In this full-length audio documentary, we explore how immigration laws hurt an underrepresented group of electronic artists: those from outside the US and the EU.
This month, we're devoting an entire edition of The Hour to an important but largely hidden force in club culture: visas—that is, the legal permission artists need to perform in other countries.
The vast majority of DJs and live acts who travel abroad for gigs come from the EU and the US, and make their living in an international community of clubs and festivals. For artists from outside those territories, though, the life of a touring artist is much harder to pull off. The US has long been notorious for its stinginess with work visas, the cause of numerous cancelled gigs inside the States each year. Less talked about are the UK's immigration laws, which put artists from outside the European Union at a big disadvantage. The rules are confusing, the review process mysterious, the applications costly—as much as a month's wages in some countries, whether the visa is granted or not. The result is a system that holds back some untold number of the world's electronic artists, simply because of which country they were born in, and treats them like criminals for doing something their peers in more powerful countries enjoy as a right.
To explore this issue, Will Lynch spoke with some of the artists most affected by it, including Tijana T, Nastia and Sandunes, as well as the booking agent Craig Pugnetti, and Caroline Dunkley, a specialist in the topic. The Home Office weighed in as well—kind of.
Martha Pazienti Caidan