Taste, place and colonialism in the global music industry

Ask anyone the question ‘what music do you listen to?’ and you are likely to be met with a confounding response that is by turns sweepingly general and unerringly specific. As a music critic, my response would be ‘almost anything’, but also, depending on what day or mood you caught me in: ‘jazz, Stevie Wonder,’90s jungle, Detroit techno, Motown, Fela Kuti…’ – the list goes on.

What we listen to is often governed by taste. Taste is a deeply personal pursuit, one informed by nostalgic recollection, the influences of those we surround ourselves with and an intuitive resonance with an internal emotional reaction. Hence the difficulty and particularity of providing a response to the question posed above. What we listen to is also affected by where we find ourselves – it is a personal pursuit inextricably linked to our time and place. It can be unwittingly political.

Read the feature in the British Library.

[This piece was published on 30/04/21]