Is there ANYONE left in dance music with any principles, part five: MDL Beast Soundstorm – whose lineup is a who’s who of dance’s biggest earners – claim to “amplify the unseen”… and even Ri-Chun Hee would struggle not to laugh

Whenever North Korea has a big announcement to tell the world, they always bring in the lady dressed in pink. Her name is Ri Chun-hee – and if their latest dictator has died or chucked a nuclear bomb into the sea to annoy the Americans, she’s who they turn to.

More recent generations probably know her from the utterly hysterical display she put on when announcing to the people of North Korea that Kim Jong-il had died in 2011. But I suspect even she would struggle to read out some of the nonsense published on the MDL Beast Soundstorm festival website with a straight face.

Such as their claims on their About page, for example. Let’s start with the amusing boast that “We showcase talent, develop content, and host events by supercharging a community of creators, to amplify the unseen”.

Yes, in the eyes of Saudi Arabia, DJs such as Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, deadmau5, Nina Kraviz, David Guetta and Tïesto – who are known pretty much worldwide – are “the unseen”. If Saddam Hussein had asked his notorious information minister Comical Ali to relay this to the world’s media, even he would have considered it far-fetched.

They then publish a bizarre list, which includes “we see the world a little differently”, that they “create fresh music, art, and culture from the underground up” and they “pull in the obscure, the unconventional and the surprising”. By which point, Chun-hee had collapsed on the floor, crying with laughter.

Because there’s nothing which screams “pulling in the obscure, the unconventional and the surprising” than doing exactly the same as all of these other generic, McDonald’s style festivals. Indeed, it’s about as surprising as the revelation of what bears do in the woods.

And there’s clearly no better way of demonstrating a commitment to “create fresh music, art, and culture from the underground up” than by booking Carl Cox, who hasn’t been referred to as underground since around 1994. Or by putting Steve Aoki on the bill – a man who throws cakes at people with $95million in the bank. You obviously couldn’t get more underground than that.

And the worst thing about all this? Some poor sod out there genuinely believes every word of it…

As Rebekah and Sacha Wall’s #ForTheMusic talk is set to happen this Friday after being delayed twice, here are a few questions the movement’s leader WON’T be asked in the puff piece interview…

Time appears to be running away from player of dubious techno music and very occasional campaign leader Rebekah Teasdale. The DJ, known simply by her first name, has now twice failed to appear for an interview with Sacha Wall, her colleague in the well-intentioned but beleaguered #ForTheMusic movement.

This interview was originally meant to go out on November 11th. Then it was moved over to November 19th, last Friday. With barely hours to go, Wall announced on Twitter that the show was being postponed. No date was given, but the website has been updated to say 4pm UK time on Friday 26th November.

What were the two so busy with? It’s unclear at the moment. Wall spent yesterday telling us she couldn’t be at an anti-vax protest whilst refusing to divulge what she thought was more important. And Rebekah was busy saving her bank balance with gigs in Madrid and London.

With the interview now having been rescheduled twice, I can’t help but wonder what’s going on. Perhaps it’s simply been bad luck, or perhaps Sacha Wall is short of questions to ask her long-time friend. So allow me, for what it’s worth, to assist with a few queries which could make for an interview that’s actually interesting.

  • You launched the #ForTheMusic movement back in September last year, at a time when the overwhelming majority of touring DJs like yourself were unable to work. Now that your touring schedule has resumed, do you believe you have the time and resources required to lead a movement like this?
  • You were either aware of Francesco Tristano’s connections to Derrick May or you weren’t. If you weren’t, when did you become aware of them? And if you were aware of them when you first met, what on earth possessed you to think working with a known Derrick May associate was a good thing?
  • You’ve also been pictured with Alan Oldham, another associate of Derrick May who replied with “That’s Derrick” when allegations first surfaced about him. Doesn’t this call your judgement into real question?
  • The blurb on the iStreem Radio website mentions the allegations made against Erick Morillo as a point of discussion. And whilst this is obviously fair, no reference is made to Derrick May. Given the movement started after allegations over May surfaced, what’s the reason for this omission?
  • You are dealing with some very powerful forces in dance music here, and they could well respond to this campaign by pointing out your own background in the world of pornography. Are you prepared for this and what would you say back to them?

That should be enough to get an interesting conversation going – but they’re pretty unlikely to be asked. A source tells me at least part of the focus on Friday will be to make announcements about what happens next with the movement.

For Rebekah’s sake and everyone else, this had better be good. People have waited long enough to see this vital movement start to move forward…

As Faith fanzine attempt to justify their interview with Carl Cox – as one their founders criticises his appearance at a Saudi Arabia festival – doesn’t this prove the irrelevance of the printed press?

Last night, I published an article criticising Faith fanzine for running an interview with Carl Cox whilst at the same time, one of their founders is criticising his appearance at a Saudi government backed festival. And it hasn’t gone down entirely well – much to the surprise of no one.

Let’s get to Faith fanzine’s defence first. They haven’t said anything directly to me, but they did like a comment pointing out the interview with Cox and everything associated with it would have been done before the MDL Beast Soundstorm revelations. And on Instagram, they responded to a user by pointing out “the interview was done in the summer and went to print early last week”.

They seem to be arguing they’ve been backed into a corner and had no other choice. Which I sympathise with – but only to an extent. You see, this is a classic case of the print media showing itself to be an irrelevance.

By Faith’s own admission, this interview was recorded during the summer. I would take that to mean July or August. It’s now late November. That interview could be over four months old. With each passing day, the risk of that interview being superseded by events increased. And that’s exactly what’s happened here.

I sympathise a little with Faith fanzine – but the blunt truth is that print magazines in dance music are a throwback to a long gone era. Yes, some of the print magazines of the 1990s were brilliant – but they existed in a time with a slower news cycle and no alternative to print. Nowadays, this kind of content belongs online.

And don’t take my word for it. Look over at Mixmag. They last published a printed edition in April 2020. They said they’d be back in 2021. It’s now nearing December and the print magazine has now been resting as long as the money in Father Ted’s bank account. The online operation has had money spent on it – although sadly not on staffing it with proper journalists.

Whilst I feel a little bit sorry for Faith fanzine and Terry Farley – who comes out of this looking especially foolish – I think they’ve just proven their magazine is a relic of a bygone era…

Is there ANYONE left in dance music with any principles, part four: the dance music press staying silent on MDL Beast Soundstorm criticism has not gone unnoticed…

A lot of people aren’t best pleased about this MDL Beast Soundstorm festival, due to take place in Saudi Arabia next month. The guestlist is a who’s who of dance music’s richest players – who seem to be happy to take part in a Saudi propaganda exercise.

A few naysayers have tried to tell me this week that the average clubber doesn’t care about this. Wrong. My email subscriptions have gone through the roof since I started writing on the subject on Sunday – and my readership has gone up around 50% on normal levels.

But there’s one place where you will not find a single word of commentary or news on this issue. And that’s in the dance music press. They, or rather the editors who dictate what their cheap interns must write, have decreed their response will be the same as it always is with awkward topics.

And that response is to say nothing and pretend it isn’t happening. This week, Resident Advisor have managed to find time to publish an article about Blackburn’s rave scene and one about a producer sharing 50GB of samples – but not one article about this story. Mixmag, DJ Mag and the usually decent Chicago based 5 Magazine have written nothing about it either.

Then again, why should we surprised? During this pandemic, they refused to write about plague raves until pressure forced them to. And not a single word was written about the controversy surrounding Dominick Fernow earlier this year. It was the first major test for Resident Advisor’s new editor Whitney Wei – and she failed it pathetically.

The dance music press just isn’t fit for purpose…

The double standards of Faith: Defected backed fanzine plug Carl Cox T-shirts on Instagram – whilst creator Terry Farley attacks Saudi festival Soundstorm… where Cox himself is playing!

It doesn’t take long for people to reveal their true selves – in this day and age, it’s simply a question of knowing exactly where to look. But even by the duplicitous standards of dance music, this one takes quite some beating.

Last week, a furore started bubbling up online about MDL Beast Soundstorm. I’ve been covering it on Sunday, Monday and today – and will be coming back to the subject again, be in no doubt. I’m far from alone – and the latest to join in is Terry Farley.

In years gone by, he used to spend his time doing remixes with Pete Heller and counting his bank balance. These days, he spends a fair amount of time on the Faith fanzine – relaunched during the first lockdown of 2020 after a hiatus of some eight years, backed by Defected. The label has not yet responded to my email asking how the relationship works.

Well, Terry Farley is one of the founders of the original magazine. And he’s involved in this incarnation too. He certainly isn’t happy about Soundstorm, saying this on Facebook…

Very forthright. I like it. I agree with it. So why is Faith fanzine, which he works for, promoting Carl Cox T-shirts?

And look whose name appears in the list – none other than Farley himself. Can he seriously not see how this makes him look?

Do we need yet more reasons not to tune in? The Brit Awards tinker about with gender neutral categories – yet the biggest winners of this plaster sticking exercise will be four white men!

One of the things that bugs me about the times we live in is an increasing tendency to tinker pointlessly with the edges whilst not addressing the central problem. You see this in politics on a daily basis – Donald Trump wanted to build a wall to stop Mexicans coming to the USA is just one recent example.

Now, I’m all in favour of treating people the same. This blog doesn’t care whether you’re male, female, somewhere between the two or neither. I also don’t care about your sexuality, the colour of your skin or your religion. I’m interested in whether you’re a good person. Do you treat people fairly? Do you stand up for what’s real?

It’s with this in mind I read the news that the Brit Awards are going gender neutral next year. So no more best male and best female categories. It’ll mean a shorter show, hence why they’ve dug up the long dead Best Dance category – something that’ll have the likes of Defected’s Simon Dunmore frothing at the mouth.

The trouble is that all this messing about with side issues fails to grasp the mantle of the central problem. And what is that central problem? It’s namely that much of what consists of pop music these days is crap. And don’t take my word for it – look at the viewing figures.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, we can see viewing figures going all the way back to 1999 – nearly ten million viewers tuned in to see show that year. Since then, the trend has been overwhelmingly downwards – they couldn’t even pull in three million viewers this year. Episodes of teatime game show The Chase score better.

There’s a reason they’re not watching – and it’s not just the largely appalling music on offer. It’s also the fact the show itself is dreadful. Time was you had to watch because you never knew what was going to happen. Remember John Prescott being soaked by Chumbawumba in 1998, or Brandon Block gatecrashing Ronnie Wood in 2000?

They weren’t the most edifying of events, but at least we remember them. Can you name anything remotely interesting that happened at a Brit Awards ceremony in the past decade? I certainly can’t. The music used to be interesting, and so did the show as a result.

And tinkering with awards categories will not change one single thing. All it will do is make it harder for acts to win awards and inevitably result in uproar if more men are given awards than women. The only people who look set to win no matter what happens are those who are already very rich.

Daniel Ek, Rob Stringer, Stephen Cooper and Baron Grainge of £150million

Two cheeks of the same arse? Northern Ireland’s politicians spoke about imposing new restrictions yesterday – whilst also giving the nod to removing old restrictions…

Politicians across Europe are currently trying to work out what to do amidst Covid cases rising yet again as the colder weather arrives. Austria have gone into a full lockdown, with all “non-essential stores” closed. The Republic of Ireland are imposing a midnight curfew on nightclubs and weddings, whereas the Netherlands want you out of the club by 8pm.

But in Northern Ireland? They’re trying to both relax and harden the rules at the same time. The Executive met yesterday to talk about imposing new restrictions amidst case numbers that simply refuse to go down – they’ve been hovering at around 1600 cases per day for a few weeks.

New rules being considered include tougher enforcement of wearing face masks and insisting more people work from home. Vaccine passports are due to come in force next week – although enforcement won’t begin until December 13th. But what were MLAs being asked to do over at Stormont yesterday?

Well, they were being asked to rubber stamp a number of relaxations previously made by the Executive. Which would be the very same Executive that now wants to put in place new restrictions.

Words fail me. For once…

Credit to the Belfast Telegraph for first picking up this story.

As Derrick May gets his latest booking at a Portuguese cocktail bar, was Solomun unhappy with the “secret guest” who gatecrashed his headline gig last weekend?

Derrick May’s bookings aren’t quite as glamorous as they used to be nowadays. Gone are the lucrative trips with hospitality included in the likes of Japan – and in are gigs which he would have turned his nose up at just a year ago. It’s amazing what he’ll do to pay for his next fix of cigars…

This time around, he’s due to appear at Baixa Bar in Portugal. They seem to be unaware of the perils of booking May these days and are already promoting his forthcoming appearance for December 7th. Yes, it’s a Tuesday night appearance at a cocktail bar for Derrick May – oh, how the mighty have fallen!

My research has confirmed this booking was originally made for New Year’s Eve 2020, but was cancelled due to Portuguese lockdown restrictions. This left the club with a dilemma – honour the original booking by giving him a new date, or try and find a way to wriggle out of the contract. They appear to have gone for the former option.

It appears he’s got the whole night to himself. Perhaps that’s just as well. Word reaches me all the way from San Francisco that Solomun was not best pleased to discover that Derrick May was the “secret guest” at First On The Floor over the weekend. A witness tells me Solomun couldn’t wait to get away from May soon enough.

Hence why there are no selfies of the two men together. Plague raves were acceptable for Solomun, being photographed with Derrick May seems not to be…