Heritage and future of electronic music in the region

Heritage and future of electronic music in the region

The first FEMENA (Moroccan Chapter) talk revolved around the theme: “Heritage and future of electronic music in the region” .

A conversation rich in twists and turns, around the position of women artists in the electronic scene, the place of musical heritage in their creation process, their visions of the Moroccan, Maghrebian and African electronic scene in the coming years.

The quartet of this first talk was composed of four artists with varied backgrounds, whose creations and collaborations are moving between Europe (France and Germany) and Morocco.

Southern/rooted women in the music industry

The first angle attacked was that of the female presence in the music industry. Despite the differences between different contexts like Morocco and France, the invisibility of women remains a common reality. Although there are more possibilities today to access equipment and learn in a self-taught way, access to the industry itself remains limited.

The relationship with the machine, with the tools was also noted by Noria: it remains dominated by men, both because of their access to these tools and because they dare to experiment more. This is an observation that is all the stronger when it comes to so-called “extreme” music.

A more intersectional angle directed the discussion towards the situation of racialized women artists. Manar evoked the forced aspect of the programming where the women artists, racialized, are invited more for the culture/status they represent than for the singular work that it carries, which is in the center of their artistic identity.

What crystallizes here is, on the one hand, a risk of sliding towards “tokenization” in terms of gender and diversity and, on the other, a fantasized relationship to the productions and creations of racialized women or people from minorities, from the “South” more generally. The first point, that of tokenization, refers to a context where more and more programmers from the “North” are integrating so-called Arab artists, in order to be “clean” and to align themselves with diversity trends. The problem here, which is related to the second point, is that of visibility without substance, where the cultural aspect of the work, the style or the musical or artistic proposal is separated from the experience.

What emerges is a “very colonial vision of what the Maghrebian or African artist can represent”, taking the most beautiful, without paying attention to the people, issues and complex histories behind it.

What emerges is a «very colonial vision of what the Maghrebian or African»..

This exoticization/essentilization of Maghrebi or African artists materializes in shifted expectations where they are obliged to offer manifestations of a fixed culture, which reflect less the complex realities of these cultures than the imaginary, colonial version that the programmers make of them. The intention is central here.

Relationship to heritage

The relationship of Moroccan artists to their heritage is complex in that, on the one hand, it is part of the collective history with the responsibility of transmission that this implies but, on the other hand, the identity of the artist remains very personal. Malika recalled in this sense that if the richness of traditional music is certainly a source of inspiration, the issue of creation remains that of emancipation, and therefore the possibility of choosing to draw, or not, from this source: “One can feel Moroccan without necessarily identifying with certain styles.

« On peut se sentir marocain.e sans forcément s’identifier à certains styles »

This dimension also reminds us of the perpetual movement of heritage or culture, which breaks with the temptation to frame them. The sound library is constantly being built according to Noria, especially since access to music is more open and therefore the possibilities of learning and experimenting with styles and techniques are more fluid. This movement also feeds on the entanglement between individual and collective. Léa reminded us that individual identity and group membership are not incompatible and that there are different ways to claim this complex identity.

The relationship to musical and cultural heritage also raises the question of cultural appropriation. The speakers agreed on the importance of exchange and inspiration, conditioned by benevolence and respect. Cultural appropriation is indeed problematic when the material exploited is commercialized elsewhere than in its original territory, without the possibility for the local communities of the latter to make their own heritage shine! Here too, the importance of intention came up a lot in the conversation.

Visions of the future

What visions of the future for the music industry in the region and more globally in the continent?

The first call that was made by Noria is that of connections at the local, regional and continental levels. This connection is necessary before thinking about the North/South relationship. This dialogue would make it possible to build a music of the future that goes beyond the “two-sided” fusion to be better nourished by the plurality and complexity of identities, whether Maghrebian or African, without excluding individualities, stories and personal baggage.

The second component of this vision of the future is that of self-representation. The initiatives of claiming a local, regional scene should be carried, first, by the people who are on the spot and who live the social, economic, cultural and political realities of the represented contexts. Noria insisted on the importance of creating platforms to connect energies and move towards the creation of a collective scene, beyond the borders between musical and artistic universes, independent of external interventions. A common imaginary that would be oriented towards the deconstruction of the vision that we have of art and would allow us to leave the dominant logics. A new way of seeing things, deconstructed, decolonized, to rebalance the relations of power.

Une nouvelle façon de voir les choses, déconstruite, décolonisée, pour re-balancer les rapports de pouvoir.

A vision of the future optimistic by the promise of the young bubbling scene that manifests itself especially through social networks and digital platforms. A youth that however needs to be accompanied and oriented to fully experience the spaces and stages of creation, including the experience of the stage which is a special moment in the development of the artist and his project.

Indeed, the risk of falling into “all-streaming” is strong, a music industry that spreads from the outside and absorbs local energies with its codes and monetized promises. It is crucial to reflect and resist this fast-footedness that arrives on the continent and imposes a certain logic of musical business, to go towards the creation of a musical industry specific to our territories/spaces. There is also a bridge to build in terms of professionalization of emerging artists: once again, platforms must be created and strengthened, especially to give them the keys and allow them to be masters of their projects.

Excerpts from meet UP #1:

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