Taboo Takeover in celebration of Black History Month.
22.02.23 @ Refuge Worldwide
On Wednesday 22nd February Taboo took over Refuge Worldwide with the aim to bring Berlin’s most innovative black collectives, creatives and communities together to celebrate Black History Month.
The evening took us through a diverse programme - carefully curated by Taboo - that brought us back to the roots and into the future of Black electronic music. Taboo highlighted five artists and their collectives who (we believe) play a poignant role within Berlin’s subculture - and towards the future of black music within the city.
The airwaves takeover began with an intimate talk between Kenny (Taboo’s Founder), and Richard (Refuge WW’s Co-Founder), followed by flawless genre-spanning performances from deadHYPE’s Bernard Koosom, Femme Bass Mafia’s Nasra, Mala Junta’s Yazzus, DJ Hyperdrive and a live performance by RAYNE ft Devantier Rain.
Yazzus, Mala Junta and Tresor resident, used this evening as an opportunity to highlight black art through an all black production show and selection of black originated genres such as; House, Jungle, Ballroom, Techno and Electro.
The evening was a community affair from the intimacy of Refuge’s Oona bar, with natural wine flowing from SIPS.
A perfect Wednesday motive.
Kenny, Taboo Founder.
Who are you and what is Taboo?
I’m Kenny, founder of Taboo. Taboo is a creative agency based in Berlin and London, specialising in creative partnerships between musicians and brands. We help musicians connect with brands and vice versa to create more meaningful and long lasting collaborations. Really helping brands focus on artists and brand relationships, and what it means to get it right, and collaborate in an authentic way where both parties are happy and represented.
What are you doing here today at Refuge?
Today we’re at Refuge doing the Takeover because we wanted to highlight some key black talent in Berlin during BHM, and also bring the black creative community together to celebrate themselves and their work - and also enjoy not only with themselves but also with their allies. Black History Month is something that kind of fell under the radar in Germany, and in Berlin, and so we at Taboo felt it was really important to highlight it and not let present, past or future stories be forgotten.
Why is spotlighting Black music so important?
The reason why spotlighting black music is really important is because black culture has been the genesis of many musical styles and narratives. A lot of the history around black people's involvement in today’s musical styles has been whitewashed, and so it's really important to highlight it and bring its roots to the forefront.
Who are the artists you’ve chosen to spotlight today?
We are spotlighting a mixture of Taboo’s community and different collectives we feel play an important role within Berlin's music scene. Also some of our friends and developing artists that we thought it would be cool to give the spotlight to. We wanted to have an array of different sounds and collectives, and I think Refuge was a great platform to be able to do that tonight.
RAYNE is an R&B and HipHop artist based in Berlin who uses songwriting and sound as an exploration of the self, and the voice as a tool to heal.
What are you aiming to bring with your sound and music?
Creating has always given me a space for introspection and taking a moment to be aware of how I feel. With my sound I’d really like to create a sonic space welcoming for all to be vulnerable and honest.
Has black culture influenced your music, and if so, how?
As an artist I believe it’s extremely important to pay my dues to those that have created before me. As a teenager growing up in Berlin, I was introduced to the world of old school hip hop and soul with artists such as Erykah Badu and A Tribe Called Quest. It was their music that gave me a feeling I had never received before, and Badu’s self reflective energy inspiring me to reflect on my own.
What music are you bringing to your set today and why?
We love to play underground sounds of all genres, focusing on favourite future black legends like Unique*, ase manual, Byrell The Great, LSDXOXO. It’s exciting to capture the amazing contribution to electronic music in a set from artists that are so early in their careers and have created such a range and amazing catalogue of music.
What’s your experience within Berlin's black creative community? And how has that shaped you as an artist?
I’m part of Femme Bass Mafia, and for me as a black woman in berlin, who is still in the beginning of her career, I’ve been welcomed by a lot of other black creatives in the city, through radio, fellow DJs and promoters such as Sarah Farina (Emergent Bass/ DJ,Producer,Curator), Lu (BRENN party, promoter) and Senu (DJ, Radio Host) from SLIC UNIT.
What tracks and mood have you chosen for your show tonight and why?
The combination of Refuge Worldwide as a Radio Station and also a bar where the visitors are able to listen live to my set inspired me for a smooth garage/2step show. Also I’m still recovering from my last closing gig at hoemies last Saturday. Thanks to Taboo for the invite ❤️
What was the idea and journey behind tonight’s show?
Tonight’s show was inspired from my recent RA mix featuring all black producers, which stemmed from my Tresor EP BLACK METROPOLIS. The EP is all about recentering Techno back to its black roots of Detroit and beyond. So tonight I figured it was the perfect place to bring another beautiful selection of different genres like House, Jungle, Ballroom, Techno, Electro and really highlight this is black art and something that has been ingrained in all of us and something that we need to reclaim. From my experiences living in Berlin I’ve realised how important it is to have more black artists at the forefront.
What has helped you, and what do you think is important as a Black creative in Berlin?
One thing that has really helped being fairly new in Berlin from London, is being part of collectives. I’m a Mala Junta resident and it’s been nice having this close knit family whilst working in the music industry. It’s very difficult when you’re by yourself having to try and push your own vision. I feel as though the community has really helped me not just understand what I’m about artistically but also be able to do opportunities like travel out more, and represent the Mala Junta family vibe. At Mala Junta it’s very much about prioritisng queer people, and people of colour for club nights, locally and internationally, and so it’s been really nice having this family bond and support whilst navigating the crazy waters that is the music industry. Obviously they’re all sick, but I think they brought me on as a fresh perspective into music. I think I bring a new movement and wave of loads of different genres and UK sound as well which is very black orientated. So I’m super happy that they’re supporting me and helping me to be my authentic self.
I’m also a Tesor resident, and kind of a similar thing, I want to bring that black origin back to a very iconic club like Tresor, which really did fuel that Detroit Berlin connection. They were one of the first European cities to really embrace Detroit Techno and bring that here. So it’s really all about bringing it back to the roots whilst keeping it modern and forward facing and focusing on future talent. I hope I can inspire more black creatives out there with all my sets and my music.
Are there any upcoming events or news you want to highlight in your career?
I’m playing my first Boiler Room this year, my first actual Boiler Room so I’m pretty excited for that one, that’s what I would highlight. It’s gonna be great - it’s in Malta
Coming from west Germany to here, do you think that the community you’ve built here has helped to shape & influence your sound?
Yeah, definitely. I would say Berlin takes all the credit for the sound that I play today because I wouldn’t have gotten to know this kind of music if I hadn’t moved to Berlin. Actually, specifically the Mala Junta party and the gang, Ted you know and Yahim and Alora, and all of them. I’ve been at all of those parties from the first one to the last one and that’s had a big impact on what I’ve been playing.
How has your sound/style developed since you started playing?
I just listened to the first mix I ever recorded today, I dug it out from my computer and I was like, “wow, who would’ve thought” [laughs]. I actually started DJing being a dancehall and reggae selector, back then I would have never guessed that I would be into electronic music at all. When I got into electronic music, I started out with melodic stuff and deep house, tech house stuff. I’ve come a long way.
Perhaps coming from that aspect, looking that you’ve played dancehall or that spectrum of music, do you think with those being Black sounds and Black music, has that played an influence on the music that you are playing today? Did that flow into electronic music?
Definitely. I really like dub techno, I don't play it though, but especially with producing, I haven’t had a lot of output yet but I’ve been working on a lot of projects and I can definitely see the influence that reggae and dancehall music has taken on what I am producing.