The Creative Edge workshop was all of a bit of a muddle but somehow made sense. Strands of geography and culture threaded together to an interesting fruit bowl of academics and party animals (could sense the latter a mile off).
The argument as it were, was that LDN has a Creative Edge- the suburbs. Each speaker either agreed or disagreed or in my case a bit of both (a bad trait).
Once upon a time if you were to ask me if the suburbs were where its at, as a weekly participant of foot stomping at Croydon’s Black Sheep Bar and member of the Norwood / Croydon Dubstep Society, I would’ve said Yes, certainly.
But my mind flicks to the tower blocks of Grime- E3 etc which to me is the inner city yet equally as creative and vital as the suburbs (some would say more so).
Blackdown and Dusk point out that the vital areas should not be classified as Suburban or Urban but Marginal (hence the title of their album Margins Music)- that the real heat comes from the places in-between, the cracks in the pavement, the otherwise untapped frequencies. Writing this whilst on a tube back from the workshop, I conclude that the most exciting music and art is born out the buildings that aren’t offices or classrooms. It’s a no-brainer that it doesn’t come out of Canary Wharf but the gully housing estates next door to it.
Jungle, Grime, Dubstep, Hip-Hop and too, the sounds of such musicians as Morrissey, are born of back-bedrooms, garages and disused rooms in warehouse units transformed into pirate radio stations and now with laptops, it is also (I recall a conversation with Zomby years ago), born of pubs and benches next to Brighton beach. These days, the world is your studio- except for the work environment cos you gotta other shit to do whilst your there.
Of course, geographic location is important to specific sounds – I stand by my argument that Dubstep sounds like it does (or at least, did, a few years ago) – spacious – partially because it was being made in an area of London full of large areas of Green space; Similarly, Grime with all its busyness and claustrophobic lyricism directly reflects the heavily built-up, no-room to breathe areas of the city.
Undoubtedly, the fact that the pioneers of these genres often lived a stone-throws away from each other helped them to become genres in the first place- a real community was already in place to create a new one founded not on geography but on sound. But on the whole music and creativity, whether its from Ireland or Isle of Dogs is a product of our innate attraction to rhythm, inspiration, boredom, ambition, exploration and innovation.
In todays world, a scene or genre can be built without the need to walk to your mates house to pick up the parts for your remix of his badboy tune. Dubstep escaped Norwood, Croydon and Streatham and became the global scene that it is today, largely because producers, Djs, promoters and fans poured their hearts out about it online. Fingers did the talking, myspace, youtube did the aural assault and then the producers did the walking out of the suburbs onto planes, trains and automobiles.