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Darian Wigfall Organizes Social Change Through Art and Activism

Category: Music

Author: Matt Derouin

Author: Matt Derouin

Darian Wigfall Organizes Social Change Through Art and Activism

“I always feel like when I get a megaphone, I need to speak for others who don’t have one.” Says Darian Wigfall. This compulsion pervades every part of Wigfall’s professional and personal existence. As one of the early members and organizers of the prolific Farfetched artist collective, mentoring and promoting artists; and through his history of activism, Wigfall has made a career of giving a platform to deserving voices. These types of work aren’t incongruous. After all, art has always been a space for promoting social change. But Wigfall presents interviewers with a unique problem: he’s so busy talking up others, it can be difficult to extract any information about Wigfall himself.

Yet that preoccupation he has with helping others is a common theme when discussing virtually any topic. A brief history of Darian Wigfall reveals an ambition to do good on a societal level at nearly every turn. As a child as young as grade school age, Wigfall had ambitions to become a mechanical engineer. While other children thought this meant driving trains, Wigfall had learned that many new technologies and inventions come from the field. This remained his career ambition until the tail end of high school when on a field trip, he had a chance encounter that would put him on a different path.

Wigfall recalls, “I just kind of dipped off in a break room just to collect my thoughts and there was a relatively young man… that came in in his scrubs and he just looked exhausted but still had energy. I asked him, ‘what do you do?’ and he was a cardiovascular surgeon… because of that one experience I decided that… ‘you know what, I am going to be a doctor.’”  So, upon entering college, Wigfall decided to go into biology/pre-med. When he switched to research, the aim was to contribute to breakthroughs that might affect a great many people. Wigfall reasoned, “…if I make a discovery of some wonder drug or cancer drug, I can end up helping millions of people… so I ended up going into research.

Wigfall eventually landed at Washington University as a research tech, where he worked for seven years. When the lab lost its funding and subsequently closed, Wigfall had already dipped his toes into the realm of artist management and had collaborated with Damon Davis and FarFetched—but after a meeting in 2014, Davis invited him to become part of the executive team. Wigfall has been busy with the day-to-day operations ever since. His duties with FarFetched are expansive, “My role in a nutshell is to guide the Farfetched ship and maintain it. I have help now, but I basically handle all the logistics, planning and growth for FarFetched.”

In many ways FarFetched is proof-positive of the richness and depth that comes with a truly diverse organization. While it might be fair to say that FarFetched has deep roots in hip-hop and R&B; a more common theme of FarFetched artists would be the distortion of genre. Katarra Parson, for example handily fills an R&B niche—but the texture of the music, the amount of heavy lifting her voice performs often feels not-unlike an American soul version of Bjork. How does one even begin to classify Hands & Feet. How much of that genre-bending is a result of the diversity of this extended family is anyone’s guess, but to talk to anyone involved, it surely plays some not-insignificant role. Collaboration between artists is commonplace and the FarFetched offerings are immensely satisfying to hear, rewarding active listeners with deep and nuanced layers. Wigfall is the fellow behind so much of the organization that makes this production possible.

Wigfall is an artist in his own right. As a DJ he likes to mix up genres and tell stories. He notes that, “My philosophy behind DJing is nobody’s iPod or iTunes, or wherever you keep your music, is just one type of music. I may play some pop but I’ll also play some old soul and I’ll play some hip-hop, and it’s all over the place but if you’re listening it has a rhythm to it… people are so multi-faceted, to keep them engaged you gotta give them multiple types and styles.”

Artists are crucial to our understanding of society and culture. As noted earlier, they are often the engines that drive social change and help to shape our attitudes about the world and the events that transpire in it. But Wigfall brings an important quality to his endeavors to better the world and give voice to people: organization. Organization is a highly specialized skill and is often the cornerstone upon which many projects stand and flourish or fall and remain mere dreams. Wigfall, for all his cultural acumen is a natural organizer. He’s thoughtful, analytical and driven toward tangible ends. He can identify problems and obstacles. “…I’m an engineer at heart. I like to see how things work and then if they can be improved, to make the changes to improve that thing.”

Perhaps this is the way in which Wigfall most impacts the world. As an artist, an organizer, but most importantly: an engineer. He can look at the world around him and channel his observations into something entertaining, with a theme or message. But he can also recognize this quality in others and facilitate the process of having their voice heard, their work seen. He can identify systems that are faulty and determine which pieces need to be excised, replaced, or refurbished.

Artists are crucial to our understanding of society and culture. As noted earlier, they are often the engines that drive social change and help to shape our attitudes about the world and the events that transpire in it. But Wigfall brings an important quality to his endeavors to better the world and give voice to people: organization. Organization is a highly specialized skill and is often the cornerstone upon which many projects stand and flourish or fall and remain mere dreams. Wigfall, for all his cultural acumen is a natural organizer. He’s thoughtful, analytical and driven toward tangible ends. He can identify problems and obstacles. “…I’m an engineer at heart. I like to see how things work and then if they can be improved, to make the changes to improve that thing.”

Perhaps this is the way in which Wigfall most impacts the world. As an artist, an organizer, but most importantly: an engineer. He can look at the world around him and channel his observations into something entertaining, with a theme or message. But he can also recognize this quality in others and facilitate the process of having their voice heard, their work seen. He can identify systems that are faulty and determine which pieces need to be excised, replaced, or refurbished.