The Flying Lotus used the pandemic to make changes which brought him a Grammy nomination – what a contrast to the lazy so-called innovators of dance music…

I’m going to start this post with a passage from The Bible, of all places. The book of James, chapter one, verses two to four state “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

It’s a good lesson in life. Character is built during tough times, not the easy ones. And the pandemic over the past two years has been one of the toughest periods of history for quite some time. Living under all kinds of restrictions – where things you could do and previously took for granted weren’t there anymore – has taken its toll.

A lot of the best music that we know comes from hard times – look at the number of songs which are about relationships breaking up or about death, for example. So the past two years should have brought about a lot of innovation within music – with many of the usual revenue streams out of action, there was never a better time for taking a risk. Nothing to lose, potentially a lot to gain.

But what has happened? Very little. A friend sent me an article recently about a producer called The Flying Lotus. I’ve heard the name, but know little about him – but he spoke last year to Vice and talked about the changes he’d made to stay afloat during the pandemic. And not only did they work, they led to a Grammy nomination.

Compare and contrast with the dance music world which this blog covers. The difference could not be more stark. Instead of pushing the envelope and trying something different and new, most producers responded by becoming even more conservative than they were before. And this is something which applies across the board.

Whether it be newbies who are trying to make their mark on the digital stores or veterans of the scene, the story is the same. For example, look at Carl Craig – a producer who undoubtedly did show innovation back in the 1990s. Instead of showcasing his latest innovations, he responded with a remix contest for a track he released back in 1989.

What’s innovative about getting a bunch of people to rework a decades old track? What’s forward thinking about endlessly trying to rinse your own archive? Even Craig’s own friend, Alan Oldham, can see “it’s all about what the new stuff”.

The same story can be seen in the charts, which are filled with remixes of decades old records. Dave Lee, Dr Packer and Michael Gray might be doing nicely out of this trade, but that’s no reason the rest of the scene should go the same way. Rehashing old glories is obviously easier than creating new ones, but there are only so many oldies which can be dusted off.

If a global pandemic doesn’t encourage producers to get off their backsides and make something new, I don’t honestly know what will…

Does even he know what he’s talking about anymore? A notably gammon faced Danny Rampling is filmed in London talking about being a “sovereign person” – and he sounds pretty irate about it!

Yesterday, I woke up and my back was giving me a little bit of bother. It would play up whenever I attempted certain manoeuvres – something which frequently happens when you look after three small children. I ended up swerving cooking dinner by ordering food from the local Chinese takeaway.

My back is feeling better today, so I suspect I’ll be a bit more active. And that’s how my weekend is going as of this Sunday morning. All the same, I seem to be having a better weekend than Danny Rampling, who attended another protest in London yesterday. Nothing unusual there – but something did seem out of the ordinary, even by his standards.

An anti-fascist reporter called Marc Lister decided to head down there to see for himself what happens at these protests. And lo and behold, he bumped into none other than Danny Rampling – whose face looked distinctly rounder than in recent times and appeared almost gammon like in colour.

Here is his appearance in all its entirely absent glory…

Presumably Rampling means “sovereign” as an adjective – defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “possessing supreme or ultimate power”. But questions over how he defines the word aside, am I the only one sensing he isn’t exactly happy to be asked to speak here?

Perhaps it was the weather – it was a not exactly warm 6°C with mostly cloudy skies in London yesterday. Or maybe it was the whispers going around amongst his fellow anti-vaxxers that Rampling had piled on the pounds which were bugging him.

The last word on this post goes to Louis Barfe, who simply said “As a club DJ in the 1990s, I trust Danny Rampling insisted on a full ingredients list for everything he guzzled or shoved up his not inconsiderable beak.”…

Hankies at the ready! As dance music’s banishment of Derrick May continues, the man himself has been complaining he’ll never get to achieve one of his life goals…

Spare a thought – the smallest one you can possibly conjure up, ideally – on this Saturday evening for Derrick May. Thanks to all those pesky women who’ve made all kinds of very unpleasant allegations against him – never actually denied, by the way – his career is an awful lot quieter than it used to be.

Sure, the dance music community has failed abysmally to continue speaking out against him – bar a few exceptions such as journalist Michael James and this blog – but they have at least responded by no longer booking him. Which at least tells me not everyone in the dance music world is awful, if not much else.

One person who certainly won’t be getting in touch with May anytime soon is the extremely well-connected Pete Tong. Despite Tong speaking a few times over the years about how much he admires May as a DJ, the Essential Mix is one place that May has never properly appeared.

My sources in Detroit have told me this is because May previously didn’t have enough time to record a mix, due to his incredibly busy DJ schedule. I’m reliably informed he has been asked to appear at least three times, and the problem on each occasion is lack of time.

May did previously appear on an Essential Mix special in 2018 to commemorate the show’s 25th birthday – where he did a 45 minute set. But I’ve been told a few times now after the 45 minute mix was broadcast, May was keen to do the full 2 hour set, hoping to do it no later than 2020.

It’s now 2022 and Derrick May’s Essential Mix has still not appeared. One source in Detroit tells me May is feeling “dejected” about the possibility this won’t happen now. He said “Derrick’s achieved most of what he wanted. But an Essential Mix in the country where he became a big star was one of few he hadn’t got. And he’s pretty much accepted it’ll never happen now”

As I said earlier, I do hope the thought you had to spare was miniscule…

The Six On Saturday (That Aren’t From Me!) – 22nd January 2022

On the week that a toddler managed to get his head stuck inside a toilet training seat and had to be freed by firefighters, I go through the records to separate the bog standard from the quilted toilet paper…84904

Lee Wilson Cleveland P. Jones, John Andrews 1st & Makz Keys – Hold On (Ocha)
There’s an awful lot of people involved in the production, to say the least. But when two of the best male singers in house music today – Lee Wilson and Cleveland P Jones – are on board, this is going to be hard to ignore. The original is a good song, if a little short-lived, but the Reelsoul remix breathes a little more life into proceedings. Very enjoyable.

Demarkus Lewis – Love That Bump (Phoenix Music)
The Demarkus Lewis hit making factory churns out its latest product off the supply line. It’s just as bumpy as the title suggests. So even if it’s something you probably won’t remember in a year’s time, it does the job it says on the tin.

Glen Horsborough & Tracy Hamlin – Still Need Love (Let There Be House)
This was a slightly unexpected collaboration – Hamlin tends normally to work with labels more like Quantize. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable record. It’s got the vocals you’d expect from Hamlin and all the big piano sounds you’d expect from Horsborough. A fine job.

The Saturday Recap – 22nd January 2022

So that’s another week over and done with. Welcome to the weekend! Your Six On Saturday column is coming up later, but let’s quickly recap some of what’s been on Amateur’s House during the week. Seven days a week, unlike the dance music press…

If you’re not following Amateur’s House by now, you’re missing out. Much of what’s written about on this blog simply doesn’t appear anywhere else. Show your support by following the blog on the socials and subscribing at the right hand side of the page – and you’ll never miss a post again!

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…