The nightlife hiatus brought on by the pandemic is a valuable opportunity to reshuffle power structures that have negatively affected Black communities. Events of the past few weeks have magnified that urgency.
Carlos Souffront, one of three Black artists signed with Odd Fantastic, told Resident Advisor that he was upset that the company shut down without a proper explanation. "I heard about the closure from my agent," he said, adding that agency head Lisa Gobmeier should have notified everyone together. "Earlier, she had emailed all the artists to let us know that she was taking Enyo's statement seriously but she didn't decide to tell us about closing the agency," he continued. Lisa has not yet responded to RA's request for comment. Russell E.L. Butler also tweeted about their experience with Odd Fantastic in early July but declined to comment for this story.
Odd Fantastic is one of several dance music institutions to disband after being called out in recent weeks. Today, Amsterdam club De School said it would close due to the financial pressures of the pandemic after addressing claims of racism and sexual harassment at a panel discussion. Last month, London collective SIREN disbanded after DJ and artist Anu accused them of bullying. Anu has since criticized SIREN's decision.
According to many Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), these incidents were a lost chance to move towards a healthier electronic music ecosystem.
"The response so far from Europe in terms of being called out on unfavourable things has been to clam up, offer a weak apology and then disband without ever reckoning what actually happened," said New York artist DJ Wawa. "These are missed opportunities for the industry to change for good."
"I think the industry should respond to these allegations publicly and not shy away from having public discussions," added Christelle Oyiri, AKA Crystallmess, a Paris-based DJ, producer and writer. "Transparency and humility are the keys here as well as reparations. Why? Because these past few weeks have shown that a lot of lip service was done with little to no intent for significant change and action."
"I think these incidents, which are definitely not isolated, would have been a great opportunity for these organisations to address their own individual racism and the ways they contribute to it systematically," Anu told Resident Advisor. "These people have been given several opportunities to change, challenge and educate themselves prior to this big wave in the BLM movements, but they only seem to care now as more eyes are on them."
July's events have sparked serious conversations, both online and offline, on exactly how industry figures should react when called out for harmful behaviour. One factor that's been widely discussed is the need for players to engage with those they've hurt and understand exactly how mistakes were made.
"People in authority, when called out, should admit that they are part of the problem of structural racism and sexism," said Carlos Souffront, a Detroit native who's been DJing for more than two decades. "To do that, they first have to realize how their actions have been tantamount to complicity."