Simon Shackleton
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On Belonging ...

Relationship, Affinity, Acceptance, Fellowship, Association, Attachment, Inclusion, Rapport, Affiliation, Kinship, Togetherness, Closeness, Membership, Community, Solidarity, Family, Understanding, Conformity.

The sense of 'Belonging' in music is something I've rarely felt when it comes to belonging to any sense of 'tribe'. Perhaps it's been my inclusive attitude to sound,  and my preference of focusing on what I deem to be good music, that's led to that sense of not belonging to a single group or tribe. 

The most vociferous 'believers' in a sound have, in my experience, always been those with the most undiluted and 'purist' attitude towards that sound. As people who see themselves as core members of their tribe, they tend to be defensive and fiercely protective of what they see as their core musical values. In a sense, it's the same in any movement - the most radical proponents of political movements, for example,  tend to the be the least tolerant and the least inclusive. Perhaps you could argue that it's this purism that drives sound forward into new areas? For me the more interesting fulcrums of change and innovation have come through the cross-pollination of  differing genres.

The music industry media rarely praises this cross-pollination, especially in emerging artists, because in this industry music is funnelled into tramlines of conformity. Are you Tech House? Techno? Deep House? Even within those broader genres, there's no shortage of invented sub-genres and uber-niche categories, and no shortage of artists who relentlessly pursue the same sound throughout their careers with barely a deviation.

What's interesting, is that some acts attain the Holy Grail. They become self-contained brands, whereby those tramlines no longer contain them as they effectively transcend genres. Take The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk, The Prodigy, Underworld as examples. Their successes have put them all in categories of their own, and with it, they've attracted their own tribes, and with it their own sense of belonging. 

I'd encourage people not to judge artists for taking risks, for daring to be different, for experimenting outside of the tramlines within which the industry pushes them to belong.

We are all standalone brands. We are all different. We all have the potential to make rich and diverse music, if only we allow ourselves the opportunity to do that.