In the heart of Cardiff's bustling cultural scene lies a hidden gem - a world of pulsating rhythms, electrifying basslines, and a community bound by their love for Drum and Bass. For over three years, Yushy, armed with a camera and a passion for photography, has been on a mission to capture the very essence of this vibrant underground culture in the Welsh capital.
Rave to the Grave is not just a documentary project; it's a love letter to the Drum and Bass scene, the people who make it come alive, and the remarkable way music transcends environments.
A Serendipitous Beginning
Yushy's journey into the world of Drum and Bass photography started in an unexpected way - during his university freshers' week. Yushy found himself at a crossroads. His mother had urged him to find a job, and by pure chance, he stumbled upon a Facebook post from a local promoter in need of a photographer.
Without any formal training, he decided to take a leap of faith. Armed with borrowed equipment from the university tech room, he attended his first Drum and Bass rave. The moment he walked into that event, he was hit by an electrifying wave of music and energy he had never experienced before.
Capturing the Essence of the Scene
The images Yushy captured that night resonated deeply with the promoter, who promptly shared them with the world. Within hours, Yushy received a message inviting him to photograph another rave the next day. And so, an fascinating journey began.
Over the course of three years, Yushy attended every Drum and Bass event in Cardiff, ranging from massive warehouse raves that drew thousands to intimate gatherings in abandoned churches. With his lens, he didn't just document the moments; he captured the raw emotions, the frenetic dance moves, and the sheer ecstasy that defines this culture.
Yushy said ‘I learnt how to move, and how to be present’ A complete fly on the wall. He goes on ‘I learnt how to be in the moment but not visible amongst the action and the chaos’.
Transcending Environments Through Music
Through his lens, Yushy has come to understand the nuances of these events and the profound impact of the music. What may appear as a simple party to some is, in reality, a community of like-minded individuals brought together by their shared love for Drum and Bass. It's a culture that defies stereotypes and expectations, a world where people from all walks of life unite under the rhythmic banner of music.
Yushy comments ‘At first, I felt nothing was special about these raves but the more I stayed watching the people, the spaces grew, the venues try to close, and even venues banned the music altogether. Histrocially, the city was always seen as indie rocky but I saw the growth in the community and how people adapted to the space around me. The fast-paced music was more than the surface level drums and bass, it was soul and that soul really carried the city.
Rave to the Grave is a testament to the power of music as a unifying force. It's a visual journey that showcases the heart and soul of Cardiff's Drum and Bass scene, revealing the heartbeat and vitality of a subculture that thrives beneath the surface of the city's vibrant arts and music scene. A particular character on the scene is a lady called Missy G, who is seen as the first women in the scene. Also David Shaw, who created posters for everyone event in the city… these guys stood out for me.
As Yushy continues to document the ever-evolving world of Drum and Bass in Cardiff, he reminds us that music is not just sound; it's an experience that transcends boundaries, connects people, and leaves an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. And post covid, Yushy feels the message is also about connection. ‘No one needs to be in a party city where everything is happening. people actually need to be present in a local community’.
Through his lens, we are invited to join this incredible journey, to immerse ourselves in the beats, and to celebrate the unity that music can bring to a diverse community. Yushy final comment, ‘I think as all music subcultures go, people first, music second. people make the subculture, and they should be respected, as well as everyone in the venues. its captivating... A powerful collective movement that I feel should be archived’.
He reflects finally,, I may have studied these raves closely over the years but I know I.am not the community, its their experience, their moment but observing crowds and their antics will always draw me in….. Rave to the Grave.