5 Things The Hardcore Scene Needs To Learn In 2015

I read the website Cracked quite a lot. Most days. They usually have 4 or 5 new articles a day, and they are usually in the form of lists. Some are comedic and some are serious, but they are always fascinating or funny or both. I was going to add a link, but for the first time I can remember, the site is down. Sigh.

For a few weeks, I have had the idea of doing a hardcore version titled: 5 Things The Hardcore Scene Needs To Learn In 2015

Having said that, it was more of a personal idea and something to think about, than something I would publish. But as it turned out fine, I thought I would share it. Also, it mostly relates to the US scene, as I live in the US now, but I think it applies all over to some degree:

5. Hardcore Needs To Realise Its Not A Big Scene Anymore.

doggy

“Hi, I’m happy hardcore, nice to meet you rest of the worlds music!”

This is the root of the problem I think. And part of it is due to old fucks like me who remember a bigger scene and forget that it has changed. We don’t know how to adjust because we lived through the vinyl selling years. To us (and you can count in this pretty much any artist or Dj who had their music released on vinyl), the current music industry is relentlessly disappointing. We were very used to selling records for a living, and Djing as a bonus, or vice versa. We always think we could “sell more units” if….something. We are not sure what that something is, but we still think it.

But we can’t. Not now, maybe never again. And this thinking leads to errors in judgement.

Another part of the issue is that the scene as a whole is optimistic by nature, and we all want the scene to be bigger and better. We just cant quite figure out how to go about it…but still, we hope. But that hope only lasts so long, and we don’t see anything change, so….

And the last part of it is pure mythology. I am constantly told by promoters and ravers in the US that “This party is nowhere near as good as the UK, right?”. But the UK has shitty and good parties, the same as the US. And many of the US parties have been as big or bigger as the UK parties I have played. The only thing the US currently cannot do so well is the “huge” rave. Those are getting rarer everywhere. But the main reason the US cannot do it is geography. Ravers are spread too far apart here to pull off 2000 plus parties with any degree of regularity, if at all. It used to be like that, yes – but hardcore needs to realise it is not a big scene anymore.

This error in thought leads to warped expectations that sour us on the scene. No one likes being disappointed. And while we all walk around thinking “It used to be better” or “It should be better” or “I wish it was better” we are not really getting anywhere. Instead, I humbly suggest we accept the scene is small. That’s okay. It leads us to better questions, such as “What can we do with it? How can we make it better for the people in it? What has not been tried before”. Being small has advantages – lower risks being a major one. If the party is gonna be small, if the sales on the new release are tiny, there is nothing to stop us trying out new ideas. And we need new ideas desperately. This will grow the scene. Nothing else will, and shit, we have tried everything else lol.

4. The Superstar Dj Has To Die

dj-keoki

I got this image by searching Superstar Dj. Exactly.

Slightly controversial perhaps, but I have long thought that the superstar Dj is the epicentre of the problem. One of the things that drew me to raving was the sense of community. I was with all the other weirdos, listening to weird music in a weird place played by a weird fella, and it was great. We were all together, we were all odd, and we were all part of the same crowd. The raising of a Dj to superstar status immediately separates the Dj from the crowd. I am always flattered when someone asks for an autograph or does the bowing thing, yet it always leaves me a little uneasy too. Because of my history perhaps, because my best years raving was an era when you didn’t even know who the Dj was as often as not. I understand the intent, it is a thank you and a way to show respect etc, and thats a beautiful and appreciated thing. But I would much prefer a hand shake or a hug – those things are inclusive, meeting someone on the same level. Bowing etc cannot help but put distance between the Dj and the people, a distance that is not healthy for the Dj or the mentality of the rave. Rave culture as a whole should be about everyone being part of it, equally. We all do different jobs, be it raver, Dj, promoter, producer, and all of us are needed to make it work.

When the Dj is the star of the party, the parties without a star Dj cannot gain traction. It did not used to be like this, and does not need to be this way. Parties used to make a name for themselves by being good – the flyer would list the Djs, but it was not the sole reason to go to that party, or even the major reason. Parties built a reputation for being good regardless of the amount of fame the Dj had.

It puts an unfair emphasis on the Dj as well – promoters can’t help but think that if the party is not full, then the Dj does not have enough pull. But there are many reasons a party might not be full – geography for example. Darren Styles would pull about 3 people in my hometown of Raleigh, because Raleigh has about 3 ravers. I am certainly not blaming the promoters for thinking this, or for empty parties. Its just the Superstar Dj warps the perception right from the beginning because it leads to “Big name + party = good party”. Not so.

The Dj superstar thing affects the Dj too, with some having egos the size of planets, and others that expect their every whim to be catered to. It unbalances everything. We want a strong rave scene, not a strong fan base for a few of the Djs in the rave scene. We need promoters that can put on parties and have them be successful without having to have a big name. More small parties that are great will do a lot more good for the scene than a yearly Big Dj Worship Gathering, no matter how much fun that yearly gathering is.

3. Old People In the Industry Need To Charge Less

 

oldmoney

“I sure love playing HTID! I can easily afford my adult diapers for the month!”

And by people, I mean me. But I also mean other people like me, who have been around for long enough to charge a decent amount to play. If we accept the scene is smaller than it used to be, then we have to accept it cannot pay the same fees it used to. Now, this is a problem because like others, I have mistakenly learned to live on the money from music. And this leads to expectations. And hopes. And thinking the scene is big because that way I can still get paid and therefore survive like I used to. No! That is just bullshit.

We have to lower our prices because we need more parties. There are less parties when promoters cannot afford to do them. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to spend the majority of our time making and playing music need to be doing more of it, for less. Its gonna be difficult, but it is what it is. Until the scene gets stronger, we will just have to deal. This applies to remix fees as well. And record label cuts from artists. Pretty much straight down the line. If the people with the most power want the scene to grow, then we need to encourage more people to stay in the scene. So we need more of everything – more producers, more promoters, more Djs. And to get that, we need it to be affordable and worthwhile to those entering the scene. So we need to lower our prices…but conversely…

2. New People In The Industry Need To Charge More

little dog

“Look, I want to be at the party for you, but I need a little help in return…”

We need new people. We need it desperately. We need at least five more S3rls, a few more Jakazids, a Rhythmics or two, a big pile of Jon Does, more Bangfaces and Tight Crews, more Rebuilds and more Hardcore Undergrounds ….we need more. We need more people making music, we need more people playing it, and we need more parties. We wont get that when the new people don’t get rewarded for their efforts. They get shitty Dj times and rarely get paid – the promoter cant afford it cos they got a big name in who is charging all the money. New producers give music to labels and don’t get paid or even accounted to. Its hard to do a years accounts for someone only to find that they have earned $1.63. Still, it needs to be done so that the artist feels it is worth doing and so that they know that they are not being taken advantage of. It’s one thing to say “your release made no money” but it is another to prove it with accounting. It makes a difference.

Promoters must start paying their home talent, and the home talent must start charging to play, even if its just gas money. If I were in charge of everything, I would make it a requirement that everyone who plays on the night receives a minimum wage of $50. Not because people won’t do it for free – they will. But they shouldn’t. And not because I think promoters have bags of money – they don’t. But it would establish a) the Dj’s time and effort is valued and b) make the scene more professional, so that the people in it would not feel used or like they wasted their time. It would also make promoters think about who was playing where. It is too easy to hire a venue, find you have an extra room, and then just get anyone to play because they will do it for free. All this does is spread a small party into smaller areas, so instead of one big room thats full, you have two big rooms that are half full. And it looks like its only a quarter full,  because it doesn’t make a bigger party. You usually wont get more than a handful of extra people for the extra room. And the fact that Djs will play for free means that the promoter does not have to worry about how good the person is. The thought is “Its a free extra room with a free set of Djs, why not? It makes the party look bigger”. But it doesn’t. It makes it look smaller because no one room is ever packed out. The vibe is spread thinner. It also brings down quality because if you are not paying for something, it doesn’t usually matter if its not very good. But in this case, it really does.

1. Everyone Has To Take More Risks

risk

“A whole article and not one mention of farts”

This is maybe the most important one. Man, the scene is stale. Look, I love hardcore, I have been here for 22 years now (on and off but mostly on lol), so I don’t think anyone can doubt me. But we need to pick it up, shake it out, and find new ways of doing things. There is nothing wrong with what we are doing particularly, other than its what we have been doing for over a decade or more and it is just stagnant. Hence the lack of growth. Producers need to risk much more in their music. Seriously. Its not just about what fills a dance floor – because although that is important, I find I am hearing the same formula for hours at every event and have been for years. And it cant help but get boring. I am not advocating any style other than “do something new”. This is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is maybe the hardest. But unless we start getting a little more variety in the scene, we are destined to stay exactly where we are. Its no good when someone gets into the scene, loves it, and leaves it in the space of a year because the first and last party they went to had the same Djs playing the same music in the same venue.

Djs need to mix it up. Just…play other peoples stuff for fucks sake. Not just your friends and your own. Not just your usual sound. Its tough because we all like certain things, but we have to just get out of that mindset altogether. We have to be willing to use our power to push more variety.

Promoters have similar issues. They need to come up with things to do with parties other than the “theme” idea. We all love Mario, Xmas, Anime and Halloween, yes, but its been done. And done, and done and done. All the parties that I see being successful go the extra mile to make each event something unique. This is absolutely essential.

 

 

I hope no one reads this and thinks I am having a go at anyone. This is just what I think needs to change, and so I wrote it out. As with everything I write, I might be very wrong. But it feels somewhere in the ball park to me 🙂

 

Anyway, I am going to put my money where my mouth is and in 2015 I’m gonna try and do the following:

1. Drop my price as a Dj and remixer. I want to play more and do more, and believe in what I have written above. Therefore, it is necessary.

2. Try to play at least 5 small parties this year where I have not been advertised to play. I will play for free. If you are a small promoter reading this, hit me up and lets see if we can make it happen.

3. Give a greater financial incentive to my artists on the label. There is very little to go around, but I want them to stick around 🙂

4. Take risks as a musician and artist. I already have an E.P lines up called “Risk”, named as such because it is a very different thing to what people might expect from me. And I am going to keep pushing, in every direction, taking risks with the music I make even if it fails. Especially if it fails. There is no other way to find out what works.

5. Take risks with my Djing. And play some other peoples music, for fucks sake!

Nice one,

Luna-C

18 Responses to 5 Things The Hardcore Scene Needs To Learn In 2015

  1. nullstrukt December 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Great article, and many good points in here! And hey, 3 ravers in Raleigh is a little bleak–there’s at least 12 of us. 😛

    Being one of those small promoters and lesser-known DJs I totally understand what you’re getting at, though. Actual fans of hardcore are few and far between, and they only seem to show up when there is a recognizable DJ on the lineup (and even then it’s a crapshoot). I learned to DJ with hardcore and still love it very much, but I have never once played a live set with it because I just haven’t figured out how to make it work around here.

    Ha ha, the comment about promoters needing to get off the theme kick definitely hit close to home, but it’s also a good one. I’m going to use that as inspiration for trying to think of better things that we can do in 2015 to really make our shows a unique and fun *community* experience. Thanks for posting this, and if you ever want to play something local we at Sonic Sphere would love to have you! 🙂

    -Ben/nullstrukt

  2. Scartat December 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    well said dude. I’m in full agreement here

  3. Alexia Mann December 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    I would love to speak with you about one of those small events for next year. I really appreciate this post and the truth in it. Not sure what the best at to contact you is but we are already friends on Facebook, please let me know when you are available! Thanks so much hun!

  4. Matrix December 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I couldnt agree more with you on this article. I used to run an internet radio station. And we also tried putting on a few events on them free room. And apart from the regulars from the radio that made the journeys to be with us the rooms were 90% empty. It was very disheartening for myself and the artists that i had booked to play. They were all in my opinion very deserving djs that i would have loved to pushed forward. I love the hardcore scene i have been there from the start back in the 90s, i still bang out hardcore all the time, new and old.

    I believe that you luna C are bang on with your views of the hardcore scene, plus there aren’t many label owners that put 90% of their back catalogue online for free. Big up yourself and hopefully get to hear you play a small event near me next year

  5. Wayne Clarkey December 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Everything you have written here is bang on mate, I couldn’t agree more!

  6. Tim Branson December 10, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Nail – Head!

  7. Nigel December 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Well written, and very clear. Lets hope some of the other people “in” the scene read this and take heed, who wants to be a leather clad Superstar DJ being humped by a little dog!

  8. Rob Unstable December 11, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Spot on mate, maybe some of this wisdom will be taken on board by everyone

  9. Zoltan December 11, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    More S3RLs!

  10. paul_o December 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    Didn’t get to meet/speak when you were last in the UK, but this was almost exactly what I wanted to talk about.

    I’ve shared this on my DJ page and on Uprising – we are doing all of this for 2015 and agree wholeheartedly with every point.

    Hopefully you’ll be across in the UK again next year, so we can have you along and help in this cause.

    Big up!

  11. Darts December 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Nice one for taking the time to a) think about all this; and b) actually put it into writing and publish it… as a promoter who’s pushing an eclectic range of Hardcore in an area where it’s not the biggest / most popular music scene I can say we’d definitely benefit from being able to reduce the costs of putting on events with more of people’s favourite artists so that we can put on more events and attract bigger crowds – helping our less established artists to gain more exposure in the process. TBH I think a lot of people are pretty fair with their fees… but if you take into account the combined costs of putting on a smaller event (inc. venue, promotion, headliner fees, less established acts / local fees) it’s hard to make it financially viable and self supporting whilst still keeping the door price down for the ravers. I’m sure we can all make some good stuff happen in 2015 though =)

  12. Anthony December 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Great article! This is sparking some debate among me and my friends about the state of the ravescene here in Sweden =)

  13. Cojami December 11, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Wonderful article. I was lucky enough to have been around in the late 90s early 00s in San Francisco and Hardcore was still going strong… Then onto AZ where it was in full effect and swing. Was a wonderful time and still one of the greatest of my life.

    One of the issues i see common now in hardcore is the cliquishness; often the promoters trading bookings or DJs are protecting their “turf” and hinder up and comers. This goes back to your ego statement. Everyone needs to be a bit more humble…

    Other issue i’ve seen is fakeness. Its amazing how many best friends you have when you are promoting and putting on an event; watch them all disappear when when you don’t offer them a slot or don’t immediately tell them how wonderful they are.

    I was lucky enough to have worked hard and be rewarded in during my time in AZ; i know a fair amount of others that never had the same chance as i. No matter what, keep stomping and keep being inclusive; it’s the only way to truly grow what we love.

  14. CS December 12, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Very interesting post. As an old fuck myself who’s not been out in far too long, I agree with very much of this, though it is not new or unique to the hardcore scene.

    5. Natural lifecycle progression, have smaller parties, have smaller venues, build travel/lodging networks and communities, schedule affordable outdoor events with busing from every major city in a 300 mile range. Bigger != better in my books.

    Expectations are difficult to manage and are constantly growing as the subjective sense & perceived duration of satisfaction diminishes.

    We want more… NOW! We demand instant satisfaction only because we’ve become so collectively unsatisfied with what we’ve become. And that’s exactly it, expectations belong to individuals, the promoter cannot, if they want to get paid, curtail an individual’s expectations about an event. It is up to each of us to determine that we’re gonna show up & dance our f’ing arses off like it’s our last night on earth, no matter what. It is the promoter’s job to hype us into making that decision, but at the beginning of it all, it is we who make the night.

    4. Hell Yes! Man, I think sometimes us older folks are so blessed to have experienced the type of parties we did. The bowing thing is, ya, kinda odd, just do this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_76RK_5bBs next time & see if they get the reference. At best, they’ll enter a confusion trance, you can disappear & they’ll think you’re a wizard.

    A strong anything is made up of strong individual components with strong bonds to each other. Our strength was rooted in our loss, many of us were out of fucks to give as we were all rejects of one sort or another. Remember when expressing interest in computers or non-guitar “music” was a surefire path to social suicide?

    The growth of “the scene” signified a return to tribalism, the local manifestation of the global village expressed through the seemingly limitless potential of emerging technologies. Celebrating our interdependence and recognizing the inseparable unity within our environment & each other no matter who we were — instead of buying into the materially derived individualism perpetually peddled by mainstream marketers.

    That is what this was about before the marketers realized that what we had built on mutual interest and universal acceptance was darn purdy & started beating her down legally and pimping her out to the highest bidder.

    3-2. Agreed, but not overly optimistic that either will happen. We must become hardcore capitalists to undo this skewed dynamic. We must become the invisible hand of the market and bitch-slap the shit out of what we don’t like by keeping it in our pants, our money, that is. That is the only language pimps speak, (the jive & violence are merely subtext.)

    Unfortunately, we must also be persuasive enough to convince the majority to take the high road with us, or at least hit the bottom line hard enough to make the pimping no longer worth while.

    Support ethical promoters, parties put on by the people, for the people. Boycott big name parties, get your crew going out to some small venue nights. Hell, put on some new small venue nights if there aren’t any. Educate people on how to setup and promote a party in the area. Setup DJ or audio production workshops. If ya don’t know, axe somebody! BUILD COMMUNITY!!! This is all this was ever about!

    1. This is how it all started! We took risks cuz we were bored, dejected & the excitement/uncertainty of something interesting happening always trumped the certainty of nothing. This was what made it so fucking fun! Hopping on a school bus to take you to who knows where, maybe a field, maybe a warehouse, what was gonna happen? Would the cops show up? Sprinklers go off? Did they remember the extra gerry can for the generator this time or was the power gonna cut off at 4am and turn the rave into a drum circle/bonfire? And just who is that sexy beast dancing over there? Rowr!

    At the end of it all, like life, any scene is just what you make it. Well done, I’m all nostalgic & inspiried! Off to start composing some cosmic cetacean mating calls cuz EDM is dead. 🙂

  15. DJ LukeAss December 14, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    Whatever happens, the force will be with us!

  16. Riddler December 14, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    A great read Chris, hope to see you in the uk again soon – and push this strategy. I think quite a few are up for giving it a whirl.

  17. Anders / Kaytaro December 19, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    I totally agree with you Chris on your points. I was kind of getting bored of the “Hardcore” scene myself as of lately when I heard Doughboy’s Hardcore Siren track and was thinking “Wait, the hell? Old school sounding hardcore made in 2014?” It inspired me once again to believe that artists can and should take it back to where it began. Don’t get me wrong there are some tracks I adore non-KF still but when I go through my record collection it was made in the late 90’s to 2009 or so, I really could listen to the tracks over again over, but since its on Vinyl, I do not want to wear it out lol..

  18. DaveGlover January 5, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more with the points you have made here. I am a huge 90’s Happy Hardcore fan and it saddens me that that this style is all but dead. (Dead in the sense that there are very few/ almost no producers creating anything new in this style).

    As this article was about aspirations for 2015 I am curious, how many of these tasks were you personally able to complete?

    Did you notice anyone else implementing this way of thinking?

    Finally, what are your thoughts or suggestions for the scene going forward into 2016?

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