As a media partner for Afropunk London 2017, Nataal spoke to organisers, performers and collaborators to find out what the festival means to them
Matthew Morgan, Afropunk co-founder
“As a Londoner, bringing Afropunk home is important. Last year’s festival was the first time that a lot of my friends and family in the UK had experienced it, so to see Afropunk through their eyes was incredible. I also loved the audience. Londoners are a little miserable right, but people came to have fun and feel safe around one another. It felt something like the very first Afropunk 16 years ago. This year the venue is magical and I’m excited about the cohesive line-up, which represents back music in the UK without chasing all of the regular suspects the other festivals go after.
We’ve always been committed to developing an audience of colour at festivals and we’ve grown from one to five festivals in a short space of time. It’s a huge challenge to make the experience one you can be proud of but the core principals remain the same. So it’s hugely rewarding to still be able to bring folks together to share different forms of art and activism.
Our next stop is Joburg. Africa is crucial to us and there’s a huge significance in having Afropunk at Constitution Hill. It sets our foundation on the political conversation that is at the core of South African music. The country has such an amazing creative community so being able to share our cultures is wonderful.
We want to be in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire – maybe not full festivals but to connect the dots. The idea is to be in places where there are large concentrations of people of colour and to curate content in all of those cities for the audience of millions we have created.”
“I think Afropunk was the first to represent ethnic communities in a festival setting. The first time I went to Afropunk it was in New York and I remember just being overwhelmed by it. The true sense of diversity, the performances were stellar, the audience was stellar, the atmosphere, everything was great. It’s really exciting to be involved in the London one and I’m hoping that I can bring the same energy and that same level of inclusiveness that I feel Afropunk represents.”
“I discovered what Afropunk meant to me when I saw James Spooner's Afro-Punk documentary at Toronto's International Film Festival in 2003. I always felt like an outsider in the black community, from my blue hair to the music that I listened to. Seeing the movie made me realise that I wasn't alone. For me, Afropunk was an extension of what Jimi, Funkadelic, the Black Rock Coalition, Living Color, Fishbone, Mothers Finest, Skunk Anansie and so many others had laid foundations for. Afropunk meant that I could rock as hard as I wanted, the way I wanted, and no one would tell me to sing jazz or soul or R&B - not because I couldn't, more because this is how I chose to express myself - and I would be accepted as I came. It meant that I could find community and connect with other like-minded artists that sat on the fringe of what it meant to be black and an artist. Afropunk reminds me that I have a place, a community and a voice.”
“Afropunk means home. Afropunk was the first community to accept us for who we are. We are free to be ourselves and aren't made to fear the daily ‘isms’. In this community we are already home. In this home we can be what we want to be.”
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, opinions editor, Gal-Dem
"Afropunk, much like Gal-Dem, is pioneering. It's the first major festival helmed and supported almost exclusively by people of colour, and that in itself, in a climate which means it's still hard for us to get our business ideas off the ground, is a beautiful thing. Pairing that with the naturally revolutionary music that Afropunk incorporates, and the fact that it champions platforms like ourselves, meant that there was no way we'd ever miss it when it came to London."
Afropunk London is 22-23 July 2017 at The Printworks. See the line-up here
Published on 18/07/2017