Telekom Electronic Beats Podcast – King Britt in conversation with Whitney Wei

King Britt „Techno is black music“


King Britt (Photo: Olinda Del Mar)

For the latest installment of the Telekom Electronic Beats Podcast EB editor-in-chief Whitney Wei – who just published a highly perceived article about the importance to recognize that electronic music is black protest music and originally coming from black and brown communities – talked to the US-American musician and assistant professor at the University of San Diego (UCSD) King Britt about the Black Live Matter movement, the deep connections of politics and arts and his own teaching experience.

The conversation between Whitney Wei and King Britt lasts one and a half hours, and honestly it could have gone on forever ever, they touch base with so many important topics. To make sure you understand what is waiting there for you to listen, here are five of many highlights of their dialogue.

♥ „The connections between the sociopolitical situations at the time and the music, this is where  the music is coming out of. Out of the energy around protest. Let’ s just talk about civil rights, early 60s to the end of the 60s. The whole civil rights movement, Motown was basically  the soundtrack for that. Motown, and of course early Curtis Mayfield, and early funk, James Brown – these sounds, the political climate at the time really came out with those sounds. (…)
People wanted to hear about what was going on and kinda relate to it. Music has always been the vehicle to give you the news but in a way that doesn’t hit as hard. You have to keep in mind, it is also important to have music as a healing for drama. And you also need joy. Motown was very instrumental in kind of  giving you both, the medicine but also the bitterness too that was going on at that time. (…)
We can go deep into it but music and politics always go hand in hand.“ 

♥ „With Blacktronika it was important to show… You know, a lot of the students in my class were into EDM – and EDM is so far removed from the origins where those sounds came from. So to have Dj Premier in class, and Robert Owens, and we are talking about the origins of house music and of acid house coming out of the clubs of Chicago and out of the political climate of the time  – not just the police brutality that was happening in the early 80s in Chicago, but also coming out of the LGBTQ community with Frankie Knuckles, the Warehouse, having a safe space for black gay communities.“

♥ For those who don’t know what Afrofuturism is, it is a culture intersection between philosophy, technology, visual art, music, science fiction and the African Diaspora. Black people use it as a lens to envision the future, right? This is a term Mark Dery came up in 1994 in his interview with Greg Tate and you know it was coined: „Wow, that’s a powerful word. The word is very powerful. But it didn’t catch on till a few years later – and now it’s common. In every article now you see it, it’s the buzzword of the now. (…)
It is important as a description of the type of person that is doing whatever the artistic medium is: music, visual art, or even academia with writing and philosophy. So I feel the term is important. But just to keep in mind, me and everyone else, we all been doing this before the term. I just wanna be clear: we live this, this is our life.“

King Britt (Photo: Collin-Kerrigan)

♥ „There’s certain people, individuals, they grew up outside of Detroit, say in like Windsor. But they kinda started to claim it and then they became the face of techno – which was a white face, and it wasn’t paying homage to the roots of it.
This is black music.
You know what I mean?
Give credit where credits due: Techno is black music! You have all those different groups coming up and they are white washing the music and not giving credit. If they give credit then that’s one thing. But without giving credit and morphing the sound and just: „This is the new sound!“ – Yeah, it is a newish sound, you know what I mean. That’s why I feel it is important that we get this word out. That’s why it was beautiful to read your article.“

♥„Grace Jones, being Jamaican, coming out of soundsystem culture – I wanna investigate that. Now I am thinking as a professor, I am not thinking as a musician anymore. I mean, I am still, but for the class I am thinking: „Wow, research.“ All the stuff that we have done, that is important to research and archival material. Now UCSD has an archive that no one in the world has.”

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