Hello! I haven’t done an “about the scene” blog post in a while, and with the new vinyl thing going on, I felt it might be worth saying a few words as a sort of pre-emptive strike against possible future danger. I have been around a long time. Im old! I have spent 25 years of my 44 in the business now. I have seen how things go wrong. And I am loving the excitement and all the hype surrounding the current crop of music…so I don’t want it all to go pear shaped over some stupid shit that could have been avoided. This is my attempt to stop problems before they happen. It probably won’t work. But I wrote it anyway! Huzzah. Okay, first up:
1. Don’t Try To Force A Name On It
As you can tell from the title of the post, the lack of a name for this new scene is sort of a problem. I am talking about music such as the new Kniteforce vinyl releases, what Dj Jedi is doing, the new Liquid album, the recent Billy Bunter & Sanxion album, the recent Xenophobia album and the 2 Bad Mice album and so many others too numerous to mention. All of it is…ummm…old skool hardcore? New old hardcore? I don’t know what to call it. Nor does anyone else. And that is actually okay. I have been around long enough to see various attempts at naming scenes cause all sorts of trouble. It never works, it just divides, restricts, and then ruins what everyone is doing. Who remembers 4 Beat? Exactly. Despite the good intentions, it was a stupid effort and everyone complained about it. What about Nu Skool Breaks? No! It’s Nu-Rave? Any of you remember that nonsense? I watched all sorts of stupid unfold as various people argued about the sodding name of a scene before it even had a chance to go anywhere. I would honestly say that crap was part of why it all imploded. It was tiresome. Take it from me, naming things is best left to the scene to do on its own, not record label owners or Djs or anyone else, and it will happen organically if a scene develops. Thats how it always works. No one got up one day and said “This music is called Jungle” and then everyone agreed to call it that from then on. It just happened.
Right now, what we are doing is not even a scene really – its more like a lot of people all facing the same direction and saying “Lets do this” – it is a beginning, a possibility. It is a very exciting thing – we can see an amazing future…and it will probably all go wrong. But if you want to absolutely guarantee it will all go wrong, call it something restrictive and stupid and then argue about what is and what isn’t part of it.
Now, if it were me, I would say the ideal name for what this…thing…we are doing is “Classic Hardcore” (like how you have Classic Rock to distinguish between Jimi Hendrix and…I don’t know, whatever is modern rock nowadays lol) or “Original Rave”. Except both of those name are shit. Whatever though, as long as it is something bland and it is able to cover a huge variety of music under one banner. This is important, because the relentless division and carving up of music, especially our music, has done it no good whatsoever.
And if there is one thing we can all agree on about old skool rave, it is that it had a huge amount of variety. That was the very essence of the original rave scene. It was wonderful. It encompassed breakbeats, 4×4, piano and vocal, dark, techno, jungle, d’n’b, 145-170bpm, everything. It was great. Lets not fuck that up by calling it “New Breakbeat Rave Music from the UK” or something equally shit and restrictive. Any name that restricts in any way pretty much dooms the whole thing.
2. Welcome All The Styles
This is kind of a continuation of point one, but it is very important so I want to emphasise it. What Kniteforce is doing is not the only way of doing it. I want KF to be a part of a whole, not a leader or a follower, neither dictating how to do it, or copying someone else. And I am actively making sure I don’t make the mistakes I have made before. Let me give you the Remix Records example: Jimmy and I started that label off with no formula, but RR was already more…restricted…than KF because RR was deliberately dance floor friendly. So the tracks hit immediately, and did well. When they did, we fine tuned the formula. It wasn’t consciously done, but it is what we did. Then the tracks did really well. So we kept doing it until we had that formula down! And everyone got bored shitless and it all went wrong. The end.
Lets not do that again. I am not going to do it with my label, and we need to not do it with the “Classic Hardcore” scene (Sorry. I have to call it something for this article, otherwise its impossible to write it lol). But look, the point is this. For a scene to develop, it needs growth. Growth needs to be sustained by variety. It needs it, because it has to draw more people in, so it has to appeal to more people, so it has to be interesting and varied to grow. And then, it needs to remain that way to sustain itself. This is imperative. Its not just me saying “I would prefer it is the scene had a lot of different styles in it” although anyone who knows me knows that that is true. This is a core element that needs to be not just accepted, but loved and desired by the people in the scene. Without it, nothing will come of it, that is certain. That doesn’t mean you cant prefer one element more than another. It just means, at a minimum, you cant dismiss or shit all over tracks that are good but not your taste, and ideally, you open your mind to those very tracks and gain an appreciation for the wide spectrum of sound being produced.
3. No Rip Offs And Less Remixes Of Old Tunes
Let me be clear – I am being a hypocrite. I have done more than one rip off. And I restarted KF with remixes of old tunes. Shit, I have new remixes coming out this week as I write this.
So let me explain what I mean. Firstly, the Rip Offs:
There is a distinct line between a clever sample and a rip off. What I am talking about here is the difference between using an old 80’s commercial vocal to make a new and unique track, and sampling “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” because that worked back in the day for a big gabber artist. I am also talking about not sampling Sweet Harmony or any of those old, big rave tunes and making a new version. Its shitty. It takes minimum effort and it relies on other peoples success and its been done again and again and again. At this point, even with the best intentions, its not clever and its not cool. I mean, if you can come up with a truly unique way to do it, then thats awesome. But…I don’t think you can. I am not sure if anyone can at this point. This new, emerging scene is absolutely based on the classics of old – but it will die as soon as everyone starts doing that shit. Because then, what is there to distinguish it from old skool anyway? Why would anyone bother to buy it? Or even be into it? Its just tired, and tired leads to rest, and rest to stagnation, and stagnation to rot and to death. Death by boring.
Okay. Now for Remixes Of Old Tunes:
Don’t do this. Don’t do loads of remixes of old skool tunes even if you own the rights to them. I am telling myself off here, as I am guilty as hell lol. And the only excuse I have is that I needed something to restart the label in a strong way. Okay. I did that. But the current remixes are the last in the series. After this, I will not be doing remixes of my old catalogue, and for the same reasons as above. Its old, tired, and resting on past glories. A scene cannot rely or rest on its past, it has to forge a new future.
I am not saying no remixes of anything. Just not of old things. I will certainly do remixes of the new batch of KF hardcore. If the track deserves it. And thats the key point – endless remixes are not a good thing, even of the new stuff. We need new music and new sounds if we are going to have a new scene.
4. Don’t Do It For Free
I would politely ask that everyone involved in this new scene, whether playing a set or releasing music digitally or hosting an event, charges real money for it. You don’t have to charge much money. And its okay to do the odd free thing here and there – that’s good promotion. But please, charge money for the work you are doing. This is very, very important.
Look at modern hardcore – there is almost zero money in it. A few of the biggest name Djs do okay with Dj work, but event promoters are struggling, Many Dj’s play for gas money only, and almost no one makes anything more than pocket money from music sales. This is because the music is worthless. I don’t mean that as a criticism of the music quality – some of it is excellent – What I mean is that so many people make it for free, and so much is freely downloadable, that the music has no value. And this is a huge problem because the whole scene is based on the music. If you want really good music, you need people who can do it as a full time job. Therefore it has to pay. Right now, there are a handful of people in that position with modern hardcore, and a handful isn’t enough. The result is less music altogether, less innovative music within that, and a scene which eats itself, losing artists almost as soon as it has them.
Lets not do that with this new scene. What we are doing is valuable. It should not be free. I assume it goes without saying that we also shouldn’t be ripping people off? Because thats another problem. But let me give you a concrete example of why we need to charge for things: I have been able to offer retired old skool hardcore artists a financial advance to make new music. And some have accepted. I can do that because I have sold the new KF vinyls at a fair price – one that gives the public value for money, but also pays the artist and the label a decent wage. So I have, for the first time in ages, a little bit of extra cash. This enables me to approach artists and say “I have money for you if you want to make some music”. This is essential. Many old skool artist would LOVE to make new music. And many are. But they also have jobs, wives, children, responsibilities – and you cant just drop that to make music that doesn’t pay. This is why I applauded Dj Hams audacious album concept even though some thought it was asking too much. And I am not just talking about old artists. You want new artists to be able to hang around? They have to be paid. So do the Djs, the event promoters, all of them. And people will pay for music, events etc. They are happy to – because they want the scene to thrive as well.
Lastly, and on a more general philosophic note: When you charge for things, you give those things value by default. When you give it away for free, you are devaluing it. We have all been given things for free that we don’t use or treat badly. When we pay for any item, it resonates with us – whether its a new car or toilet paper. Those items were wanted or needed. We had to work to get the money for them. It cost us, so they matter.
5. And Lastly…As Always….Support
This is linked to all of the above. I have talked about it before, but I don’t think I made it clear enough. Yes, you have to click links, leave comments on Soundcloud and Mixcloud and blogs, and you have to pay for music and to go to parties. But even more, you have to promote it. You have to tell other people about it. You have to buy the new albums, and then you have to tell your friends to buy them. You have to share the article or the event post, and then you have to go to the event and drag people along with you. You have to be excited, involved, and you need to be getting others excited and involved. More, you should want to. I know I do – but of course, that is part of my existence, being who I am and doing what I do. For my part, I am going to start sharing all the new music of this kind and advertising it where I can in my mailouts etc. Some of you will be reading this after being given a link via my Kniteforce mailing list. And you will have seen a link to the new Liquid album. I don’t know Liquid any better than you – I bought their old releases, and that is it. But the album is wicked. I have paid real money to buy it myself when I could have got it for free probably by asking for a promo and being all “we are in the music business together, give me free stuff” lol. It happens. But thats the whole point – No, I don’t get it for free, I buy the album. Because I have to support as well. I have to spend my money – money that I don’t have really. My money goes back into the label and is spent on Wilders diapers and food and other boring essentials. But if I want this scene to work…and I really, really do…then I have to play my part. I have to spend my money. I have to use what resources I have to promote these things. This is me, doing that. This is me, asking you to do that. And if you are reading this as an artists making this stuff – hit me up, I will help where I can!
Chris / Luna-C
PS and please don’t call it “Classic Hardcore”