Pollination’s compilation album, ‘Open Culture: No Borders’, reveals a development in their activism. No longer satisfied to only diversify the music industry, their latest release flips the script, using music to raise funds for Kent Refugee Action Network, in light of the ‘Nationalist and Borders Bill’. Currently being debated in the House of Lords, this is the last opportunity to voice your opposition to this inhumane bill.
Queer people of colour were quintessential to the genesis of dance music and club culture. But nowadays, whitewash obscures electronica’s rich and colourful origins. Despite a recent increase in rhetoric, performative activism has meant we’ve barely scratched the surface of truly (re)welcoming diversity into the community.
Yet, there are some activists and allies who are working hard to bring about meaningful change: established white male DJs, such as Seth Troxler, have been incorporating inclusion riders or diversity clauses into their contacts, conditioning their attendance on a diverse cast and crew; Organisers, such as Secretsundaze, have been implementing internal quotas when assembling line-ups and Radio 1 DJ, Jaguar Bingham, in partnership with FutureDJ, has created Future1000, a free programme introducing female, trans and non-binary students ages 12-18 to the music industry. By focusing her efforts at the school level, Bingham hopes to instigate change from the ground up, reaping long term and sustainable rewards.
“Electronic dance music culture is rich because of the people who make it up. Diversity is built into the UK’s roots: it is what enables our music scene to thrive. At Pollination, we want to celebrate the blend of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that form the fabric of our scene.” - Pollination
Pollination is another platform in electronic music, who’s strive for inclusivity to transcend mere rhetoric. At the beginning of 2021, they released ‘Nectar’ a series of mixes showcasing an “unexpected” side of each artist’s music taste, an analogy for the celebration of diversity and all that deviates from the norm. Binglebeats and Gracie T, are among 40 artists tapped for the ‘Nectar’ series, who, each in their own way, advocate for greater inclusivity within the music industry.
But Pollination isn’t satisfied to only reform the music industry, their cause extends past it, utilising music to positively impact the wider world. Their most recent release, ‘Open Culture: No Borders’, is a 22-track compilation album with all funds going towards the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), in light of Priti Patel’s ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’, unofficially dubbed by activists, ‘The Anti-Refugee Bill’.
“As members of the UK’s creative community, we come together to stand against this cruel and inhumane bill, which must be stopped.” - Pollination
Why Pollination is standing against the ‘Anti-Refugee Bill’
The bill’s colloquial name is a critique of the bill itself and its underlying philosophy, which believes that refugees are fundamentally bad. It proposes transforming the current system into a two-tier structure, that classifies refugees on how they enter the UK rather than the danger they faced in their source country. Under the rules, refugees will be criminalised for not travelling by ‘official routes’ or meeting the exact criteria stipulated by the home office, and otherwise risk facing deportation. Instead of guaranteeing long term safety, it will increase the number of residents in detention camps or barracks and favour offshoring refugees, an economically unsound approach that ships refugees elsewhere without any regard for their safety.
Priti Patel’s claim that the asylum system is overwhelmed has been refuted by charities, such as Refugee Action, who find that the government has used misleading evidence to paint this picture. Instead, they find that the number of asylum seekers in the UK is at its lowest since 2013. Instead of indicating an overwhelmed system, increased channel crossings are a result of limited land routes due to COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, backlogs in the asylum system are a result of slow and poor management, rather than an inundated system.
And the flaws don’t stop there. Despite criticising the cost of the current asylum system, the home secretary’s alternative strategy of offshoring is projected to be even more expensive, with Australia’s model costing over £2million per person per year.
As well as being economically unsound, the theoretical basis of the ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ is unsound. It intends to deter migrants, counteracting the pull factors that make refugees want to come to the UK. However, the policy exhibits no real understanding of why asylum seekers actually come to the UK - that they speak the language, have family members in the UK, or our reputation for favourable treatment of immigrants. The bill also assumes that asylum seekers, whilst fleeing life-threatening situations, keep up to date on immigration policy. Instead of deterring asylum seekers, the policy will most likely benefit smugglers, as harder borders lead to higher prices.
Having passed through the House of Commons in December, the bill is currently on its second reading in the House of Lords which means it is likely to become law in some form. Amendments may be made to the bill, which is then passed back and forth between the houses before becoming law via Royal Assent.
Pollination stands against the Nationalist and Borders Bill, believing that diversity is key for the prosperity, and the existence, of the UK’s music scene. It’s a hard claim to refute. Quickly consult your music history and you’ll find the Godfather of House Frankie Knuckles, DNB legend Grooverider, Dub pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and many many more, are all people of colour. Too, without a hospitable refugee system, we would have no Freddie Mercury or Mika, both of whom fled from their home countries when children.
Activism and music have a long-standing and intimate history, from protest music to charity singles. But nowadays, with ‘woke’ in vogue and surface-level activism running amok, it becomes hard to tell when intentions are true. But with ‘Open Culture: No Borders’, Pollination puts words into action, reaffirming the link between music and activism. Support their cause and listen to the album via the links below.
Listen to Open Culture: No Borders.
Buy posters sold alongside the project.