As the sun set over Shoreditch's ionic skyline, the 7th floor of The Ace Hotel had become a live discussion platform sparking a catalyst for change. With Know-Wave dropping a cryptic image on Instagram the day before, those who were brave enough to follow their intrigue found themselves amongst some of the music industry and fashion worlds most respected gatekeepers. Musically, London sets the pace for change. The gap between the UK and US scenes becoming closer as the Atlantic oceans tides carry key industry players to create much-needed synchronicity.
At a table placed at the head of the room sat a group of people responsible for Kanye West's recent Brit Awards take over. A performance where he bought together some of the UK Grime scenes most respected faces and placed them on an international platform. From its East London roots, a scene that in recent years has been through a turbulent exploration forcing it to rebuild with fresh foundations. Virgil Abloh, Tremaine D. Emory, Jammer from Boy Better Know, Acyde, Jalil Peraza, Bromance Records' Guillaumeberg and True Panthers' Dean Bein discuss the impact of that performance and the scenes ongoing collaborative form. Sharing inspiring stories of serendipitous encounters at 3am that unlock doors of opportunity and a message to follow your passion and do things your way. Each story passed on with a heartfelt message of wanting to change not only the industry but the world. The scene needs this and so does everyone lucky enough to listen. In an industry that can be so closed in its methods the conversation was not only refreshing but enriching.
As the panel opened up questions to the floor, my hand flew in to the air. An opportunity to step up and ask a question that could be the key to unlocking change, not only in the music industry but more importantly in the world as we know it. Our planet survives through balance and so do we. Throughout history pioneers have stood up to mastermind change, volunteering opportunities for that balance to be restored. Whether that be environmentally, financially, racially or politically. As I looked around the room it was completely out of balance. Where were all the women? So I courageously walked up to the front and asked the accommodating panel why they thought that was and how collectively we can change that within the music industry. Each offering on the spot advice and putting forward solutions for a new bigger picture. Although things have started to change of late, line ups, label heads, A&R's and managers are still predominantly male. The answer isn't in finding an instant fix but in being able to ask the question openly and honestly. Equality in any form shouldn't have to be a discussion. Most of our governments and political agendas have been set from a male perspective. What if those seats at the table were shared equally with male and female opinion? Virgil respectively offers me a seat at the panel asking the audience to give up a chair and stating that would be a step towards making a change. In a slightly stunned room, we laugh and no one moves.
I have read so many features like this that point fingers at the guys and how unfair the industry is on women but that is totally missing the point. I also believe that you cannot change something with the same energy that created it. Collaboration is key not only in the music industry but globally. So many of today's best selling musicians have had worldwide success by creating tracks together. Individuality and uniqueness are celebrated. Music doesn't discriminate yet it can influence our mood, stir emotion and instantly take you back to a specific place and time. Change needs to come from the centre and I believe that by starting a conversation within the music industry we can spearhead a movement that can create a butterfly effect in to industries with more rigid foundations.
As the discussion in the room escalates Tremaine takes hold of the microphone and swiftly says, "What everybody's got to remember who's listening and in this room, it's on you. It's for men to be less patriarchal but also it's on women to pull a Rosa Parks and be like, turn the fuck up". I walked back to where I stood and reflected on his final statement. The opportunities are there, the doors are open and I think he is totally right; it's time to stand up and be fearless.
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