Way to make a guy feel old just as the weekend’s getting started! Frankie Knuckles would have been 67 years old this week – and which BBC radio station mentioned this? Radio 2…

If you go back far enough into the history of house music, you’ll eventually come across a time when the BBC were quite hesitant to get involved with the scene. In the UK, house music saw its first exposures to British audiences on pirate radio – I believe the first show to play it in Britain was The Jackin’ Zone, hosted by Jazzy M from London in 1985.

The BBC’s youth orientated Radio 1 didn’t get behind it until 1987, when Jeff Young was hired from their local London station to do a show called The Big Beat. But they didn’t get fully behind house music until January 1991, when Pete Tong arrived at the station with The Essential Selection – a show conceptualised by music journalist Eddie Gordon.

I sometimes forget that house music isn’t in its infancy anymore. The era where David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and so forth dominated the airwaves are long gone. House music’s 40th birthday will be in just a few years time. So there was always the question of how things would be treated as time went on.

Had he still been with us, Frankie Knuckles would have turned 67 years old on Tuesday. But the occasion wasn’t commemorated at all by Radio 1 – the station made no reference to it at all on their social media platforms. And as far as I’ve been able to establish, it wasn’t mentioned on the air either. Do they suspect Radio 1’s target audience of 15 to 29 year olds wouldn’t be familiar with who he was?

Instead, it was left to Radio 2, who published this

When I was growing up in the 90s, I used to think Radio 2 was a station for over the hill types. And now, not only do I listen to Radio 2 in the car, but I see Frankie Knuckles being honoured by the station.

I must be getting old. Happy weekend…

No wonder he’s had to give up being a touring DJ! Simon Dunmore’s busiest week ever continues by announcing yet another event – a tie-up with Sacha Lord’s Parklife…

When speaking about Defected, all the sources who have provided this blog with information and insights on the label are united in one – they all say Simon Dunmore is probably the most hard-working man in house music today. Which is why as much as I sometimes question the label he runs, I’ve never doubted his work ethic.

Sources tell me it originates from his days working at a senior position at AM:PM Records and the first few years of running Defected. But as he sits down this Friday evening for his dinner, he might be forgiven for believing he’s had a busy few weeks.

The year started with Dunmore announcing his decision to walk away from the world of a touring DJ this year. Since then, Defected has been on a major publicity drive to showcase some of their forthcoming releases over the next few months – I’m reliably told that Dunmore himself takes personal oversight of these promotional campaigns.

They’ve also announced they’re going to be in Brazil this summer, the lineup for Croatia has been announced in full and now, the two giant egos of Simon Dunmore and Sacha Lord have now met – and the result is Defected appearing at Lord’s own Parklife…

Defected’s plan to expand the events side of the company not only appears to include new countries, it also turns out it involves the London-centric company heading out of the capital. And there are few other ways Defected can get into Manchester, given the iron grip which Lord holds over clubbing in the area.

So let’s face it – this was always more of a matter of when rather than if it would happen. Let’s just say that Dunmore has more than earned any BBQ he might have this weekend…

Nightclubs across the UK all reopen next week and vaccine passports are on their inevitable way out – so, when will Danny Rampling apologise after getting it so utterly wrong?

So it’s official. Nightclubs were closed last month in three of the UK’s four countries I response to the Omicron surge. At the time, the anti-vaxxers were foaming in the mouth and telling us the whole nation was about to go into a China style lockdown – where even leaving your house without permission was illegal.

Vaccine passports also came into force in England, having already been in place a few months earlier elsewhere. Now, Danny Rampling has been warning us for months now that vaccine passports were a form of apartheid, and that they would soon lead to other developments such as a social credit rating system as being developed in China.

But was he right? Well, England has announced they’re being scrapped from January 27th. Scotland is keeping them for the time being, but has dropped a plan to expand the scheme. Wales is hanging onto them, but is under increasing pressure from Tories and LibDems in the country to drop them – and Northern Ireland is scaling the programme down from January 26th.

So whilst they haven’t gone away entirely, the general direction is they’re basically on the way out. And I cannot for the life of me see the Tories, currently in the most mutinous mood they’ve been in years, agreeing to the introduction of a social credit rating system. Not exactly what the genius that isn’t Rampling has been saying.

As for nightclubs, England reopened theirs on July 19th last year and didn’t close them during the surge. Northern Ireland shut theirs on December 26th, Wales and Scotland closed them the next day. They reopen on January 24th in Scotland, January 26th in Northern Ireland and January 28th in Wales. In other words, they closed for between 4 and 5 weeks.

Yet again, Rampling has been proven wrong. Then again, it’s much of the story over the pandemic for him – especially given how the volte-face from his position in March 2020 appears to be conveniently ignored. Which just leaves one question.

When this blog gets something wrong, corrections and apologies are published acknowledging and rectifying the mistake. So when will we see your mea culpa, Mr Rampling? Over to you…

Was this a smart move? Old Mr Fingers music was amongst Trax Records re-releases put out quietly over the New Year period – right in the middle of a court case brought by Larry Heard and Robert Owens against the label…

I speak frequently on this blog about how a fair few people in dance music are unable to see the wood for the trees. They’re so deeply immersed in their own little worlds that they have almost no concept at all of how anyone from the outside looking in might perceive things.

This is something true of several generations of producers. Those who are doing it now have to immerse themselves – you’re now a DJ, music producer, engineer, social media content creator, promoter and more in one. And too many of those who were doing it decades ago are convinced they’re worthy of “respect” because they had a hit record decades ago.

Several record labels also seem to have a complete inability to see how their actions look to the world. The latest example of this comes from Trax Records. No stranger to rinsing their own archives – mostly because next to nothing of what they put out today compares to it – they re-released a huge quantity of their early releases back on January 1st.

Was this date deliberately chosen because next to no one would be online buying music on that day? The question has to be asked – and my email putting it to Trax Records remains unanswered at the time of publication. But whilst labels reissuing past releases isn’t unusual, one aspect of this seems questionable.

The big batch of releases contained early songs from Robert Owens – such as “Bring Down The Walls” from 1986 – or numerous Larry Heard productions, including numerous mixes of “Can You Feel It” under his Mr Fingers alias. Trax Records are currently embroiled in a long-running legal case against Robert Owens and Larry Heard.

This blog posted an update on August 18th last year on the case, and I’m not aware of any other developments. So exactly why these were included remains unknown…

That brings the number of vaxxed big name DJs to one! Carl Cox announces his tour of north America – and it includes a date in New York, where if you’ve had no vaccine, you’re not coming in…

There are an awful lot of DJs in the upper echelons of dance music who filled their quiet time during the pandemic by training themselves up as virologists. Or so you’d be forgiven for thinking – although most aren’t quite stupid enough to at least publicly remain quiet.

Thankfully, a few managed to keep their marbles. Well, mostly. When he isn’t accepting gigs from festivals that are least partially funded by a dreadful regime, Carl Cox spoke out against plague raves – and also spoke up in favour of getting the Covid-19 vaccination. This drove the anti-vaxxers crazy, something which I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing.

He’s now just announced he’ll be starting a tour of North America in the next few weeks, starting in Mexico before travelling to various corners of the USA – although stricter coronavirus rules imposed in Canada appear to mean they’ve been left out. And it’s worth taking a closer look at the places the tour is going to…

The dates in Brooklyn have caused some surprise. The city of New York currently requires proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 for everyone going to nightclubs – this includes staff, security and the DJs appearing. Recent infection is not accepted for entry, nor is a negative Covid test of any kind. Quite simply, if you’re not jabbed, New York’s nightclubs won’t let you in.

Exactly what you think of such a policy oz up to you, dear reader. But it does, at the least, confirm one thing – at least one DJ has still got some sense…

After authorities confirm clubs in Ibiza can open in April, the season looks set to be dance music’s longest ever cash-in – but is this “just one last fart from a dying corpse”?

So the dance music world is currently getting very excited about the news Ibiza’s nightclubs will be open for business again this year. Events are already scheduled for April, with rumours swirling around the 2022 season is going to be the longest one ever in the history of the world – or something similar.

Now, this sense of anticipation is rather understandable in the circumstances. Nightclubs have had a terrible few years in Ibiza, with the last two seasons effectively being almost entirely a write off. So people being keen to get back into the swing of things on the island after some two years of living with various restrictions does make sense.

However, this blog would be doing you a disservice by joining in the frenzy. I think a few words of caution need to be mentioned. Firstly, much of this reopening is very much dependent on Omicron basically being the last big wave of the virus. It’s certainly possible it could be – but I’m no virologist. And I suspect most of those reporting this story aren’t either.

Secondly, I think DJs, managers, promoters and the rest need to take a look at England as a cautionary tale. When Boris Johnson allowed nightclubs to reopen in July last year, they were incredibly busy for the first few weeks. Then after that, they’ve suffered from falling attendances – down by as much as 40% in some cases. Who’s to say Ibiza will be immune from this?

Thirdly, there are economic realities to consider. Only this week, the UK announced the cost of living had risen by the highest amount in some 30 years. Other countries are experiencing similar things, partly due to the economy readjusting to increased demand as restrictions ease off. With the cost of living set to continue being a problem, how many people will have the money for a holiday in Ibiza?

And fourthly, over to my industry insider. He got in touch with me last night and simply said “Ibiza isn’t the cash cow it used to be. I was there in 2019 with a few friends and a round of cocktails for five of us cost over €200. It’s no wonder Croatia, Brazil and places like that are where the future lies. Still, at least the Ibiza corpse gets to fart one last time”.

Hey, I just report what he says…

Resident Advisor announce a Zoom call as part of their wellness series – but isn’t this sudden concern for mental health just virtue signalling?

Last weekend, this blog ran an article about Resident Advisor’s current series on wellness. I wasn’t exactly nice about it – and for good reason. The contrast between this blog’s hilst series of excoriating articles last month on the MDL Beast Soundstorm controversy and their insipid current series is something I find striking.

Well, the series must go on – and their next idea is a 90-minute Zoom. The discussion will be “Winter Of Care: Alternative Tools And Strategies To Support Ourselves And Each Other” – a title so long you’ll need a lie down after you finish saying it – and takes place at 5pm UK time next Monday.

Let me be emphatically clear here. No one is saying for one moment that mental health doesn’t matter. It matters more now than ever. I have no issue with anyone addressing mental health – indeed, it’s a subject which comes up occasionally on this very blog. But when Resident Advisor gets involved, this poses a problem.

You see, they like to portray themselves as the representatives of an entire culture. And during the pandemic, Resident Advisor has failed miserably to cover it properly. They could, for example, have used their position to campaign for better support for out of work DJs and all those being affected by Covid restrictions and closures.

But they didn’t. They were far too concerned with saving their own position to care about the culture they claim to represent. Such a campaign would have helped the mental health of many in the industry far more than a month of occasional articles about the terribly vague notion of “wellness”.

Resident Advisor could quite easily use their position to help improve the mental health of those in the industry. They have a large social media reach, they’ve been around for a long time – and they’re an increasingly well-resourced operation. But they don’t – their main priority appears to be selling tickets, for which they typically receive about 12.5% of the price.

Am I being harsh here? Possibly. But the reality is if you position yourself in a particular way, don’t be surprised when people try to hold you to those standards…

Are they both REALLY on the same side here? Pioneer showcases virtual reality DJing on their Instagram page – and it’s just as boring as watching real life DJs doing their thing…

Last Saturday, I posted a little article all about the Metaverse. It’s something most people don’t really understand yet, and I include myself in those ranks. Truth be told, I suspect the true capabilities of the Metaverse aren’t even known to us yet – be it the good ones and inevitably, the bad.

But I do know virtual reality is going to be part of this, opening up the prospect of seeing your favourite DJ without ever leaving your house – and possibly without them leaving theirs. And this is something which sellers of DJ equipment – amongst other things – Pioneer have noticed too.

This week on their Instagram page, they featured this awfully curious looking video, featuring at least four different people doing a DJ set. And what I can’t help but suspect is a blatant attempt from Pioneer at parody, all four DJs are wearing sunglasses and trying to look moody whilst playing blander than bland tech-house…

The reaction from the comments section is quite telling – it’s almost completely negative. Most respondents seem to hate it, saying there’s no substitute for DJing in front of a real life audience. And they may well be right in that. But they’re missing something here – and they’re not going to like it.

The reason Pioneer are getting involved with this is money. They’re a business. They know which way the wind is blowing on this. Virtual reality presents them with opportunities to sell equipment to DJs who want it and subscriptions to DJs who can’t necessarily afford the equipment. It also means they can make DJing significantly easier to get into.

They make no secret of it, either – this was their response to one person who expressed criticism…

Which might prove a problem for the more established DJs in the long run. Let’s say you’re based in London and have been booked for an event in New York. They have to pay to fly you out there, for a hotel and so forth. But a virtual DJ based in Sacramento – all the way on the other side of the USA – needs nothing of the sort. He can do the job from his own house.

These developments have massive implications for DJs in the future. And I honestly don’t believe DJs yet realise it…