Our Ode to an Analogue Future
Suzi Analogue’s name is cherished here at HangTime. Analogue aka Maya Shipman is a Miami-based producer whose work weaves in and out of our Slack channels and personal conversations. They are an inspiration for what emerging creatives are capable of.
Throughout January, she has been featured in the New York Times, DJ Mag, developing the Su Casa loungewear label with the designer Suzette Guy, and gave a lecture at the interdisciplinary school of Afrotectopia. (And we’re sure there’s more because she is always up to something!)
With her lecture, in particular, she revealed key facets in her practice—the frameworks that have defined her experimental record label, Never Normal Records. She opened her presentation by displaying the Kongo Cosmogram, its cyclical displays of life, death and rebirth to how people across the African diaspora feel connected to this notion of “the loop.” From call and response to sampling, the cyclical nature of sonic work feels like a staple in Black heritage. Music itself being an integral tool in pre-colonial African societies, and, to an extent, a means of communication.
For instance, fast-forward to the 1950’s in Jamaica where a social scene developed amidst the tail end of Britain’s colonization. Sonic competitions called sound clashes would carve out a space for making noise and maintaining the agency in being heard.
The sound systems, both the crews themselves and their hardware, are examples of facilitating a space to maintain dynamic displays of black joy. These collective endeavors are cultural technologies that can be implemented into our own endeavors.
Analogue referenced this moment in time to both inspire us and explain the ethos of Never Normal Records. In her NYT interview she expressed how, “[Never Normal Records] is a safe space for musicians to buck industry notions of what their work is supposed to be.”
In our own endeavors, our collectives, our albums, or artwork and mixes many of us are fighting financially or for recognition. The notion of “making it” feels like the crux of where our dreams lie. For musicians, this often comes in the form of 360 deals where labels take generous nibbles out of an artist’s pocket at every turn. Between getting placements, promotions, trying conduct live shows (thanks COVID) and selling merch, many musicians are wondering about the future of their careers.
Analogue presented Never Normal Records as an experiment that aims to postulate an alternative. The label operates on what is referred to as a solidarity economy. In contrast to the aforementioned 360 deals that commodifies every aspect of the artist for the label, this model would place the artist’s humanity first. In that, creative enterprises could operate like co-ops where an individual’s talents don’t necessarily have to be monetized or exploited.
Two people could barter producing one track for mixing another’s. Each creative involved with the label has stake and say in the overall institution.
The NRG Crew is global with creatives who operate in multiple mediums. There are individuals who even have their own collectives. The point is to create a space for making noise and maintaining the agency in being heard.
Do some research and try applying this to your creative endeavors and your own collectives. Analogue is one of many individuals showing us what is possible. She’s just getting started and we can’t wait to see her take the year by storm.