MIX & INTERVIEW
It is an absolute honor to have the brilliant political dj project Blac Rose gracing my website with their presence! In this mix and interview, Diggs and Mackey fearlessly eclipse the glaring presence of white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy and replace it with their revolutionary art and words.
"Blac Rose dispels cynicism and liberalism; Blac Rose embraces truth, no matter how uncomfortable you feel; Blac Rose is confident that there will be black freedom and independence, and peace for all of humanity, in this lifetime."
What are your pronouns?
How did you two become collaborators?
So we played a b2b set at Cake Factory in Aug. 2016 and our ‘speech over dance music’ sound happened organically during that set.
That night definitely had some technical difficulties- we blew the speakers for a moment, and the CDJs were an old model and slow to load tracks, which was stressful, but we had each other’s back. Support, good chemistry, and the ability to evolve a vibe together is essential to a successful b2b DJ set.
This first set together felt like a very natural energy exchange, and conversation between us. That reflected in the joyful response of the crowd. If felt like any mistake or tech failure was no longer any issue, but rather a part of this organic experiment that we were building together. Moving on from that set, we decided that this project was something we both wanted to invest in.
Near the end of the set when the lights were coming on, Dee played DJ Richard’s Benzos, and KC had this impulse to play this speech she had been meditating on - Gazi Kodzo’s speech on why armed struggle and revolutionary violence is necessary for black freedom.
KC almost didn’t play it because it might’ve made white people uncomfortable, but then realized that was all the more reason to play it. That risk paid of because people remember it as this transformative and explosive set. The music allowed people to take in this message more easily.
The blac rose sound became a way to militantly challenge white power and white society- a tribute to the roots of house and techno as forms of black resistance against colonial oppression.
Where does the name Blac Rose come from?
Dee: I was thinking about imagery like the black power fist and phrases like ‘Black power’ & ‘Black is beautiful’. These are revolutionary cultural markers that reclaim and reframe the connotation of ‘black’. Blac Rose sounds like a statement and conjures up an image that is rare, beautiful, and idyllic. Also, a rose is a really beautiful delicate thing with it’s own armor, the thorns.
I think our dreams of revolution can be prickly and offensive to the current world systems and ways of thinking, but at the end it’s a beautiful ideal we are growing towards and encouraging others to consider. Removing the ‘k’, is just a style choice because I like to spell things in alternative ways.
What are your sources of inspiration and motivation when you DJ/mix?
KC: Ever since Blac Rose’s “speech over dance music” took hold, my motivation has been to use that as a template for my own mixes to spread a political message. In my last solo mix, I used speeches by leaders of the African People’s Socialist Party to win white people to pay reparations to the Uhuru Movement’s black-led self-determination projects to put an end to police violence, mass incarceration and other social injustices.
My motivation is to inject African Internationalism- the theory of the African poor and working class- into the bloodstream of white society, infect it like a virus, destroy whiteness- which is nothing but unity with a white power social system that requires violence to survive- and replace it with a culture of white reparations to African people for the legacy of slavery and colonialism that created the 2 Americas, one living at the expense of the other. White power is going to die because African working class people are not going to take it anymore, they are going to be free, so this social system is going to die. And instead of dying with it, we white people can join with African people to celebrate its death. And the beautiful thing is, the Party is not even waiting to destroy this system to build a new world. They’re building it right now. And we can be part of it, through reparations and solidarity with black power.
DJing is a weapon in my organizing arsenal to build the culture of reparations and move forward with this revolutionary process. Music is the medium, revolution is the message. My track selection is based on trusting my ears and my instincts.
Dee: I’m a DIY kind of bitch. So I believe if there is to be a playlist or a soundscape that makes me feel free or puts me in a receptive and inspired headspace, I must seek it out or create it myself. I have always looked for a medium of expression that takes humility, sensitivity to one’s instinct and intuition. I have always been into searching for, organizing and researching the music I love, so this was inevitably my path.
I am also very transparent about what inspires me and where and who it comes from. It’s important to talk about the black & queer origins of dance music. It comes from slave descendants living in the midwest of the United States. Those regular shmegular African-Americans were churning new genres from their oppression. We all owe them everything (see KC’s mentioning of reparations above^).
That is so important for me to mention as a femme of African heritage living in diaspora. I’ve always felt like I’m searching for a part of myself that I intuitively know of, but can not describe or put my finger on. When I first fell in love with the oneness and the freedom experienced at the rave, I found a part of myself that I love so deeply. I’m very protective of her and I play to this part of myself and other dreamers & dancers.
What was your specific inspiration for this mix?
It’s extremely important to note that all of the speeches in this mix are from working-class Black women revolutionaries. Fannie Lou Hamer, the last speech of the mix, over Umfang’s “Spaces on Spaces” was a courageous freedom fighter who exposed the bankruptcy and anti-blackness of the Democratic Party, and was one of the key architects paving the way for the historic demand for black power to rise up in the 60s. And Sandra Bland, whose “Sandy Speaks” episode remixed by Bearcat, opens this mix, was an outspoken prophet and an African martyr, brutally murdered by the police while in custody.
Both Fannie Lou and Sandy died fighting for the liberation of their whole people. Kunde Mwamvita and Kalambayi Andenet of the Uhuru Movement, who are featured in this mix- Kunde at the beginning, and Kalambayi over Wamdue Kid’s “Memory and Forgetting”- and who are the most incredible, brilliant, and courageous political leaders of this period, continue to lead with the fighting spirit of the lost warriors.
Black women have always been at the frontlines of change, yet are one of the most brutalized and slandered sector of the human population. This mix is a firm statement that black women will be at the helm of this revolution, of rocking the foundations of a system built on slavery, and will be the shapers and leaders of a new world shorn of colonizer and colonized, where no one group of people lives at the expense of another; where every child can grow up with a real future and be well-fed, and become full participants of society, in conditions ripe to express their creativity; a world without war, where we can have real human exchange and collaboration, not for profit but for the benefit of humanity.
Blac Rose dispels cynicism and liberalism; Blac Rose embraces truth, no matter how uncomfortable you feel; Blac Rose is confident that there will be black freedom and independence, and peace for all of humanity, in this lifetime.
What are your thoughts on Boston's underground music scene in relation to marginalized bodies?
Dee: It’s been slowly evolving to be less of a boys club thanks to the work of countless women, people of color, and their earnest allies. I was able to pop up on this scene and met with a lot of support because people had paved the way before me. I recognized that immediately and looked for opportunities to give back by evolving the Boston underground culture and community to be more inclusive and sensitive to those who live as marginalized identities. There are still not as many black and brown folx on the dancefloor as I would like, but that depends on the party as well.
I am also an activist in the way that I interact with my peers in this music scene. There have been a lot of abuses, sexual assaults, and casual racism that has been overlooked in the past in the underground music scene in Boston.
I think the role of a ‘DJ’ includes being a leader in more than one way, so I am always firmly against injustices that happen within our scene. I don’t play things hush-hush for the sake not offending bigger players in the Boston scene or hurting my own chances of being booked or whatever other selfish outcome one would consider as a blockade.
A leader is supposed to do the right thing, stand for the right thing and for those who don’t have the power to protect themselves, even if it takes personal sacrifice.
Sometimes I become disillusioned because I’m only 23 years old, right? So I think, ‘If I’m this young and can recognize that it’s not worth someone getting hurt or abused or feeling unsafe in the presence of their assaulter for us to simply have a dance party somewhere, why can’t folx older than me and with more experience than me recognize that and hold themselves to that same standard?’
If you’re not willing to do that for folx and to honestly examine how you affect and treat people on and off the dance floor, you shouldn’t be in that position of power as a DJ.
That’s my honest opinion.
KC: There is a lot of white opportunism and white nationalism which express themselves in much more normalized forms than a confederate flag-waving bald white guy with a swastika on the back of his neck. Deeper than all white people being racist, the theory of African Internationalism, developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, proves that every white person is part of a colonizer oppressor nation, and sits on a pedestal of the enslavement of African people, the genocide of the indigenous people, and the forced impoverishment and oppression of the vast majority of the world.
In music scenes are indigenous people whose mothers have been or are in jail; whose stolen land we are occupying. In the scenes are black people whose whole people are facing a genocide in the form of police murder, mass incarceration, and gentrification. But white women and white queers in particular have this insidious politic of using intersectionality to equate our struggles with colonized people’s. We do not live the same reality. There’s no such thing as women in general, or queer people in general, or the working-class in general. There’s the colonizer and the colonized.
White women will call for greater representation of women, queers, and people of color, but not to return the resources and land that we stole from African and indigenous people. Even as white LGBT people and white women also become targets of rape culture; it doesn’t negate that everything we have, all the rights we get, are at the expense of African and other colonized people. Our lives are built on genocide; We still owe reparations. To deny this and merely strive for diversity in the music scene is an opportunist bourgeois feminist politic masked as progress that white people use to shield ourselves from our responsibility to build a movement for reparations. Instead we exploit the contradictions imposed on black and colonized women & gender-and-sexuality-nonconforming colonized people to resolve some of the contradictions that exist among ourselves, at their expense.
When talking about rape culture and patriarchy, white women need to acknowledge our violent legacy of playing the major role in the lynchings and torture of black men with the claim that black men assaulted or looked at us, as well as our complicity in the violence against enslaved African women. There was gender equality between white men and women of the lynch mob.
If white women really want to end patriarchy and rape culture, then we would pay reparations to shift power into the hands of African women to overturn the special oppression imposed on them by colonialism. We need to divorce white power and unite with the African working class struggle to overturn colonialism, the root of patriarchy and rape culture. And I really salute all the white people who been brave and taken this stand by becoming members of Uhuru Solidarity Movement. It’s a beautiful thing for white people to take responsibility for colonialism- the root of all oppression- by adopting the worldview of the African working class as our own.
What are your 5 fav tunes right now? (5 for each of you!)
Powder - Hip
DJ Tunez - Iskaba
K-Hand - Remember When
Kelela - Take Me Apart (whole album)
Bell Curve - Silk Spaces
Tygapaw feat. Abdu Ali - I Am What I Am
Jlin - Holy Child
Suzi Analogue - FSN8
Harocaz - Monthly
Techno Brewster & D.J. Iceman - Dream On Tangerine
What are your favorite ways to practice self care?
Dee: Cooking & eating dinner with friends, hibernation when I need to, going on walks when I’ve slept too much lol, journalling, reading and learning about artists & activists who share some part of my identity and inspire me, listening to podcasts to cleanse my ear’s pallet & stimulate my mind.
KC: Organizing for revolution. Music. Cooking & eating with friends and comrades. Getting a haircut. Working out to a really good DJ mix.
What’s up next for Black Rose?
We’re in a long-distance now, so this mix is a surprise to everyone who thought they wouldn’t see anything else from us once KC moved from Boston to St. Louis. But we hope any or all of the three mixes we’ve recorded inspire someone to book us together, cause our message is too important to let distance get in the way of us sharing this message and energy. I think anyone who saw us play Technofeminism this past summer would agree ;)
Anything else you want to say!
Prepare yourself to really ponder how we should build a new world that uplifts those who have been oppressed, forgotten and erased. Through remembrance and revolutionary rewriting of the present and the future, we could free ourselves of all of the burdens and moral dilemmas of current times.
Please consider and listen all the way through to ‘Rising Forever, With Love & Power, Blac Rose'