In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, many people involved with music and the arts are taking action to support protest movements and calls for change. LGBTQ-centered label and collective Grimalkin Records has spent recent days donating to bail funds in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Richmond, as well as to Food Not Bombs, Nationz Foundation, and to Black members and friends of the label.
Money for those contributions comes from Grimalkin’s mutual aid fund as well as facilitator Nancy Grim Kells’ own pocket. Now, to raise money for their continued work, the label is releasing a sampler of tracks from all 22 artists who have released with Grimalkin throughout their existence. It’s a compilation that ranges from the dark, ambient folk of Kate Can Wait, to the experimental R&B stylings of Quinton Barnes, to the lush, soulful hip-hop of Cardinality. Artists selected their own songs, but the order was curated by Grimalkin member Mariah Fortune of Woven In, who also runs the all-ages sober music venue Catbody in Baltimore.
“We are striving to do as much as we can and plan to continue donating mutual aid throughout this time and always,” says Kells. “Many of our collective members are justifiably having a tough time right now. We hope that Grimalkin can be a tiny light during this dark time and that real change and abolition can actually happen in this country, in this world, eventually. We can never stop trying to do what we can.”
In addition to those more timely donations, Grimalkin’s mutual aid fund supports Black music releases, most recently in the case of rapper/producer Backxwash and her acclaimed new album, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out of It. In the near future, the label plans to release a deluxe version of the record on cassette and lathe cut vinyl. For her own part, Backxwash is taking the opportunity to support bail funds through today’s Bandcamp proceeds and through donations to be taken during her virtual album launch party on Sunday, June 7, hosted by Suoni Per Il Popolo and CKUT 90.3 FM.
Like all their releases, Grimalkin crafted the sampler with exceptional care. Along with the digital edition, it was released as a limited edition hand-dubbed cassette with a handmade cover and including a special edition sticker designed by Grimalkin artist The Doll, emblazoned with the words “Trans rights are human rights.” The first run of those tapes sold out within hours, but Kells says a second is on its way in the weeks ahead.
The compilation was in the works well before these latest instances of police brutality and the weeks of international action that followed. But the cause of racial justice is deeply interwoven with the ethos of Grimalkin, a community-driven (and funded) label that foregrounds marginalized voices across many axes. As Kells puts it, more succinctly:
“Black Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.”