Sometimes, there’s no need for a big blurb before I get to the point of an article. This is one of those times. On Friday, DJ Mag published this on their Facebook page. It wasn’t long before Dave Clarke came along to have his say…
So what was the most important news story of the week? Was it Nicki Minaj saying the Covid jab gave her cousin a bad case of swollen testicles? The authorities in Trinidad and Tobago went through their files and sure enough, it turned out the story was a load of balls.
Perhaps next week, we could have an article where Low Steppa takes some Mixmag journalist around the streets of Birmingham to show us his favourite drains? Maybe we can have an extended piece all about Defected boss Simon Dunmore’s favourite steak restaurants in London – we already know he likes his meat!
The following week, how about a feature where Posthuman shows us his favourite shopping trolleys and reveals what he does when he encounters one with a squeaky wheel? Or maybe we could have a read about Judge Jules and his favourite pie shop in Wigan?
The series could even go Stateside. Sterling Void could show us his favourite crack dens. DJ Sneak could tell us about how he’s fallen in love with a tree whilst over in Detroit, Terrence Parker could tell us about the time he accidentally deleted his piano preset on his computer.
Carl Cox’s favourite roadsigns is the one I’m really looking forward to, though…
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…
The dance music world is filled with types who like to think their favourite genre is a safe place where everyone is free to be whatever they want to be. This line of thinking is so ingrained into dance music that entire advertising campaigns and slogans are built around it.
There’s just one problem. It’s complete nonsense. The mere idea that the dance music world is a safe space is utterly moronic. If that was seriously the case, Erick Morillo would never have been able to get away with his appalling behavior towards women. And guess what? The dancefloor is no better.
A report commissioned by Ballantine’s True Music reveals the truth. It’s grim reading. A third of those polled confirmed they’d suffered some form of discrimination on the dancefloor. This report isn’t exactly clear on its definition of discrimination – I understand that it’s an entirely subjective term, of course – but the most common appear to be connected to gender or race.
And even worse – if it wasn’t bad enough already – was that 84% of respondents had witnessed this happening. Proportionately speaking, if you got ten clubbers into a room, eight will have seen something. For a scene which prides itself on being a safe space, especially for minorities, these statistics are absolutely damning.
But nothing will be done? The likes of Nick Stevenson, Mixmag’s MD who contributed to this report, will see to that. Solving this problem means taking on a lot of corporate interests, such as sponsors and booking agencies. And these people do not like scrutiny – hence why the likes of Mixmag don’t do it. Too much advertising revenue at stake, you see.
Bookers, booking agencies and promoters like to work in the shadows. The idea of sticking what they do in sunlight in anathema to these people. They have lots of power. They like having lots of power – but they seem to think having lots of power comes with no scrutiny. And luckily for them, the dance music press agree.
They’re happy to play along, and they’re even more happy to play along now. The dance music press is in terrible shape – lots of journalists have left the industry and there’s little money going around. It’s no exaggeration to say upsetting the apple cart could mean potential bankruptcy for some of them.
Most of the problems in dance music today are structural ones. That structure is designed to grab control and maintain control. If you’re in with them with those who control the structure, you can make a lot of money, and they can give you a life of luxury. If you’re not? They’ll ensure you won’t get very far.
And whilst there are so many players in the game who are perfectly comfortable with the current state of play because it means asking awkward questions, not much will change…
I made emphatically clear in the past few days that I will continue to cover things that go on inside the dance music press. Whilst I accepted a recent post on Resident Advisor’s editor was in poor taste, I make absolutely no apologies for holding the website – and others – to account.
So with that in mind, let’s get to the subject at hand. Now, this blog runs a weekly column called The Six On Saturday (That Aren’t From Me!). Its premise is simple – I review my favourite new releases a week. There’s aren’t always six releases featured and I don’t include anything which I was involved with.
Resident Advisor appear to think differently. What else could explain the decision to review the new EP by the blog-blocking Ash Lauryn? And naturally enough, the review is absolutely glowing, referencing her “clarity of purpose”. And yes, the review does point out she’s an occasional contributor to their website – but this doesn’t stop me believing it to be a conflict of interest.
In a way, it’s a pity that she’s blocked this blog from her life – because having listened to the EP, I actually think it’s pretty good. “Life Is Back”, the lead track, is probably my favourite of the bunch. Listen yourself and make your own minds up…
There are people out there – and if you don’t know one, you probably are one yourself – who think everything was better in the past. You know the sort. They’d have you believe not a single decent dance track has been released since 2000, or that life was better in the days you could leave your front door open at night.
And they’ll no doubt tell you that dance music journalism in the past was brilliant and the stuff today isn’t a patch on it. And whilst I agree that what consists of journalism in dance music today is mostly terrible, the idea there was some kind of golden age is a fantasy. It might have been less bad, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
Journalists suffer typically from having to retain a certain closeness to their subjects, because they need to be able to talk to them in the future. Dance music, being still run by quite a small community, suffers from this problem more than others – hence why dance music magazines almost venerate those they write about.
Of course, complaints about this aren’t new. Here’s one from the letters page – remember those? – from Muzik Magazine.
Lesson of the day – whenever you see the words “in association with” at the start of an article, especially where the name of who wrote it typically appears, beware. This is essentially an euphemism for “they sent us this rubbish and said they’d pay us lots of money to publish it”. Such is the case with this article on Mixmag’s site, all about a five-day event called Departure.
It’s due to take place at Playa Del Carmen in Mexico from January 6th – 11th next year. And if when you heard the name Playa Del Carmen and thought this sounds familar, that’s because it is. It’s in the state of Quintana Roo in the south-east of Mexico – and so is Tulum. A quick search on Google Maps reveals the two are approximately 65km (that’s just over 40 miles for my British readers) apart. The drive between the two takes around one hour.
And where have you heard of Tulum before? Well, if you’ve been reading Amateur’s House for a while – or perhaps some of the more courageous dance outlets, which isn’t many – you’ll know that Tulum had a massive spike of Covid-19 cases earlier this year, some of which was being spread by DJs travelling there for work whilst much of the world remained closed.
Now here’s where this event gets truly unedifying. Quite a few of the DJs on this list were doing plague raves throughout the pandemic. Âme and Dixon, for example, were both out in Mexico earlier this year. Solardo played in Tulum at least once in February. And Amelie Lens has been doing plague raves since at least last summer. There are an awful lot more names on the list of people playing whose credentials in this area are suspect, to say the least.
It’s almost as if the organiser of Departure decided to browse the Business Teshno account on Twitter, make a note of as many plague rave DJs as possible, then get them all to one big event. Adding on a few who haven’t been doing them – CamelPhat, for example – might fool the dance music press, but it won’t fool this blog…
Regular readers will no doubt be aware by now of my views on Whitney Wei, the new editor of Resident Advisor. If you don’t – I think she’s a terrible editor. The only thing that’s changed since she was given the top job is there’s a lot more stories on the site about Berlin – the city which Wei has lived in for a few years now.
Recently, she told us she was on a mission to “raise the calibre of music journalism”. Well, if 5 Magazine’s latest spot is anything to go by, Wei is failing abysmally in her mission on her own patch.
One of their writers, Katie Thomas, has been caught red-handed lifting stories from 5 Magazine and then writing them up almost word for word on Resident Advisor. The first story was lifted three days after publication – no citation of sources, no new context or quotes added to the original story, nothing. The second was this…
According to Thomas’s Twitter profile, she also freelances for several of the other dance music press outlets. I get the feeling that Czarina Mirani, the lady in charge at 5 Magazine, won’t be hiring Thomas anytime soon…
How does lifting stories from other websites almost ad verbum sit alongside your vision of improving dance music journalism, Whitney?