Culture, General, Nonsense

…now where’s your bite?

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Any of us paying attention to dance music media outlets in recent weeks will have most likely spotted at least one interview or promotional piece with regards to Mark Hawkins’ –  aka Marquis Hawkes –  new album, Social Housing. Hawkins has gotten into a spot of bother in recent years over his new moniker and some of the track titles and imagery he has used. It kicked up a little bit of a fuss on twitter, resulting in him leaving the platform. In a couple of these recent interviews he has been asked about the situation. He has responsed to the question, though in a manner in which, personally, I found to be a bit mealymouthed in places. I was left thinking that he could be challenged on his answer. But he wasn’t. It was time to move on to the next question. It gave off a faux interest in the situation and allowed him to defend himself without actually being fully challenged.

And that is really what I’m talking about here. There is a lot of discussion on social media platforms and in the press at the moment about topics such as appropriation, sexism, homophobia and racism. For example, one can find quite a few articles about the role(s) of women in dance music at the moment, about different collectives such as Discwoman and such like. There is commentary about problems and issues minorities face due to the predominantly male (and arguably white) dominance in dance music at the moment. This is all highly commendable. But there is a certain hypocrisy going on too, because certain people are just allowed get away with whatever they want too. The press has let Hawkins away with what some people think is, at the very least, kinda tacky with regards some of his output. They’ll pay a certain amount of lip service but it’s not really saying anything, and it’s rarely holding anyone accountable. It’s possibly too much in the abstract, and that doesn’t necessarily stop people thinking it’s ok to do what they do.

As we all know Ten Walls’ career has been in quite the quandary since he posted his homophobic tirade on Facebook a year or two ago. There was a concerted effort to damage his career after his disgusting rants, and the media were complicit in it too. This was not a bad thing. And it was also a quite extreme case due to the unbridled nastiness of what he said. But lets not forget this either, Ten Walls is not cool. He was never a media darling. And this is the hypocrisy I am talking about.

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There are many smaller instances of gaudy behaviour from artists that practically go unchecked because they are “cool”. Why hasn’t Greg Beato and Apron Records been called out for using the image of a woman on all fours with her face blurred out as the artwork for a techno release? Why doesn’t Suzanna Kraft get called out for this name HE uses? And when some blue-eyed blonde guy from Sweden was asked about using the name Abdullah Rashim he trotted out total nonsense about watching Al Jazeera Tv a lot. And did the interviewer challenge him on his embarrassingly pathetic excuse for the name? No. Would I dj under the name Agnetha Andersson just because I bought my fucking record shelves in Ikea and think Dancing Queen is a hammer? Would I fuck. I’d do it to get attention, plain and simple. These people can’t figure out a less shabby way of getting noticed?

And these are just a few I’ve plucked off the top of my head. We know there are way more out there. You honestly think Ten Walls is the only homophobic house music producer out there?

It’s one thing for the media to trot out inoffensive puff pieces to promote artists but there’s a certain notion that by covering certain areas in the belief that this is doing something to challenge the status quo, that they are totally fulfilling a remit. And that is disappointing to me. Challenging artists on both their presentation and work is an important critical faculty that is seriously lacking at the moment – yet it is actually an extremely healthy thing to do (ISM writer in-absentee, Thomas Cox mentioned this in one of his Attack articles before). We all know that the dance music scene is awfully small and fond of circle jerking etc but that doesn’t mean outlets should simply shy away from challenging certain artists just because they have a veneer of respectability and cool. It shows more respect for everyone involved in this world to be more than outlets for said puff pieces. It’s good to make artists and the public really think about how we present this music to the world – and that includes directly discussing it properly with some guilty parties. And, yknow, you might actually get more clicks too.

12 Comments

  1. Penny Rolle says:

    Reminder that just because someone thought The Black Madonna was a declaration of her race doesn’t mean it actually was. Not really comparable to the other examples.

    Decent story except for that misconception.

  2. GraySocksAreNice says:

    Another hot take on cultural appropriation and sexism from a white male from Germany.

    Recycled garbage “article” from someone trying to keep their irrelevant tech house label being heard.

  3. GraySocksAreNice says:

    LOL you’re from Dublin. Probably even funnier

  4. Joe says:

    It is interesting someone has pointed Apron out. Funkineven is clearly a tit posing in sports cars (BCSD), I am not surprised that sort of awful imagery is on his labels releases.
    At least he is not ripping off other people’s work anymore like with his Sweets release.

  5. Buzz says:

    So what’s the plan then? What exactly are we challenging an artist like Abdulla Rashim for? I completely agree that the importance of the influence of the minorities that helped create this scene is hugely understated. I feel we’ve gone from there to going and calling out everyone who fucks around with their artist name for reasons that are laudable but often fall in the “hollier than’ category… This is also art at the end of the day.

    Maybe it’s something I can’t get because I’m a white middle class dude but fuck sake we can’t be turning into some sort of morality police every single time something we don’t like or that we find offensive comes up. There must be a more constructive way out of this other than this constantly pointing fingers…

  6. Kenny says:

    @ Buzz – The piece is really about why journalists can’t question some of these people further about their choices. Rashim says he uses the name for anonymity yet its a name that is sure to get attention – There aren’t as many muslim/arabic people making techno – certainly not as popular – compared with white people, so it really feels like he is trying to get himself noticed in that manner, and his reasoning was just left sitting there by the journalist. It seems manipulative to me, and to many others. At the end of the day he can do what he wants too.

    I’m not one for being the ‘morality’ police – i’m pointing out that some aren’t challenged on dubious choices while some will be. A constructive way would be to discuss these choices with the artists properly – which is not happening, and that is what I’m suggesting with regards to the media. I think it would also be much more interesting to read than some of what we get.

  7. There’s no “morality policing” going on by forcing artists to answer for the name they CHOSE to call themselves. This isn’t a pop quiz on current events, or gotcha journalism, it’s just “hey, you chose this name. Why is that?”

    Same thing happens in indie rock (Viet Cong) and hip hop (Rich Chigga). At least in the former case, calling out the band got them more attention and good PR through addressing negative responses to the name and allowed them/their followers to actually learn something about the world and the consequences of appropriating signifiers you don’t have a clue about.

    Why can’t we do the same in dance music? If you’re an artist who’s thought through your choice of name, you’ll be prepared with a fully-baked answer. If you haven’t done that, get your act together

  8. KarmaKarma says:

    If you find that the images and names that artists use to be a literal problem, you probably have no real struggles in your life and want victim points. This shouldn’t be anything but a mild annoyance that you are personally responsible for. It really is that simple.

    I should know. I was homeless for 2 years after being kicked out of my parents place for being gay. As a listener of music, forever and always, I can’t care less about the Ten Walls nonsense. I just stopped listening to his music and focused on other things. It’s a lot healthier that way.

  9. Yorkshireman says:

    @KarmaKarma “Luxury!”

  10. anonobro says:

    i think there is a distinct diversion happening here that detracts from the meaning of “Cultural appropriation”. Many of the examples mentioned above are really very grey. Is it not true, that for something to enter the realm of appropriation there must be something sacred at stake, something that diverts cultural meaning or identity?
    I dont think using an arabic/islamic/muslim name for an artist is in itself – in the case of Abdullah Rashim – holds this displacement of meaning that the author suggests. Culture of all kinds is everywhere, theres Mosques and Chinatowns, and Diaspora displaced literally everywhere, for people not to be influenced by the culture thats literally in front of them is to deny the effects of globalization. I grew up watching anime more than i soaked in local culture so of course Japanese culture as an influencer would come into play in my art, and it wouldnt really be genuine to ignore that because im not japanese. I would classify a great deal of these situations as cultural borrowing. I would also argue that with out this displacement of meaning its really hard to argue that this inherently is causing harm. Especially if the writer has nothing at stake, or isnt personally effected by the message. A woman complaining about Greg beato artwork, sure ill read that, because there is something at stake for that person.

    I just think this whole train of thinking puts way to much emphasis on how serious art is or must be. Should every new work must be accompanied by a manifesto that explains exactly why that person deserves to use the style or imagery or sounds? I think there should be some space for people to explore and play with abstract ideas that borrow from many things. Fantasy…science fiction…etc… like what about vaporwave and witchhouse? or white djs who play hiphop in very white parts of the world? … I dont have all the answers and i know im not 100% correct but id like to offer this as some alternative to the information posted above.

  11. Kenny says:

    @ anonobro – I’m not saying these things personally offend me. And we are all of course influenced by cultures that aren’t our own. I am a white person who plays a lot of black music in a predominantly white part of the world. I just present it as myself. But Rashim admitted himself that it was lame what he was doing and seemed totally non plussed by it. But, either which way, this wasn’t the point of what I was trying to say. I’m just trying to say that I would really like to see the media delve more into these choices directly with the artists, to explain themselves, and to discuss why they make these choices and also to talk about why this may be an issue for others. Just because I am not the minority who is possibly being affected doesn’t really mean I shouldn’t discuss these matters. Surely it would be bigger of us to speak about these situations. Especially as it’s generally men – and those who are white aka, the majority, who make these choices.

  12. Faw says:

    Dont know about you but Abdullah Rashim sounds like typical current Swedish name to me

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