The last time I was in touch with AceMo and MoMA Ready, the term "social distancing" had just crept into my vocabulary. We were in the beginning stages of a Breaking Through feature, with tentative plans to meet in April when, as I wrote to them, "hopefully things will have calmed down." Though as the story goes in New York, things would only take a turn for the worse as the city became the epicenter of the United States pandemic. Then just days before the city's reopening, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed during an arrest by Minneapolis police. Floyd's death quickly drew public outcry, and the echo of thousands chanting "I can't breathe!" swept through what had been a ghost town. Today, white supremacy is widely regarded as a greater threat to humanity than COVID-19.
A couple months have passed since April, and I'm peering at these two artists through my dusty laptop screen, not over lunch, as I had once so naïvely envisioned. I let out a few nervous laughs at the extremity of the changes we'd experienced since our initial correspondence. The pair appear more collected, with MoMA Ready (Wyatt Stevens) often graciously leading the conversation. Wearing an Underground Resistance T-shirt, AceMo (Adrian Mojica), leans on the more pensive side, but is no less animated and excited when he speaks.
As the current face of New York dance music, AceMoMA want it known that their position isn't treated lightly. The issue of gatekeeping threads its way throughout our conversation, whether we're discussing livestream platforms, production tutorials or the pitfalls of the wider music industry. When discussing the network of producers they've brought together in New York, Adrian describes their work as a "bat signal," to which Wyatt responds through laughter, "Yes! It's exactly that!" The mission: to canonize their fertile sector of the Brooklyn underground, a scene they believe has been too long overlooked.
Their music has its roots in '90s jungle and Detroit techno, and finds a sweet spot between nostalgic melodies and propulsive drums. Thematically, their records share a similar political urgency with the original strains of techno helmed by groups like Underground Resistance and Drexciya. They're also incredibly prolific, having released several records separately and together in the past year (all without the help of PR, much to the chagrin of their managers).
Featuring unreleased tracks and music from their friends, their BBC Radio 1 mix for us is described as one "about the home team in North America."