Each One Teach One: Lakuti celebrates her Black he/sheroes of the past, present & future
To celebrate Black history Month, we’ve teamed up with Stamp The Wax and two DJ doyennes to present a mini-series that profiles unsung and future heroes from the Black community pushing the boundaries of art, transforming communities and effecting meaningful change. While Stamp The Wax present DJ Paulette, we invite Lakuti, Uzuri Records & Bookings founder.
It is vital to the very survival of our scene for Black creators to have a platform and for their contributions to be recognised.
Black, Latina, and LGBTIQ folk have been at the forefront of dance music throughout its history. They have laid the foundation for an industry worth billions and still growing, at least before COVID-19 hit. And yet Black DJ and live acts have been left off of festival bills and club bills for years. This has been a longstanding problem, one not only limited to artists being left out in the cold, but more generally, clubs not fostering a welcoming environment for Black attendees. Nor has the dance music press been attentive, with scores of Black artists who received very little to no coverage at all for their work.
In the wake of the racist murder of George Floyd and the subsequent uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, the inequalities and marginalisation of Black people acted out from within the industry can no longer be left unchallenged.
We have since seen some media outlets and vocal entities from within the scene making public pledges, committing to transforming their organisations to be more inclusive and diverse. We are already seeing some changes from some of these players, though just how far-reaching these changes will go is yet to be seen. Regardless, they cannot be gauged in real time, due to the ongoing pandemic.
So how do you advance a dance music community that for too long has relied upon superficial platitudes like PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect), without a shred of self-examination? How do you educate those that do not see the political in dance music, nor the sacrifices made by marginalised communities in order for us all to be able to dance— albeit some freer than others?
The status quo will have to be disrupted in order to advance social justice, which is to say, the entire culture of dance music would and will have to be transformed. Administrative structures within organisations will have to make space for Black people and other marginalised folk to assume decision-making roles. Festivals and clubs will have to expand the range of programming. We need a committed media that engages beyond the surface with Black artistry, a media that recognises the vitality that comes with Black creativity and the value in spotlighting that creativity.
Music can be powerful and transformative if given the reverence it deserves. Nobody should be left behind because of their age, colour, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical appearance, whether they live with a disability or not, a lack of financial means, or where they are geographically based. Content should matter more than social media clicks and followers.
When approaching this list it was clear to me that I would give focus and prioritise contributors whose work is rooted in transforming our communities, people proposing different ways to operate within nightlife to effect meaningful change. I also found it important to give long overdue credit to some who have championed the scene for years, only to be written out of the history books.
This is only a small snapshot of some brilliant work by Black people, and nowhere near a definitive list. There are so many Black contributors working dynamically in the scene — it will be up to everyone to dig deeper and discover the magic beyond those they already know. I encourage everyone that reads this piece to further explore the work detailed below.
Yvonne Turner – House music Innovator, Queen of the dub mix, Grammy-nominated remixer, producer, songwriter, arranger, musician & turntablist – (New York)
As the only woman among the elite group of DJs and remixers behind New York’s classic, Paradise Garage-era club sound, Yvonne’s experience is unique. Today she is an unsung but enduring force in music, standing on a discography that continues to expand with new projects and already boasts some of the most defining moments in dance music.
One only has to look to her seminal remixes of Willie Colon’s ‘Set Fire to Me’, Colonel Abrams’ debut single ‘Music is the Answer’, Oleta Adams’ ‘Circle of One’, Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’, Lisa Stansfield’s ‘This is the Right Time’, and ‘In This Place Called Nowhere’ by the collaborative project of Harry Dennis and Larry Heard called The It, for just a taste of Yvonne’s output. She also co-produced and co-wrote Arnold Jarvis’s formative, ‘Take Some Time Out’. The list goes on…
Her deep-rooted love of music and the desire to spread that love to others is behind her studio wizardry. ‘You want people to love and appreciate it,’ she says of each track she transforms. ‘It’s like they’re reading a book: your imagination takes them to another place. When you create music it’s like telling a story, instrumentally or vocally, and when they listen, they apply that to their own personal experience.’
Yvonne’s story began in New York City’s Harlem neighbourhood, with a devoted librarian mother who exposed her daughter to a wide array of musical styles, as well as the city’s performing arts institutions. After a move to Queens, Yvonne attended Francis Lewis High School at a time when music education was a strong part of the public-school curriculum.
‘It was a great place for developing my foundation in music because I was able to take theory and I also sang,’ she recalls of her high school days. ‘The voice is one of my instruments. I sang in an all-girl chorus, a mixed chorus, and an a cappella chorus. It was a lot of training and discovering different kinds of music.’
Club culture and extended music mixes were at their peak in New York, and soon Yvonne was fascinated by the DJs she observed moving the crowds at the clubs she frequented as a teen. She bought her first mixer and turntables, and taught herself the DJ trade, spinning and mixing for hours at home. Thanks to referrals, Yvonne was soon called for private parties, and thereafter was anchoring weekly sets as the “Night Nurse” at the Ozone Layer, a Brooklyn dance club popular with the Jamaican immigrant community. By alternating sets with a Jamaican DJ, Yvonne honed a deep understanding of reggae riddims that later became an essential marker of her style.
At the same time, Yvonne snagged a sales position at Manhattan’s popular Downstairs Records, a go-to spot for record collectors, DJs, disco enthusiasts and early hip-hop fans. At the retailer, Yvonne further developed her encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and soon met the top DJs of the time — the likes Francois K, who went on to become a friend, as well as Larry Levan & David Mancuso. A move to Streetwise Records proved pivotal; though it was an entry-level gig, she was able to sit in on recording sessions. She soon approached noted producer Arthur Baker about doing a remix on Colonel Abrams’ first release, and he said yes. ‘I did the dub mix of “Music Is the Answer”. Being young and inexperienced, I did not make sure that I was given the proper credit for the mix. Some rare copies misspelled my name; it appears as “Evan” Turner. Later copies omitted my name altogether,’ she says —no doubt an emblematic experience of being female in a male-dominated business. ‘Nevertheless, I was very proud of what I was able to do.’ Other remix projects for Streetwise followed, including the tune ‘Rise Up’ by the group Moja Nya.
She continues to expand her reach, share her story, and extend her legacy as one of the original architects of the New York club sound. Her latest project is a new online music and arts platform and music company called Strong Enough. Named for her classic collaboration with Loleatta Holloway, Strong Enough gives fans access to new music by Turner as well as emerging and established artists; it will also be a place where the next generation of creative artists can access music education, original content, career development opportunities and more.
Speaking to Yvonne, her determination and warmth radiates. You get a strong feeling that, despite the record industry’s efforts — going as far as omitting her from credits, misspelling her name, and everything else that comes with living in a patriarchal society that seeks to diminish the brilliant work a woman puts out — this is not a woman to be defeated. On the contrary, she is here to stay, continuing to work on music in her own terms.
For all the young women who want to get involved in producing, writing, and all facets of the music business, this is what Yvonne had to say: ‘Women should be supportive of each other. Sometimes, because things are so competitive, there is a tendency to be reserved and not interact or exchange ideas with each other. For me, that philosophy is counterproductive. We all have talents and experiences and we should value that and be confident with what we have to offer to each other. In order to grow I believe networking is so valuable to our paths. In some respects, the “old boys network” is a model that works for them. Why? Because it does just that. The guys network with each other all the time. They collaborate with each other and are generally supportive of each other. Women can and should embrace that philosophy as well. There is is success in the collaborative model.’
‘And now we have social media — an endless stream of knowledge and resources to draw from. We can connect with each other from all parts of the globe in an instant. That was not the case when I began my journey. But the technology and how we navigate within it today is so exciting to me! It allows us the opportunity to network like never before. For example, I can create music, but then there are others who know how to market that music and bring it to the masses. There are graphic designers, musicians, writers, publicity and media specialists, business-oriented people and so on, who are so valuable in making this whole entity run successfully.’
‘Networking is key, now more than ever, because of how we are a global community. We as women have to be open to share what we each have learned along our respective paths, and to be confident moving forward. It’s also important to reach out to others, male or female. I continue to have conversations and seek out others when I’m looking for guidance, whether it’s related to a project I’m working on or new gear I’m looking to acquire. I also want to continue to grow as an individual and as a creative. The world is ever-changing—we must acknowledge that and embrace it as well.’
Claudia Wilson – Proprietor of Pure Vinyl Records (Brixton – London)
It is rare to hear of a 50-year-old Black woman leaving her ‘regular’ job to open a record shop, but this is exactly what Claudia Wilson did. Situated in Brixton’s Reliance Arcade, Pure Vinyl Records sell new and used vinyl. Their selection specialises in soul, funk, reggae, jazz, but one can find a wide variety of other genres as well, from classic rock and new wave to soca, hi-life, and much more. The shop also stocks a selection of music-related garments and accessories.
Claudia’s interest in music and subsequent DJ career was ignited from a very young age. Born and raised in Brixton, she went on to DJ in the area and has been playing there for over twenty years. She played regularly at the much-beloved and deeply missed Mango Landin’ bar, eventually starting a Saturday vinyl record fair at the popular venue. Upon the woeful closure of Mango Landin’, Claudia kept DJing in Brixton and continued to sell records outside the Music Temple Reggae Store. With the encouragement of her mom, she took the step of opening the widely adored Pure Vinyl Records shop in the heart of Brixton.
The shop has since become a hub for the community, but has also drawn the regular visits of celebrated and internationally respected musicians such as De La Soul’s DJ Maseo, who performed a an in-store set back in 2017. The following year, Pure Vinyl Records hosted New York’s legendary collective The Last Poets for an album signing of their release Understanding What Black Is. The shop has also served as a venue for communal “open decks” sessions and the highly successful Straight Pocket jam nights, founded by Renato Paris. Drawing in a range of London’s jazz community, these sessions included members of the Afrobeat collective KOKOROKO like Oscar Jerome, trumpet-player Axel Kaner-Lidstrom, the duo Blue Lab Beats, and the late rapper Ty—just to give an example.
Claudia was recently quoted in an article by the Brixton Buzz saying: ‘It has been quite an achievement for me to open my own shop as a local black woman in her 50s who has lived in Brixton all her life. I have witnessed and embraced many of the changes in Brixton but have been determined to stamp my own mark on my home town and to create a different record buying experience.’
Nicole Mckenzie a.k.a. Cherrie Flava, MIC Records (London)
As a kid Nicole was interested in two things: art and music. ‘I threw myself into listening, reading and collecting music — it hadn’t really occurred to me to do anything else.’
She grew up in Croydon, the deepest of South London. The area is best known for being a concrete jungle, crossed with many bus routes, and the district in which The Home Office is located , responsible for most of the country’s immigration assessments. It was a pretty rough and ready place according to Nicole, but it had a great underground music scene with tons of specialist records shops.
Lakuti: How did it all start for you on your music path?
Nicole: My first spiritual home was Buy Or Die, a tiny, worn-down record shop that was undercutting HMV. It became my regular lunchtime hangout whilst studying art and design at the college round the corner. I was in there so much that they offered me a job. I worked with this great guy called Damon, who used to work at Pan Records (from Ladbroke Grove, released early Jurassic 5) and turned me onto ’70s rare-groove, Italo and ’80s hip-hop.
As time went by, I started to buy from artists directly as well as imports for the shop. Back then a guy called Basil used to roll up with a van of US hip-hop & soul 12’s and you’d just hoped that he came to you first! Croydon has a long history for embracing dance culture, and so when UK Garage came along, everyone went nuts for it, myself included. I started buying loads of white labels from record shops like Swag and Big Apple. They both had studios above the shops and were making a lot of the records they were selling. When the sounds bled from upstairs with the shop sound system, that was the sweet spot. It was all pretty pumped and alive. Now I was hooked on vinyl.
Lakuti: How did you end up working at Sounds of the Universe & Later becoming the A&R for Soul Jazz records?
Nicole: I began to venture up to record shops in Soho, Central London. J Dilla was a mega inspiration by then, and I fancied myself as a producer (though I didn’t actually produce, just collected breaks). I would always save Sounds of the Universe till last: they were friendliest and it was always a pleasure to see women working in a record shop. Deja vu — hanging around in a record shop landed me another Saturday job. I was broke, it took two hours to get there by bus but a whole world had been opened up to me. I’d have a 15-minute conversation with a nice guy that turned out to be Robert Plant; folks like Questlove and then Prince walked through the door to ask me for recommendations.
When the sound now known as ‘dubstep’ was emerging from South London, producers like Kode9, Digital Mystikz, and DJ Chefal were all coming into the shop to sell their records directly. It was just like Croydon — white labels passing over the counter. Producers Mala and Skream were Croydonites and I had seen them walking around my local streets. When I started to buy records off them it was all very familiar. I was really into the music, every record was saying something and the young producers had this peace and respect mantra that had kind of spilled out from Mala’s ‘Meditate On Bassweight’ tag.
I jumped in to A&Ring new music for the label Soul Jazz Records. They owned the Sounds of the Universe; their offices were above the shop. At the time, I didn’t really think of it as a new job role. It was more that I had so much enthusiasm and love for the music, I just couldn’t see it walk out the door. Artists began to bring me demos, and if I loved it and could imagine the shop selling a few hundred copies, I’d pitch a release to the boss. Over time, I worked on more specialist album/compilation projects with people like Hieroglyphic Being, Four Tet, Kassem Mosse, Mike Huckaby, Matias Aguayo, and Tenderlonious. I tried to identify artists that were in their own lane, sometimes under-appreciated/-represented, doing their own thing relentlessly, and I would present them to a slightly different audience. One of my standout compilations was Art & Sound, where I got to combine my two first loves. I also organised countless parties—Record Store Day being the largest of these, we had an outdoor soundsystem and I invited DJ’s such as Josey Rebelle, Floating Points, Moxie and Andres to play for the 25,000 strong crowd that showed up in Soho that day! I spent 12 years at Soul Jazz Records. The ‘Saturday shop girl’ worked her way up and by the time I left I was shop manager and senior buyer. ‘
Lakuti: Tell us about MIC, the label you founded.
Nicole: I’ve started my own record label MIC, which stands for Music Inspires Change. A slightly dramatic title to remind me that I’m doing good, and to keep me focussed on my aim to bring happiness and positivity through decent music to listeners around the world. I’ve tried to keep it musically open as I’ve never listened to one genre exclusively in my life. MIC has released music by Mike Collins a.k.a. SunPalace (RIP), LAPS, Lord Tusk, Kolida Babo, Tvii Son and remixes by Coby Sey and Who’s The Technician. It’s a small, cute but deadly operation. MIC Records has a monthly radio show on NTS Radio where I really like to take in the full breadth of my music inspirations and recent loves.
Lakuti: Can you elaborate more on your work with Beat Routes?
Nicole: Beat Routes is a young music and arts charity that I regularly collaborate with. We’ve organised workshops for young people with Cooly G, A Guy Called Gerald, Moses Boyd, Wulu, Andrew Ashong, Snowboy, Hector Plimmer, Sam Kelly of Cymande. This has been some of my most rewarding work to date.
Lakuti: And you have recently founded a music agency as well?
Nicole: This year, just before the pandemic hit, I started my own music agency called Atles, in order to work with more artists and labels that I believe in and champion.
Lakuti: What keeps you motivated to keep on keeping on?
Nicole: I recognise that being a Black, female, queer record label owner is a rarity in this industry, and I hope that my presence inspires others to enter this field.
Sarah Farina – DJ, producer, promoter, and activist (Berlin)
‘I call the music that I listen to, produce, and DJ ‘Rainbowbass’. It’s a term I came up with to describe what I love about music: the connections and fusions of different musical cultures and styles. It’s a spectrum, like the colours in a rainbow. The essence, of course is bass — it’s what makes you feel the music. The symbol of a rainbow also connects to queer identities, and it’s crucial to remember that most of the music and culture we love so much was created by queer BIPOC. And unfortunately, it is exactly those people who are being excluded the most.’
‘Politics and music have always been inseparable for me. Being Black does not leave you a choice but to be political, so I have always felt an urgency to make the world more peaceful, and I deeply believe that music has the power to change things.’
‘Music (culture) is a universal language; its being consumed globally and there is probably not one tribe in the world that hasn’t created music or dance. Therefore, we shouldn’t underestimate in what way this art form—its artists and lovers, as well as its industry—can contribute to creating a more peaceful, intersectional feminist world, and through that, better dance floors. The dance floor has always been a place for me to practice this kind of utopia. It can be a place where the most marginalised folks have the opportunity to be their true authentic self, celebrate themselves and each other, and no one is in fear of experiencing any kind of violence. Sometimes it can feel like a couple of hours of world peace—dancing to wonderful music all night long, feeling safe and united. Those kind of experiences have helped me to stay hopeful.’
‘In the beginning of 2020, Kerstin Meißner and I started the project ‘Transmission’, which aims to make the political relevance and history of international sound, club and raveculture audible and visible. With this project we hope to enable social justice and co-create safer and more inclusive dance floors. We want to connect the diverse communities already active in nightlife, amplifying voices, histories, and ideas of those silenced and marginalised within the underground music scene. It is also about creating a support-network and a global music community that engages in critical conversations, and, most of all, enjoys raving as activism and a tool to dismantle systems of power. We also recently produced a podcast series in collaboration with Haus der Kulturen der Welt called Politics of the Dance Floor, which comes with a toolbox list to share resources provided by our interviewee guests. I really hope it activates people’s hearts and minds in some form.’
‘Thinking about the future, I’m very much focussed on building alternatives. Something by us, for us, on our terms, always with the focus on centring the most marginalised folks in our community and holding space for each other. I believe that’s what community is about.’
‘Much love and power to all the folks who are working on creating a world where your gender, race etc., does not determine your life’s safety and quality.’
Tony Nwachukwu – CDR (London, Berlin & beyond)
Founded over a decade ago, CDR (Create, Define, Release) began when Tony Nwachukwu, a member of Attica Blues, saw his runnings with Mo’Wax and then Sony music come to a close. Seeking to create a positive venture where he could air his musical works in progress whilst also offering a platform to younger artists, he drafted an outline for the project.
Tagging CDR as “The Night of Ideas and Tracks in the Making”,Tony recognised the need for a co-pilot, so he called in his friend Gavin Alexander. Together they hosted the first London CDR session at the Embassy bar in 2002, followed by a brief run at Bridge & Tunnel. CDR soon found its literal and spiritual home at the now-defunct music hub Plastic People, a club notorious for its music-focused atmosphere and much (app)lauded acoustics.
Since those early days, CDR sessions have maintained a balance of blending established pros with individuals who juggle day jobs and possess an unquashable desire for making music. Uniting in the underground scene, all these talented folk seem to share a disdain for restraining creative ingenuity at the behest of commercial pressures.
Over the years, audiences at CDR have been treated to pre-pre-release plays of songs that went on to achieve plenty of international airplay. Three notable underground hits include Bullion’s ‘Get Familiar’, Floating Points’ ‘Love Me Like This’, and Simbad’s ‘Soul Fever’. Back in Autumn 2010, Mark Pritchard also memorably delighted the crowd for a guest selection packed with tracks that, a few tweaks later, went on to make up his Harmonic 313 and Africa Hitech releases on Warp.
Part of Tony’s original vision for CDR was to provide a platform for artists to develop their skills within a likeminded community. With many untold success stories (of varying scale) this has become a reality. Three regular attendees and friendly faces are Floating Points, Mr Beatnick, and Oriol—all super-skilled individuals who honed their distinct sound through CDR and subsequently established themselves. To list a comprehensive roll call of artists or acts to have attended would demand far more space than this brief text allows.
CDR continued to progress within participating cities across the UK and a scattering over the rest of the globe. 2011 saw the launch of CDR Berlin with Dirk Rumpf and John B, profiling artists such as Theo Parrish, Dego, Henrik Schwarz, Modeselektor, Tama Sumo, myself, and more.
The time has come to again centralise and track innovative musical progress. Create, Define, Release…
Ntone Edjabe – Founder and editor of Chimurenga & Pan African Space Station (Cameroonian based In Cape Town)
Writer and DJ Ntone Edjabe was born in Cameroon, educated in Nigeria, and now lives and works in South Africa.
From Capetown, he inaugurated Chimurenga in 2002, a publication of arts, culture and politics from and about Africa and its diasporas. Both the magazine’s name (Chimurenga is a Shona word that loosely translates as “liberation struggle”) and the content capture the connection between African cultures and politics on the continent and beyond. Chimurenga is a multidimensional project that combines a print magazine, a workspace, a platform for editorial and curatorial activities, an online library, and a radio station (the Pan African Space Station).
Founded by Chimurenga in collaboration with musician and composer Neo Muyanga in 2008, the Pan African Space Station (PASS) is a periodic, pop-up live studio; a performance and exhibition space; a research platform and living archive; as well as an ongoing, internet-based radio station.
Working in transitory spaces and at the intersections between different fields, organising sound, music and words into new forms of knowledge, PASS is a machine for travelling at the speed of thought–it borrows its slogan “There are other worlds out there they never told you about” from the philosopher, composer and bandleader Sun Ra.
PASS seeks to challenge the concepts this present has of Africa and to excite new transitory and transient communities with each journey, bringing focus to collective experience and targeting an investigation into how we locate ourselves and how we mediate our human and historic commonality.
PASS has landed in and transmitted from Johannesburg, Paris, London, New York, Lagos, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Cairo, Dakar, Mexico City and Harare, featuring over 150 artists, musicians, writers, activists and more.
At the end of each live event, recordings are recirculated via the livestream, and uploaded as podcasts to Chimurenga’s Mixcloud page, culminating in an ongoing archive of conversations and experiences. Thus, through a single event, the PASS pop-up studio aims to bring together the processes of creation and production; documentation and archiving; and, finally, dissemination and broadcasting.
Other PASS projects include a series of intimate performance-lectures titled “Stories About Music in Africa”, and stand-alone live events featuring the likes of Floating Points, Ayetoro, Studio Kabako, Cindy Blackman, Anthony Joseph, Philip Tabane, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Toumani Diabate, Netsayi and many, many more.
Thomas Caulker – proprietor of World Headquarters club (Newcastle upon Tyne)
‘I’m a mixed-race person and I wanted to run a club that was more welcoming to people of colour than many of the clubs in Newcastle—somewhere that was more “right on” and safe.’ So says Thomas “Tommy” Caulker, who opened World Headquarters in 1993. However, he had been involved in club promotion since 1984.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a massive grade of violence at the doors of Newcastle’s clubs, before door registration and selection became a common practice. Tommy was determined to play no part in all of that, and vowed to open and run his own venue, which has developed from a place of strength to stronger since.
‘We started with a small club, but that got knocked down to make way for a bus station. So, with the help of the city council, we moved into larger premises at the Curtis Mayfield House on Carliol Square, and we’ve been there since 2003. We’re not just a nightclub —we also do live music, fashion shows, nights for people with learning disabilities—but we’re very community- and socially-based. Last year, Channel 4 did a film about us, which focused on the multiculturalism of our venue. In November 2017, Newcastle University gave me an Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law—which was the same one that they gave to Dr Martin Luther King—for the work that I’ve done, and more generally what the club has done in improving and diversifying the nightlife of Newcastle. So in certain quarters we really matter, people really know who we are.‘
‘When we first found what is now the Curtis Mayfield House, it was a derelict warehouse built on the site of the old Newcastle City gaol, which dated back to medieval times. At that time, the building was called India House, and around the corner on the same block was another building called British India House. India House was totally derelict, having been left standing vacant for years.’
We believe there was some kind of connection between the original ownership of these two old buildings & the rubber trade—back in the times when India was ‘ruled’ by Queen Victoria & her oppressive, sadistic chums. Way back when colonisation, racism and exploitation were still thought to be a really good look.’
‘So bearing that in mind, and given that hundreds of people perished, rotted and were executed on this site due to the gaol, the building was in deep need of a total karmic rethink. Rather than unwittingly perpetuate any kind of outdated colonial stupidity, we decided a complete rebirth was required. To give the building a brand new name, we would break it away from that distant, cruel past, as we set out to alter the course of its meaning and future context forever. You can always choose to shape the world around you, and we wanted to be proactive in doing that.’
‘Our very first ideas were David Attenborough House, or Aretha Franklin House. But as we wanted to directly challenge the building’s shady history and mark the fact that one of the greatest soul vocalists of all time had recently, sadly, passed away, we settled on Curtis Mayfield House.’
‘It’s great to see that now, nearly 20 years later, in the wake of the BLM movement, other people are now finally switching on as well, and challenging the status quo. There has now been a mass re-naming of buildings and tearing down of monuments with shady, colonial, racist pasts—both here in the UK, and across the world.’
‘The World Headquarters club prides itself on keeping things truly independent and properly underground, and aims to expose as much niche and great music as it can, whilst always making sure the groove is fresh and that people are having a good time.’
‘Unlike larger well-known artistic and cultural venues in the area, Curtis Mayfield House was not built on free, public money from the National Lottery, big business sponsorship, or grants. We didn’t just arrive out of nowhere like that, and up until COVID hit, no one had ever bankrolled, subsidised or underwritten any of our activities.’
‘This unique building is the equal and opposite of all commercial clubs. Every single penny spent reinventing it came simply over time, from inside the pockets of all the switched-on people in the heart of the city, those who chose to reject mainstream Newcastle nightlife and instead accepted our strong, multiracial stance, and partied with us on the dancefloor at WHQ. At WHQ, our “sponsors” have only ever been and still are the people of Newcastle and beyond, those who have supported us each week. By choosing to dance and socialise with us, they help us to move this cosmopolitan and independent grassroots scene forward, one that we all share with one another.’