Miah Benton otherwise known as ADAB is co-founder of Cleveland’s diversely unique party, Heaven is in You. The meaning behind their moniker captures their intricate and sagacious philosophy.
“As far as adab is concerned it stands for two things very specifically. The first and most important, as to show respect and appreciation, is its ties to Arabic culture,” they say. Defined by the Brittanica adab is “an Islāmic concept that became a literary genre distinguished by its broad humanitarian concerns; it developed during the brilliant height of ʿAbbāsid culture in the 9th century and continued through the Muslim Middle Ages.”
Deriving from model ancestors in ancient Arabia, adab can be simply defined as “norm of conduct” or “custom.” Eventually the term encompassed an intellectual aspect. The Brittanica continues, “Adab became the knowledge of poetry, oratory, ancient Arab tribal history, rhetoric, grammar, philology, and non-Arab civilizations that qualified a man to be called well-bred, or adīb. Such men produced a vast and erudite adab literature, concerned with man and his achievements and written in a style rich in vocabulary and idiom, and usually expressive and flexible.”
Benton explains, “It’s a bit of information, but it’s truly tied me to the narrative of what I do and why I do it, alongside my other reason for the name. The other meaning came out of my immense love for science fiction literature, film, etc. The word adab appears in Frank Herbert’s Dune and is tied to the lore behind the female order of assassins the Bene Gesserit.” They quote from a fan encyclopedia – “Reverend mothers have many memories from previous lives in their brains. When one of these memories pushes itself to be paid attention to, that is adab.”
“That’s one of my favorite entries I’ve seen on it because it highlights some of my feelings in regards to my own identity as a black queer individual DJing house and techno in the Rustbelt. There’s a lot more tied to it that I could go into (I try not to use a name in vain) but for the sake of not talking far too much about it I’d say that’s the general idea behind what I attempt to conjure,” they say with a laugh.
Initially Benton was performing beat/instrumental sets around the hip-hop/beat scene in Cleveland. “That whole phase of things was largely from my introduction to beat tapes and weird instrumental projects around the time that blogs like Pitchfork’s Altered Zones were thriving with mixtures of well-known and little-known producers and groups.” During their childhood in Chicago, they were introduced to dance music from their father. Inspiration was reignited after DJing their first In Training at Now That’s Class in Cleveland. For Benton, it “was the first venue in that (at the time sparse) community in Cleveland where I felt a sense of belonging both by way of the event founders queer roots and sharing a serious interest into the music that inspired it.”
“In all my sets I attempt to present something new or present something familiar in a different way sound-wise. I’m in an almost constant state of digging for music, new and old, in an attempt to present a unique perspective and narrative. By way of that attempt is how I try to ‘open new dimensions and understandings’ I’d say, and this journey into new sounds is just as much of an exploration process for me as it is someone listening to a set of mine, often it would seem.” – ADAB
Eventually, they developed their own local event, Heaven is in You. Since summer 2015 Benton and Eric Sarley have been showcasing underground electronic artists and DJs from Northeast Ohio and beyond evoking the gamut of house, techno and electronic beats. They have booked a lengthy list of local talent, and also out-of-state artists such as Atlanta’s Stefan Ringer, Sneaks from Baltimore, Ithaca’s Sammus, Red Tailed Hawk Luna from Chicago, as well as Buffalo’s UVB76 and Ay Fast.
According to Benton, HIIY is “an attempt to create a grounds for aspiring individuals to display themselves and their artistic pursuits the way they want … It’s a very literal statement as a name too, ‘Heaven is in You’ – it’s what we believe and how we attempt to curate the nights. We want people to feel free to display themselves as an artist and as an individual.”
True to the variety of energy put out by their parties, Benton does so similarly in their DJ sets. “I attempt to find variations of the sounds I love across a few subgenres within dance music. I often attempt a blend of UK garage, breakbeat, electro, bass music, and minimal in sets all with a common narrative of the drum at the forefront. Blending this variety I feels keeps the sets both soulful and lively, given these subgenres can often be characterized by their variety of moving elements within their construction,” they say. “ADAB, as I was saying earlier, is characterized by exploration into various aspects of the world and with that I’d say comes an exploration into variations of sound. The variation I love the most in dance music is the percussion. I often try to spin a large variety of percussion-based techno, house, electro, etc. because I feels it’s very serious ties to the rhythms that inspired this modern form of music, specifically the drum rhythms of various POC groups in the world. Sounds from records like Alpha 606’s Afro-Cuban Electronics mixed with bouncy minimal records is a good way to kinda visualize what I try to put out there in my DJ sets.”
For this Sequencer Soundcast you can expect “lots of weird spaced percussion woven with a colorful amount of bleeps and bloops. Hope y’all enjoy, muah!” You can catch them playing at Autonomen: Aktion II in Cleveland with Grey People, Nick Klein, and Miguel Enrique Alvariño at Nows That’s Class on Friday, Aug. 18.
ADAB chose to not provide a track list for this soundcast.