Jamaica-born and New York-based artist TYGAPAW asks, what if, instead of fleeing from the vitroil witnessed in our everyday lives, we sought to develop new languages to understand it through rage music? This bespoke performance for National Sawdust features new works entwined with alternate versions of highligths from the TYGAPAW catalog. The musician will join Resident Advisor critic Kiana Mickles for a conversation.
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In their piece, "Do You Remember When We Just Lived?" Dion McKenzie challenged the idea of techno as a conduit for fantasy and the club as a sanctuary where grim realities abate and dissolve. Throughout their two-decade career, the techno producer, DJ and artist has broadcasted the urgency of a deteriorating political climate for Black people, the LGBTQ community and immigrants in the U.S.. Their seductive, breakneck techno bursts at the seams with intensity and emotion, a heaviness derived from jazz and nu-metal influences. A compelling theme intercepts these formative genres: rage alchemy. Through these different strains of resistance music, the anger, frustration and internal chaos of oppressed peoples become profoundly moving art.
In this live performance, the Jamaica-born and New York-based artist asks, what if, instead of fleeing from the vitriol witnessed in our everyday lives, we sought to develop new languages to understand it through rage music? This bespoke performance for National Sawdust features new work entwined with alternate versions of highlights from the TYGAPAW catalog, with a particular focus on breakthrough records "Get Free" and "Handle With Care." In the second half of the evening, the musician will join Resident Advisor music critic Kiana Mickles for a conversation centering the evolution of their practice and the white cooptation of rage technologies in dance music and beyond.
6:30pm: Doors open for talk
7:00pm: Talk starts
7:30pm: Intermission; Doors open for the performance.
8:30pm: Performance Starts
TYGAPAW grew up as Dion McKenzie in Mandeville, Jamaica. Today, the Artist, producer, DJ and label owner resides in Brooklyn, New York, where they have spent the better part of a decade uplifting frequencies representative of the Black electronic music diaspora. Their sonic palette—informed by the dancehall of their hometown as much as it is the techno emanating from the warehouses of Detroit—has made them an indispensable figure in Brooklyn's electronic music scene.
Since 2014, McKenzie has been carving spaces in New York for queer people of color through their queer club night, and now label, Fake Accent. The platform is part of their broader mission to forge liberating spaces for marginalized people, particularly Black, queer and trans people, an agenda embedded in the various layers of the artist's work. Early records like the breakthrough EP Handle With Care (2019), Ode To Black Trans Lives (2020) and their debut album, Get Free (2020) established McKenzie not only as a skillful producer, but further as an emotive storyteller. Through their production, they are known to weave together stories of queer immigrant life, radical self-preservation and Black communal joy.
Their music, much like New York, is a cultural stew made vibrant by influences as local as New York's ballroom community and as distant as Berlin's hard techno circuit. In 2021, one of techno's most vital institutions, the Berlin venue and record label Tresor, enlisted MacKkenzie to contribute to their 30th anniversary compilation, where the musician was in the company of techno luminaries like fellow contributors Juan Atkins, K-HAND and Robert Hood. In 2022, McKenzie brought their visionary take on techno to life with a three-part techno opera, Devil Woman (Obeah Woman)—the first iteration of which premiered at New York's The Chocolate Factory Theater, and Queens Museum before the project traveled to Berlin.
2023, TYGAPAW's second album love has never been a popular movement, was released on fabric Originals in the spring. This album is a special one for several reasons: It's the first album the musician produced with hardware rather than Ableton, their first record that features their vocals prominently and it also sees McKenzie try their hand at songwriting. In eight tracks that hopscotch across atmospheric techno and East Coast club, love has never been a popular movement addresses, with unshakable confidence, fierce self-love and TYGAPAW's journey as a Jamaican reckoning with their trans identity.
About Kiana Mickles
Kiana Mickles is a music critic and nightlife columnist at the world's leading electronic music publication, Resident Advisor. Their criticism traces the vital history of Black American electronic music and their column, Office Hours, centers untraditional queer spaces after dark. Their stories combine creative research and cultural criticism to unveil how sounds, trends, people and spaces, big and small, shape the modern world