Undercutting the idealism is reality, as Dj Haram points out: “Our dream project is ATM. The unrealized part of the dream is the material foundation: a venue with its own adequate soundsystem and CDJs, a bigger budget to book/pay every artist we love, more time to connect with the scene and meet new Philadelphia artists/musicians, an audio studio to hustle our craft and invite collaborators.” The collective and their network contains raw talent and the fuse of their ascendency has been lit, but they're having to work with the practicalities of any for-the-love, DIY project (here's their Amazon wishlist, btw).
Saying that, things fall into place. ATM agitations have aligned the collective with Discwoman (DJ Haram is a recent signee to its booking agency and has played its showcases), NON Worldwide (through which Mhysa released her debut EP) and Halcyon Veil (SCRAAATCH recently constructed a mix for the label). Their SoundCloud accounts are hives of activity, displaying the fervent experimentation that takes place between parties and gigs. Marcelline recently performed a work inspired by an Audre Lorde text in New York while SCRAAATCH played the NON Worldwide showcase as part of Red Bull Music Academy. DJ Haram has forthcoming tours of the US and EU planned.
Before the festival, before the VIP, there were familial spaces like ATM. The open-door policy for those who were genuine in their love of music and dance culture at ground level would gather in the most unlikely of spaces and experience the innovative sounds of electronic music together. ATM in a lot of ways is reminiscent of that foundation and is a healthy reminder that the music and spaces that we love came from an unassuming place built on soul and confrontation. There is a heavy focus on reality outside of the four walls enclosing the collective’s performances. While most electronic music veers towards the euphoria of escapism, ATM looks directly at the circumstances of their own lives and the issues of Philly’s general metropolitan area. Put simply by Mhysa, “I mean, if you can’t twerk to bomb sounds and sirens, I can’t save you.”
DeForrest Brown is a freelance journalist based in New York. Follow him on Twitter here
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