This is a piece about memories of structures from a future that was created by the Sykes-Picot map. In 1916 a British and French diplomat met in secret to decide over who should rule the lands of the Ottoman Empire, should it fall following WWI. This vision of control, decreed by a secret map, became a geopolitical outline that structured European and Western interactions and control of the Middle East. It is often considered as the potential seed of discord in the ensuing political instabilities of the region that persist today.
The map created a homeland for the Jewish diaspora following millennia of being a transnational minority, subject to racial and social discrimination, violence and genocide in Europe, defined by a shared religious narrative of exile. By creating a state, the Zionist movement created a geopolitical presence for the Jewish people and their national identity was recognised as a state.
It simultaneously created the diaspora of the Palestinians. A diaspora who have spent generations living in a densely crowded urban block refugee camps, under constant threat of arrest or execution by their increasingly futuristic military enemy neighbour. Generations of ageing refugees still hold the keys to the houses they have been exiled from perhaps just a few kilometres away, the symbol of their inability to return as a result of Israeli occupation. Prison cities where homes are regularly targeted by airstrikes, with supplies and all access to the city controlled by the enemy. The Palestinians have faced 70 years of domestic war with an enemy that has a cutting-edge arsenal of space-age weaponry. An enemy that presents aggression in the form of total infrastructural and militaristic domination, who are motivated both by political organisation and religious fundamentalism.
History manifests itself in architectural structures like human memory coral. If we understand the forms of these structures and sites; the checkpoint, the urban block refugee camp, the wall, the politicized sites of religious and historical memorial, we see how the state has developed methods of physical, political-narrative and infrastructural domination over a domestic enemy population. A new third world state has been walled in, then caveated by enemy checkpoints and settlement apartment blocks.
This piece is a journey around a memory palace that has been created by an alien-angel observer attempting to make sense of repeating and emergent patterns within human politics. The alien ties together human maps and documents with tracts of memory that he has harvested by telepathically possessing people experiencing political events worldwide. In doing so, the visitor performs an occult form of forensic reconstruction of structures that have defined the experiences of people living through these conditions.
GAIKA shape-shifts across not only musical markers but disciplines. He settles on the term ‘ghetto-futurism’ to encompass what he does.
Raised in Brixton, schooled in Sutton and of Jamaican and Grenadian descent, GAIKA has never chosen a linear path in his creative outputs. “My thing has always been: be yourself — whatever you are, be that — and people will walk towards it,” GAIKA says:“I am whatever I say I am. And I want that to apply to all people of colour, all black people. This idea of what we like, make, do and how our art can be defined from outside of us is something I’ll actively try to disrupt.”
He released his debut album, Basic Volume, in July 2018 by Warp Records.
With BASIC VOLUME, GAIKA simultaneously pushes the boundaries of electronic music and the legacy of the UK’s indelible sound system culture, inviting listeners into a sonic world of his creation. In August 2018, Gaika exhibited SYSTEM, a collaboration with Boiler Room and Somerset House Studios, “a sculpture which fills the middle portion of the Lancaster Room at Somerset House.” He told the Evening Standard that:
“Carnival and sound system culture is about space, and holding space. It’s about literally drawing a line in the sand and saying this is who we are and we’re here to stay. You can’t turn us off.”
A polymath by nature GAIKA’s creative output has always straddled different worlds, taking influence from academia, British reggae sound systems, philosophy and political theory as much as the influence of fellow musicians.
Gaika is currently also the Editor for Dazed and Confused.