Making music without the aid of a safety net is nothing new. From at least the early 60’s, guitar bands were literally shaking the walls of their garages to emulate their musical heroes and record something which, at least in theory, could be held alongside. It became a trademark sound to the extent that “garage rock” is an easily understood epithet to describe a ‘warts-and-all’ production, recorded on little to no budget – no frills, guaranteed. It’s an almost laughable truism that studios now pay producers huge amounts of money to replicate this sound with the careful use of filters and Pro-tools, rendering the whole notion of DIY as a strange affectation.
However, a genuine DIY ethic still lives on in music, but combined with making music for the sheer joy of it, there exists a more worrying trend – the majority of these producers and musicians are black. To use a recent release as an example, Mike Dadio has recently released a track (ironically) entitled, “Fake ‘n’ Dat”, recorded quite literally in his bedroom using only his laptop and a microphone. Mike’s moved from his birthplace in Ghana to London, eager to explore the worlds of both music and film but finding the entry points as foreboding as knocking on the front door of Fort Knox. Studio recording is simply out of the question, the astronomical prices are at least divisible when there’s a band but for what is ostensibly a solo venture, no dice. For Mike, a visit to the studio needs to be a straight in, straight out arrangement, with the hard work done under his own steam.
Indirectly or…surely not…directly, the industry is stifling musicians and producers from Urban backgrounds. Whether it’s a lack of funds or a flippant dismissal that they’ll manage fine on their own, music production is now seemingly split directly down the line of wealth versus complete self-reliance. Has it really become, dare we say it, that black and white?