It’s been almost two months since George Floyd was killed, and there’s no doubt a rising worry amongst the scene (and indeed the world) that antiquated ways of thinking / being, along with deep-rooted systemic issues will slip back to how they were… A real worry, that following the turmoil both inside and outside of drum & bass, the output of music will continue to be predominantly white, male and middle class.
It’s important then, to ensure that race and action to counter racism stay firmly in our collective consciousness, especially given the shockingly large number of fans who don’t seem to believe our scene even has a problem.
With this in mind, we wanted to both speak to and support the organisers of Stand Together, a collaborative live-streaming fundraiser initiative that kicks off across the 15th and 16th of July, raising funds for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Put together by a range of labels – including Overview Music, Delta9 Recordings, Pick ‘n’ Mix Music, Terra Firma, Unchained and loads more – we spoke to Warren Rousseau, co-founder of Terra Firma and organiser of the event…
What is this initiative?
Stand Together is a collaborative effort between a wicked set of independent labels who want to show support and solidarity towards the BLM movement from within the grassroots D&B scene.
The event itself will feature 14 record labels, live-streaming with each shelling down for 1 hour only playing tracks and dubs from their respective back catalogue.
What made you set this up?
The recent events in the world really shocked us. On a personal level, it made me re-evaluate everything I thought about racism and the issue as a whole. As a white male from a privileged background I know that I can’t really understand the struggles faced by black people on a daily basis, but I certainly can support, hence the event.
I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect, to educate myself and to develop a better understanding and I’ll continue to do so. It became clear that, after talking to a variety of people, not everyone understood the importance of this movement and hadn’t taken the time to perhaps reflect on themselves. This initiative was started to 1) raise awareness of this issue, 2) raise money for a fantastic charity, 3) to try and educate our respective audiences and, lastly, to send the message that what we do as labels is inclusive and firmly anti-racist.
We wanted to create something that would people would be able to engage with and would also make them try and maybe reflect on themselves to see what they can do better. I thought sometimes the best way is not just to tell people they should reflect on themselves, it’s create something and people can engage with that and then that will make them think more because it’s in a context that they can relate to.
What do you hope white people in our scene, such as ourselves, will take away from the event?
I think history is an important one. It’s crucial we understand where DnB came from and although the sound these days doesn’t necessarily correlate to what it once was, we still understand that aspect. Another reason is that we wanted to show people that anyone can break into the industry. You see big guys like Critical, Hospital, V, all doing their things but they seem so unobtainable. I think it definitely puts off some people entering the scene. It’s important we do events like this so people see a more accessible side to drum & bass.
The key point though is I want people to look at everything they think about racism. Challenge what you think is correct. Challenge the way you view. There will be some things that you may think are okay and insignificant, but actually aren’t. A lot of people say drum & bass is very open minded and welcoming and it is most of the time, but crucially, it’s not all the time. There are many things that still aren’t right and we need to fix that.
The message is that there is a problem and we need to make movements to eradicate it. Many individuals may think there is no problem because they don’t see it, ‘it doesn’t affect me’, when actually there is an issue and we need to face up to it. That what I think people growing up in predominantly white areas won’t see, like myself. Being able to take a step back and see the problem – that’s what I’d like people to take away.
Why did you choose the Stephen Lawrence Foundation?
It was a unanimous decision really. The Stephen Lawrence foundation does amazing work to transform the lives of people who are disadvantaged and discriminated against. The fact it works with young people definitely resonated with all of us as we want to inspire the next generation of DnB artists, label heads, promoters and MCs. This foundation seemed to fit with everything this initiative is about.
Talk us through the line-up and why you chose them.
We wanted to represent what could be described as the “middle tier” of labels. You know, smaller, boutique labels with cool, forward thinking sounds who do great work. A lot of attention gets heaped on the Hospitals and the Criticals of the world and we wanted to show that we care, we’re supportive and that we can throw down with the best of them.
In terms of sound we have the likes of AKO Beatz, Mask & Reform repping the Jungle / footwork influence; Unchained & The Dreamers showcasing some slick 160/footwork sounds sound; Overview, Delta & Incurzion bringing the harder, techier side; Goldfat & Emcee are on the more soulful tip; Pick ‘n’ Mix with the boss level jump up and Rebel Music, Context & Terra Firma pack a little bit of everything.
Tell our readers why they should tune in.
I mean, what’s not to like about 14 hours of the best Drum & Bass spun by some of the best selectors our scene has to offer whilst raising money for a great cause?