NEWS

Stand Together: The D&B scene continues to unite to fight racism with massive VA album

 

Today sees the release of the Stand Together collective’s first album release. Featuring the likes of Tim Reaper, DBR UK, The Invaderz, Danny Styles, Missledz, Trex, Rantik and many, many more on-point artists from across all generations and all subgenres, all proceeds will be going to charity.

Launched in response to the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer 2020, Stand Together is a unified collective of 20+ labels across the drum & bass scene who wish to raise awareness of intolerance in the scene and raise money for their chosen charities: Stephen Lawrence Day, The Black Curriculum, XLP and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

 

 

The Stand Together album is the collective’s biggest project so far and will be launched with their first live event. Monday bank holiday, May 3, at The Cause, London: Stand Together features 40 DJs and MCs including many of the artists on the album plus guests such as GLXY, Kumarachi, Qua Rush, Chris Inperspective, Telomic, Kray and Charlo.

An epic album, a winning event and a message that can’t be spread loud enough: D&B will not tolerate racism. Diversity and inclusivity need to be a top priority for all of us across the scene. Reform Records founder Mota is part of the Stand Together project team, we called him up to find out more about this initiative and how we can all help make a positive influence…

We last featured you when you started the initiative last summer, where are we at now?

We’re in a really good place. We got a really diverse collective all working together and it’s brought us together as labels. It’s great we’re talking to each other rather than being wrapped up in our own little worlds. We’re talking about how we can use a collective like this in the best way.

Link-ups are so important. Like the Music House days or times when a lot of people would see each other at regular events. It creates more of a connection so it’s not just a lot of labels kinda doing their thing autonomously…

Yeah, I just missed out on those times. My first rave was 2006. I’m just really glad something like this has started. There are social issues going on in this world, especially with movements like Black Lives Matter, but a lot of people are still of the opinion like ‘Why are you doing this? There is no racism in drum & bass.’ I think this is a reflection of the white washing of drum & bass in general over the last 10-15 years. It’s a hard one to address, but it’s been very clear in line-ups and curation that diversity has not been taking into consideration. Not just black artists but female artists too. This is something we really need to work to resolve and it’s something Grant [Mr Porter] was doing for years with Drum & Bass Against Racism. The fact people say ‘there is no racism in drum & bass’ is a sign that there definitely is.

Even if you don’t see it in your own circle, it is very clear that it exists because it rears its ugly head the most in the comments all the time…

Totally. I’ve pointed this out to people I knew who didn’t believe there was an issue and they’ve since thanked me and agreed that there is an issue. It’s just recognising it and appreciating that we’re often in little bubbles. We shouldn’t deny it because of this, we shouldn’t be ashamed to speak about it and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and talk about it. Prejudices are built in us all through our environment, through our experiences, it’s helping people get beyond those feelings.

And work them out so they’re comfortable with their uncomfortableness…

Yeah. It all comes from fear doesn’t it. For a lot of people if you don’t understand something, you fear it. My dad used to say to me ‘Ask them why. Why the hate?’ No one is born racist, it’s something that is built up through our upbringing. For our collective, we want to make sure everyone knows they’re included. The thought that there are black, Asian,  female or any artists looking at our rosters or line-ups and deciding not to submit music because we don’t have rosters that represents them is an awful though. So we all want to shine a light on this and say that everyone is welcome. It’s not going to be easy. All these labels involved have their own way of doing things, we all have different views, but we’re all aligned, collectively we’ve got a great mission statement and we have a plan to implement our ideas. I love the charities we’re raising money for and we’ve got lots of other ideas to find ways to help people; mentorship programs, production workshops, DJ workshops. But we need to walk before we run so the album is the first step.

And the event, too…

Yeah it should be a good one. Hopefully nice weather. Day time, bank holiday, getting back to the club as much as we can while we’re kinda half-unleashed like we currently are now. It’ll be great and it’ll also be the first time a lot of us can meet in real life. We wanted the line-up to be even more representative of everyone, but I’m not a big fan of equality of outcome, I’m a big fan of quality of opportunity. Filling quotas doesn’t do anything in the long-run. It’s not just about that – it’s about raising money for the charities and raising awareness in our scene. That’s where we have power to make change, so let’s focus on that. I can’t promote change in the world but I can promote change in our scene.

Yes! And if everyone did that in their own personal way, then we’d make progress

That’s right. It needs to happen in sport. It needs to happen in schools. It needs to happen across the board. There’s a generation we can’t even try and touch – the older generation. My dad used to say to me, if you’re visiting a friend who isn’t black, let them know so they’re not surprised you turn up.

Wow. It’s these things that a lot of white people wouldn’t even think about at all. Ray Keith was telling me about always being told to keep your receipts because people of colour are more likely to be stopped by shop security…

Oh man, totally! I was working, aged 16, went to get a sandwich in Superdrug. I’d thrown my receipt as I was walking out and I get a tap on the shoulder by security guard. He takes me into the backroom, I’m arrested straight away. They wouldn’t speak to the woman who just served me who could have easily stopped this situation and then I had to sit in a cell for a few hours until my dad came. When I asked my dad later, I realised he had been called a hours after I’d been apprehended, so I’d clearly been left to stew in those cells completely unnecessarily.

This is what white people don’t see or experience…

Yeah. The amount of times I’ve been pulled over by the police is crazy. I don’t even drive a nice car any more because it happened so often. I’ve found ways around these things and that is a much bigger systemic issue which we can’t change overnight. So my focus is on what I can change. And things like comments on social media or lack of diversity in line-ups and rosters is something I can speak out about against and have an influence over. Collectively as Stand Up Against Racism and as a whole scene, this is something we can positively change. We’re really excited about this. What’s not to like about putting on big parties and releasing great music and raising money for charities who do amazing work?

Amen! The album drops today. How often will you be releasing them?

Once a year, I think. They’re a lot of work and we want to make them special. What will be much more regular are the fundraisers and community events which we hope to hold in different cities. It’s a win win win for everyone. Racism is not something that’s going to go away unless we face it head-on and this is the largest group of labels we’ve seen in this music come together in this type of way with this type of initiative, so let’s try and make a positive change for all of us.

Join Stand Together on Monday May 3, The Cause, London

Support Stand Together: Facebook / Website

Donate to Stand Together