I participated in a conversation with Mike Rugnetta for is great "Reasonably Sound" podcast about noise regulation, gentrification and racial/ethnic politics in Brooklyn. The full podcastis here:
When you follow music that bubbles through immigrant communities and sites of cross cultural exploration in the cities, you end up learning alternate maps of cities. These maps are sonic and visual. They mark the movements of people who are simultaneously hypervisible and villainized “immigrants” and “foreigners” but also invisible in mainstream stories about urban life. Some of the most invisible are the people, mainly women, who do care work inside other people’s homes. In general women do 2.6 times the amount of unpaid work that men do, and much of that is in their own homes or that of family members. But the women (90% women according to the ILO) who are paid to work in other’s homes, doing highly skilled, dangerous, caring work, face particular disadvantages when they try to assert their rights. One of the hardest things to do is organize – because domestic work is so often solitary, even isolating. How do you find each other and share information, coordinate, learn about how to deal with your job, with employers, with the struggles you all face in a similar system? Like workers everywhere, resourceful people have built organizations like the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and Caring Across Generations to help the fight. But artists can play a role as well!
Studio Rev is an activist organization that I (DJ Ripley) have been on the board of for several years. They do creative projects that both respond to social issues and engage with communities to solve problems together. It’s always fun and colorful, it’s usually musical, and there’s always some action involved. I was honored to be a music consultant for the latest step in StudioRev’s ongoing CareForce project that has been creatively engaging with domestic workers’ rights with social interventions in public spaces across the country. It’s a public art project that amplifies the voices of America’s fastest growing workforce: caregivers. They created the CareForce One aka the NannyVan, which went across the country, stationing itself in parks where nannies come to take the kids they are often in charge of, and provide a site for know-your-rights information, safety tips and sharing of other knowledge and experience. As they took it across the country, they filmed the experience, which has led to the CareForce One Travelogues , a mini series which is debuting on PBS. Listeners will note in the sound track Dutty Artz’s own MPeach, among several other talented homies (shoutout to Gingee!).
Here’s the story: In the series, artist Marisa Morán Jahn, her son Choco, and their buddy Anjum Asharia hop in the CareForce One, their fifty-year-old station wagon, to travel from New York to Miami, meeting up with nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and allies along the way and exploring how care intersects with some of today’s most pressing issues—including immigration, the legacy of slavery, and racial discrimination. The program is part of CareForce, a public art project that amplifies the voices of caregivers. This Sundance-supported PBS Indie Lens StoryCast/ITVS docuseries explores how care intersects with some of today’s most pressing issues — immigration, the legacies of slavery, racial discrimination, and more. Produced by Studio REV- and Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmaker Yael Melamede (SALTY Features) with support from the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations. This film is part of the larger CareForce project, which involves all kinds of fun & creative ways to support workers.
So, on March 17, we hope to keep the momentum going at the Brooklyn Museum launch. There’s a lively program with artists, thinkers, and advocates, all focused on care. The event features a keynote by Saskia Sassen (Scholar on globalization, Columbia University) introduced by yours truly DJ Ripley ; a performance of a revolutionary Nepali song sung by Narbada Chetri (Adhikaar for Human Rights); and music by MPeach, followed by a DJ Ripley set!
Estonia, for the Association of Internet Researchers' annual meeting. I am talking more about pirate radio and ethnic radio, on a panel: Sonic Publics. My paper is called: Booming at the margins: transmedia practices of pirate/ethnic radio in Brooklyn.
It might seem funny to be at an Internet Researchers' event with a talk about radio, but it makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, radio broadcasting has always worked within a cluster of interrelated practices and scenes, and second, people also call "radio" things like web radio, live streaming, and other online practices. Lastly, I'm always interested in the when people do or do not use a certain technology - like my earlier work on UK pirate radio, I have found that sometimes communities need a kind of control over access and participation in order to build cultural intimacy, and online practices are actually not ideal for this. So that's what I'm going to talk about, in relation to radio audible in Flatbush and Kensington, in Brooklyn.
In mid-July 2017, I attended and presented a paper at the International Association of Media & Communication Researchers annual conference, this year in Cartagena Colombia. The title of my paper was "Savage intimacy, deviant safety: surveillance technology and club culture."
I was lucky to stop by Mercado Bazurto while in Cartagena, although unfortunately this time I did not get to Barranquilla or to see any picós in action (these are the Colombian sound systems). But at the Mercado with a colleague we met some people involved in the scene and had a great time. Especially after we saw this amazing painting!
July-August: I went to London, England to finalize research for my book (tentatively titled) "Decolonizing music : sovereignty and citizenship on the Jamaican dancefloor" - I'm currently talking to Jamaicans in London about how they have created space for autonomous culture-making. It helps that the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton has an exhibit called Black Sound which had lots of interesting and inspiring facts, images, and sounds. In the exhibit, they show a documentary about the legendary Roaring Twenties club on Carnaby street, which was the hottest place for Jamaican sound and the white rock stars who came to, um.. soak it up.. You can watch the documentary here:
I ran into the filmmaker a couple of days later at the Hackney Wick(ed) Open Studios in my old stomping grounds of Hackney/Homerton, and she told me there is another documentary floating around about the legendary Four Aces Club in Dalston (which I heard of as Labyrinth, described by Slimzee here, when I had lived in London). The Four Aces was owned by Newton "Ace" Dunbar, who I dj'd with back in 2013!
Happy to hear he is still out and about, I hope to interview him soon, and with luck to catch a copy of the documentary, which may be held up for familiar reasons. Glad to see my east and south London networks are still alive, hope to get to West London for that side of Jamaicans' history in London soon!