Episode 3: Reset

Transcript

Podcast by Kerstin Meißner and Sarah Farina aka Transmission
Host: houaïda
Guests: He Zhao (DJ Zhao), Melissa Taylor, Nicky Böhm

Transcript

[Music]

Kerstin Meißner
Have you ever considered raving as an act of resistance? If so, how might you envision social justice unfolding on the dance floor? In our podcast series we will relate these questions to club culture's response to current events and how this wave of momentum can be used to elevate new ways of raving and experiencing club music. Curated and brought to you by Transmission aka Sarah Farina and Kerstin Meißner. Please join us exploring the politics of the dance floor featuring a diverse range of figures from nightlife's global ecosystem. Please feel invited to share your ideas after each episode. You can get in touch by email or social media. Together we are trying to deconstruct in order to rebuild and we are doing that in appreciation of one of our favorite spaces: the dance floor.

houaïda
Salut! Welcome everyone to our new podcast episode as part of the Politics of the Dance Floor initiated by Transmission. Our topic today is „reset“. We will be discussing the business side of the dance floor, the capitalist sellout of music since mainstream streaming services took over and we hopefully will get some insights about alternatives that could lead us into a non-hierarchical diverse community-run business model that might bring more sustainability and stability to every participating entity and not only to the common gatekeepers.
I'm going to be your host today, my name is houaïda, I go by she/her. I'm a first generation tunisian migrant working class child born and raised in Germany. I am a producer composer performer and astrophysicist. I was one of the core members of the berlin-based performance group „talking straight „and I'm currently working on some ideas for a PhD that I'm hopefully gonna start in 2021. As a scientist and artist my work focuses mainly on the deconstruction of western normative perceptions in music, performance and basically life by an embodied practice of a radical sensual and by scientific strategies influenced way of acting and living. I'm also a freelance music consulter and music activist and German mainstream music industry but enough of me, I would like you to welcome our wonderful guests today Nicky Böhm, Melissa Taylor and DJ Zhao. Nicky.

Nicky Böhm
My name's Nicky Böhm and I currently work at Beatport. Beatport is a platform for DJs and I’ve been there for six years now working in the label management department and looking after relationships with distributors and labels. Before that I was working at various independent labels in Berlin amongst others BPitch control and K7 and Kitt-Yo and I've been living in Berlin now for 14 years. I'm originally from London.

houaïda
Thank you Nicky Böhm, Melissa can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the underground music ecosystem.

Melissa Taylor
So I'm Melissa Taylor, I moved to Berlin 15 years ago to start my communication agency, „tailored communication“. There we work primarily with independent artists and labels and on different projects festivals. I'm an advocate for „Resonate“ the fair streaming network and I'm currently working on a hub for independent music called „Eris“.

houaïda
Thank you Melissa. Zhao nice that you are here too, can you say a few sentences about yourself and what the dance floor means to you?

Zhao
Well I'm come from China. After living in the US for a long time I came to Berlin to take music more seriously. I'd like to state that I was the very first DJ to start playing afrohouse in Berlin. But my theoretical work has focused on social dance and its specifically political aspects and historical anthropology sense and through a marxist lens of analyzing social relations as related to material conditions and how that shapes our culture, including social dance and dance music. I'm an outsider because I didn't grow up in the west so I think I have see things through a kind of distant, maybe more objective sometimes hopefully way. I hope I can offer some insights.

houaïda
Thank you so much, it sounds really interesting. We asked you to bring a song with you, so Zhao which is the one you bring for us today and would you like to let us know why you chose that one and what it means to you?

Zhao
Well, I brought a mashup that I did actually an edit of apala music from the yoruba people of west Nigeria or today Nigeria. Apala of course is the president to Juju, which is the president to Fela Kuti and later styles in the 20th century. Apala started in the 1920s a roughly modern Apala and it's just amazing music with talking drums and um it's been influenced by islamic traditions a little bit in its history as well and I matched it up with a track by JKenzo which is a dubstep tune and I chose this because I think it embodies the kind of the periphery becoming the center and opening up of dance music and social dance culture here in the west in the imperial core that I would love to see, that I think is the future of music and I think is the future of dance music is the only way forward is by opening up and evolving from there.

houaïda
Thank you.

[Music]
Artist: Ayinla Omowura & his Apala Group J Kenzo feat. DJ Zhao
Song: Fuji Dub

houaïda
In the first two episodes of this podcast our former guests have spoken about sustainability and solidarity. They discussed necessary changes such as mainstream and underground having more conversations, payment ecological dance floors, social justice and so on. Today's theme reset is a similar big term it is about exploring future possibilities of underground music to foster and facilitate social change. So let's begin with the framing the term a little bit. We asked our community to share their thoughts on the term „reset“.

Voice memo by Anni, a DJ from the community
Hi my name is Anni Ennis and I'm a DJ and I'm currently based in Berlin. Well, I think that the idea of like a reset becomes actually quite necessary if we want the music industry to be like sustainable and successful in the long term. I would just hit the reset button on everything this industry holds and and stands for. I just want to pick one thing which I find so interesting to discuss and this is like how the music industry became this huge and global mono culture and I just feel like we lost so much value and so much talent to it, so thinking about a new music culture I'd imagine there to be less monopolies in every aspect of it. I think it's just interesting to see how the industry is creating itself more and more gatekeepers and like gatekeeping mechanisms and all they do is just hurting themselves because they've given so much power to these institutions, so I just think we need to move away from this global hype culture which also functions in such a fast pace and and basically go back to our local communities which so many people actually have forgotten of.

houaïda
That was a very beautiful introduction. Zhao what exactly do you want to reset?

Zhao
We can talk about neoliberalism and its effects on culture in the last 30 years 40 years starting with the same five pop tunes on repeat all summer long since corporate ownership of the radio waves have affected us. It's been an incredibly impoverishing process for the entire world so much diversity was lost and now we are in the new digital neoliberal age kind of and I absolutely agree with the points that have been made about needing to decentralize, needing to find connection with each other in local communities. But at the same time I think the real work that we need to democratize these digital platforms. Just like Amazon should be a public service, these digital platforms need to be collectivized. They can bring so much wealth cultural wealth to all of us instead of acting as these profit driven monoliths that gatekeep and um and impoverish our experience. I mean we tend to think that we have the world at our fingertips on the internet but it's not true at all. So much music from all over the world is not available on Beatport or Spotify or any of these platforms and they are you know, very much eurocentric and very much restrictive and they really impoverish our experience of global dance music culture. So but until that can happen I mean of course that involves much more difficult political processes but we need to connect with each other and build local communities definitely and reset from a larger historical perspective, I mean social dance culture has always been at the core of humanity. I mean I don't want to get too far off topic but we are the slow and weak apes and the only way that we survived out competed the other early hominids and other great apes of Africa is by working together, is by building strong communities is by sharing food with kin and non kin alike, is by creating this egalitarian community and dance and social dance and music is at the core of that of building trust, of building communities. And it is in our very DNA of our species and it's also the fount of all of our mystical traditions dance social dancing and so I would like to reset to that to get back in a really big historical sense.

houaïda
Thank you so much. We will go back to the community later but let's stay with the term research for now, Melissa what are the different lanes and topics you would like to add to our discussion and how would your resetting of dance music culture look like?

Melissa Taylor
Well, I agree with everything that giles said and I would add to that that I don't want to wait for these platforms like Amazon to give up their power. I think we'll be waiting forever and the time right now in this schism in our industry and in all of our social lives and our culture is to start building what we need now and not looking for that exit strategy with VC funding not building the way that silicon valley and big tech builds but building for artists building for our communities and owning these things ourselves, using cooperative models using artist and worker ownership models and taking that into the digital space and giving ourselves the platforms and the support that we actually need now. Because if we don’t, I think this struggle while our physical real-world spaces are being taken away from us or being closed because of the pandemic. We're not going to come out of this in a good situation unless we really recognize that these things need to be done and the way to do this is to build community, is to speak to one another, to organize, to find out what each of our skills are and come together and build using what we have and we have a lot. We have so many different skills, whether it's people who understand politics, who understand different cultures, who understand different music, it's not that we don't have what we need. Okay, maybe we need more money [laughter], we tend to not be rich people on the whole but if we come together I'm convinced that that can happen. And the other side of that is as we build these networks, as we build these platforms coming together so that these platforms then don't compete against one another. Because we've been living in a situation where because of the way that media portrays people whether it's women or, there's a lot of competition there's a lot of times that artists or labels or scenes are pitted against one another. It's a popularity contest and actually art, it shouldn't be a popularity contest any more than artists should be content creators. So I think a lot of people are thinking about this rationally and deeply and my hope is that as this continues that we will build what we need and that this will be a really positive reset.

houaïda
Thank you so much. We will also go a little further into that kind of thinking but Nicky Böhm, what does reset mean to you?

Nicky Böhm
For me reset is about shaking up the status quo, it's about you know proper structural change and innovation that goes way beyond virtually signaling and I agree that I think it's imperative that we break up the consolidation tech merger cycle and have more diversity in the market because when you only have a few companies at the top who are essentially controlling this, they exercise great cultural and economic control over the scene that's obviously going to have a very negative impact on diversity and experimentation which is so critical for indie underground dance music culture, so I'm a big fan of all types of diversity and I think these types of big sort of moments of change are great opportunities then for us to take a moment and think how we want to do things in a more holistic equitable and sustainable way and there's lots of scope to do that within the music industry. Especially because there are loads of issues such as access and representation, sexism classism, sustainability that were issues even before the pandemic hit and what before like Black Lives Matter was really something that people were talking about and these are all things that we can now properly tackle I think… and in many ways sort of long overdue.

houaïda
Thank you Nicky Böhm. It seems that we're all kind of agreeing that we need a change but Melissa we asked you to bring a song too, so would you tell us what song you have for us and what is the meaningful thing about it?

Melissa Talyor
So the song is Exercise One versus Mathew Johnson „Lost forever in a happy crowd“ and it's slightly maudlin of me to choose it because it kind of makes me think about Sunday morning, it’s quite trippy. Sunday morning being lost in some dark cavern corridor, the lights are flashing, there's smoke everywhere. Maybe I've lost my friends and had too many Jägermeisters [laughter] but it's this and the reason why I was thinking about this song also because I've worked with both of these artists for a really long time and it just represents to me something that I feel like I may not ever experience again. I know I'm of sorry [laughter]. So even it's a very happy song for me and I love it very much it's named after one of my favorite The Cure lyrics and yeah it's just that feeling of I wanted to have that feeling of something that I think might have passed but… hopefully not.

[Music]
Artist: Exercise One vs Mathew Jonson
Song: Lost Forever in a Happy Crowd

houaïda
So we've been talking about the term „reset“ and you shared your ideas about the term.Sso let's dig a little bit in to this idea of alternatives to the current system. Melissa, you stated in a recent DJ Mag article about the geekless economy. You said „I don't want to live in a world where only rich people can make art and art mirrors life“. Can you please explain how this drives you work?

Melissa Taylor
I think that quote was part of a wider conversation I was having about kind of the changes to society and how people are not given the support that they need. My thoughts on that kind of stem from how the support for artists and culture is being eroded everywhere, whether it's in the UK with what's happening now with the government, just absolutely not supporting the nightlife and events industry and basically telling everyone to go and retrain for jobs that don't exist. And then if we look at the options that artists have if they don't have gigs, then obviously things like Spotify don't pay properly for streaming and we have a lot of artists looking for alternative means of support whether that's using Patreon or going to Twitch. What I wanted to say with that really, is that we need to find ways of supporting artists that actually pay. We've had a problem with artists and how they value themselves and how the world is valuing their work. I think another thing I said then is that you can't eat „likes“ you can't pay the rent with people liking your Facebook page. Obviously we have to have true value because we do live in a capitalist society whether we like it or not and we have to find ways of paying the rent and right now the streaming economy doesn't do that. Obviously there are people and there are organizations trying to do better with that whether it's Ampled or Resonate who are trying to use the cooperative model and the artist own model to create our own spaces for that music and those audiences.

houaïda
I think it was Nicky Böhm who mentioned class, so talking about alternatives we need to talk about acess and class too. Zhao since you are like saying that you're a marxist and an anarcho musicologist is that right?

Zhao
I wouldn't say the word anarcho now. That was many years ago, but okay.

houaïda
Okay so that's what I read.

Zhao
Yeah let's just say marxist anthropology or musicology.

houaïda
Okay. So what are your thoughts about the popularity of mainstream platforms creating a career possibility for artists from underrepresented groups on the one hand and the privilege to create alternative ways of producing consuming or distributing music on the other hand?

Zhao
Well we all know that the politics of representation is severely limited in politics at large, in fact not only limited it can serve to conceal and distract from the structural injustices that persist and even bolster that system. We've had a female head of state in Germany for the last what 20 years and that has not helped women's unequal pay in Germany being, if not the highest then among the highest in all of Europe. We see more and more. Black people on billboards but that has not translated to material injustice's ending for People of Color. But in the sphere of culture I think this is more important and can be more significant representing diverse voices and ideas from all over the world, because the sphere of culture is about ideas and these things resonate and they can enrich all of society in a much more profound way and influence and inspire and cause changes. So when you have voices from other parts of the world from the imperialized I know that's not a word but from former colonized regions people bring vastly vast wealth of culture and ideas that is often very needed and also just in terms of form in music, it's just often times much more advanced forms of music and sociality that Europe lacks. So I think the politics of representation in club music is very very important although we cannot just stop there. Your other question about privilege - of course we live in a you know unjust world where inheritance and all of these things property contribute to unequal privilege and we the privileged, we are all privileged here that we can share these thoughts with the world and work in music we should not feel guilty about our privilege because we don't choose which class we're born into or things like that but we should recognize our privilege and also use it in a way to affect positive change. I mean Che Guevara was a bourgeois son of a bordeaux family as was many of the revolutionaries of the 20th century. The intelligentsia, the revolutionary intelligence are often from a privileged background and they were leaders, they were the vanguard parties that led amazing social change and I think we can do the same. The dance music community can be a vanguard in terms of inspiring culture where it should move to how we should move towards our goals and I think with privilege comes the responsibility of educating ourselves as well as spreading ideas about the resets that we would like to accomplish.

houaïda
Thank you so much Zhao. I would add another question into that I think what I would like to know more from you is, since Melissa mentioned that we need alternatives to all these Spotify and Amazon and so on. What I can see like from my perspective is that Spotify for instance also made it possible that let's say like migrant kids from Berlin had access to a system where before they were very much ignored so like in German hip-hop for instance. I would like to know from you Zhao, if you think that these mainstream services could also be something that could make an underrepresented group of people more visible. Do you think that these kids hacked the system somehow?

Zhao
Well of course it's possible and of course it's a good thing that mainstream services are becoming more diverse and more than mere tokenism right. I think these kids definitely did hack into the system in a way. I think a diversity of tactics, I think working the system from inside out is definitely valid for those with a means or opportunity. I think a lot can be done there I mean we can democratize these platforms. I think if there's enough movements and enough consciousness raising with enough of these things and I think we live in a unique time in history where these shifts, democratizing shifts within the workplace within the digital music platforms is actually possible. I think many things are shifting our political coordinates are shifting right before our eyes here in 2020 and a lot of these things I think are possible where they were not before so I think we definitely should push for more diversity and representation in mainstream services.

houaïda
Nicky Böhm, what are your perspectives on those alternatives and tendencies as a representative of a mainly community bound music store like Beatport is, that on one hand is dependent on the community but also on mainstream content from mainstream distributors. In short how does your business model work and who profits from the music cells?

Nicky Böhm
Beatport is very much firmly rooted within the DJ community and it has quite a sort of classic structure in so far as there are the artists who are generally assigned to a label and a lot of them then have a distributor and then there's the DSP which in this case is Beatport. I work in the label management team as I mentioned before and the accounts that I work with are either labels that have a direct deal with Beatport or else they are distributors and we have a split which is over 50 in favor of the accounts and that then filters down to the artist. I think diversification is always something that is very necessary and very important and I think as far as these sort of big tech companies and streaming platforms are concerned whether it's Beatport which is still primarily a download store or Spotify or Soundcloud which obviously more in the streaming market. These companies which started up in the naughties were actually disruptor companies initially. They were sort of great innovators and everyone around them thought what they were doing was kind of crazy. I mean no one really wanted to believe that downloads were a thing back at the beginning in 2004 when Beatport started out. The same with Spotify and and Soundcloud and obviously now they have a different position within the market. There's lots of scope and lots of importance for there to be very lots of other models as well whether that be direct to fan platforms like Bandcamp or Patreon. I just think no one is obviously forced to put their music on any particular platform and I think the more diverse options that an artist has or creator has the better because as I mentioned before you know if there's too much of a consolidation then it has a negative effect on creativity and and everything that goes with that.

Melissa Taylor
And something I wanted to say about that with artists that there should be more diversity in the platforms but also I think one of the things artists and managers and labels need to think about is what platforms are they supporting? Like is this the right platform for them you wouldn't put your music on a Coca-Cola advert necessarily because you don't believe in the brand so I don't think that it's a one-size-fits-all for all of these platforms and quite often we're not thinking about that and we actually as a community need to think about the value that we're placing in these companies because as the people providing all of their content their value is reliant on us, on our artists, on our art, on our music and if you look at a company like Patreon for example it's valued at like 1.3 billion now. But it doesn't actually make anything, it's just a series of tools that a company has put together backed by VC funding. What does the artist truly get out of that? What is it that we're getting as a community from creating these platforms creating the value of these platforms? AND I think this is going to become a question that more people are going to have to start asking themselves.

houaïda
Do you think Melissa that all these different platforms could co-exist so it depends on the artist and the artist decision to go for one or the other platform or?

Melissa Taylor
Yes absolutely and I think that's one way of us stopping monopolies and right now because of the relationship between say independent distributor and Spotify a lot of artists are giving everything they have to Spotify and then everyone has access to this for very little money relatively speaking 10 euros a month, if they're even paying for a subscription. A substantial amount of people aren't paying and it makes sense for artists and labels to start thinking about whether that's the right relationship. Why should everybody have access to everything all of the time? You know there are other ways of doing things, if we look at other industries the film industry for example the way that they release movies, the way that the transactions are made for the release of their movies, we're doing it in quite a simplistic way in the music industry we just upload it and let it go and then just accept what we're given for streaming and that's something that we can change as a community if we come together and make a decision like this is going to be available on Spotify but my new release is only going to be on Resonate for example and it's going to be there for six months and then after that time I'll make it available on Spotify. We need to have more control over the music and the content that we're making and not just blindly giving everything away.

houaïda
I think that sounds very right actually. Nicky Böhm you want to add something?

Nicky Böhm
I mean I know at the moment we've been focusing on recorded music and the stranglehold that certain companies have on on the market but I think there's also quite an interesting conversation to be had within live music which has obviously come to a stand still at the moment and how that becomes more holistic in so far as you've also got a very very small pool of very very well paid artists who have flown around the world at the expense of local scenes and local DJs and often at the expense of the people who are actually making that music. If you look at this sort of correlation as to what a very well high-profile DJ will get paid for playing someone else's music compared to the royalties that that artist will get. I think that's also a conversation to be had because one thing I really hope that's going to come out of the pandemic is that local scenes and local talent will be reinvigorated and there will be sort of a different conversation about these electronic cubs whether that be Berlin, London or New York that it gets sort of broadened and there's also a diversification of what we consider to be like an electronic music scene because at the moment there's also like a sort of monopoly on certain cities that are considered to be the home of electronic music you know.

houaïda
Thank you Nicky Böhm. You've been all actually speaking about the community and that we have to get more into communities and community structures. Matt Dryhurst speaks about building support nets, owning buildings, supporting each other collectively rather than facing the individual. Survival of the fittest or best connected struggle we can see success in crowdfunding campaigns or other community oriented support systems also due to lesser state responsibilities, public funding cuts and so on. Do you think individuals or collectors should just start doing things differently and others will then follow? Are we just sticking around these broken capitalist structures and ways of doing culture just because no one is leading by example? Or are we too stuck in the idea of the successful individual wealth accumulation and the idea of the single genius? Nicky Böhm what do you think about that?

Nicky Böhm
Yes, I mean I think that ties into what we've obviously been discussing up until now that diversification is always very important. I think there's room for all of it to be honest. I think collectives obviously have a very important role to play. But I think there's also a lot to be said for individual responsibility and education as well. I think lots of the revenue that comes from live and there's also the revenue that comes from recorded music but there's also a vital revenue stream from publishing which lots of artists aren't so aware about so it's really important as well that artists register their tracks so that they can get paid. It's also DJs should be submitting playlists so that they can also get paid when the artists who are being played can you get paid out streaming platforms also need to be securing the rights that they need in advance of streaming content and PROs also need to be improving their music recognition technology so everyone gets paid. So I think there's an emphasis on the individual but also collectively as well and I think that's sort of a 50/50 responsibility.

houaïda
There must also be something particular in human nature. We have to consider: is lived collectivity too difficult for us to maintain? Dealing with different personalities, conflicts, communication trust issues, life situations, finding agreements and so on is very exhausting. I mean I can just talk for myself here, I'm part or used to be part of a collective. It was in theater and just facing this hierarchical space of a theater was basically for us impossible to work as an organism there, the way we want it to work. So is DIY still to be the better choice for many because it gives you the impression you don't have to rely on others. How do we make space for different roles and people's abilities, talents and interests thinking community as a polymath for example? What are your thoughts on that and experiences with these topics do you see a future in unions and music workers alliances, Zhao?

Zhao
Well I think the first thing is education, is political consciousness I think. I think that's the very first thing. We all love this music, we all love dancing. Let's take it seriously, let's take seriously what it means to come together and dance let's take seriously how we can move beyond these restrictive norms in neoliberalism in terms of music becoming more democratic and interactive. I think it’s the only way forward. I mean interaction is amplified by can be, amplified by digital technology. We have 6G coming and that means 2 terabytes per second or something like that, I mean we're talking about all over the world we can be connected and jamming, musicians can be jamming together and a world of film theater all, it’s all very very impossible. So the most important thing is politically we need to think about music and dance music politically and get back to its revolutionary roots of building communities. I really think these ideas come first that we need to be on the same page. Educate ourselves like I said, us cultural workers can be the vanguard party in pushing forward more collaborative interactive forms. Private property is such a bane, it's such a corrosive idea on creativity. If you look at for instance Jamaican dance hall or many many traditions there are very many different traditions around the world, artists collaborate and there's none of this „I own this, I you own that I'm going to sue you because of a sample“ there's none of that. Artists voice on the same rhythms. There's such a collectivity, there's such a communal sense of community in which creativity thrives and amazing outcomes result. So of course we have these contradictions. We cannot share everything because we need to make a living, because we need paychecks, we have these contradictions and we need to navigate through these contradictions with a political consciousness and learn from all of these traditions these thriving still today thriving creative communities and other ways of doing things I think can guide us, can inform us, can inspire us.

houaïda
Thank you Zhao. Melissa what do you think about that?

Melissa Taylor
Yes, I agree completely and I also feel like many people are being educated right now they're educating themselves and they're educating each other and there is more of a collective consciousness about the fact that we need to change, that we have to make these changes happen and that we can't wait around for other people to do them and I do think beyond the concepts and the conversations that there are people who are making positive steps to offer alternatives for our community. So I mentioned Ampled before which is a co-op that is very similar to Patreon but it's only working for musicians. There’s Resonate which is obviously the fair streaming platform there's Currents which is offering also a form of patronage focused around playlists. So these kinds of cooperative artist-owned alternatives as more of these appear as they start to work together. Then we're going to see more alternatives and more consciousness of people making decisions.

houaïda
Thank you Melissa, these are very interesting insights, actually things that I didn't know before. Nicky Böhm?

Nicky Böhm
I just wanted to briefly go back to the subject of classism because I think it's obviously fantastic to have loads of different you know ideas for different platforms or whatever but if you're not giving certain people access and you're not having diversity of thought and diversity of lived experiences then as much as these platforms have great ideas, they are only potentially serving again a certain demographic and the music industry is obviously inherently very social but it still very much works on a sort of word of mouth. It’s not what you know but who you know is especially sort of at the beginning for people who are trying to get their foot in the door and I think that is especially in dance music culture where it's very much still a certain demographic that being sort of white male middle class who are the decision makers which is essentially quite ironic because dance music culture is actually rooted in Black working class communities and LGBTQ+ communities. So for me that's a really sort of critical thing to to dissect and to work on because there needs to be more representation because as much as we might think that dance music and the associated scenes are representative they're really not. Especially when it comes to the people who are making the decisions and the ones who have the money, so I just wanted to add that point.

houaïda
Thank you so much Nicky Böhm. What kind of song do you have for us so today?

Nicky Böhm
I brought Caspa's „Rubber Chicken“ and it brings back really great memories for me of being at Thursday nights at Plastic People in East London and there was a night called „Forward“ that I would always go to and it was a real hub for um the dubstep community at the time and it's just got an amazing wobbly bass line which sounds incredible on a great sound system and Plastic People was known for having an amazing sound system. And when I then moved to Berlin which was like at the beginning of 2007 a year later a friend of mine Paul Fowler started the Substance parties together with Paul Rose who's also known as Scuba who has Hot Flush and that was probably like the first time that I religiously went to a night in Berlin because I'm not, I mean I like sort of house and techno and stuff but it was never really the sort of scene that I came from. So this is just a nice trip down memory lane and really makes me want to be in the club again.

[Music]
Artist: Caspa
Song: Rubber Chicken

houaïda
So Melissa would you like to add something to the idea of unions?

Melissa Taylor
Yes, I find it very positive what Carin Abdulá from Outer Agency and Bergnist and I'm sure many other people are working on at the moment, with things like the Music Workers Alliance and in general this need for us to come together and share our experiences whether that's officially unionized or just by creating organizations where we can create more power through knowledge and through sharing experiences. The next years are going to be tough especially for booking, especially for artists, especially for touring artists. The more that we understand and the more bargaining power we have will enable us to get back on track and with more stability and if we look at something like Live Nation already trying to change the contracts, already trying to put a lot of the uncertainty and possible losses onto the artists rather than taking it on themselves in the face of that unless we share these experiences and work collectively together against these kinds of things we're not going to survive.

Zhao
The pandemic has definitely sharpened the already existing contradictions of being a creative being an artist especially in the music industry and we definitely need to take another look at collectivity at unionizing. I know it's very difficult because in the last 30, 40, 50 years workers unions have been devastated by privatization and infiltrated by the CIA and rightist factions the bourgeoisie, the forces behind property and capitalism, and so they have been corrupted and people are kind of roll their eyes when you mention workers unions but we have an opportunity to re-envision and to return workers unions to their roots in working-class solidarity. Because artists have no protection whatsoever even before the pandemic. But now we really feel it and all of these individual you know egoism, is a result of not individual people being assholes although there are, but it's the structure that pits us against each other, rather than fostering a sense of camaraderie. So we need to think about all of these issues and overcome them and build collective power because that's the only way we will survive as Melissa previously said.

houaïda
Thank you Zhao. The vulnerability of our scenes has been highlighted during the pandemic ecological issues energy supplied due to increased digitalization, like services needing a lot of energy. Amazon farms etc, unjust economies the movement for Black lives, ongoing reveals of sexual assault in our scene. It is a lot we are trying to activate people with this podcast and like to ask you how can people who care about a sustainable solidarical anti-oppressive economically just and fun dance floor engage on their levels starting today? How can they reset? I'd love for you to take a moment and just imagine given all that we've spoken about what does your ideal dance floor look like please share one idea about the change that you want to see, Melissa?

Melissa Taylor
I want people to make better choices, I want people if they believe something to not just talk about it but to carry it through. If you say you're anti-something then be it, if you know something's wrong speak up about it.

houaïda
Thank you and Nicky Böhm?

Nicky Böhm
Yes, I completely agree and I think a lot of it boils down to doing your homework and I think one of the beauties of any type of underground scene is that people don't want to drink the Cool-aid that they're just fed by the mainstream. So a massive aspect of it is sort of digging beneath the surface obviously and there's this great saying with every dollar you spend you're casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in and I think there are loads of people doing great things you just have to look for themö I came across this platform the other day an independent streaming platform which is called Techno Club and the model is different in so far as it's totally independent. They want to essentially replicate what it's like going to a club so the DJs they have resident DJs who are all paid. You pay an entrance fee, you can pay like a pay-per-minute model where you can buy like five hours 10 hours or 20 hours over a weekend and then you know that then gets distributed amongst the DJ’s. So there are all these people who are coming up with amazing ideas and who need people's support, so I think you just need to dig a little deeper and and not drink the Cool-aid.

houaïda
And Zhao?

Zhao
I would like to see people take dancing and dance music and dance music culture more seriously and expand the dance floor to encompass other spheres of life. For instance why not conversations before the party began, why not we talk amongst each other about any topic related to, why we are all here experiencing this collective celebration of life and what that means and connect with each other also have fun. You know beyond the sort of pavlovian like repeated going out and buying drugs and you know, but just expanding the experience of clubbing to encompass more of life and interactivity, for instance there are some games that we can play with dance with vocal singing you know not singing, but … me and my friends have organized a series of vocal improvisations in which we sit around in a dark room and basically make strange sounds with our mouth for as long as we please and it's super fun. It's like improvised jazz but like in a very fun. I mean that's just an example of things that we can expand the clubbing experience to be to encompass and with a pandemic we have an opportunity to sort of re-imagine what partying looks like. I mean I bought a little mobile sound system to have parties in the park which is really nice, very intimate. So these decentralized forms I think can be inspiring as well so movement on all fronts and politicizing not politicizing the music but revealing the politics that is already in dance music that people are not conscious of, making conscious the unconscious. I think is very, very important.

houaïda
Thank you so much Melissa Taylor, Nicky Böhm and DJ Zhao for this very refreshing and inspiring discussion. I actually feel really energized now, very empowered. It was a very political talk, didn’t expect that but I kind of love the energy so yeah I hope we get all our wishes fulfilled, it's christmas soon so - let's put some inshallahs out! I also got asked to bring a song and it was a bit difficult for me because I didn't want to bring like a typical western kind of hit like or dance floor hit so I actually brought „Umm Kulthum“ and the reason why I did that is that first of all it connects me to my family in Tunisia and to my dad in particular but that's not only the reason. „Al Atlal“ is the name of the song and „Al-Atlan“ means the ruins in arabic and a ruin to me is a very hopeful state. It reflects the past the present and the future in it there's something melancholic and amazingly charming about a ruin. You kind of want to tell the ruin hey habibti we can fix you and you will look even more marvelous and that's how I see things right now. We sit in this big and huge pot that we call planet earth it's boiling like crazy but before we evaporate into the universe. I strongly believe that we can fix things and even if I'm deeply longing for the apocalypse sometimes in my most cynical times at least I'm still way too hopeful and romantic to lose this optimism. We have to enter radical collectivity, anti-capitalist collectively driven transdisciplinary networks organisms and movements. We have no time for analysis anymore we have to go into practice and I see absolutely no other way.

[Music]
Artist: Umm Kulthum
Song: Al Atlal

Sarah Farina
Hi, this is Sarah Farina and

Kerstin Meißner
Kerstin from Transmission.

Sarah Farina
We want to thank our guests for sharing their ideas and our listeners for your interest in these conversations. Please get in touch and share your thoughts. All details and links and resources from our guests can be found on our website transmissionnet.org.

Kerstin Meißner
And thanks to Haus der Kulturen der Welt for hosting and promoting these important conversations. We are trying to proceed with the podcast and other events. Please stay in touch to hear about our future moves.