Brexit and UK Beats


And so it’s officially here… Amidst the evermore bizarre and confusing context of Covid-19, it seems the impending B-word is finally upon us.

The commence of this new year – which all of us hope to be better (or less shitty) than its predecessor – brings with it, among other things, the official exit of Britain from the European Union. And with this, a very sour taste for us citizens who decided strongly against it.

Whether subconsciously as an effort to numb the pain, or so as to reignite a dwindling flame with regards to my personal feelings about what it says on my (now soon to be blue) passport, I’ve found myself listening to a considerable amount of UKG and some of its many offshoots since the year began.

With the growing confusion surrounding Brexit, its official introduction has seen a series of accompanying consequences. From the absurd confiscation of ham sandwiches, to more serious matters such as food shortages and the very complicated task being put to UK musicians wishing to travel and tour in Europe.

History has shown on various occasions how music and culture respond to difficult political contexts – not only in protest, but through a sense of introspection, if you will. Testing times can make movements, collectives and scenes look inwards rather than outwards, resulting in nurture, growth and evolution. The contrary, however, can also occur. A negative political climate, breaking away and the many complications that are to come as a result (ham sandwiches being just the start), do make you think.

Whilst spending the afternoons listening to big kicks and swinging broken beats with the occasional nostalgic soulful vocal sample, I can’t help but think: will such a substantial political move like Brexit have an effect on what can safely be considered the UK sound? Will leaving the EU and its accompanying restrictions, complications and context result in a push and the consequent growth of it? Will it give rise to something new? Or will nothing change at all?