clayton, alongside Magnus Eriksson of the Swedish Piratbyran (Pirate Bureau, not to be confused with the Pirate Party), and Joe Karaganis, to discuss the implications of Karaganis’ recent study on “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies.” This is the first independent, large-scale study of music, film, and software piracy in emerging economies.*

 This topic is near and dear to my heart, and /Rupture’s as well. As for the study (available at the link above) it’s nice to see a systematic work of research, investigating ideas of ownership, control, authority, sovereignty and power in the global context that highlights heavy histories of inequality and liberating, slippery networks of clandestine creativity.

Our own experiences (and the experiences of many outside or at the borders of Western legal and cultural domination) already tells us some truths, but it’s good to rub those up against some formal scholarship and see what sparks. The first half of the event will bring out some key findings from Joe's research, tossed up against Rupture’s experiences in New York and far beyond, Magnus’ deep knowledge of how these questions have been fought out in Sweden (and the broader repercussions), and a bit of my own approach which I learned mainly from Jamaicans (and my own conscience and desires) in the street dance during the couse of my own research.

 We’ll have plenty of time for questions and conversation as well, so come through! It will also be livestreamed so you can tune in: check and FATLAB for more info. Big thanks to Geraldine Juárez and Lindsay Howard for mistressminding this event.

 *The most generous definition of "emerging economies" would be economies that are emerging from colonialism and exploitation. A more suspicious mind might wonder if these are economies or even communities and societies whose tender, private practices are being exposed to the harsh & commodifying light of the digital economy.