Ever since Amateur’s House started properly back in April of this year, I’ve discovered all kinds of things. Many have been reported in the blog, and a few haven’t – I don’t have bottomless pockets. I’ve also covered a lot of things which aren’t being reported elsewhere and I’m quite proud of what’s being created here.
But I’ve also come across some things which make me want to scratch my head in bafflement. Occasionally, I get complaints coming in from people unable to access the website. The error messages are usually quite generic, so it’s therefore not easy to get to the root of the problem. However, I’ve been receiving a fair number of emails lately from one particular country about access.
And that country would be Spain. For some unknown reason, a lot of people in the country are currently having problems getting on this site. Exactly why is unclear, and something I’m trying to get to the bottom of – but a quick look at my statistics for November reveal Spain is sixth in the list of visitors last month…
Rest assured I’m working on this in the background, but I thought it was worth writing about. Access to Amateur’s House on social media platforms remain unaffected. Email subscriptions are available if you’re having this problem – or you know someone who is.
And as a temporary fix, there’s always VPNs. I’ll keep you all posted…
Every now and then, my lovely readers get in touch with ideas for stories, features and columns for the blog. And to be fair, many do make it onto these pages – for instance, the Here’s One They Made Earlier column which appears on Mondays was an idea suggested in an email.
Occasionally though, some of the proposals on the table aren’t right for whatever reason. Such as this one – a column which revealed people in the dance music world who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19. And I’m not talking here about those who are openly declaring they won’t get the jab, such as Danny Rampling.
I’m speaking about those who aren’t saying anything on the subject. These people don’t just include DJs. They also include promoters, club managers and the journalists in the dance music press who write about them whenever they’ve got a new release or event to plug. If you’ve ever wondered why the dance press won’t give anti-vaxxers a hard time, it’s because quite a few of them work in it.
Ultimately, I couldn’t see a justification for outing people in this way – apart from reminding me of North Korean TV show Let’s Trim Our Hair In Accordance With The Socialist Lifestyle, I suspect I’d be leaving myself at the mercy of a ravenous solicitor with a privacy case on their hands. Some people legitimately cannot have the vaccine, after all.
But there is one specific circumstance where I would seriously consider publishing medical information relating to a person. And that’s if their public stance was at odds with their private one. For example, let’s say a person was taking an anti-vax viewpoint in public, yet had been double jabbed against Covid-19 in private.
If a person was taking such a dishonest stance in their life, public interest would come into play…
Well, it had to happen at some point, didn’t it? Every weekend, this blog features a reviews column – it’s called the Six On Saturday. In it, I publish what I think of some of the latest music to hit the digital stores. And I would say around 95% of all reviews are mostly or entirely positive – why would I deliberate review stuff I hate?
But it’s usually the 5% that gets noticed. If I like a record, I say so. If I don’t like a particular record or a remix, I say so. That’s how it worked in the days of reviews in music magazines decades ago, and I see absolutely no reason why I should change a successful formula.
So I was very surprised when a producer – who shall remain anonymous – emailed me to complain angrily about two reviews. The first was for a track of his I reviewed months ago. Quite why he only mentions this now is for him to know. And the second was a remix which I referenced a few weeks ago.
He told me that “you have no right to write about my music and you have no right to be so negative about it” – when my review of his remix simply said it “wasn’t my cup of tea”. He then proceeded with the inevitable attack on my own productions over the past five years – a surefire sign they’ve lost the argument.
Well, the truth is simple. If you release music publicly, the public has a right to have an opinion on that music. It’s as simple as that, and you’d better get used to it. If they like it, they’ll buy it, stream it, play it out and the rest. They’re also entitled to tell people they like it.
Consequently, they’re also welcome to say they don’t like it. Many told me as much – including some whose names have appeared in the Six On Saturday column. I haven’t held it against them. I’ve just taken it either as constructive criticism or on the chin. And that’s exactly what I suggest this terribly thin-skinned individual does.
Grow a thicker skin. Not everyone is going to like everything you make. It’s an unavoidable fact of life. Alternatively, take my criticism and turn it into something else. Say to yourself “I don’t care what this guy thinks. Who the hell is Amateur At Play anyway?” and make the best track you’ve ever made. I love being proven wrong.
What you don’t do is send off whinging emails that make you look like a petulant, self-indulgent narcissist who can’t handle criticism. You’re going to get criticised in this music world – I have my critics out there who don’t like what I write about them.
But I have no interest whatsoever in what they think. It’s the opinions of my readers that matter to me, not a bunch of wimps who can’t handle reading something that don’t like. And if you’re in my column, I’m probably already a fan. If they want to take it as a personal attack, that’s on them.
So to the producer in question – and anyone else who’s not been happy with a review of their work I’ve written – grow up. My criticism is positively mild compared to what the dance magazines wrote in the 1990s – when vinyl records cost £6 a time. Get over yourselves and get back into the studio. No one ever complains when they see a positive review…
Journalists are a curious bunch, aren’t they? I took a look through the list of my email subscribers earlier this week, and discovered something quite astonishing. Several hacks publicly distance themselves from this blog – yet a couple of them also follow it on subscription.
Indeed, one of them blocked this blog’s Twitter account sometime last week, yet receives an email into his work email address every morning with the latest posts in it. Let’s just say this less than charming gentleman is lucky that data protection rules prevent me disclosing who he is…
Anyway, following the incident last week where Annabel Ross – a person who somehow manages to possess even less charm and wit than the aforementioned – invented an allegation of misogyny against this blog, I was contacted by a journalist who claimed he wanted to “help” by offering some “advice”.
Being a polite soul, I let him speak his mind. Maybe, just maybe, there was something here I could learn. It turns out there wasn’t. His “advice”, if you could call it that, was to “keep your head down and stay away from controversial subjects”.
Yes, he seriously suggested that a blog whose tagline is “writing the stuff about dance music that others won’t” steers clear of any topics which could upset the apple cart. I should “write in a more formal way and show more respect” – oh, and “you’re not going to get interviewed by Mixmag if you keep having a go at them”.
This is clearly not someone who has ever read a single post from this site. A village called – they want their idiot back…
On this Sunday morning, I thought I’d start the day with a bit of reflection. I’ve been looking back through the archives of this blog – and I have to say I’m quickly becoming very proud of what is being created here.
A bit of background first. I came up with the idea of this site back in 2019. I was using my Facebook page to write about Sterling Void and how he’s essentially created an entire career on the backs of other people’s work. I wrote extensively about him for months – but the dance music press never picked up on it.
Approaches by myself and a few others were either ignored entirely or rebuffed with claims about being “too busy”. The episode left me thinking there was something seriously wrong with the dance music press. What else weren’t they covering?
For some years now, I’ve thought you can either be part of a problem or part of a solution. So I thought I might as well try it myself – that’s the only way to find out. I started in January and by April, I decided to take the blog to the next level. I wanted to run things that weren’t being covered elsewhere and try things the dance music press weren’t doing.
In just a few short months, here’s some of what I’ve accomplished.
I got a plague rave DJ to agree to speak to me. Under the condition of anonymity, he wrote a substantial piece for this blog and agreed to take difficult questions from me afterwards. A one-man operation managed to beat the entire dance music world to get a detailed first-hand account of DJing during a pandemic.
With the noble exception of Michael James, I have covered Derrick May since the start of the year. Most recently, I’ve written about the way he tried to deceive the public over a booking at Club Shelter and his attempts to start a new life in Europe with his “passport” girlfriend.
I’ve written about internal matters within the dance music press, making more readers aware of what’s going on inside these secretive companies that don’t like scrutiny. I also hold people to account on their promises, such as Whitney Wei’s promise to “raise the calibre of music journalism” – for which I make no apologies.
I’ve taken on anti-vaxxers and the dangerous messages they spread from day one. Whilst I do not believe the Covid-19 should be mandatory, I also do not believe people within the dance scene – yes, that includes you, Danny Rampling – should be able to use their position to promote falsehoods. I deal with them head on whilst the dance music press looks away.
On the issue of vaccine passports, I’ve taken a much more nuanced line than the dance music press and written more about it. Despite it being an issue that directly affects clubbers, the dance music press is reluctant to cover it properly.
I’ve spoken out about the business side of the scene – such as Defected being on a mission to buy huge catalogues of house music history, or the business interests of Sacha Lord.
And that’s just some of what I’ve covered over the space of a couple of months. There’s a demand for what I’m doing too – traffic on this website has grown substantially over the past few months. July’s figures were 81% up on June and that growth continued during August, adding another 17% on July.
Social media growth is a little slow – and I’ll be starting more work on that soon – but the email list has exploded. Industry insiders are amongst those subscribers – I see their email addresses when they sign up. I also know they are more than outnumbered by readers who might not be insiders, but who are cherished just as much by this blog, if not more.
Of course, I have got some things wrong over time. When this happens, I seek to correct the record as quickly as possible – and I firmly believe my record shows this promise is being kept. This blog is the fastest and biggest learning curve I’ve ever been on, but there are few things in life I’ve enjoyed more.
With such growth, it’s little wonder that mainstream dance music journalists are taking notice. And many of them do not like what they see. Thankfully, they’re not my target audience, so I don’t care if they don’t like it.
For the truth is most journalists are absolutely beastly people. They’re used to dishing out criticism of others, but are the most thin-skinned individuals you could ever meet. They’re used to asking questions of others, but never answering any themselves.
And dance music journalists – with a few honourable exceptions, I must note – are the worst of a bad bunch. So don’t be surprised to see them taking fire at this blog. Because the truth is it scares them.
I am one person. I run an extremely busy household with three young children and a wife who runs her own business. I can also run a blog like this and post an average of 4 or 5 times a day – and I have total control over the subjects I write about. Unlike the staff at dance music magazines who are told what to write.
I can work faster, harder and better than any of them. This terrifies them, so rather than doing the right thing and getting better at their job, they resort to character assassination instead. But the thoughts of analogue journalists who don’t understand they’re no longer the gatekeepers in the digital age don’t ultimately matter.
What matters in the end is what you, the wonderful readers of Amateur’s House think. Typically, you’re not shy about telling me when I’ve got it right and when you think I’ve got it wrong. It’s you who I’m ultimately accountable to – not a small minority who think they’re more important than everyone else.
And the readership continues to grow every single day. I must be doing something right…
Well, it was bound to happen eventually, wasn’t it? When you’re holding people to account each and every day of the week – unlike the mainstream dance music press – you’re eventually going to step on the toes of someone who doesn’t like what you write.
And sure enough, that has just happened. Annabel Ross – a journalist who helped expose Derrick May for what he is – has decided to attack this blog on Twitter, referencing a post I published on Tuesday about Resident Advisor’s editor in chief.
Whilst I’m sorely disappointed that Ross decided to engage in character assassination of me on Twitter – including the ridiculous accusation of misogyny at a blog which writes about far more men than women – I have to concede that this article did have its problems.
Let me make this crystal clear. I despise misogyny, and I will call it out when I see it. But like many other words in the English language, misogyny is a label brandished and used far too readily nowadays. It’s being used as a way of silencing dissent, which I strongly suspect Ross was shamefully doing.
But I have to accept this post wasn’t one of my finest. I’ll be perfectly honest – after writing it, I did have my doubts. What was intended to be a light-hearted look at Wei, on reflection, doesn’t come across as such. I don’t accept for one minute the original article was misogynistic – but I do believe that I crossed the line into the personal.
And for that, I’m unreservedly sorry to Whitney Wei and to my readers. Quite simply, I got this one wrong. I have made the decision to take the article down, because I don’t think it meets the standards I set myself on this site. I pride myself on being different, but I can’t take pride in a personal attack like this one.
Will I continue to write about what I believe to be the faults of Resident Advisor? Absolutely. But in future, I will aim to keep it about business, not about the personal…
I thought it was time to explain one or two things about this blog to the many new arrivals recently. You’re all very welcome indeed, but I just need to make a few things clear.
Firstly, this blog doesn’t take many of the people in dance music seriously. They don’t deserve to be taken seriously, frankly. Many of them have spent years having their egos fed and stroked at every opportunity and actually believe the hype which surrounds them. Which is why some of them don’t like this blog – I tell things like they are, not like the press release which goes to Resident Advisor.
Secondly, I had someone ask me about the structure of the week. Well, it’s pretty simple – the week here starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. Sunday to Friday is a combination of the serious and the silly. Saturday consists of a recap of the week, a review column and something lighter in the evening – although obviously if a big story breaks, things can be subject to change.
And on Wednesday, I run the glorious Wednesday Whisper column. Since I started blogging here, I’ve been sent all kinds of stuff which I can’t publish in its entirety – partly because some of the stuff is unverifiable, and partly because you never know when lawyers are watching. But it would a real shame not to use the stories in some way – so they go in there with names and a few other details redacted.
Gossip? There’s a demand for it. Most weeks, the most popular time for the blog is Wednesday at 6pm – which is the time that column appears every week…
Now that nightclubs are reopening in various parts of the world again – and closing in others, but I digress – one rather ugly tradition has returned to the dance music scene. And that practice is essentially being two-faced.
You know the sort – telling people to their faces that they’re brilliant and deserve to go far whilst behind their backs, you’re conspiring and actively working to thwart them. They exist in many areas of life, but especially in the music world.
It’s an ugly practice as old as dance music itself. Yet no one has ever thought to do anything about it. You won’t hear about it in the likes of Mixmag, not least because some of those DJs who do these things might get upset and then refuse to grant them an exclusive interview.
However, this isn’t something that bothers me. I’m not a DJ. I’m not looking to get onto the latest hot label. I’m not looking for gigs. They have nothing to offer me, and nothing they can take off me.
Here’s an example of my own. Just under four years ago, I remixed a song for a now inactive label. They put out some records with a female singer and I was interested in working with her. Now, I like to do my research before I work with someone – a bit like getting references in a job – so I contacted the label boss. The gist of what he told me was “I discovered her, and you don’t get to work with her”.
Oh, and if the label boss in question is reading this and decides to out himself, I still have the exchange in question. I’m more than comfortable posting it if you try anything.
Anyway, the strapline of Amateur’s House is “writing about stuff in dance music that others won’t”. So just remember – if you’re having trouble with someone like this, feel free to get in touch with me about it. You can email me here – or over at ProtonMail if you fancy that extra little layer of privacy. If I get enough information on a particular person, guess what? I’ll be more than happy to tell the world just how they conduct themselves.
Those who conduct themselves honestly have nothing to fear. Those who don’t, you just might…