Detroit is a shell of a city buzzing with insanely creative activity. So many abandoned buildings and vacant lots, but so many incredible grassroots projects popping up and flourishing. The Allied Media Conference, where I spent the weekend, is just one example, and serves as a window into the larger context of what’s going down in “the D.”
And what an incredible conference – perhaps the best I’ve ever witnessed – a whole bunch of media geeks and radical shit-kickers coming together to share knowledge and dream the future. It was also exciting that so many people got into our DJ geek-out presentation and demanded that we do another one next year. Hopefully there is video out there somewhere, but in the meantime here’s the basic rundown:
“Behind the Music: Geekout Style” with DJs Trash and Mothershiester (mapping places that have left a musical mark)
“Mi Primer Amor: Chicha del Perú” with DJ rAt (on her personal relationship with huayno and cumbia in Peru)
“Pinoy Funk, Hanggang Magdamag” with the Pinstriped Rebel (exploring the development of Filipino funk & soul)
“Finding My Latina Punk Identity” with DJ precolumbian (up the ponx! …in peru and south america.)
“Didn’t Mean to Turn You On: The Unsung Women of ‘80s R&B and Shifting Black Identity” with DJ K la Rock (gender and racial politics via Klymaxx and Patrice Rushen)
“Reexamining Electroclash” with DJ Junebullet (questioning double standards in treatment of electroclash, as a genre dominated by female producers)
“Jamaican Mento” with DJ Prism (looking at different eras of Jamaican music, from mento to dubstep)
“The Many Lives of Dembow” with DJ bent (tracing the sound/word on its travels through the Caribbean and beyond, and her experience with it)
“D.C. Cover Discovery” with DJ Zombie (a foray into D.C.’s go-go music as it covers mainstream hits and gives them street cred)
The event went off beautifully, starting with a brief description of the DJ geek-outs that we have been having, and building into a full-on dance party on the stage while we each did our piece (about seven minutes apiece). We had a projector for our visuals (some written text, some photos, some videos), a full dj set up, a mic for those who spoke during their set, a Twitter wall showing mentions of #djgeekout, and of course dancing. We are hoping to do a repeat of the session in D.C. at some point soon, so keep an eye out. We are also hoping to hear about more DJ geek-outs popping up around the country, since so many people seemed inspired by our model of meeting over food and drink to share music and our relationships with it.
Although working on the session took up a good deal of my time, I was able to get to a few other workshops. There was some great strategizing around the importance of radical media as well as social justice types working within mainstream media organs. I was inspired by one person’s use of “environmental” sounds (a door slamming, keys jangling) to make beats, rather than a drum machine or computer program. And there was the entire “Science Fictions & Movement: Imagining a New Possible” track which was amazing, and produced this incredible reading/viewing/listening list. It felt very prescient to be able to pop in on the Mudd Up Book Clubb briefly on my last day in Detroit, having agreed over the weekend with others to finally jumpstart a long-discussed D.C. Octavia Butler Reading Group.
Of course there were also the nights of music, which included amazing DJs, great rappers and singers, and a beatboxing/cello duet. Plus Tunde Olaniran (mentioned by TAL1ES1N), who blew me away with his “dark R&B pop” music and performance, complete with robotic back-up dancers. Mark down June 30-July 2 2012 on your calendar for the next AMC…
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