Deep Sea Dwellers: Drexciya and the Sonic Third Space
This article addresses the complex conceptual framework of Drexciya, an electronic music duo from Detroit who established an origin myth based on the Middle Passage, the route for ships carrying enslaved African people from one geographical location to another across the Atlantic Ocean. Whereas the origin myth of Plato’s Atlantis ends in a permanent submersion into the sea, the world of Drexciya begins with the creation of an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships. Drexciya exists as a sonic third space characterised by embedded myths, the construction of culture and the invention of tradition. I will highlight the development of this sonic fiction that spans several decades, influencing many artists, musicians and scholars, by focusing on the Drexciyan concept of an intercultural, transnational network that shows the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from their homeland, and newly created spaces that transform identities and cultures. This article draws on obscure artist interviews and well-known sources about Drexciya, including essays by Kodwo Eshun and Ben Williams, while advancing the notion of non-physical, sonic islands that sit in spaces between the island and the ocean.