CRACK

Dive into the musical world of ANTI-MASS, the queer party creating space in Kampala

All images courtesy of ANTI-MASS

28.06.22
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Crack Magazine is marking Pride season with a series of specialist mixes and playlists dedicated to LGBTQ+ club nights and promoters. From the iconic parties of bygone eras through to the emerging events breaking through in 2022, we’ll be highlighting the sounds of these parties and the artists that shape them.

Policing and regulation have long been associated with the act of partying, especially when discussing the nightlife pursuits of marginalised communities.

It’s an aspect of club culture that, upon first glance, could contradict the belief that the dancefloor is simply a place to let loose. However, as the well-thumbed pages of history books – and real life encounters – have taught us, it’s precisely this uneasy relationship between oppressive powers and those who find solace and liberation through dance music that has birthed paramount movements and genres, including house and techno.

In Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, a queer party is creating space for coexistence and escapism in the face of police raids, homophobia and government crackdowns on LGBTQ+ events. ANTI-MASS is the brainchild of DJ, producer, and multidisciplinary artist Authentically Plastic, South Sudanese artist Turkana and DJ and producer Nsasi.

Founded in 2018, ANTI-MASS began as a series of roving house parties catered towards its founders’ immediate community. The party found its musical footing early on, homing in on propulsive, experimental and bass-driven sounds supplied by local heroes such as Kampire and Catu Diosis, as well as Slikback, MC Yallah and more. ANTI-MASS soon evolved into a collective and artistic project, housing its residents and a wider network of artists. The first ANTI-MASS release, a roaring EP entitled DOXA, landed in October 2021. It featured a handful of collaborations between the three producers, whose shared appetite for risk-taking is unmistakably reflected in their work, both together and solo.

For our Pride audio series, Authentically Plastic, Turkana and Nsasi walk us through the musical world of ANTI-MASS in an exclusive Buy Music Club playlist. You can also read an interview with the trio below.

Authentically Plastic © Courtesy of ANTI-MASS

What is ANTI-MASS and what inspired its launch?
Authentically Plastic: We are a collective of queer artists making experimental electronic music and throwing parties in Kampala. ANTI-MASS came out of a need to have a space for us to experiment musically, but also for pleasure and intimacy in our community.

Who is involved in the project and how did you connect?
AP: Three of us work directly with music: myself, Authentically Plastic, alongside Nsasi and Turkana. A few others help with putting the events together – like Gerald, who is a drag artist. We all met organically through attending parties in Kampala. We used to go to this queer bar, RAM, which was raided two years ago, but also to the Nyege Nyege parties and festival.

Which genres would you say ANTI-MASS parties are best known for?
AP: It’s hard to say because we jump around genres a lot. I’d narrow it down to gqom, techno and East African trap, all accelerated and mangled beyond recognition most of the time.

Turkana © Courtesy of ANTI-MASS

How has Kampala’s electronic music scene – and the general reception to it – changed in the time that you’ve been operating?

AP: I think people have become more receptive to different kinds of sounds. It also shows more broadly in how gqom is being played in the mainstream clubs, for example. This is obviously a result of several events in the underground scene, which ANTI-MASS is part of.

What difficulties have you faced running a queer night in Kampala, and how have you dealt with them?
Turkana: When organising events in Kampala, our intention is to create a safe space where people can express themselves freely and musically; be inspired and appreciated for who they are. But this doesn’t come easy when we don’t have a space to organise parties. Initially, we organised house parties with different members of the community hosting us, but this came to a line between a party space and individual or personal space – it’s easier to navigate an events space rather than a personal home.

The police mysteriously finds their way to the venues where we host parties as well. This usually brings up anxiety for guests at the party, but also the organisers. We usually find a way to deal with the situation before it escalates, but I dream to live in a country that respects and has better rights for queer people. In most cases, we are unable to publicly share the event on social media platforms and in cases [where we do share online], our posts have to be carefully distributed to avoid unnecessary intrusions from the police and homophobic people.

Nsasi © Courtesy of ANTI-MASS

What does Pride Month mean to you?
Nsasi: For me, Pride was more than just parades, which I have never attended – and rarely hear of – in Uganda. Considering the religious, political and cultural barriers to these celebrations, travelling and exposing my mind at the time of Pride in Europe has brought everything into perspective for me. I had never experienced so many people coming together with the same message. Everyone is happy, colourful and ready to party together and change the world somehow. I now see Pride as a time to appreciate my entire existence as a Black queer artist, and a time to closely reflect on the relationships I want with myself and with the people around me; to accept possession of my power and existence.

“ANTI-MASS came out of a need to have a space for us to experiment musically, but also for pleasure and intimacy in our community” – Authentically Plastic

Talk to us about the tracks and artists you’ve selected for your playlist. Do they ignire any memories from past parties?
N: I remember feeling a certain type of liberation, and a great connection with the crowd, at the ANTI-MASS party at Nairobi’s Shelter KE during which I incorporated Fights by God Colony with my live stems. It felt great to see how the crowd reacted to hearing this. I imagined they felt their bodies explode with desire from the screams I got when the track played.

AP: The Desire Marea track is one of my faves. Desire Marea used to be part of FAKA, whose tracks I play a lot too. I found it interesting that they made a lot of references to the church and religion in their work. Their work feels kind of spiritual, but there’s obviously these really campy tendencies and faggy lyrics. It’s funny to play with this idea of a congregation of queer freaks.

I also like Chicago house and I feel a connection to the music because it came from Black queer scenes in America. So, it’s nice to connect to a Black queer energy from a place and time that is completely alien to us. Hieroglyphic Being is one of my favourites; there’s an approach to rhythm there that feels as fluid as Ugandan tribal music. Every time I play him, the crowd is a bit disoriented – but in a good way.

Catch ANTI-MASS at WHOLE Festival, Ferropolis, on 26-28 August. You can also follow the collective here

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