Spontaneous Affinity

046. grymnk

| Unpredictable as both a DJ and an event organizer, Seattle's grymnk brings a fresh, community-centered energy to the North American dance music scene and beyond. From throwing notorious raves in rented mansions and other unconventional spaces and bringing together international favorites and local heroes, to playing alongside artists like Ayesha, Object Blue, and Azu Tiwaline, grymnk is an energetic force. Their mix for Spontaneous Affinity is trippy, wonky, and devilishly fun.

About the mix:

When I made this mix, I had a couple weeks of being alone and to be honest things got a little weird. I think this will come through when you listen.

When I imagined people listening to this, my hope was that they would hear the struggle, the mental illness, but also the celebration of oneself and the wiggle of dancing in a room alone.

To what extent is utopia possible, and does dance music help us get there?

The dancefloor is the path to Utopia. Utopia to me is solidarity not just at night, but also by day. It's taking the dancefloor to the streets. Recognizing that all of us who come to it are here because we are marginalized, we have deep trauma and we have pain. We are here to find community, find each other, organize. Support each other not just in our elation on the dancefloor, but when we need solidarity in the streets.

I had a moment a couple years ago when BLM protests were happening around the globe. I remember the joy I felt seeing nightlife techno friends from afar and hurrying to meet with them or finding them washing their eyes out after being pepper sprayed and having the opportunity to help.

This feeling of unity however, quickly turned to anger when realizing I had only seen or heard from a small group of those I had shared a dance floor with over the years.

I understand why me being angry is problematic, and want to share I know our community has so many people who are unable to be on the streets due to chronic illness, physical limitations and life circumstances. However, my disappointment that turned to anger was based on the fact I just didn’t see or hear from the richness of dancefloors I thought I would have.

I spiraled a bit… and kept asking the nagging question in my mind of whether this was on me and my assumption that every time we danced together it was political.

I have come to the realization now through reflection and talking with many friends about this, that yes my assumption was correct, that everytime we commune on the dance floor, it is inherently political. We are honoring our elders who throughout history who have established this format of organizing, self discovery & release. We are honoring those today who risk their lives to provide spaces like this for people in places where being a marginalized person is a crime.

Even the format of techno is a rigid baseline beat, structuring melodic and rhythmic lines of resistance around it.

However, not everyone is there and that is ok. Whether some people acknowledge that by them showing up to these parties and conjuring the energy in the room is political is up to them. But I have to believe that the more we provide spaces and opportunities for people not just to dance together but intentionally connect and converse in chill out rooms and long format parties, the more people will be on the streets fighting for this world or ‘Utopia’ we want to build when the next movement comes.

I have to believe that if we as a dance community cannot build this path to Utopia ... how can we expect any other community to do it?

What do you think is the role of local scenes in dance music today?

Local scenes are so important to building the world we want to live in.

I recently played at this DIY rave in Portland for Pride called 'rot n rust' that local cinema threw. It was the type of rave where you had to go deep into a neighborhood, cross some train tracks, and keep walking until you heard the music in the woods. I was absolutely one of the oldest people there and when I went to one of the dancefloors to get a sense of the vibe, I was almost immediately moved to tears. It was clear this rave was for the young freaks. The Gaybees! The babes that are marginalized by our world, who are looking for connection, escapism, and belonging.

It brought me back to my first rave in Seattle and recalling how the people I met, Kem-C, Qoqo, and Simone, are still my friends. These relationships through the years have gone from monthly nights of smiles and dancing in our sunglasses to being on the streets together in protest, to overnight shifts at the Autonomous Zone, to forming mutual aid networks and soup nights for the unhoused.

In these local scenes are people who give you the opportunity to see them and for them to see you, something that feels so rare.

(The crew that threw ‘rot n rust’, theresa_sweetheart and g_g, are doing amazing things for the Portland scene and I am so inspired by their boldness and ability to just do it.)

Pictured left to right - Heidi, Vicky, Dandy, Bradley, Baby, Ducky, London @Blood Pride Rave Rot ‘n Rust

What do you think the dance music world needs right now?

Our dancefloor community is set up to be so strong. Everyone of us is struggling with mental illness and fights everyday to live in this world with it. Everyday we face it and persevere. I love music that tells this story. I find that it brings us together in celebration of “making it” while acknowledging our struggle.

When I made this mix, I had had a couple weeks of being kind of alone in my head and to be honest, things got weird and I think you will hear that in it. But the story of the mix is not about my mental illness, it is about my perseverance through it and how I draw on music, the relationships I have in the dance community, and my own strength to try and be better.

I am so grateful for the people I have found. It is not easy putting yourself out there while battling your own inner self. In any social scene, there are feelings of exclusion and I struggled with this. During the pandemic, a few of us started openly talking about this and how it is not enough to NOT exclude, but that we have to make the effort to actively to INclude. We shared stories about how we had always felt like we never belonged to a group, and floated peripherally through the community. This led us to form our collective Peripheral Pups, centered around the want to create dancefloors and spaces where people can not only be welcomed, but feel like they belong. Our parties are centering a dancefloor of inclusion & healing. The format or genre might differ, but you will know that if you come to a Peripheral Pup party, you will feel belonging, you will have spaces for you to connect with others and harm reduction will be present in a big way.

To summarize this initial question, someone once told me a story once how the Romans used to fuck each other before battle, because you are more likely to fight harder for people that you have fucked.

This really stuck with me... whether this means to you literally getting sexy with your community or whether this means going out of your way to be inclusive and facilitate day time connections, we have to make the effort. We have to go deeper 😏 with each other and get to know one another. The time has already come and like I posed earlier... if we can't figure this out, who will?

Peripheral Pups:

Share a track you've always wanted to include in a mix or set, what you love about it, and why you've never managed to include it.

This track is something my good friend aunteesam reposted on TikTok. I think I must have listened to it 200+ times in bed and sometimes at dinner tables and bars where I have made my friends listen to it around my phone speaker.

I wanted so badly to have this make it into the mix, but it just didn't, however I would say this was the inspiration for the mix.

Some might think it represents feelings from Covid isolation, which it absolutely does, but it really represents my feelings always.

I want everyone I love in this world to be snuggling in my bed, listening to each other's pain, celebrating each other's wins, and dreaming big for how we can build a better a future for ourselves. I am a perpetual optimist and I believe we can do it.


boom boom boom

♬ original sound - sega bodega

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Published August 2022.

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