Sunday, October 19, 2008

Call To Arms: Reclaim Our Scene

I want my Detroit Electronic Music scene back… I think back to the days where, as a club-goer, I had freedom of choice. If I wanted to hear Top 40, I knew where to go. If I wanted to hear Underground sounds, I knew where to go. There were enough choices, I could go clubbing every night of the week – and be treated to something DIFFERENT.

Today, it's a much different story. Sure we have plenty of clubs here in Detroit. But our scene is in a state of disarray. Promoters compete for the biggest DJs. Venues compete for the biggest sound system, or the best light show… But what good does it do, when everyone's playing the same tired shit? Club owners don't really care about the music or the scene – as long as their place is packed. In the meantime, our scene continues to decay.

DJs themselves are partly to blame. There was a time when DJs were considered "tastemakers" or pioneers. Today's DJ is little more than a jukebox; afraid to challenge the status quo, in favor of making (what I like to call) "short money." With the advance in technology, the basics of DJing are already becoming obsolete. Now we have automated playlists, automatic beat matching; even software to recommend what songs to play together. Before long, there will be no need for the DJ as we know it. So long, creativity! Farewell, musical expression…

Please note that when I say DJ, I'm not necessarily talking about the TURNTABLIST. I consider them to be a bit more than "just a DJ," but an entertainer. Somewhere, somehow, SOMEBODY blurred the lines between the DJ and the fucking "rock star." There is a difference between the two!

While I'm all about preserving the art of DJing, I must say that most of these so-called "purists" have their heads stuck in the clouds. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people COMPLAIN about the DJ who plays on CDs instead of vinyl… Or the DJ who brings a laptop and "Serato" instead of crates of records… Their complaint? "I didn't pay my money to watch a DJ stare at his laptop all night!" Personally, I don't go to a club to stare at the DJ anyway! I go there to FEEL the MUSIC. Whether he spins on CDs, Vinyl, MP3, reel-to-reel; I don't care. It's what bumps through the speakers that make me dance.

Despite the obvious differences between vinyl and CDs – like the ability to store 80 minutes worth of music on ONE disc, vs. 12 – 14 minutes of music on a piece of vinyl… Or the ability to store thousands of tracks on a hard drive, vs. carrying (at most) a couple crates of vinyl… I could argue the digital vs. vinyl debate forever, but right now, it's not important.

Back in the day, in some of the world's most legendary clubs, you couldn't even SEE the DJ booth! The booth was placed somewhere way above the crowd, and only the elite few were even allowed to ACCESS it. Lord knows what actually went ON inside those booths, but the point is, nobody stood there staring at him.

If we are going to reclaim our scene, we need to reprioritize. The DJs and promoters need to choose: short-term money, vs. long-term integrity. The club-goers need to open their minds and deprogram themselves. Remember that the best music is usually NOT force-fed to us by radio stations! Club owners need to recognize that they're fighting and competing against each other for all the wrong reasons. Build us a place where we can have free expression through our music; the money will surely follow.

We can all do our part – the promoter, the DJ, the owner AND the crowd. We MUST work together in order to keep our scene alive.

Yours truly,



augustus said...

I'm lucky to be here in LA. I can go out every night of the week and hear something new. It wasn't always this way but I'm happy for it now. Actually I've been trying my hand at DJing for a bit and recorded my mix last week. Please ignore the obvious trainwrecks lol it was my first recorded mix and I didn't want to bust a Tiesto and digitally fix it. :)

Nacho Menendez said...

I'm absolutely agree with you. I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and here, unfortunately, is the same thing...