A number of people liked my previous blog, so I figured I would write another one. Once again its in the format that the website Cracked uses, but this time they are online, so after reading this, go have a look. Its a brilliant waste of at least 30 minutes of your day lol:
Anyway…Perhaps it should be said right from the beginning that I write these things mainly for myself. I find writing down my thoughts and ideas clarifies what I want or need to do – the emphasis being on trying to improve my own outlook and abilities. So if you read along and disagree, or think that the things I am talking about don’t really apply to everyone, then you may well be right – it may just apply to me lol.
In some ways it was easy to write “5 Things The Hardcore Scene Needs To Learn In 2015”, mainly because criticism is easy. Try it for yourself, perhaps on a sibling, or your significant other (I take no responsibility for you sleeping on the couch). Anyone can complain and talk about how something is not as good as it could be. And as I am British, its extra easy because it is a proud tradition of my people. But in an effort to be Australian (the traditional home of boundless optimism), I am going to try and offer a few things we could all do to actually help the scene, and maybe make a difference.
Anyway, here we go…
1. Whatever You Are doing, Do It Properly.
Here is a picture of the decor at the rave in Atlanta I recently played at. It was hosted by Katalyst Atlanta, was called “Return To Pandora” and it had an Avatar theme (no, really? lol).
“Everything is blue in this world…”
The picture does not do it justice as it is only one room of the three and it was taken before the place was full. The venue was already awesome, but as well as the stuff hanging from the ceiling, there were actual bits of tree painted to look Avatar-ish, as well as the extensive decorations hanging from the ceiling, around the Dj booths, and also some giant mushrooms which I would have thought I maybe imagined, except that I tripped over one of them. And here is another picture of ravers who used the face and body painter, who painted people to look like the Na-vi:
“So are we Star Wars droids, or what?”
This is doing it properly. Not only was the party themed, and then made as blue as possible, even the body painters made sure to keep within the theme. Its a small thing, but it matters. In my last blog post, I mentioned in a very offhand manner that promoters need to do something other than themes. In retrospect, I felt a little bad about this because it is just as difficult to do something new when putting on a party as it is to do something new musically. So I wanted to clarify a little on my previous comments, and then apply it to everything else. BangFace, Katalyst Productions, Tight Crew and various other parties I have had the privilege to play for, choose a theme and then go all out to make the entire night follow that theme. A recent Tight Crew party was Mario themed, and even had game consoles set up to play MarioKart etc on. Again, its not a big thing, but these little details make for a really complete party experience. The promoters do way more than is called for, but in doing so, they make the party a unique experience. It is fantastic.
The scene as a whole has become stagnant, but I think this is as much due to laziness as to repeating the same ideas. Things don’t need to be new all the time, but they do need to be awesome all the time. So if you are doing something that has been done before, you need to do it better than before. And attention to detail is where the difference lies.
This applies to every aspect of the scene, not just parties. If you are making an old skool sounding track, use the original sounds, but produce them to todays standards. It will take longer. It will be more work. But you have to do it properly because otherwise, whats the point? Likewise, if you are making a modern hardcore track, or any sort of music, short cuts need to be forgotten. Producers cannot keep falling back on old tricks. Its the small details that make it progress rather than a rehash.
Dj’s cannot keep playing the same tracks in their sets (I am looking at you, Luna-C lol). And they need to remember they are putting on a show – so be a showman. Dress to be part of it if you can (again, I am looking at myself here as I have a tendency to dress like its sunday morning lol), dance to the music you are playing, and for fucks sake look like you are enjoying yourself even if you aren’t. There is nothing quite so dull as watching a statue play records, and that small thing reverberates around the room. The crowd feeds from the Dj, the Dj feeds from the crowd. If the Dj is dead, the crowd has to work harder to be alive. Also, are you a warm up Dj or a headliner? Both have a certain responsibility. If you are warming up, learn the art of it. It is not a respected or loved place to be unfortunately, but if you do it well, you make the whole party better. It takes skill, and I think it has become a lost art. So don’t play the headliners biggest releases just before he or she plays. Likewise, headliners need to respect and appreciate the previous Dj’s work. It costs nothing to shake the previous Dj’s hand and thank him or her, but it shows the crowd we are all in this together.
Blog posts, and hardcore website owners need to have the correct spelling and grammar on their sites, plus working links to tracks where appropriate etc etc. Not because any of those things matter in themselves – I am certainly no grammar nazi (how do you spell Kniteforce again?) However, do it because it shows attention to detail, and that you care about what you are doing. When some new potential raver reads it, you want them to draw them in, not make them think the scene is run by fools who can’t spell and don’t care about what they are doing.
As for ravers, if you are going to a rave, get there early, and leave late, not after an hour or two. Why? Because if promoters are putting on a proper party, and Dj’s are playing proper music with commitment to their art, you ought to be there for it. They are there for you, yes, but are you there for them? You should be. Neither the promoter or the Dj is going to make a million dollars playing that set or spending time making the venue look amazing. All they really get out of it is the satisfaction of pleasing the ravers. And if all the ravers go home at 2am, it kinda sucks for everyone. And if the warm up Dj is playing to no one, why should he bother?
The reason all of this needs to happen is simple – it shows commitment to the scene and each part helps the other. The raver dancing to the first set at 8pm is telling the Dj that what he is doing matters, and telling the promoter it was worth opening at 8pm instead of 9pm. The worst thing that seems to happen at the moment is people leaving after the headliner plays. That’s sad, and it links to the Superstar Dj thing mentioned in my previous blog. If you go to the party, try to stay as long as you can? Be there for your locals. This might mean dancing to music you might not be totally into. But try it, it can be brilliant, and the Dj will definitely appreciate it.
If we all do our part and make just a little effort to do things properly, the whole scene will thrive and be more attractive to those new people coming in.
2. Embrace the Future.
You know whats really boring? The phrase “Real Dj’s use Vinyl” and the entire conversation that goes on after that. Its bollocks. Big hairy boring bollocks. It is also boring when someone starts a sentence with “I remember in the good old days” but I am going to do that anyway. I remember in the good old days, when ravers thought they were the future. We felt like rebels, we were embracing a new technology and a new music and a new attitude. The rave scene used to be about innovation in every aspect. To use a horrible word, we were “futurists”.
Nowadays we all seem to be looking backwards. To address the Dj and vinyl issue, let me clear it up once and for all with this simple sentence:
Who the fuck cares?
It is the least important thing. I love vinyl. But I cant do a Supaset with it. I don’t like playing CD’s but it is practical for what I like to do in my sets. I don’t trust my laptop not to spaz out at a club and I cant edit vinyl, so CDs is what I use. The only thing all of that has in common is it is MY PREFERENCE. No one dancing to the tracks I am playing is thinking “this is good, but it would be better on Serato”. And I have never heard a set that I didn’t like because the Dj was playing on Ableton or whatever. These sort of arguments are pretentious nonsense. Does vinyl take more skill than CD? Or Traktor? Again, who cares? I want to hear something new and exciting, whether its Jimni Cricket cutting it up this way or a new producer using a laptop. What does matter is that the Dj is making it work. If you like vinyl, great. If you like Serato, also great. Whatever makes you happy, basically. But lets not pretend that it matters even slightly to anyone but ourselves.
Another boring thing is everyone saying “its not as good as it used to be” – which I am totally guilty of…But you know what? Perhaps one of the reasons its not as good as it used to be is stupid people like me hanging about the place saying “its not as good as it used to be”. Why are we looking backwards? We didn’t used to. I think we have all got into our own comfort zones, where we want to hear the things we like played the way we like them. And thats okay…but its not enough. We need to be looking forward, and embracing the new things while retaining our love for the old. There is nothing wrong with the old ways of doing things – there are certainly things to learn from the past. But once we have learned those things, apply them to the future.
3. Show Your Appreciation Part 1 – Speak Up
“or I will jab you in the face with this mic”
With the scene being so small, we really need to encourage the makers of things to stick around. We need to let the promoters, artists, Djs, record labels, ravers and everyone else know that they are appreciated. There are various ways to do this, and all of them are important.
For a start, leave a comment. Leave a comment on this blog post. Leave a comment about the rave you went to last night. Leave a comment on the Soundcloud mix you listened to. Write a review on iTunes, a message via Facebook, an email to a Dj, whatever, but speak up. Don’t sit there enjoying shit and not saying shit. Those of us in the creation business put out hearts and souls into what we do, and as often as not we sacrifice money, time, and even relationships to do it. We would do this anyway – it is how we are built, we are driven. But creativity is a finite resource that needs sustenance. Part of that is being inspired by others, but another part is to know that what we are doing is worth the considerable effort we put into it. It’s not about ego. It’s about…how to explain? I sit in the studio most days, and I have ideas in my head for tracks and sets and artwork. I feel the excitement, I get hyped up, I have this thing I want to do, something I want to try out because the artist in me screams that I have to, I have to. And the icing on the cake is that when I show everyone this thing, people are going to love it.
The single thought I have to avoid thinking is “no one will care about this” because if I start thinking along those lines, all the enthusiasm drains out of what I am doing. I will do what I am doing anyway – I will still eat the cake. But its so much better with the icing on it.
Look, I am not going to pretend that I don’t want people to love what I do. Perhaps that makes me egocentric, but any artist that publicly displays any type of art wants the people to like it – otherwise they would not bother to make it public.
Why am I writing this blog? Because loads of people commented on the last one. Why am I putting out a new hardcore track? Because people danced to the last one. I can sit at home and make music for me and write things for me, but every time I reach out and connect with you, it validates what I am doing and encourages me to do more. And even if you hate what I do, the feedback lets me know, helps me move forward.
I cant be sure, but I think this is the same for every Dj, producer, promoter, photographer, blogger – whatever, you name it. We are not desperate for comments and people kissing our ass, we will do what we do anyway most likely, but it sure is nice when you release a new tune and people actually bother to say how much they liked it.
4. Show Your Appreciation Part 2 – Pay For It
“Subtlety – now available in comic sans”
There have been endless boring debates about piracy, and I am not going to drag it all up now. As far as that goes, there is so little money in the scene nowadays that if you are stealing hardcore music, you are quite literally incapacitating those who make the music, and that is the debate over. So please, pay for it or fuck off.
But what I really want to say here is that we all need to pay for what we like, and its bigger than music piracy. A successful party promoter gets to know a lot of people – networking and encouraging people to come to the party is absolutely essential to the success of the party. But I would ask those ravers that are friends with promoters to still buy the tickets at full price. You may think that “its just you…and your girlfriend…and your girlfriends mate” that want a discount / free ticket, but you are three people in a huge list of others all asking for a discount or free entry. And taken as a whole, that is a chunk of money that the promoter may well need to afford the night. And if they are lucky enough to make a profit, that money can be used for the next party being a bigger, better experience.
I keep going back to it, but the scene cannot sustain itself if people don’t pay for what they want and get paid for what they do. And its really not that hard to do, nor that expensive, if we all just pay a little. Its the same way for Dj’s. Yes, you are playing out, and promoting other peoples music. But everyone is a Dj nowadays, so all the Dj’s also need to buy the music rather than try to get things for free. Also, a plus one at a party is standard. A plus two is okay as well. A plus ten is taking the piss and you really need to check yourself. A free alcoholic drink is nice, but the promoter is not obligated. And no, you don’t deserve 20 bottles of champagne.
These are just a few examples, but there are many others. In all cases, if stuff is offered for free, then sure, take the kind person up on the offer if you want. But consider that kind person – are they being kind to everyone? At what point will the kind person no longer be giving away anything because they are now working in the accounts department of a corporation?
I am certainly not suggesting giving Mr Greedy McSelfishpants any extra money – but we all know those who are genuinely promoting the scene and those who are only in it for themselves, and we all ought to help out the good ones in every way – in comments, financially, and then perhaps most importantly…
5. Show Your Appreciation Part 3 – Get Involved
There are millions of things you can do to support the scene. The two mentioned above are the easiest in a way – it is easy to sit at home and leave comments or pay for something. The fact that many people don’t is a mystery to me, but it is no mystery that many people don’t get involved. It takes effort to get involved, it takes work, it takes doing something other than watching TV lol. But still, if you can, then please, get involved. You know someone putting on a party? Help them set it up or post it on your Facebook or twitter or help with the flyers. You have access to a studio? Make some music. You have turntables? Make a mix, and put it out for people to download. Can you draw? Design in Photoshop? Flyers and logos are calling you. Skill with decor? Or photography? Step up, you are needed.
Getting involved is better than leaving comments or paying for stuff, because it does both. If you are helping the promoter set the party up, you are saving them money and time (and yes, you should then get free entry but that should not be the reason for doing it lol). If you are releasing podcast mixes, you are commenting in the best way possible about what you love with the music. Again and again, whatever you can do, I encourage you to do it. Not only will it help the scene, it will also be fun for you, and you will meet a lot of new people and learn a lot of new things. It is true that it sometimes sucks – you can put a lot of effort and get little reward. But in my experience, it is mostly awesome, and you will have a great time. Helping the scene might be the reason to start, but once you start, that will be an incidental benefit, one you wont notice because you will be having too much fun doing whatever you are doing. Even if you disagree with me on everything else I have written, trust me on this one, because I know it to be true.