by Yasmine Shemesh
In response to a lack of diversity in Vancouver’s electronic music scene, Betty Mulat and Samira Warsame (also known as Zam Zam) decided to take matters into their own hands. So, in 2017, the friends created NuZi Collective to ensure their community was both seen and heard.
“Things were pretty unwelcoming a few years back and isolating, if you were a queer person of colour going out to these events,” Warsame says. It was especially infuriating considering the Black history of house music — the genre was pioneered by late Chicago DJ, Frankie Knuckles. “I was like, ‘I need to do something with this’ because I was super frustrated by how I was being treated in the scene,” adds Mulat. “I was thinking about representation and the fact that I hadn’t seen very many Black techno and house producers in Vancouver, so I figured, yeah, we have to change that.”
Spinning acid, techno, and hip-hop, NuZi’s parties represent inclusivity and, more broadly, provide Vancouver’s Black community with an individual platform. “Every Black person who walks through the door knows that this space is for them,” Mulat explains. “What we do is that, first and foremost. We’re looking at NuZi like a tool that could engage the wider, larger Black community and help in various levels of change.”
It’s working. Warsame has felt a significant shift in change in terms of representation. “It’s not as segregated. A lot of the scenes intersect. I feel like it was due to a lot of communities coming up at the same time, pushing for experimental sound and all having the same ethos revolving around inclusivity and merging the gaps between scenes — not just music, but also with people attending events.”
Sacred Sound Club also saw a hole that needed to be filled in Vancouver’s music scene. The artist collective formed in early 2015 when a group of friends from post-punk backgrounds were attending electronic events but feeling unfulfilled with their experience.
“We wanted to hear industrial music,” says Morgan Trista Young. “We wanted to hear much harder sounds. There really wasn’t a lot of that happening in Vancouver. The only way to get what you want in that situation is to take the initiative yourself. That’s what we did.”
The group, which includes Young, Josh Rose (also known as Derivatives), Ashlee Lúk, Lida Pawliuk, Spencer Davis, and Meagan Auger, began organizing and curating events that champion darker noise and experimental electronic sounds. Also releasing compilation tapes as a label, they’ve gained a large underground following for how they blur the lines between dance parties and punk shows.New Forms Festival, NuZi, Sacred Sound Collective