This Black History Month we’re celebrating emerging black artists who are redefining boundaries and challenging underrepresentation in their scenes. Join us as we spotlight new influential creators throughout the month.
First up: GEOTHEORY, a New York-based producer creating trap-tinged electronic music.
Given the influence that black musicians have had on electronic music, are you surprised by the lack of representation of people of color?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “WOW, YOU’RE BLACK?!” at shows. But I often wonder why that is… It’s obvious hip hop and rap have come to dominate modern pop culture, not just here but all over the world. I remember a short-lived fad where kids were ripping songs, old soul and disco songs I was raised on, and throwing a hip-hop drum loop on top or a 4×4 kick and the people being exposed are thinking this is some brand new thing, because they’ve never heard or been exposed to the OGs. There is no art in repackaging, same as what Elvis did to Black Soul music and rock and roll.. but there is art in reinventing.
People like to retaliate and instant block talks about appropriation, but we have very deep strong roots that have been exploited since the beginning.. but especially now in modern radio pop songs, and bitten sounds from guys who will never get the light of day. We’re exploited for our originality, and left to play catch up.
How did you first get your start as an electronic artist?
I began my journey early 2014…an amazing year for electronic communities on Youtube and SoundCloud. Everything was very fresh and experimental so many different sounds to be exposed to. And that really became part of my identity I change and go through so many phases. I wanted to make people feel what i feel when i find an amazing track.
Have you had to navigate any particular obstacles in order to gain respect within the electronic music scene?
Yes, I feel my shot at getting some recognition was compromised. I was 16, I remember being at summer camp when I dropped “Futuristic Love.” It was played all over Soulection’s shows, I was getting tagged in random videos of these huge DJ’s who didn’t even follow me.. couldn’t even get a response back for a thank you. I found out the file was just being tossed around in a leaked dropbox and that’s how it got out. And in turn no one wanted to help in the slightest.
I still get people to this day who were looking for that song and are messaging me about it. Really wild.
Were there artists in particular who you looked to for inspiration, who you felt were breaking down barriers in the genre?
I remember binging Haywyre, Sam Gellaitry, and Herzeloyde all at that time. Every time I listen to one of their tracks, I’m having so much fun in my head. They just have that depth to their tunes and I love it!
What advice would you give to other musicians of color looking to break in?
Fuck all the other noise around you, you are your own competition…and if you want to be great you will be great! Create your own destiny, make your own print and continue to circulate that inspiration to any other young souls you touch.