Fri 3–Sat 4 Nov 2023

Bass Cultures, How Low Can You Go!

Falkenbergs teater, Smedjan

Participants

Henric BeneschPapa DeeAnna GavanasDeng Deng HiFiOnkar KularEric MagassaPaula Cardozo (Paula Maxa)Struck

Through the making of sound systems, bass cultures have been important in the development of underground musical genres from Reggae, Dub and Ska to Hip-Hop, Techno, Jungle and many more. For this event we are supported by musicians, DJs, and makers that in their own way have contributed and played an important role in the development of bass culture, through the making of sound systems, the organising of underground music and club culture in Sweden and beyond. Over two days the event will host film screenings, workshops, talks and DJ sets to showcase bass and sound system cultures, their creativity, history, and relevance today.

Programme

DAY 1

12.00 BABYLON, 1980 (FILM SCREENING)
After a short introduction, the event begins with a screening of the seminal bass culture film Babylon. Directed by Franco Rosso and sound tracked by the legendary producer Dennis Bovell, the film follows members of the Ital Lion sound system as they prepare for a reggae dance and sound clash. Ital Lion acts as the beating pulse of the film to not only foreground sound system cultures but vividly portray young black lives pushing back against racism and xenophobia of late 1970’s Great Britain.

16.00 MAKING BASS, MIDS & TOPS (WORKSHOP)
Not many would associate bass cultures with design, craft, and architecture. But through the production of sounds systems, bass cultures at their heart have always been about the designing of equipment, the honing of skills and the making of space for listening and dancing. Sound systems are a DIY culture where knowledge gained through trial and error is readily shared with others. Since 2005, Deng Deng HiFi have been sharing bass culture from the south of Sweden. During this hands-on and sonic workshop, they will introduce participants to sound systems, by showing how they are made, how they are set-up and how they make bass.

16.30 EPA SOUNDS: PLAYING THE CAR PARK
As well as having a DIY ethos, the history of bass culture and sound systems is one of mobility. Sound systems are composed of musical equipment that can be easily stored, transported, and assembled in varying locations. As sound systems have developed both musically and materially, we have seen the rise of parallel bass cultures that share making and mobility. From EPA Traktors to Raggare, Lowriders to Gearheads, automobile enthusiasts have not only creatively modified cars but built impressive sound systems that test the limits of low frequency bass. Outside of resourced cities these moving sound systems have become important public spaces for displaying, listening, and socialising whilst driving and stationary – usually in public carparks. For this event we have invited EPA Traktor enthusiasts to park in the Smedjen carpark and to play their sound systems.

18.00 SONIC ESSAY BY ERIC MAGASSA
Cars are moving sound systems; they allow for sound to be played and they produce environmental sound when they drive. At the same time, cars become a vehicle for not only transportation but for reading and making sense of spaces and places whilst driving. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records in Detroit, famously claimed that Motown recordings were mixed to sound good on car radios and inspired by the cities car industry. The subsequent demise of the automobile industry also providing the backdrop to the birth and sound of Detroit Techno and its assembly lines. Influenced by Techno, the electronic music artist Burial developed what he described the ‘Car-Test’ to loop bass and electronic sounds back into urban environments. Following the idea of the car test, the artist and bass music enthusiast Eric Magassa has been invited to play a sonic essay inspired by driving through Falkenberg and its surrounding area.

Tasty Food will be served during the session.

20.00 DUB FEELING (DJ SET)
Sound systems are built to play bass heavy music, they are designed, engineered and spatialised to allow audiences to not only hear but to feel music by immersing the body in low-frequency bass. Sound systems also consist of crews, who not only design and build equipment but develop skilled techniques through playing records and MCing. Deng Deng HiFi will specially install their sound system at Smedjen and carefully select tracks from late 60’s ska and rocksteady up until todays dub and steppers. As they outline, their bass heavy selection will be ‘conscious music with a clear message. No slackness or glorification of violence or degrading of women. Only good vibes and upliftment of the people.’

 

DAY 2

12.00 LOVERS ROCK, 2020 (FILM SCREENING)
As seen in the re-use of industrial spaces in Techno and Rave scenes, bass cultures have a long history of being creative with finding and making space. From the 1950’s, people of colour in the UK were excluded from bars and clubs where they might listen and dance to music. This led to the creation of the blues party, a tradition that began in the West Indies, where black people could meet, eat, and dance together. To run a blues party in the UK, organisers would clear out furniture from a domestic house, set up a sound system dance and offer Caribbean food to guests paying a small entrance fee. Directed by the artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen and located in early 80’s West London, Lovers Rock visually and sonically captures the importance of community in this space making activity.

14.00 CALLING ALL MC’s (WORKSHOP)
From Reggae to Jungle, Dubstep to Grime, central to the transmission of live bass music has been that of the MC also known as Deejay. MCing is an artform that goes beyond the simple introduction of records. The MC acts as the main bridge between the sound system and its audience and through improvisation a translator of the ethos and values of the sound system and its crew. The crew from Deng Deng HiFi will introduce the role of MCing in sound systems, showing different styles and how to convey conscious messages through this oral tradition. This will also be a hands-on (or voice-on) workshop where participants will get to test out different ways to MC, to communicate and to create a vibe.

15.00 IN THE MIX (WORKSHOP)
Bass cultures in all forms have traditionally been male dominated spaces, and even though women have been central to the development and support of sound systems and bass music their roles have often been trivialised and in many cases erased. Due to the important work of female DJ’s, scholars and organisers in recent years there has been a prominent rise in female DJ’s, producers and sound system leaders albeit with much work to do. Over the last years, DJ and organiser, Paula Maxa has run female only DJ works, to not only demystify the artform but to show that bass cultures should be accessible to all.

17.00 BACK TO THE UNDERGROUND! SOUNDING SPACE
In many ways bass cultures have always been creative cultures. Whether through fashion, making of equipment, designing of graphic communications and through the music itself. Crucially, they are also about the creative organising and making of space for musical expression. From Reggae to Rave, Sweden has it very own rich history of making space for bass cultures that has relied on people of all backgrounds to create environments for dancing communities to be formed. In this multimedia panel session, we invite DJ’s and organisers that have been active in the Swedish bass scene to show, play and discuss the importance of underground music culture in Sweden, in the past and today. For this session we will be joined by the DJ and writer Anna Gavanas, singer and organiser Papa Dee and DJ’s Struck and Paula Maxa.

20.00 PLAYING THE UNDERGROUND, FROM RARE GROOVE TO JUNGLE
Musically, bass cultures are diverse, making them important to celebrate and support. They are also nuanced and contextual, with variations of musical subgenres developing within very specific regional and national geographies. The event will close with a showcasing of this musical diversity with DJ sets from guests that have participated over the two days. DJs include Gavanas, Aimbreak, Papa Dee, Eric Magassa, Struck, Paula Maxa and more.

The event is organised by Right to design which is a practice-based platform run by Onkar Kular and Henric Benesch and through their residency with Art Inside Out.

Art Inside Out is a nomadic institution for artist-in-residence in all art forms and genres. Artists are invited to explore the possibilities for their own art practices, as well as delve into new collaborations, in the county of Halland. Through an open process that leaves room for the unforeseen, there is the opportunity for new discourse, where art generates creative solutions and new ways of seeing the world.

Contributors

Henric Benesch

Henric Benesch is an associate professor (docent) in Design at HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, acting Dean at The Artistic Faculty and an associate of Centre for Critical Heritage Studies (CCHS) at the University of Gothenburg. He is an architect interested in transdisciplinary and intersectional aspects of knowledge creation within and in relation to education and built environment with a particular interest in site-based and speculative methodologies. Recent publications include “The Right to Design” (2020), “What if a 1%-rule for Public Design” (2021) and “Co-curating the city: universities and urban heritage past and future” (2022).

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Papa Dee

Papa Dee is a singer, rapper and dancehall musician. He was a member of the NYC group, Brooklyn Funk Essentials and Stonefunkers. Over the years he has released numerous albums, including solo releases. He has been a DJ, Radio host and important figure in the Swedish bass music scene.

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Anna Gavanas

Anna Gavanas is a social anthropologist with a focus on dance music culture, working life, migration, and family politics. She has published a number of interview based and archival studies on Swedish electronic dance music scenes with a focus on technological shifts, gender and cultural politics. Gavanas has also worked as a DJ and producer since the 1990s and onwards.

 

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Deng Deng HiFi

Deng Deng HiFi is a sound system and record label from Malmö, founded by Dan I Locks, Jr Roots and Chris Michael in 2005. Driven by the love of roots music, the crew have frequently played and arranged sound system events in the local area of Malmö, promoting international, as well as Swedish sound system acts, producers, and artists.

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Onkar Kular

Onkar Kular is Professor of Design at HDK Valand, Academy of Art & Design and Programme coordinator for PLACE (Public Life, Arts, Critical Engagement) at the Artistic Faculty, University of Gothenburg. His research is disseminated internationally through commissions, exhibitions, education, and publications. His work is in the collection of the CNAP, France, and Crafts Council, UK. He has guest-curated exhibitions for The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, Karachi, and the Crafts Council, UK. He was Stanley Picker Fellow 2016 and Artistic Director of Gothenburg Design Festival, Open Week 2017 and Co-Artistic Director of Luleå Art Biennial 2022.

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Eric Magassa

Eric Magassa (born 1972) lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a multidisciplinary artist, combining mixed-media collage, painting and photography. He explores issues of identity, its intermediary nature and its connection to memories and places. Recent exhibitions include Flight at Malmö Konsthall, Malmö (2023) Marres House for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, Netherlands (2021); Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art GIBCA (2019); Valongo Festival, Santos, Brazil (2019); Alingsås Konsthall

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Paula Cardozo (Paula Maxa)

Paula Cardozo (Paula Maxa), from Gothenburg, began DJ’ing in 2008 and got involved quickly in the underground scene – both playing and arranging clubs. She began to hold workshops for youngsters and became active in a Soundsystem. As a teacher, Paula uses music to talk about history and society, and how these are interlinked. Paula loves to dance and make noise.

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Struck

Struck is deeply rooted in the musical underground of Gothenburg and Sweden, going through hiphop, acid house, acid jazz, hardcore, indiepop and more before discovering jungle in 1994 and from1995 on being a member of the Laymin Soundsystem and playing jungle, drum & bass, techno and dub at many underground parties and clubs since, under different alias and in various constellations, always with a deep interest in the music and the vibe of the party, still active today organising, promoting and DJ’ing.

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