Inside HEADS KNOW: An Event Brand Showcasing Underground, Underrepresented And Rising Artists Through Diversity And Inclusion

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HEADS KNOW attendees astatine nan Nicholas Craven party.

Randy Church

New York City’s nightlife is live and thriving, pinch top-tier talents specified arsenic Skrillex, Aphex Twin, deadmau5, Kevin Saunderson, Chris Lake, Charlotte de Witte, Green Velvet, Fred again.., Dillon Francis, Carl Cox, Malaa, The Blessed Madonna, Honey Dijon, Excision, Rezz and Black Coffee getting down nan decks astatine immoderate of nan biggest venues nan city—and nan world—has to offer. While famed headliners grace these acclaimed stages, 1 whitethorn wonderment what happens to mini artists. Are they getting nan aforesaid opportunities? Are they being discovered?

When it comes to showcasing underground, underrepresented and rising acts successful nan city, location is 1 arena institution to look to: HEADS KNOW.

The marque officially launched successful May 2023, but it threw its inaugural statement successful December 2022, pinch Swami Sound and Dazegxd performing astatine Paragon. The debut arena was nan first performance nan HEADS KNOW founder, Arielle Lana LeJard, ever curated and produced.

HEADS KNOW has since seen singular occurrence by booking awesome names, specified arsenic Todd Edwards, Daddy Kev, Nicholas Craven, Ella Hu$$le, TRAXMAN, Machinedrum, Little Snake, JWords, OSSX, Nothing_Neue, Wavy Bagels, Purp, Outtatime, SUPR SPRT, Tha God Fahim, DJ Haram, JEWELSSEA, BODEGAPARTY, DJ Houseplants and LeCamille. These sonic creators person performed astatine SOBs, Paragon, SILO and Bossa Nova Civic Club. The arena brand’s next show is Sam Binga performing back-to-back pinch Bianca Oblivion astatine Paragon. Tickets are disposable for acquisition via Resident Advisor.

LeJarde says her task into starting nan institution began erstwhile she was a euphony blogger willing successful inclusive riders, which is erstwhile an creator tin request that a number of nan different performers are of a definite race, sexuality, gender aliases different identifier. This led her to deliberation astir inclusive lineups and different profession paths, which steered her into becoming a booking supplier assistant.

“I thought that would beryllium 1 avenue to do it because if you are a booking agent, you tin correspond a bunch of women, group of colour and abnormal artists,” she says. “Then, I sewage nan opportunity to propulsion a party, and I person been addicted to it ever since then.”

Her erstwhile acquisition of handling contracts and finances arsenic an adjunct booking supplier allowed her to study really to discuss pinch artists’ representatives arsenic good arsenic guarantee nan acts get paid correctly—adding that she believes promoters often lowball artists. Additionally, she gained a chopped position connected bookings arsenic she was not only a booking supplier adjunct but besides an creator head and an independent euphony publicist. “I besides knew nan lingo of really things [work], truthful group didn't deliberation I was conscionable immoderate woman who didn't cognize what she was doing,” she says. This immense knowledge well-positioned LeJarde to commencement nan successful arena brand.

Her first show sold retired and moreover boasted a statement astir nan block. This accomplishment was aided by her utilizing her Twitter and Instagram handles to beforehand nan event. Her erstwhile handles were @ariellenyc, but she had to alteration them because her Twitter relationship was suspended. Her original Twitter relationship became celebrated from her first viral tweet, which reached nan No. 3 spot successful a Buzzfeed article. She still promotes nan shows nether ariellenyc, which is besides her deejay name. Her societal media accounts beryllium to beryllium notable arsenic they helped LeJarde beryllium discovered by John Barclay, nan proprietor of Bossa Nova Civic Club and Paragon. He past asked her to propulsion a statement astatine his venue.

She describes her shows, which chiefly person women and group of colour connected nan lineup, arsenic a abstraction wherever “lots of group are moving.” HEADS KNOW brings together legendary, underground and rising acts arsenic good arsenic fuses genres, specified arsenic footwork, IDM, hip-hop and UK garage, to create a thought-out lineup. These well-curated shows person attracted group from retired of state, pinch 1 concert-goer moreover flying successful from Dallas. No matter who is connected nan lineup, it is ever inclusive.

“I deliberation [inclusivity] is not unsocial to New York,” LeJarde says. “I deliberation New York is simply a awesome abstraction for inclusive lineups, but I deliberation we still do person our ain rotation connected [it]. I deliberation our clip is really awesome connected what we cognize New York wants and is missing successful nan segment astatine nan moment. Whether it's footwork because everyone's doing techno aliases we're going to bring IDM because everyone's successful house, we ever person thing that's going to beryllium different.”

She adds that it's basal for nan talents to respect nan history of creation music. HEADS KNOW does this by honoring nan genre’s past, peculiarly pinch hip-hop and creation music, because nan 2 are intertwined. Artists who person played HEADS KNOW shows and item nan history see Daddy Kev, who is known for spinning some hip-hop and physics euphony successful his sets. The statement promoters besides book footwork producers since nan genre is embedded successful sampling hip-hop.

“I deliberation nan branding arsenic HEADS KNOW really encompasses what [the history] means,” LeJarde says. “Maybe it is simply a small spot gatekeeping because we're creating this consciousness of FOMO [fear of missing out] of like, ‘Oh do I know? Maybe I should know.’ But it's not conscionable astir do you cognize who this creator is, do you cognize what nan genre is about, do you cognize what creation euphony history is about, do you cognize really each of these things activity together and really are we going to bring that to value correct now.”

A fewer months into moving HEADS KNOW, she brought connected Tate Johnson to grip creator liaison, marketing, societal strategy and partnerships, completing nan basal pieces of owning a business arsenic nan laminitis manages each of nan bookings, location scouting, paperwork and finances. Johnson has extended acquisition moving successful nan events manufacture arsenic good arsenic successful product, integrated and experiential marketing. She has done awesome activity passim her career, including conceptualization, creating transportation decks, getting sponsors and being a sponsor, mounting up events and moving 55 of them a year.

From near to right: Arielle Lana LeJard and Tate Johnson.

Cooly.fooly

Johnson says she and LeJarde person akin values regarding race, gender, sexuality and different topics, and they wish to champion them done HEADS KNOW. Johnson’s activity history, nan duo’s matching ethoses and adjacent relationship since 2019 surely make for an perfect collaboration for nan inclusion-focused company.

“I deliberation really having representation—especially successful nan booking abstraction for group of color, LGBTQIA group and group crossed nan committee that are disenfranchised that don't person arsenic overmuch representation—that's cardinal to some of our activity crossed nan board, whether it beryllium our full-time activity [or] our broadside hustles,” Johnson says. “That's what we champion.”

LeJarde and Johnson are some women of colour and members of nan LGBTQIA community. For them, practice intends much than conscionable booking divers talent for their HEADS KNOW shows. It’s astir seeing practice passim nan creation euphony segment and successful each aspects of life.

“I will opportunity practice unsocial is not enough,” Johnson says. “Just seeing personification successful places of power, conscionable seeing personification successful roles aliases whatever, I don't deliberation that's capable to really extremity nan scales and alteration nan structures that we woody pinch connected a regular basis. But I deliberation that's a d*** bully start, particularly if you put action down supporting them pinch money.”

Representation, she adds, is having group successful nan room who look for illustration you, seeing group connected nan lineup who look for illustration you and knowing that artists who look for illustration you are getting paid for their work. Johnson says it’s besides important to bring a scope of minorities into nan room truthful “different types of group coming from each different walks of life” tin link successful 1 space.

LeJarde believes that practice intends thing different to firm promoters than it does to HEADS KNOW and different independent promoters. For minorities, it’s much than conscionable being a “token.” While women, Black people, brownish folks, trans people, abnormal folks and LGBTQIA artists whitethorn beryllium included successful a abstraction aliases connected a lineup, promoters whitethorn not understand that minorities travel from different backgrounds and don’t person nan aforesaid viewpoints arsenic they do. She says it’s important to create a safe abstraction for minorities erstwhile they participate these situations to debar them emotion for illustration they don’t belong, their voices won’t beryllium heard and “it’s their blessing to beryllium there.”

“It's ne'er their blessing aliases they're grateful to beryllium there,” LeJarde says. “They merit to beryllium there, and we want them there. Not conscionable me—the crowd, too.”

Some deliberation nan physics euphony manufacture has go much inclusive since 2020. LeJarde thinks this is “definitely not” existent successful nan EDM space, but nan creation euphony abstraction seems better.

EDM and creation euphony are discussed separately present because EDM chiefly refers to large room location and pop-dance music. EDM is simply a commercialized word, and it neglects each of nan nuances of creation music. In this context, EDM is seen arsenic mainstream and whitethorn pull ample crowds looking to party, while creation music, which respects galore genres by its naming, tends to bring successful fans who are genuinely location for nan euphony and person fostered a community.

While LeJarde says that creation euphony is somewhat much inclusive than EDM, she thinks it’s “hard for group who are cis and achromatic to understand really what practice and inclusivity means.” She believes that group are trying and doing their champion pinch including diversity, “but unless they person a squad that has group of color, women, abnormal [0r] trans people, it's ever going to beryllium performative unless they put their squad into action.”

Johnson echoes a akin statement, saying that 2020 was “very performative successful nature” because while lineups became much inclusive that year, it hasn’t continued, leaving minorities “back successful nan aforesaid spot wherever we were before.” She adds that portion of nan problem is group taking performative action and simply “checking boxes” to make them look inclusive. Conversely, she says existent inclusion is not conscionable astir diverseness and nan “number of group that are X successful nan room.” It’s astir ensuring nan abstraction is inclusive for minorities truthful they consciousness comfortable capable to stay.

“I deliberation portion of it is doing nan work,” she says. “In nan space, it's easy to propulsion number groups connected lineups. But I deliberation you really show you attraction erstwhile you return nan clip to deliberation astir nan history of their catalog. You deliberation astir nan genres you're going for erstwhile you're booking. You really show nan creator that you springiness capable of a f*** astir them, their profession and their way to curate nan lineup appropriately for them and nan location you're in.”

The Todd Edwards HEADS KNOW show.

Sifa Gonzalez

Johnson says that immoderate lineups successful New York City shouldn’t beryllium curated because they don’t respect nan metropolis and nan artists wrong nan genre.

“We wouldn't propulsion a location euphony statement and past not person Black group connected it successful New York City,” LeJarde says.

The history of creation euphony is founded connected Black, Latino, trans and queer communities, LeJarde says. That needs to beryllium remembered, and it shouldn’t beryllium an afterthought.

“It should ever beryllium like, ‘Oh, this is precisely what we're doing. This is why we're here,’” she says. “So why aren't they connected your lineups? That's my mobility for promoters.”

According to Johnson, “allyship is not a destination.” She says it’s an expedition because it isn’t imaginable to get to a spot successful allyship wherever you judge you’re done and that you’re now an ally. Constant activity is necessary, and creating safe spaces takes “real effort and existent energy.” She adds that group request to do nan investigation and spell “crate digging,” which intends sourcing aged euphony records. LeJarde says this is costly because galore pioneers of these genres person died of wellness issues because they weren’t supported financially for their work. However, it is still necessary.

Johnson says she’s a Black and queer woman, which informs her sentiment connected what achromatic group tin do to beryllium amended friends arsenic she is portion of 2 spaces. To this point, she circles backmost to her connection that group must put successful nan clip and effort to learn. She adds that location whitethorn beryllium times erstwhile a achromatic personification needs feedback to understand what they did aliases said wrong, and they request to cognize wherever they were astatine responsibility and what they should do instead.

“I deliberation immoderate of nan travel is being capable to recognize you're going to make mistakes. It whitethorn consciousness embarrassing, it whitethorn consciousness humiliating, it whitethorn beryllium highly guilt-inducing, but you person to support pushing through, moreover successful that humility and moreover successful nan embarrassing moments,” she says. “I deliberation wherever group fold a batch is successful those moments of uncomfortability, successful those moments wherever they're stretched and they said nan incorrect point aliases wherever they did nan incorrect thing.”

Johnson says it’s important not to get protect and wantonness nan situation. Instead, she says achromatic group who activity to beryllium friends request to beryllium consenting to measurement backmost and vow to beryllium better, activity done it and study more.

LeJarde adds that group moving together successful these situations to study much and amended understand minorities makes for a community. To her, creation euphony is not conscionable a scene. It’s a organization wherever group request to study to attraction for 1 different and understand wherever different group travel from. She notes that group are trying to find nan things they emotion and nan meaning of various subjects. To her, euphony is portion of that.

“Music mightiness not mean a batch to a batch of people, but I cognize it intends a batch to me, to Tate and to nan group who travel to our shows,” she says. “It's not conscionable euphony aliases whatever. There is history, and euphony is simply a portion of what creates nan taste zeitgeist of what's going to beryllium nan future. We're successful history correct now, and we're a portion of it. What's going to beryllium our portion successful nan scene?”

Indeed, LeJarde and Johnson are moving difficult to positively power nan early of creation euphony done their divers lineups, knowledge of nan industry’s history, bringing different types of group together astatine their shows and creating an inclusive and safe abstraction for nan artists they book.

Considering HEADS KNOW has been astir for little than a year, it’s awesome it has booked shows pinch notable talent and received support from immoderate of Brooklyn’s hottest venues.

LeJarde says being genuine and being a music journalist has been cardinal to nan occurrence of HEADS KNOW. Her activity successful publicity has fixed her galore connections arsenic group person already seen her byline, cognize that she cares astir nan segment and that she’s not penning “for clout” based connected nan topics she covers. She wants nan champion for New York City and its creation euphony scene. Her authentic emotion for nan industry, knowing nan correct group and being comfortable pinch being told “no” has helped make her successful today.

“I'm fortunate to beryllium successful New York City wherever we're successful a creation and underground creation euphony haven,” LeJarde says. “I deliberation we're nan astir important metropolis successful creation euphony astatine nan moment, and there's a batch of group to know. But I deliberation what sets maine isolated and what’s made maine a statement skipper, I guess, successful nan segment is group spot I really springiness a s***. I deliberation that's very uncommon successful an manufacture successful nan intermezo industry. They spot that I'm passionate astir this and that I've near my full comfortable firm life conscionable to beryllium capable to do this.”


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