𝔖𝔦𝔤𝔫𝔞𝔩 // 𝔖𝔞𝔱𝔲𝔯𝔡𝔞𝔶 𝔑𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔪𝔟𝔢𝔯 13𝔱𝔥 // 𝔐𝔦𝔰𝔠𝔢𝔩𝔩𝔞𝔫𝔦𝔞
This Saturday, Signal will take over everyone's new favourite haunt Miscellania for a night of "heaving club hedonism, performance and visual experimentation". The event, which is almost a year and a half in the making, will feature a range of musical, visual and movement performances from a range of talented local artists. Music on the night comes courtesy of DJ sets from Caucasian Opportunities, MZRIZK and Signal residents Claddy and Hip Hop Hoe. Beyond the audio realm, the event also features visuals from Sara Manojlović and a performance by extraordinary movement and multimedia artist MaggZ.
The three founders of the collective came together back in 2019 by way of their respective Friday night residencies at Boney. Previously unknown to each other, Claddy, Hip Hop Hoe and Indicia were initially drawn together by the interesting overlap of their unique musical sensibilities as well as a shared passion and deep-rooted respect for the importance of the club and club spaces. As promoters, they aim to curate inclusive nightlife spaces for those who have been excluded by and made to feel unwelcome or unsafe at mainstream commercial events. By aiming for a more holistic approach to improving accessibility, Signal, and other promoters like it, is working to dismantle the long-standing systemic barriers that continue to work against the inclusion and elevation of queer, POC and femme folk in the music industry. As discussed by Hip Hop Hoe in the interview below, such an approach must go beyond lineup diversity quotas and instead encompass everything that goes into creating nightlife and nightlife spaces, from management, ticket prices, security and beyond.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Hip Hop Hoe (Niveen), in which we discussed the origins and ethos behind the collective, the hypocrisy and lack of inclusion prevalent in commercial events, as well as the challenges and obstacles faced by promoters trying to create spaces for minority audiences.
Hi Niveen, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. How’ve you all been over the last year with everything going on?
Thanks for having me and chatting about Signal.
The last year and a half has been extremely challenging for us all, I would say.
It’s been countless gigs lost with minimal support. As always, the people who already have resources get more and the small independent folks like us get nothing.
It’s painful to watch what has been happening to the entertainment industry too. The type of work we do has been disregarded, [according to the government] so the onus to produce any kind of creative work during this period, has been upon the artist - both energetically and financially.
In spite of this, Signal has had a residency on Lossless Radio, and we managed to squeeze in a B2B2B between the three of us at Gasometer Upstairs in March. You can listen back to the Lossless shows via our Soundcloud and Mixcloud pages.
Signal formed back in late 2019, with its first event at Colour the following Jan. How did Claddy, Indicia and yourself come together to create it?
We were brought together by chance, as Friday night residents at Boney downstairs at the beginning of 2019. We played there every week, and although we didn’t know each other prior, we worked well together and felt we had a really interesting cross-section of influences and sounds that began to feel unique to us. We still work under the brand “Nightfall” for bar residencies and more casual gigs.
Signal was born out of our collective passion and deep respect for the club and club spaces.
Far beyond just being just a place to come to and socialise, at the club both the music and dance is therapy and medicine.
Queer club culture provides space for, and encourages experimentation - this is also a common interest for all of us as artists. Our first event was opened by a joint improvised set from resident Indicia and pianist and composer, Jacob Abela.
What was the original ethos Signal was created around? And has it evolved or changed at all over the last 2 years?
The ethos has been quite steadfast, to be honest.
I feel as though we are certain of what our common goals are in taking up space as promoters.
Signal is committed to decolonising and dismantling the patriarchy on all fronts through art, music and culture.
We wanted to create space for those who have been, and are still, largely excluded from or made to feel unsafe at more commercial events. We are united in an anger and frustration at the hypocrisy that a lot of party spaces are built off the backs of Black, queer music, but that this isn’t represented in their line-ups, their management or in how they approach the creation of a healing and joyous experience for those people.
In this way Signal is in part a reclamation of the culture, and also a challenge to it, as we seek to play with form and programming in a way that disturbs the accepted format for a commercially successful event.
Do you have a favourite memory from either the booth or the dancefloor at a Signal event?
My favourite memory from our last event was looking up at the dancefloor and seeing such diversity. There were people who might never be in the same space all dancing, engaging with each other and enjoying themselves.
It was beautiful to bear witness to that.
From your perspective, what do you think are the most important ingredients that go into creating dance music events that allow for free creative expression, while also being safe and comfortable spaces for attendees?
These are ideas we are constantly developing, and we follow the lead of so many other promoters and venues who have pioneered or trialled different strategies to broaden accessibility.
It absolutely takes a systematic approach.
It isn’t enough to have a “diverse” lineup - we need to begin by demolishing the colonial mindset that frames anyone that isn’t white and straight as “diverse”.
This only measures people by their distance from whiteness and straightness.
We should instead be looking at everything; from the venue owners, to the door policy, to how security is briefed, to how tickets are priced, to physical accessibility and architecture as well as how the night is curated and programmed.
This way we hope to centre a different kind of being altogether - we aim to elevate and celebrate a Queer, POC, femme audience.
We want to curate and create on our own terms.
Through Signal, you create dance music spaces that platform black music and artforms, with a queer and femme focus. Are there any challenges or obstacles you have come across in trying to achieve this?
There are systemic barriers that prevent the inception of events like this, mainly to do with the lack of capital that can come from a privileged background, and the conservative approach to risk that many venues adopt.
This puts promoters seeking to create spaces for a minority community in the predicament of being unable to invest a lot upfront in branding and promotion, while venue owners are unwilling to relinquish a primetime slot, or a slot at all, on their programming calendar to encourage an organic audience to be built for newer events.
Ultimately venues are extremely hesitant to invest in events that aren’t tried and tested, while promoters without a financial reserve are left with the risk of losing money by trialling an event.
This situation allows those with the most economic security - overwhelmingly white, straight, cisgendered people - to dominate the scene due to their increased capacity for risk, with hardly any alternative professional development, mentoring or financial models that encourage the promotion of people without said capital.
Your event on the 13th is set to feature a performance from the incredible movement and multimedia artist MaggZ. It's been great to see the dance music scene in Naarm grow more accepting of artforms beyond the standard DJing and projected visuals. Is this a new step for Signal or have you incorporated performances of this nature in the past?
At our first event we programmed Arrernte drag artist Stone Motherless Cold, who delivered one of the slickest and sexiest club shows I’ve seen in the middle of a dancefloor.
We definitely want to continue experimenting with what music, art and performance can do in the club space. We all have different performance backgrounds beyond just the club, and are always looking for ways to incorporate our specialised skill sets into re-imagining the standard approaches to curation.
You’ve run events at Colour and Gaso Upstairs, as well as Djing at essentially every venue around Naarm between the three of you. What brought you to choosing Miscellania as a venue? And are there any other spaces you’d love to utilize for your future events?
Miscellania has redefined what a good first impression looks like.
Although they've barely stepped on the scene, the glimpse of their programming revealed so far is already setting them apart as a welcoming space for visionary club experiments, so we of course were drawn to them. As we are still a relatively new event, it seemed to make sense to work with a newer venue, too.
We are also mutually interested in physically accessible spaces - which are unfortunately difficult to come by in this city.
I am personally interested in spaces that aren’t established club venues - saunas, pools, gyms, art galleries, libraries, the drive-in, parks, golf courses, the beach and other outdoor spaces. In exploring those options, however, the cost of events can become prohibitive, the more equipment, infrastructure and council approval is required.
Are there any parties or crews, here or elsewhere, that have inspired what you are doing with Signal?
Yes, 100%. As I mentioned earlier, we very much feel we are part of a conversation and expansion about what the club can be, something I feel we all benefit from as each of us try out new ideas and build on the work of others. Some events I’ve drawn inspiration from are Umami, Powertrip, Confide, LEFAG, Aywa, Piu Disco / Bendy Rainbow, the House of Dévine gatherings in Naarm and Kooky, Bad Dog, Loose Ends, Monsta Gras, LYON and the House of Slé events up on Gadigal Land.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. But before you go, what’s next for Signal?
Thanks again for chatting to us.
Our next event is at Miscellania on November 13th and we are in discussions with another collective regarding a 24 hour collaboration in January.
Photography by hnrysmll.jpeg