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#1
oceanz

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Hi - it's been troubling me for a while but it's still a concern, so I hope here is ok to speak and please excuse clumsy words as it feels like I'm coming from a good place.

 

not sure where to start...KingBritt tweeted last week about how when he tried to check in for a flight, the attendant questioned his premium seat status and it's the sort of casual racism that, as a white man I never see.  There weren't any black kids in class/church throughout my whole time in school and uk radio just completely ignored any soul/funk/reggae/hip-hop - or at least JohnPeel would have picked up on it after bedtime and I remember buying JustBuggin single at 13yrs old and BobbyMcFerrin's don't worry be happy (I still really rate his music)  apart from that, we had I think MisaLuba and a NatKingCole album in amongst my mum's Mantovani records and my dad's JamesLast LPs   

 

I saw recently a line somewhere about calling out a person as a racist by the content of their record collection and it made me think about psybient/psytrance...From inside psy culture it might just be folk picking the music they most want to hear - like it's done without much attention to who the makers are - but if the overall effect is that the musicians of a  scene don't really reflect diverse society then perhaps it's worth sitting with a bit...

 

There was a discussion one time about Trance records - to do with what was the first track and it struck me that it's much more typical for black artists to be tagged as house or techno.  Maybe with Trance, was there a distancing from the gay culture slice of disco/house too? 

 

Hmm...so I mean an obvious solution is that we drop psytrance/psybient and look with wider ears - so BASS for instance is a global thing and reflects diversity a bit more - it could open up to feature real world music too, rather than just samples for an 'Ethno' prefix.

 

The alternative of sticking where the scene is at and waiting until more diverse makers meet entry requirements doesn't sound too swish to me.  

 

To be honest it took me a while before I found much black music that I thought had been made by tripsters - but obviously there's stuff all over the place/time so again I'm not sure why psy scene doesn't tend to pick up on it...Defo at a basic level of stoned beats then its weird that 'psybient' selectors don't consider more black artists - unless is it something that's done on purpose?  that the Namaste crowd want distance from hip-hop culture, whatever that might mean?  

 

anyone else ever thought about any of this?



#2
yiannis

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I think that calling someone racist on the sole basis of their record collection is the most far fetched idea ever. I imagine that real racists won't listen to music from the race they consider inferior, but this doesn't work the other way around. Why should ethnic diversity apply on every single thing? When I pick out a tune or artist I like I sincerely don't care at all who the artist is. It's the music that speaks to me, not the culture or the person behind it. For me that's the way it should be.

 

I've lived in Greece most of my life and I lived in London from the mid 90s till the mid 00s. I find myself standing right in the middle regarding the attitude of these two countries. The people here are very often racist - not towards black people in particular though - and I found the media and employers in the UK are rather paranoid about being called racist or offending anyone, to the point where they might even employ someone with an ethnic background even if they're not the best option, simply to ensure ethnic diversity. In my view the healthiest attitude is for our choices to be driven by who's best regardless of their background.

 

By the way, I've had friends or at least felt relaxed with people from all over and I owe a lot to the UK for broadening my horizons in many ways, so please do not take this post as an attack to the British people.



#3
Mønsterhed

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Yes. The psy-culture, be it psybient or psytrance, is a very "white" thing in general. However, I don't think there's even a grain of racism to that. More of a peculiar happenstance. Apparently, many thin, white people drift towards this kind of music. More so than other people do, it seems. By your logic we could make the psy-scene a fat-shaming community since there aren't a lot of overweight people present at events either.

 

I agree with yiannis. This whole idea is so far out. I joined the psychedelic community for the music and as long as people treat each other well I couldn't care less about 1) the colour of their skin, 2) where they are from, 3) what culture they come from.

 

It's not like people in the scene are unwelcoming to people of colour different than their own. They can join us and have a blast if they want to. Thing is, evidently they don't and there's nothing wrong with that.



#4
oceanz

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In my view the healthiest attitude is for our choices to be driven by who's best regardless of their background.

 

I agree...and to my ears some of the very best music ever made is apparently ignored by the psybient/psytrance scene and I'm concerned in case there might be a bit of a prejudice involved.  To be honest, it's only really in sets by MixMasterMorris, within the broader global chillage community, that I see a representatively diverse range of music makers being picked up on.  I still think that record collection check might be a bit of an indicator about where people are coming from.

 

 

It's not like people in the scene are unwelcoming to people of colour different than their own.

 

Ah I didn't want to paint the existing psybient/psytrance scene as exclusively white artists.  I mean obviously there's Mubali (Greg Farley) on Parvati Records, Nitin Sawnhey who had his track Streets picked up on the second InfiniteExcursions Tip compilation, Adam Shaikh and...well there's lots of Psytrance from Japanese artists.  Besides a lot of music is made fairly anonymously - once the uk music press dismissed some dance music as "faceless techno bollox" and I think even Underground Resistance were stealthy about their identities.

 

I think another aspect of it is that lots of black music - I mean that's a whole other thing I guess about whether it's legit to suggest that hip-hop for instance is black music despite the MOBO awards - seems like that culture was pretty diverse as it got started and defo dug thru a really wide range of music for the soundtrack...Anyway I was saying another aspect is that take reggae for instance, some of the broader culture is to do with a Black Deity incarnate as JahRastafari with lyrics about the horror of 400yrs of slavery and dreams of returning to Zion - which might be a different experience compared to a white gentleman with a head full of dreadlocks.  I'm not sure I'm convinced by white artists making dub music and then sprinkling samples of Rasta vocal snippets in amongst it as if that makes it legit.  But sure, the whole thing of OneLove like in a BobMarley lyric is beyond race and speaks of real global community.

 

I guess I hear lots of influences of black culture within psybient/psytrance but it's fairly rare to see black artists included in a playlist and I'm still baffled why that's the case.  Or there might be a fondness expressed for 'tribal grooves' but not many selectors venture into picking out some deep spiritual jazz tunes - in fact, after a little bit of listening and nosying thru collections of psy folk - I'm honestly shocked by the absence of wonderful music made by non-whites.  So...if that's sort of where we're at then it doesn't look like the most accepting community to welcome and start to build a true global community.  It's weird too that we have samples or imaginings about different cultures within the scene, but there's a whole wave of electronic music made in places like Peru or by folk living in the Sahara with access to laptop music kit and that isn't given a platform at festivals very much - as if tokenism is acceptable but real world music isn't.

 

I was just reminded of Inter:Laken, the new signing on Twisted records - really liked his set at one of the Twistival events.  I wonder how he felt about the the genre tag EthnoStep to describe the Enig'matik compilation he was on.  



#5
yiannis

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By your logic we could make the psy-scene a fat-shaming community since there aren't a lot of overweight people present at events either.

Heeey, I'm a bit overweight! Do you think people might look at me funny because of that?!? :P Come to think of it, Fishimself and one of the members of Odiolab are a bit on the plump side so I'm not alone.  ;) 

 

(There are some vices that are really hard to control...  :rolleyes:  )



#6
yiannis

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I still fail to see how music that is not overtly racist, doesn't have lyrics for the most part and when it does they're usually spiritual can be blamed itself or through its listeners as prejudiced. How can it be held responsible for attracting a particular audience? As for the absence of people from Africa or Asia from psyfests, I would guess it's a matter of popularity and possibly economics. Regarding the former I think festival organisers would want people to be attracted to their festie through the line-up, so they would go for the most popular they can afford, possibly taking personal tastes into consideration. About the latter, I'm guessing it might be costly to bring someone from (parts of) these continents to Europe or The US.

 

On a personal level, and since you mentioned hip-hop oceanz, I find the music really boring and the content of the lyrics completely unrelated to my experiences and aspirations at best, absolutely atrocious at worst. Mass hip-hop culture overall is extremely superficial IMO, so for me being more ethnically varied does not make it better than psy culture in any way at all. In fact it might be that because electronic psychedelic music is not so clearly about how society or a scene perceives you, but is either about self-improvement - not in a financial way of course - or in many cases completely open to interpretation, it's far more welcoming to anyone than hip-hop - you don't have to conform to anything in particular to be accepted. Furthermore, because it covers the themes I talked out, it's generally less popular and it mainly attracts people with an interest in the psychedelic state, which instantly makes it niche music. If there is one potentially negative thing to say about psyfans it's that they're bohemians to a great extent, which would imply a relatively high financial status, but again, not necessarily.


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#7
oceanz

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They can join us and have a blast if they want to. Thing is, evidently they don't and there's nothing wrong with that.

 

woah, out of curiosity, I followed your Facebook page and you're an international touring psy artist?  but you assumed that every psy artist was white already?



#8
oceanz

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I still fail to see how music that is not overtly racist

 

I'm conscious about the absurdity of me, as a white man, moaning about the absence of non-white artists from playlists.  But I'm struck also by how I've found some great abstract techno by women producers that is ignored by the psy community too.  I can't help thinking that slightly more open ears would do us all the world of good.

 

Anyway, apologies for clumsy words, I acknowledge that it is a sensitive area and I do not wish to offend.  FlyingLotus (nephew is it of AliceColtrane?) is out as into his psychedelics and a bass player he works with ThunderCat posed for a photo recently in an Native American Headdress - which made me think about the concept of 'cultural appropriation' - like adidas I think is helping US football teams to transition from using iconography from a prior civilisation.  In NZ, there's a unique bi-cultural basis, so the indigenous people can have a say, on whether it's appropriate for some Moko tattoo designs to be stolen and used as a logo on a wine bottle label for instance.  It strikes me that in swiping misunderstood aspects of foreign cultures that there's a similar level of disrespect amongst the psy community.

 

 

 

How can it be held responsible for attracting a particular audience?

Ah, it's not so much that aspect as the blatant ignoring of a huge swathe of psychedelic music made by non-white people that bothers me a bit.  But sure, you move onto that in yr post

 

 

 

As for the absence of people from Africa or Asia from psyfests, I would guess it's a matter of popularity and possibly economics. Regarding the former I think festival organisers would want people to be attracted to their festie through the line-up, so they would go for the most popular they can afford, possibly taking personal tastes into consideration. About the latter, I'm guessing it might be costly to bring someone from (parts of) these continents to Europe or The US.

Yeah I hear you about it sometimes being weird that it's some other person on stage, perhaps enjoying being a centre of attention, playing music made by someone else. But we don't even have existing selectors bothering to hunt for real world music, let alone the original artists having a chance on stage too.  I'm out of touch but there's obvious exceptions - like did Juno Reactor perform with Ammampondo was it?...the Orb gigged with Kakatsitsi too

 

I've a vague distrust of the sentiment sometimes expressed too, by some in the psy scene about always having respect for 'the ancients'.  One random thing is that it appears amongst some old cultures it was normal enough for children to take psychedelics and I think this breaches my concept of informed consent, let alone the fact that developmental psychology suggests youngsters are less able to distinguish pretend from real - that characters on telly are thought to be real for instance - so I'm not sure it's wise to give kids hallucinogens as part of yr culture and I think it's OK for that to be questioned rather than blindly respected.



#9
yiannis

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I think my view on the first part of your comment is clear, oceanz, no need to repeat myself. As for how people of indigenous cultures feel about their customs, rituals, myths and philosophies being used by outsiders, I see what you mean. There is both a positive and a negative aspect to this practice, the positive being the exposure of said culture to a larger audience which might potentially dispel some uninformed preconceptions and lead to more respect towards it, the negative the dilution of the culture this exposure may lead to. I'm standing on the fence on this one. I am all for practices that do not impose anything on people but rather help them dig deep into their consciousness with the aim of living a fuller life, but I generally find religions a negative thing. Not necessarily in their messages, but rather their self-righteousness.



#10
oceanz

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On a personal level, and since you mentioned hip-hop oceanz, I find the music really boring and the content of the lyrics completely unrelated to my experiences and aspirations at best, absolutely atrocious at worst.

 

Ah everyone has different preferences eh and that's cool.  The songwriter from Oasis for instance said about how much he hates hip-hop and that he thinks 50cent is an idiot.

 

I would encourage everyone to dig a little into the culture of turnablism, sampling and some just straight ahead incredibly psychedelic music at the heart of that scene.  I mean sure there's a whole culture of weed smoking and enjoying beats, but there was cross-over to all sorts of other scenes - for instance some Graffiti artists were into listening to their progressive/fusion sounds as they painted vibrant trippy murals all over their city.  Also, it's wrong to make an assumption about the content of all of the lyrics - for instance there was an early blend of disco and hip-hop culture that's made with such positive intent.  As well, there's so much to learn from the production techniques and the kinds of records that were sampled.  Plus I've heard hip-hop described as black CNN - and there's a voice given to express ideas about the state of it all - I mean surely even just as weed smokers everyone is a bit concerned to see such racism by police and so many people locked up in jail for committing no crime at all.  There's a PBS documentary about alcohol prohibition times that is context for how utterly futile the war on drugs is - or at least the war on undesirable elements of society as it becomes.  Embarrassingly, I'd not really investigated hip-hop culture in much detail until I turned 30 and there's some brilliant stuff in amongst.  At a very basic level psy community should at least explore NinjaTunes/BigDada with label head already giving talks out in Boom and being open about liking LSD.  Similarly it's rude not to tuck into FlyingLotus - he makes beats for rap artists and at the same time, along with Shpongle, writes instrumental love songs to DMT!  Beyond that, there's honestly some great stuff - how about rare cuts by Bahamandia & Ursula Rocker if interested in hearing more a female voice in amongst it all.  Ah it's not for me to give out every lead, but there's so much goodness within hip-hop community - or even beat makers of footwork/jungle fusion styles that it's really missing out to avoid it all, let alone not really fitting in with the whole psychedelia open-mind sort of thing.



#11
oceanz

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listeners as prejudiced

Can I ask though, have you ever listened to any FlyingLotus, or did you decide that because he might be connected to hip-hop culture - the superficial element of which you find it hard it relate to - then it shouldn't be investigated.  That kinda looks a bit like a prejudicial attitude.

 

But hey, there's a line about us being here to see each other through not see through others and for me for instance, I used to be a bit closed minded about HeavyMetal but it's interesting to explore areas where there might be resistance.  RobertAntonWilson wrote about 'reality tunnels' and how it was sometimes useful to spot them and then take off the blinkers to see another possible version of reality.  As a broader MUSIC community, I think we could benefit from lifting up our blinkers and exploring areas that we've previously considered off-limits and playfully dropping any petty genre laws that prohibit us from enjoying a much wider sense of community and plenty of really incredible music that we've missed out on.

 

http://noisey.vice.c...view-youre-dead

"I think people think I fuckin’ take acid and do DMT every week. Those moments aren’t as common as people assume. I do psychedelics maybe once or twice a year, if that"



#12
oceanz

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I like this track by KingBritt feat Bahamadia - I think it was the bbe recs comp series of 'Instrumentals' that first drew me in to investigating the scene a bit more.  Then a few years of following connections to explore more of the soul/funk/rock/jazz stuff that was sampled in amongst the beats - but much better sources of info out there than me. 

https://bahamadia.ba...track/transcend

 

Also, I don't mean to cause offence but I'm aware how social identities can be bundled up into what music we most like.  I'm just trying to send out a gentle reminder that 'our tribe' means everyone on the planet and movements are global not exclusive.

 

I'm a bit undecided about lyrics mostly - conceptually I don't really like how they interrupt a sort of timeless listening thing, but now and again a voice even in a heightened state feels welcome.  Also I've had fun out 'dancing' sometimes, moderately tripping, and enjoyed the percussive element to how rap lyrics can work - equally some turntablists blow my mind compared to the slow cross-fader blends of "DJing" within psybient.  I think I'm most drawn to the idea of wordless music that doesn't need a translation to communicate and is able to transcend illusions of borders.



#13
yiannis

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Can I ask though, have you ever listened to any FlyingLotus, or did you decide that because he might be connected to hip-hop culture - the superficial element of which you find it hard it relate to - then it shouldn't be investigated.  That kinda looks a bit like a prejudicial attitude.

 

I hadn't when I wrote that post, but that's because I don't like the sound of hip-hop. I've had a listen to bits of 1983 - sounds OK to me, though that sound is not what I think of when I talk about hip-hop. Sure there might be artists I may enjoy in any genre, but if I don't like the sound of a genre I'm simply not prepared to listen to a whole lot of stuff in the hopes of finding one or two artists I might like. As for the superficial element that I don't like, as I was talking about mass hip-hop culture, it's the preoccupation with image. Also, if I find that I want to explore a genre, it's usually because of something I heard and enjoyed, not something someone - even a friend - told me. When talking about things that are not connected to my general interests, if something attracts my attention on its own merits, I look into it.



#14
yiannis

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Now that I agree with completely :)


conceptually I don't really like how [lyrics] interrupt a sort of timeless listening thing, but now and again a voice even in a heightened state feels welcome. I think I'm most drawn to the idea of wordless music that doesn't need a translation to communicate and is able to transcend illusions of borders.


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#15
oceanz

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https://www.youtube....h?v=0ScYz9sNaQk

 

^first watch for me just now of this video for a FlyingLotus tune - worth a click!  I'm a random nobody and not much use for finding music, but the beats of that track remind me a little bit of Dabrye styles - believe it or not, I took some of Dabrye's instrumentals along to soundtrack a day at the seaside amongst music from ISHQ and MarkPritchard.  Anyway, very surprisingly to me, the Dabrye beats worked sublimely.  I guess freaks hide out in all sorts of unexpected places.  I think that's one of the things that DJ culture used to be about - years of digging thru music to find the good stuff - sadly for psybient/psytrance fans it's mostly just cross fades between this weeks releases from a really restricted pool of music.  I wonder what a true school DJ would make of someone standing on stage for claps, pressing play on music they didn't make, and that anyone off the street could find within 10minutes of browsing online. 



#16
Mønsterhed

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woah, out of curiosity, I followed your Facebook page and you're an international touring psy artist?  but you assumed that every psy artist was white already?

Heh. I think that's the first time I've been called that.

 

And no, that's not what I said. Don't twist my words. I was referring to the punters. At least in Europe the scene is "dominated" by white people. Can't speak for other places, since I haven't been there, but from what I've seen in pictures of the American festivals it's a bit of the same, though more commercialized. 

 

Also, comparing turntablism to mixing ambient is like comparing apples and bananas. Doesn't make sense. The goal of turntablism is to showcase technical skill and blend snippets from tracks very rapidly. If you did that with ambient it would be absolutely horrendous. There the goal is to make the transitions as smooth and un-noticable as possible. It's two completely different schools of DJing. One doesn't hold higher merits than the other.






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