As the world shifted into a new paradigm through 2020, a distinct effort to increase awareness around underrepresented factions in businesses and industries around the world emerged. The music world was affected in immeasurable ways, which are still manifesting themselves up to now. Clubs, festivals, promoters, agents and everyone involved in the community that forms the core of electronic music took stock of where we’re at in terms of representation and inclusion, many of them reframing their outlook to navigate the post-George Floyd world. The notion of inclusivity, safe spaces, acceptance and unity lies at the core of dance music culture. It’s universally accepted, and understood, that these key pillars are intrinsic to our music but, along the way, they’ve been forgotten.
Redressing the balance is now a clear agenda for many of those who hold influential positions within electronic music. Some have had to make a conscious effort to do so, while others are developing and nurturing pre-existing philosophies around inclusivity. Which leads us to From Our Minds, the next evolutionary step in Richie Hawtin’s lifelong commitment to pushing electronic music forward. As an artist with an unwavering proclivity for reimagining the technosphere, Richie has maintained a visionary outlook from the outset, so it’s fascinating to see his latest brand arrive at this particular time.
In actual fact, From Our Minds predates the global shift we’ve experienced. The first event was due to take place in New York in May 2020, with Richie curating a line-up that reflects his inclusive outlook. Artists on the bill included Charlotte de Witte, Octave One, Anastasia Kristensen, Clara 3000, Fadi Mohem, Lauren Flax, ONYVAA, Randomer and Veronica Vasicka to name a few. This balance between older, more established acts, along with an even spread of men and women has been present in his curation for quite some time. A quick skim through the roster of artists linked to his best-known concepts - Minus and ENTER. - for instance, reveals a constant drive to utilise his position to open doors for up and coming acts. Throughout his career, Richie has always sought to form a close alliance with the younger generation of techno aficionados.
It all comes back full circle with From Our Minds, even down to the name itself, which links back to the title of a compilation released on Plus 8 some 30 years ago in 1991. What we see here is a demonstration of a consistent conscious effort to cultivate community and connection within the technosphere. From maintaining a close relationship with the Detroit fraternity (Kenny Larkin appears on 'From Our Minds To Yours Vol.1') to giving opportunities to up and coming artists - through to his work as a mentor, dedicating time and energy to guiding students at Studio Bell in Calgary in 2017 as RBC Master in Residence, for example.
Following the launch of its label wing in late 2020, From Our Minds debuts as a fully immersive club event at Printworks on December 18 with a suitably progressive line-up. Building on the foundations laid down over the last three decades, the party concept exemplifies the notion of inclusivity. Sama' Abdulhadi is set to, a young woman who is often referred to as the “queen of the Palestinian techno scene”. Sama’ has a traumatic history, but found solace in techno and has been embraced globally for her blistering DJ sets and unrelenting energy. She is a prime example of the universal power of techno to bring positive change to peoples’ lives and project oppressed voices onto the global stage. In finding her way to success and worldwide recognition, Sama’ has been able to highlight the plight of her people, simply by telling her own story. The intersection between music and politics is no more apparent than in her achievements and painful history. A prime example of why, as a vehicle for societal change and progress, techno is essential, creating avenues for catharsis, unity and the exchange of ideas and stories.
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The Detroit fraternity is represented in full effect with Robert Hood, Octave One and DJ Stingray, three acts who proudly fly the flag for Motor City. Here we have three stalwarts from the 313, who share a historical and social upbringing that connects them right back to the roots of techno and electro. Hood’s involvement with Underground Resistance and subsequent dedication to techno have earned him high esteem, merging the militance of his early forays into techno with his more spiritual inclinations. Stingray’s bond with Drexciya, and his singular development of a sound that splices contemporary electro and techno, position him as a key historian and innovator. His enigmatic performances are the stuff of legend. Octave One’s live performances have been long established as a benchmark for live techno, complementing their excellent discography. All three acts are a direct link to the Black roots of techno, being schooled in the Motor City tradition, soul, funk, Motown, The Electrifying Mojo and the myriad electronic influences that came through in the early eighties.
Clara Cuvé comes from the new school, fresh and still building her profile and reputation. Already a highly regarded exponent of the contemporary techno scene, Clara’s incendiary DJ performances have made an impact across the globe, with shows at Panorama Bar, Rex Club and Mondo in Madrid among her high-profile appearances. Still only in her mid-twenties, Clara has achieved respect and admiration among her peers and elders alike. Another woman who has blazed a trail in recent years in Brazilian powerhouse ANNA. Like Clara, her dynamic presence and performances have taken her around the globe with club and festival bookings at a long list of influential and iconic venues. Two decades of experience have given ANNA an innate understanding of how to work a dancefloor and she does so with aplomb, keeping it heavy yet seductive, maintaining the delicate balance between feminine and masculine energy.
This equilibrium is evident throughout the line-up at From Our Minds, holding true to the kaleidoscopic ethos of the brand; old to new, male to female to non-binary, multi ethnic... Inclusivity, independence, diversity, safety and sustainability are its integral values. The event has a clear aim to celebrate both the history of our music and continue galvanising its bright future; Young modular synth wizard Colin Benders, Detroit-based Afrofuturist Huey Mnemonic and London bright spark Fadi Mohem among the youthful performers on the bill who are pushing the music in new directions with their unique perspectives.
On that note, there’s also non-binary artist LCY, who has been a prominent figure in Bristol and London’s progressive underground since the late 2010s. Their unique take on electronic music, and production prowess, has elevated them to a lofty position among their peers. Originally performing with a mask to hide their identity, LCY stepped into the limelight as their true self back in 2020, unmasking themselves and embracing their identity to the fullest. LCY’s inclusion on the From Our Minds' bill represents a nod to local talent, and shines a light on the broad spectrum of self-identity that exists within electronic music.
Taking a step back and analysing the line-up in its entirety, there’s a deeper resonance between these artists, a universal bond. Born of the same music heritage, yet they speak different dialects of the same language. They have all emerged from the same source. It’s imbued in the DNA of the musical ecosystem they all occupy and contribute to. It goes back to the roots and the power of music to move people physically and emotionally, to bring them together and instil a sense of purpose. Techno still provides a platform to voices that are still largely unheard, or oppressed, and rarely part of the mainstream. In techno they find solace, a sense of belonging and acceptance. It’s a family, where the elders pass their knowledge on to eager youngsters, all the while paying respect to the core philosophies.
From the mind of each performer is the intention to channel their collective energy into the dancefloor, cultivating communion and optimism, connection and community. As the world continues to step forward into a time of increased awareness and consciousness around identity, it’s up to the mavericks and renegades of the electronic music world to continue the legacy of the pioneers. An all-encompassing brand concept that stands out as a beacon for the progression of our global scene, From Our Minds epitomises the progressive nature of techno in all its glory.
LWE presents From Our Minds is going down at Printworks on December 18, get tickets here
Marcus Barnes is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Mixmag, follow him on Twitter