Photographs by Ian John Solomon
Makeup by Jay Orellana
Introduction by Crystal Mioner
Certainly if our subjugated knowledges were to become primary, we would change the world.–Lorraine O’Grady
Who should tell this story? The honor falls to those who have always been here. Setting up the party, pouring the wine, cutting the rug. Not quite invisible, but regulated to a “(feat.)” credit—or worse, an unacknowledged vocal, echoing through the beat, haunting the track. With time, one or two broke through, some man somewhere scratching his head in astonishment, telling a buddy, wow, she plays just like us. With more time, others crossed over from the dancer to the dancemaker, playing not like him, but something unheard of, tended to from the start. Years of listening, headphones on, humming along, experimenting at-will, improvising as needed. This is what they bring, in their own words, for those ready to receive.
Ahya Simone“I bring an eclectic uniqueness, a tenderness to Detroit music with my approach to my instrument, and also, a respect and fascination with the liminal space between two things: ideas, feelings, ways of life—and the power to simply ‘be.’”
AK640S“I put into a bowl: the essence of my ancestral roots and the trailblazing technologic reimagining of our future ... then I combine them together as one to bring forth much-needed release, grace, and healing to my city to further encourage regeneration of joy, euphoria, passion, and inspiration for us all through various mediums and textures of audio.
I bring years worth of life well lived, the dreams of those who’ve come before me, my memories, my pain, my annointing, and most importantly the glory of the Divine to show not only my city, but the world, that anything is possible.”
“I bring passion. I bring emotion. I bring my love for music. I bring a network of love and support. I bring motivation. I do this for the girls, I do this with the hope of inspiring. I bring an outlet for others through my own.”
KESSWA“I feel that KESSWA challenges the ear in a good way. It’s music to sit and listen to; music to think and cry to. People have shared with me that they use my music to reflect, and in their self-care practices.”
“I bring freedom to be a mother and a bad bitch. I bring bounce by the ounce and there’s literally no denying it. I bring Milfie!”
Salakastar“I bring curiosity. I bring theatricality. Freedom. I bring flowers. I bring mystery. I bring the blues. I bring healing. I bring poetry. I bring power. I bring experimentation. I bring the softness of my grandmother’s hands warmed by whispered prayers. I bring friendship. I bring heart. I bring life.”
“My music more like mojo bag.
In it you will find:
Charms plentiful, lots of tricks,
And plenty seeds.
Sometimes I keep it on the hip ...
but I like it best up my sleeve
You know, so they never know my next move.
To this landscape I bring:
The biggest & boldest version of me.
The most blessed voice in this bitch
With presence to match it
I’m magic, my baby.”
Detroit artist Ian John Solomon centers his practice around communal intimacy. Through photography he aims to connect, amplify, and uplift the stories of his community to be remembered and appreciated. His photographs pictured here are part of the ongoing series, BYOB (Bring Your Own Background), 2021. For further information, visit ianjsolomon.com.
Jay Orellana is a visual and makeup artist based in Detroit with work rooted in community and queer liberation. Each look for the shoot was designed while immersed in the respective artist’s sonic landscape.
Also in Detroit, Crystal Mioner is a music writer and creative wrangler. A self-taught musicologist, her interests center on dance music and the navigation of Black women within it.
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