During the week I got involved, against my better judgement, in a discussion about ‘saving the industry’. The industry in question, from what I could gather, was a mutated form of dance culture, which seemed to be heavily indebted to the pernicious act of printing money. The article that spawned the discussion had a few salient points about supporting and encouraging DJing talent – although there was nothing about the people making the tunes the DJs play, and it kind of suggested that everything a lot of us hold dear was now relegated to the past. What got my back up, I think, was the seeming lack of interest in the music and the implied belief that everything now revolved around the suspect world of super clubs, of VIP sections, of bling and buffoonery, and of artifice. When I pointed out that there were still plenty of people out there, in small club nights running in sweat drenched basement, in back lots and tiny holes in the ground, I was told there weren’t, that community was now industry, and that not everything was about the Underground versus Commercialism.
In fact, Everything is about the Underground versus Commercialism. It doesn’t matter whether your scene revolves around Techno, or Trance, or ballroom dancing, none of it means a damn if you don’t have people who are involved in it who care about something other than what they can take out of it. Does this mean that there should never be any commercial aspects to the Underground? Nope, but it does mean that the commercial motive should never impinge of the things that makes the Underground important.
Over the last few years, things have got worse as EDM has grown into a vast, hungry monster: Stadium shows and Superstar DJs high on their own hype throwing Christ poses whilst boggle eyed kids wield glow sticks and stare, hardly reacting to the constant succession of breakdown and drops built into tunes that have distilled the music into 5 second bursts of inanity have led to the dominant belief in artifice over art. The thing to bear in mind, as Derrick May points out here on this track by Operator Tracey, is that it has nothing to do with us. As soon as I remembered that I stepped out of the argument.
To tell the truth, it was heartening to see that there were other people who thought it was all bollocks too and that although not many were as cynical as I am (I may have declared war on EDM, I can’t remember,) most knew at a basic level that there was something more to it than careers and cash.
However, never let it be said that I am not willing to listen – I will do my part for nurturing the DJ culture that is apparently now an industry right now: So, if there are any brand new jockeys out there looking for wise words, my advice is this: I know that choosing your stage name seems like the most important thing in the world, and that having a cool handle is all that stands between you and imminent stardom and invites to parties at David Guetta’s house, but before that, it might be an idea to have done two things: actually tried DJing, and found out where to buy music from. Boring as those two things might seem, I think you might find them to be pretty important in the long run. Good luck Kids, you’re gonna need it.