Which School Are you From? – The Intricacies Of Music New And Old And It’s Affect On Youth Culture:

I was born in April of 1973.  This makes me (at the current time of writing) forty one years of age.

For as long as I can remember, electronic music with repetitive beats has dominated my life, I grew up on a diet of force fed electronic music, it completely dominated the charts; Yazoo, Kraftwerk, Yello, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Human League.  Even the latest blockbuster films had synth heavy soundtracks, for example John Carpenter’s Escape From New York And Alan Parker’s Midnight Express, I could literally go on forever.

This broad introduction of the electronic synthesiser into modern day media caused a seismic change in youth culture and the way the way that young people interacted with each other.

There have been many changes in youth culture, all wide and varied and all inextricably linked to both music and fashion.  The first real example we see of it was in the 1940’s beginning most notably with Rock and Roll, leading onto the Teddy Boys of the 50’s, the Mods and Rockers of The 60’s, The Skin/Suedeheads and Punks of the 70’s and then the Acid House explosion of the 80’s.

Since then (in my humble opinion) there has been a drought with no really significant changes in youth culture, with Simon Cowell et al totally dominating the charts with their pre-fabricated churned out pop dirge, purely designed to do nothing but make the major record labels obscenely rich stockpiling gargantuan piles of cash.

Then the question occurs to me; where did all the creativity go?

For me an epiphany moment was in the late eighties hearing “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald. 

This music was unlike anything I had heard before, totally fresh and completely new, I still to this day count my lucky stars to be involved in such a burgeoning scene so early in its conception.  At fifteen years of age I attended various warehouse parties in and around the capital.  Acid House Music was everywhere and I was firmly bitten by the bug.  This was my time, my own youth culture moment.  My time to jump on something new and make it my own.

So here I find myself at the grand old age of 41 and still just as obsessed (if not more) with this incredible music.  But for me it is all about pushing forward, listening to all the incredible new talent that is rising through the ranks.  I believe there is more really, really great music around today than ever before.

So now we arrive in 2014.  What has happened to youth culture in the UK today?  For the last fews years we have seen young people “shuffling” at parties/raves/festivals. 

This dance movement has received some really bad press and received extreme ridicule, even accused of racism in some cases, however, I believe it is the single most exciting thing to happen in UK youth culture since Acid House and I applaud and encourage it’s arrival in equal amounts.  Its really, really great and refreshing to see something new and genuine being born out of the current UK House Music scene, but is it really new?

I read an amazing article written by a DJ so deeply entrenched in the UK electronic music scene that he literally has become an integral working part; Mr Greg Wilson.  Last summer he pointed out on his blog that foot shuffling has indeed been around a lot longer than most people think.  Below is a youtube video of a recording made in the Moss Side Community Centre in Manchester on September 27th 1987, so well before messers. Oakenfold, Holloway, Rampling and Walker returned from that genre spawning trip to The White Island

Here we see young black teens enjoying some very early house and breaking out some very similar moves to today’s shufflers.  Food for thought.

There is always and will always be a glut of “back to 88” or old school nights.  I personally have nothing against these events and agree that we should never ignore the past, however, I don’t think its healthy to live in it. 

Absorb the past and use it as inspiration for creating something new, push the boundaries of this wonderful sound.  It would be truly extraordinary and inspiring to see the youth of today create a new exciting culture to give Cowell and his cronies a run for their money and bring creativity back to the masses.

You can read more on Greg Wilson’s blog:

http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/07/cutting-shapes-how-house-music-really-hit-the-uk/

Discogs, Vinyl and My Bank Balance:

It was four years ago, my wife told me my mid life crisis had officially begun when I finally at thirty seven years of age, after spending most of my adult life yearning for, purchased a set of Technic’s 1210’s and a mixer.  I had a very mixed bag of vinyl that I had picked up at various points along my lengthy career of partying, which started way back in 1988 when I was at the tender age of just fifteen.  It was a real mixture of tunes that I simply had to buy at the time for when I finally did tip my toe in the water and get myself a set.  

My obsession with House music has never left me.  Years ago there were literally packs of friends, club gangs if you like that would frequent various parties, clubs in London and around the country and of course Ibiza.  Over the years we all grew up, got married, had kids (me included) and most of my friends moved on with their lives and hung up their raving shoes for good.  But as I was reaching my forties I discovered that my obsession with electronic music was, if anything, growing exponentially.

With the rise of the internet music had become so much more accessible to me, it was much easier to find “that” elusive track you had been after, and with platforms like soundcloud, I could now follow the producers I loved and get snippets of new material as they release it.  I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

I had been listening to Reboot’s Resident Advisor podcast and was obsessed with finding the name of track nine and buying it on vinyl.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I managed to track it down; Scarlett Meets Recloose – Moveology.  I scoured Juno, decks.de and Beatport relentlessly, but to no avail.

So I popped into those wonderfully helpful and highly knowledgeable fellows in Phonica Records in Poland Street and spoke to the ever charming Vangelis, who had incidentally never heard of the track.  He tapped the track name into the computer on the desk  and spun it around for me to see;

“if it’s not on here, it’s more than likely unreleased, keep trying back”  I checked the website name on the screen; www.discogs.com I knew that I had heard the name before, when I had been digging recently in Gary Dennis’s wonderful Crazy Beat in Upminster.  I thanked Vangelis and blissfully unaware of the financial ruin I was facing toddled off home to look into the wonderful world of Discogs.

I signed up and was immediately sucked in.  Here it was in all its glory, a huge treasure trove of all of the tracks that I had tried so hard over the years to track down. After so many years of trawling through Hard To Find Records less than easy to navigate website for these elusive slabs of black stuff I had given up.  Imagine my sheer delight in not only finding them ALL here and in plentiful abundance, but cheap too, that was it, I was up to my neck in it already and didn’t even notice.

Slowly but surely a steady stream of flat square parcels started to arrive at my door, I was in heaven!  However the missus did not miss this either.  “Is that more records?”  She would enquire, “errrr yes darling”, I would mutter beating a hasty retreat to my man room.  My wife was approaching her fortieth birthday and we were having a party at home at which I was DJing, this was the perfect excuse to buy up every piece of vinyl I had ever wanted, which I did.

Now I find myself four years later and now a Discogs veteran, it is a love and hate relationship, love the fact that I can find and buy pretty much anything I want but hate not having the money to buy it all!  With amazing sellers out there like the wonderful Ed Davies, who’s brown, square, manilla covered packages always arrive inscribed on the back with permanent marker “with love” you can really tell that not only does this man know and love good music, he also takes pride in his work.  Now a Facebook friend, his constant posts of delights arriving at Davies HQ are almost too much to bear.

Discogs a truly wonderful tool for the vinyl enthusiast, just whatever you do, don’t go on when you’re pissed, it can work out VERY expensive.

www.discogs.com

http://www.discogs.com/seller/daviesed

Off Sonar Parties – Barcelona – Spain 11th – 12th June 2014

It was my second trip to this great and beautiful city for off Sonar week.  I came for the first time with my wife Ericka in 2013 for my fortieth birthday celebrations, after which we were both decidedly hooked and immediately made the decision then and there to make it an annual event.

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On our arrival at Barcelona airport we are greeted by an all out taxi strike which was not ideal, but the city’s exemplary bus service certainly saved the day (all day and night long!).

Our first port of call was the long awaited Maeve Showcase sell out at El Monasterio of El Poble Espanyol.

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The Maeve imprint was launched in 2013 by Mano Le Tough and The Drifter, childhood friends, Irish expats and Berlin residents.  The name Maeve is Gaelic and translates as “the cause of great joy” or “she who intoxicates”.  

When we arrived at the venue initially there was some confusion.  We were admitted and our names crossed off the list and given wristbands as per, however when we entered the venue it was like walking back in time.  We were surrounded by a full and open Spanish courtyard, many bars were open and tourists were walking freely around enjoying the culture.  Not your usual destination for a rave!

El Monasterio of El Poble Espanyol is actually an Architectural Museum and was built in 1929.  From its initial conception it was intended to be a true representation of a Iberian village with over 117 buildings, streets and squares from all over Spain faithfully reproduced in scale to bring together all the traditional architectural characteristics.  Wandering through these cobbled courtyards and sunlight dappled squares really was an amazing pre-party journey.

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After some time of weaving our way through the meandering lanes we came upon the grand entrance.  We walked through a high ornate stone gate and up a gravelled path, tucked at the foot of a high sandstone wall, set about by tall trees which gave some welcome shade from the hot Barcelona afternoon sun.  Small fountains tinkled gently on the ear, the water sparkling in the sunlight.  Then, as we moved further up the hill slowly but surely came the instantly recognisable sound of four four beat could just be heard in the distance.

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We arrived in a shaded courtyard and made our way up a further winding iron staircase only to be presented with some of the finest views over the entire city.

The relentless pounding of the music was now unmistakeable as we made our way up a slightly sloping hill  into the main area of the party

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We had arrived at 2pm, the very start of the party and even though we were early, already a crowd was forming.  Easing us into the proceedings was Maeve co-founder; The Drifter.  The sound system was already of a decent volume and The Drifter effortlessly set the mood for the days proceedings.  Next up was the mysterious Baikal, spoken “bai kyul” = “rich lake”  the deepest and oldest lake in the world.  Already familiar with most of his productions including the absolutely outstanding remix work done for Ian Pooley on Innversions last year;

I was eager to hear his set which very quickly upped the ante and more than lived up to all of my expectations.

Next up was the legend that is Matthew Jonson, this is something I had been waiting a very long time for.  The last time I had heard Mr Jonson play it was at DC10 back in 2006, so you can imagine my deep and utter joy when he played his track Typerope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS4_YuWQbQw

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This really set the standard for the evening’s entertainment, the crowd absolutely soaked up his set, which whipped us all into a frenzy for the man himself, Mano Le Tough.

The über talented Irishman has made tsunami sized waves over the last few years, seeing his debut album “Changing Days” reach dizzy heights with critical acclaim from around the globe.  As is said; the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I can honestly say I have had this album on repeat ever since its release date.  With his own haunting vocals on most of the tracks its quite clear that we are witnessing a real raw talent.  I’ve not heard an album so prolific since Underworld’s “Dubnobasswithmyheadman” back in 1994.

As to be expected Mano Le Tough took us all on a journey, one which I personally did not want to end, leaving me hungry for more.

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Then seeing us out we have the inimitable Tale Of Us;  the two Italian born Berliners are completely unstoppable at the moment.  Having remixed Thugfucker’s “Disco Gnome” back in 2010 things have gone from strength to strength for the duo and they are in seriously high demand.  After last year’s remix of Mano Le Tough’s “Primitive People” and success in their own right with tracks like “Another Earth” amongst others made them the perfect bedfellows to finish off the evening’s roller coaster ride

They saw us out and played a completely textbook Tale Of Us set, a night to remember!

We’ll be 100% back for Maeve’s off Sonar next year for sure!

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https://www.facebook.com/MaeveRecords

Bright and (not too early) the next morning we awake, raring to see what else this amazing city has in store for us.

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And after a spot of breakfast and a stroll down Las Ramblas to the beach, we find a place to grab a bit of lunch, then we make our way to Parc Del Forum for the One Illusion party.

One Illusion being the off Sonar party for Illusion recordings, an imprint which has enjoyed unparalleled success in recent years, releasing some quality material from the fantastic Volta Cab – Don’t Give Up Trus’me remix, to the huge Bicep championed dance floor slammer NY Stomp – The NY House track.  Given the fact that Illusion Recordings had been set up and run by two industry mainstays Tom Craven and James Cotterill we knew this was a going to be a party to raise the roof.

Both Craven and Cotterill have been involved in House music for the long haul. Craven was bitten by the bug back when he was just 16 at the legendary Hacienda in Manchester.  He moved to Leeds and became immersed in the current burgeoning scene, Back To Basics and Hard Times were both nights that were riding high at the time and went onto to achieve cult status.  With that he went onto become a DJ and worked four crazy summers in Ibiza culminating in a residency at We Love at Space.  A chance meeting with label partner James Cotterill in Ibiza in 2003 formed a long term friendship between the pair eventually culminating in Illusion Recordings as it exists today, an exciting underground imprint with an impressive roster; Trus’me, Mic Newman (Fantastic Man) and Garry Todd to name but a few.

Parc Del Forum itself, although impressive at first glance, on a closer inspection seems to have seen better days.  I guess that the root cause being the long lasting financial blight over the global economy of recent years, but in this case I believe the overgrown concrete, with life sprouting up through the paved cracks all around lent a certain something to this party; a chaotic throng of hedonistic revellers amongst the backdrop of Spanish urban decay.

An intimate affair but nonetheless less potent for it with some amazing DJ’s booked, the likes of Craig Richards, Norm Talley and Below Birmingham residents Subb-an and Adam Shelton the party went from strength to strength.  A twelve hour affair, but not a slow builder, we are thrown into the throng early and the quality and energy of the tracks being played increases exponentially.  Busy but never uncomfortably rammed gave us all an amazing experience, the highlight of which for me was hearing DJ Gregory’s Elle as the sun went down…

Even though we were situated in an outside venue the sound did not suffer in the slightest and was second to none all day long.  Such was the vibe that when we hit midnight left the crowd were left gobsmacked and begging for more.  A truly special day/night.

http://illusionrecordings.com

https://www.facebook.com/illusionrecordings

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