“Chaos, mixed with calm, mixed with sexy, mixed with exploration, mixed with connectivity.”
That’s what Paul Gorrie (aka DJ PGZ) says people can expect from the Black Mass club night he’s putting on in Melbourne this Sunday.
As part of Rising – Melbourne’s winter art and music festival that spans two weeks across the CBD – Black Mass will be a fully immersive event fusing performance and visual art with high-energy dance music and whomping bass from local and international Black artists.
Helping you pound the sticky Max Watt’s floor on the night will be Toronto-based DJ and producer Bambii, as well as DJ, producer, radio host and Yuggera woman dameeeela, Ngarrindjeri, Ramindjeri and Walkandi–Woni musician and DJ, SOVBLKPSSY, and Melbourne mainstay on the decks, Crybaby. There will also be an undoubtedly stunning and vulnerable contemporary work from Melbourne performer the Mind Searcher.
“Expect music that comes from a place of Black thought, Black expression, Black art, Black struggle, Black vision,” Gorrie told VICE.
Curated by artist duo Gorrie and Ihab S Balla, who together have no shortage of experience putting on and playing at some of Melbourne’s funnest parties in recent years, Black Mass has been a long time in the making.
“We used to run these parties called BLK ICE. We started them during COVID. And now, it's led us here. So I think what people can expect is something that's very grown,” Gorrie said.
“We wanted to create something that pushes a boundary. Like, how often do you see this kind of lineup?”
Now on a state-funded art festival scale, the all-Black and First Nations lineup celebrates where Black music has come from – and where it’s going.
The name comes from A Black Mass a play by Amiri Baraka, performed in New Jersey in 1966. It describes the origin of white people according to an Islamic doctrine. Parts of the script were then recorded and backed by free jazz sounds by American composer and musician Sun Ra and the Myth-Science Arkestra in 1968.
Snap forward more than half a century and Black artists from all parts of the world continue to revolutionise the global club scene – and Australia’s.
“I think Black people, especially women and non-binary people in this country, have a huge impact to give, especially within dance music,” Gorrie said.
“So many Aboriginal and Black artists here are absolutely paving the way for future generations to be creating this kind of stuff. They're doing it for themselves as well, which is, I think, a pretty cool thing.”
Gorrie said he and Balla wanted to create a party that would have an effect on the community they’re a part of, but also to create an opportunity for gathering and celebration.
“We’ve got Black people from all parts of the world that live here and [we wanted to] create something that is a mass opportunity for us to gather and create and present the work that we do,” he said.
“We need to lead with these kinds of actions if we’re wanting to change the conversation and the direction of where the music industry is [going] in this country.”
And it won’t be a one-off.
“It’s the beginning of future Black Masses – it's the early days of what they can potentially be.”
Black Mass as part of Rising Festival will kick off at 8pm on Sunday, June 11 at Max Watt’s in Melbourne.