Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Corporate takeover

While a privileged background shouldn't automatically devalue someone's creative and artistic pursuits, neither should it be a virtual guarantee of acclaim. In an excellent article for the Quietus, Ed Gillett laments the attention lavished on Housekeeping, the London-based DJ collective with "absolutely deranged levels of privilege", whose new "almost incomprehensibly boring" EP Faces is "notable only for its steadfast refusal to challenge even the tamest cliches of mainstream club culture".

In truth, though, the problem is not so much what Housekeeping sound like as the insidious trends that they represent. Gillett is much less concerned with the music and much more with "the social and economic environment in which it's been produced: one in which ostensibly underground music is increasingly co-opted by people whose wider interests serve to destabilise the very cultures they claim to champion".

In Housekeeping's case, this is most obvious in the conduct of member Taylor McWilliams' development company Hondo with regard to long-standing tenants who stand in the way of their proposed reshaping of Brixton Market. Gillett's article compellingly joins the dots between neoliberal capitalism, gentrification, privilege, corporate clubbing and the subtle erasure of dance music's roots in queer, black and working-class culture.

What to do about the subtle but damaging combined effects of these forces, though? One solution, Gillett suggests, may be to pursue the idea of "interdependent" (as opposed to "independent") music: "co-operative ownership of platforms, local DIY support networks insulated from the rapaciousness of global capital or online content churn, and collective resistance to the sinister intentions of the streaming industry". However, the first step should simply be "to make these questions more visible" - something that his piece certainly achieves.

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