What took them so long? Mixmag FINALLY write something about Eric Prydz’s hopelessly vague comments on the techno genre – over two weeks after he said it!

As I said a few weeks ago, I’m very proud of what’s being created on this blog. I’m also particularly impressed with the fact that a one-man operation is basically able to outdo the dance music press – it just shows you in what a dire, moribund state the rest of them are.

I managed it a few weeks ago by reporting on Scotland’s reopening of nightclubs an entire week before Resident Advisor, under the truly disappointing editorial stewardship of Whitney Wei. And I’ve managed it again by reporting on Eric Prydz’s comments on the genre of techno on September 9th – a full ten days before Mixmag.

I have absolutely no idea why it’s taken them so long to write something about this, given some of the dross they’ve published lately – an article about Nile Rodgers falling in love with a Scouse canal made it onto the website last week.

Still, it’s not all bad – I note at the end of the article it states it was written by “Mixmag’s Weekend Editor”. I was surprised to discover this position has existed since at least January 2020, given the fact new content almost never appears on Mixmag’s site during the weekend. A great irony considering dance music culture is most alive on Friday and Saturday nights…

And judging by their Eric Prydz article – which offers nothing new at all to the debate – it looks like I can continue sleeping easily at night. Especially on the weekends…

That brings the running total to around 52,000! Paul Van Dyk adds two new versions to “Café Del Mar” by Energy 52 – but who thought this needed yet another remix?

Dance music is a genre which has always been willing to cannibalise itself for a few quid, but the problem is endemic at the moment. So much so that Defected label boss Simon Dunmore was complaining about it on Twitter – before subsequently doing it himself anyway.

One of those records that’s cannibalised more than most is “Café Del Mar” by Energy 52. It first came out on Eye-Q Records in 1993. The first few remixes – such as by the likes of Nalin & Kane – were decent enough, but they kept coming. John 00 Fleming, deadmau5, Tale Of Us and even CamelPhat (under the name Whelan & Di Scala have all had a go, alongside numerous other official and less official reworks.

Paul Van Dyk has now added two new versions to the already extensive pile. I’d say it’s time this tune was left alone now, but honestly? If I had a record which was as popular as this, I’d probably commission new remixes every few years too…

Does the world REALLY need more remixes of “Insomnia”? According to Maceo Plex and Ministry of Sound, it apparently does

Faithless originally made “Insomnia” back in 1994. And according to Sister Bliss, the song was originally signed to Island Records. However, they used a buyback clause in the contract to get it back after the label essentially admitted they couldn’t work out what to do with it – hence its release on Cheeky the following year.

Over the years, it’s been remixed by DJ Quicksilver, De Donatis, Armand Van Helden, Sasha and countess times unofficially. Special kudos goes to Armand’s European Vacation mix, which has a clever section at 2:54 that teases you before those notorious chords come in.

Anyway, there’s quite a few mixes to choose from already. So we don’t need more, right? In this age where dance music is far too willing to rinse old tunes, wrong! Ministry of Sound have decided to release two remixes that plague rave favourite Maceo Plex made unofficially for his sets a few years back.

Are they any good? The full versions aren’t available yet, but from the previews I heard on Beatport… they’re okay but I largely just feel indifferent. Just not necessary.

Did they stop compiling the list in 1999? Questions for house music’s future as Traxsource’s Best Of 2021 So Far is weighed down with decades old records – and how’d they make this list anyway?

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Traxsource have since responded to my request for comment, saying that the lists are based entirely on sales.

It was Carl Cox who said many years ago that the reason house music continues to survive and thrive is because it evolves each year. No year sounds quite the same as the last, giving the music longevity and depth.

If we follow this theory to judge the latest Traxsource feature – the Best of 2021 So Far – house music is well and truly in serious trouble. Even for a genre in which the remix has been held in high regard, house music is now cannibalising itself to an extent never seen before.

For example, in the main chart, we have the following…

  • The number one is a remix by Full Intention of The Fog’s “Been A Long Time” – a song originally released in 1993.
  • Number four is a Michael Gray remix, one half of the aforementioned Full Intention, of “In And Out Of My Life” by Adeva. This song first appeared in 1988.
  • Number 12 on the list is a cookie cutter M1 piano cover of “Respect” by Michelle Ayers, originally out in 1992.
  • Number 26 is a remix of “Shined On Me” by Andrea Love and E-Smoove under his Praise Cats moniker. The original came out in 2002 on Subliminal, the label of the disgraced Erick Morillo.

And that’s just a few small examples from the main charts. Look into the others and you will find more. It certainly gives away the lie that house music is a meritocracy – unless you’re backed up by the Defected monolith or a label that is in favour with Traxsource A&R, you stand virtually no chance at having a shot at the top.

There also seems to be no explanation anywhere as to how this chart was compiled. Was it through sales alone, recommendations by their staff, a combination of both or something else entirely? Traxsource have not yet replied to my request for comment at the time of publication…

Is all not well with Masters At Work? Mystery of why there’s no interview for any press for “Mattel” promo campaign

Time was whenever someone had a record to promote, especially when an artist has been away for a long time, is media appearances – and lots of them. This strategy has been frequently employed by celebrities whenever they have a book to promote, for example.

Yet despite the relaunch of MAW Records and the release of new single “Mattel” – which is hated by me, but loved by many – there has been no joint interview with the two of them.

They have made appearances elsewhere – not least their takeover of the hugely popular Defected Records radio show – and they have been promoting the record individually across their social media channels.

Yet a joint interview with the two of them – something that would bring in a huge readership for the lucky outlet that got it, and would certainly be possible with the benefit of modern technology – remains illusive.

So what on earth is going on here? Both Vega and Gonzalez know that they are, in many eyes, house music royalty. They’ve known since the 1990s – when they frequently charged $20k a time for remixes – that their name commands attention.

So the absence of an appearance from both men, whether in the form of a written interview or on video, is particularly unusual. This certainly isn’t dispelling increasing suspicion that this comeback is nothing more than a cynical cash-in…

Is Simon’s logic on old tunes defected?

On Saturday night, I wrote about Mr Simon Dunmore of Defected Records. He was complaining that the Top 3 on Traxsource all being remixes of decades old records was symptomatic of a problem within the industry.

I happened to agree with him entirely, and I still do. Yet the more I think about this, the more I’m beginning to spot a certain amount of hypocrisy on Mr Dunmore’s part. His labels do release remixes of a lot of older material – not exactly at Easy Street levels, but they have been doing it.

And only last week, Defected announced that they’ve acquired the rights to “Groovejet” by Spiller. This song was bubbling in the background throughout 1999, and when the Miami Winter Music Conference came along in 2000, a frantic bidding war took place. Those were the days!

Ministry of Sound wanted it, but it ultimately went to Positiva. As an offshoot of the EMI behemoth, they were going to have a much easier time – let alone budget – to clear the Carol Williams sample. It was released that summer with a vocal version with Sophie Ellis Bextor and remixes by Ray Roc and Todd Terry.

Positiva’s licence expired some time ago for this and Defected signed it up. It certainly fits in with Defected’s business strategy of buying the rights to swathes of older records – but when new remixes start appearing of these records, Dunmore’s comments start to look a little hypocritical.

Do as I say, not as I do, Simon?

Nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (again)

The name Simon Dunmore comes up quite a few times when you search this blog. He’s mentioned a few times both in a critical and favourable manner – hardly surprising for a man with his power and influence in the house music scene.

He currently runs Defected and has done since 1999. Before that, he worked at AM:PM Records and even earlier, Cooltempo. So when he speaks, the scene tends to listen. Here’s what he tweeted this morning..

And for context, here is the current top 10 at the time of writing.

It appears Mr Dunmore is correct. The Fog’s “Been A Long Time” came out in 1993. Siedah Garrett’s song originally came out in 1985 and “Happy People” dates back to 1999.

Elsewhere, Maurice Joshua and Joyce Hurley’s song at number 5 was originally released in 2014, and the number 10 entry is a remake of D-Train’s song from 1982 – and quite a good one, incidentally.

I’m all in favour of remixes, of course. I do plenty of them. But I can’t help but worry the balance in dance music, particularly house, is all wrong at the moment. Barely a week currently goes by when the likes of Easy Street or King Street are releasing remixes of tracks from their archives.

How is new music supposed to thrive with all these remixes around of old records? And why is it always the same old names that seem to be involved? This just makes it even harder for up and coming talent than it already is.

And if you absolutely must remix old records, at least try to do something that hasn’t been done to death already…

New talent versus old farts – who wins?

When the coronavirus pandemic started around March last year, clubs in most of the world closed down overnight. Many of them haven’t opened since, and England’s hope of reopening them by June 21st remains in serious doubt, to say the least.

This meant that a lot of DJs, who you previously had to pay sometimes extortionate amounts of money to see play, had to go online. They had to the navigate the fallacious platforms available to continue being able to play in some form. It has helped to keep a culture going in at least some form. No one’s stopped making music after all, have they?

Some of these so-called bedroom DJs have actually done well. Whilst a fair few sound like they’re recording their sets on a mobile phone in the pub toilets, there are some who are really making the effort – and they’re being rewarded with some pretty substantial audiences. Better in many cases than the pros who have years and years of experience as DJs.

If house music was the meritocracy that some would have you believe, these people would now be getting offers to do some DJing in front of audiences in the conventional way. New talent should be nurtured for a scene to evolve, develop and continue into the future.

Unfortunately, that won’t happen. And this is why.

Dance music is filled with stuffy old farts at the top who are so desperate to protect their own position that they won’t give anyone outside their own little bubble a chance. This includes promoters who are too gutless to take a chance on new talent. It includes DJs who haven’t had a new hit in years and can barely mix a pudding, let alone two tracks together.

And it includes club owners who aren’t interested in booking names which might mean they have to actually make an effort to get people into their damn clubs. They tell us that they’re just giving people what they want – the experience of the past year gives away this lie.

Just look at the flyers going around for 51st State Festival and all the others. Plenty of the aforementioned stuffy old farts from the DJ protection racket in there. Nothing new, nothing different.

And you wonder why the higher echelons of dance music are so homogenised and boring? The fact is that unless you’re in with the stuffy old farts, they don’t want to know. They see you as a threat. Someone new with new ideas and a different approach will show up how tired and lame they’ve got.

And that just won’t do, will it? Thank heavens that I have no aspirations whatsoever to join this snake pit…