Ash Lauryn, Detroit-born journalist, DJ, and creator now based in Atlanta, helms Beatportal this month and champions “Black and underground” music in all her work. Here’s where to find it all so you make sure not to miss it.
Lauryn was Guest Editor for Beatportal in August, taking over feature editing at the editorial outlet of the popular dance music store. The stated aim was not just to address the “current social climate” around race, but also “the lack of Black and POC employed behind the scenes in the industry.”
She writes in the opening Letter from the Editor:
House and techno music were birthed in the Black community, and have always been political. Let us not forget or steer away from those roots, especially when Black people are actively being killed and brutalized by law enforcement at an alarming rate. Let’s also not make this out to be just an America problem, when systemic racism affects minorities and Black people just about all over the world.
Read the full story:
A Letter From the Editor: Ash Lauryn
She talks about the significance of “dismantling” in that article, but there’s plenty that’s creative and constructive, too – a chance to highlight music that is pushed to the side in the industry.
If you catch nothing else, you definitely need to hear the frenetic, fantastic sounds of Huey Mnemonic.
Huey Mnemonic · Huey Mnemonic – Virtuosity
As Maestro Mnemonic states outright in his bio, “Techno is often misconstrued, misquoted, and mishandled by outsiders, so for Detroit-based producer and visual artist Huey Mnemonic, protecting its legacy has become a pursuit.” (Oh, and he comes originally from Flint, if the rest of Michigan feels underrepresented!)
This is also Detroit techno explicitly rooted in sci-fi and Black liberation, for anyone missing those elements in … let’s call it Instagram techno. Crystal Mioner goes deep into what that means in a wide-ranging interview:
Introducing: Huey Mnemonic, the Unstoppable New Detroit Techno Talent [Beatportal]
Thomas Cox highlights Detroit’s long-running techno and deep house label Sistrum and talks to label boss and producer Patrice Scott:
Label of the Month: Sistrum Recordings [Beatportal]
INVERTED AUDIO · Patrice Scott – Moments & Concepts [Sistrum Recordings]
Patrice Scott · Truants Podcast
Ash herself takes on the August edition of “On Our Radar,” for a full-course meal of rising artists (Atlanta, Detroit, NYC, London):
On Our Radar: August 2020 [Beatportal]
By the way, that radar includes Detroit’s Hailey Dukes AKA Father Dukes, who pops up interviewed in the documentary short on Portage Garage Sounds featured here last week. I neglected in that story to link her Seraphine Collective, “a network for women, femme, and non-binary DJs.” She joined Shigeto on The Lot Radio earlier this summer, so let’s drop that, too:
From Alabama, you also get treated to the extraordinary Byron The Aquarius, as Imani Mixon talks to this singular deep house voice, complete with some essential discussion of anime and video games:
Cover Story: Byron The Aquarius Feels Like “Everything Came From Black Culture” [Beatportal]
Apron Records · Byron The Aquarius – Apron EP (APRON42)
We aren’t only in the USA. Writer Mandy Alexander covers race and music in South Africa:
How South Africa’s Dance Floors Provide Hope and Safety in the Face of Oppression [Beatportal]
Ash’s music – productions and mixes alike – do represent such a powerful sound and point of view; it’s only right to feature mixes alongside her journalism.
Underground & Black w/ Ash Lauryn 23.07.2020 [NTS Live]
and 20 August, too [NTS Live]
For Rave The Vote (July, posted August) – and yes, US citizens, please do go vote:
In conversation, DJ Minx (Jennifer Witcher) of Detroit met up with Ash Lauryn (regular RA contributor) for an RA Exchange in August, too:
While we’re teleporting to Atlanta, Ash has also pointed out a number of Atlanta-based artists getting love elsewhere, too, in August – even without her guest editing. (Nice!)
Some superb house music for you:
Stefan Ringer feat. Javonntte – Reach [Resident Advisor review]
What happens when you put Ash Lauryn and Stefan Ringer together? This does:
Speaking of Bandcamp and house music, Bandcamp also profiled an Atlanta label in August:
Kai Alcé’s label NDATL Delivers Hard-Hitting House [Bandcamp Daily]
Ash also has done an Exchange with Kai:
Now there’s some great journalism here, though I’m cognisant it all came from outlets that either run a ticketing operation or a download store. So any of you trying to run independent sites and blogs – including Black-run businesses – do give a shout if you want an extra feature from here to help people find you, please.
Ash Lauryn herself rose to visibility partly by running her own independent blog – and there’s plenty of back-catalog journalism to peruse there:
It’s also worth subscribing (RSS, anyone?) to Dweller, which has been prolific through 2020.
Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson wrote this piece, just to give one example, if you haven’t seen it yet – and it’s since been translated to Japanese and Spanish:
business techno matters: how those who have the most sacrifice the least [Dweller]
But there’s plenty more assigned homework on their site on appropriation and normalization of whitewashing:
Plus, passed around widely in June but worth another mention, see their full “library” on techno history with a particular focus on the relationship of Blackness to the genre.
Let us know if you have more to share – but for now, that should supply at least some listening and reading, readers. (Thanks, Ash + others!)