There's a never ending debate about what should be in focus for the music biz. Art or Money? Some are surfing on waves of money while some need a daytime job to make a living. There is a gap of creativity between these groups regardless of the fact that not all super rich DJ/producers are sellouts and not all bedroom producers are making gold. In the previous article
lines were clearly drawn between art driven and "McDonald's" music with the help of Lifelike. Now that we see the tip of the iceberg it is time to stick our heads in the shallow water in order to capture fragments of something that might be really big. We could only guess the size underneath the surface.
The first article ended with questions about what should be the correct path for a DJ or a producer to balance his craft to earn some money and to express musical visions at the same time. I realized that the best way to map this uncharted topic is to talk to producers and DJs from each side. So I found a couple where the musical skill per capita ratio is pretty damn high. Karl Sav and JesSouls are husband and wife. Karl is growing the crops on the fields of his DAW so Jess could mix them while having a firm grip on the turntables of her fireplace. Let's see who they are and what their point is when it comes to art vs. money:
I'm from Germany and I have been DJing for a couple of years now after being a big fan of breakbeat since the "golden times" of breaks in 2004. Lately I had some of my sets played on NSB radio which gained a bit of a following around the world. I don't really play out at all, just to friends if we have a little party at home.
I see mixes as a way to introduce new and exciting things to my listeners. In this aspect a mix is a tool for musical education, but at the same time it also has to sound familiar to make the listeneres "trust" you. Too much of either can bore an audience. I like to play a mix of old favorites, current hits and forthcoming releases in my sets to keep the set interesting to the listener. By developing this skill even an underground DJ can fulfill the needs of an audience that is used to commercial music. You can always play a bootleg of a well-known tune in an "underground" style and all of a sudden people who might have rejected your mixes before should open up.
Also being a DJ today is a lot more accessible than it was in the past, however you still have to „crate dig" as a lot of DJs will just play what's „hot" right now in the Beatport charts. You still have to dig deeper than that to find the rare gem that no one knows about. Its handy having the love of your life being a producer as well as you have access to some tunes before they haven't been heard by anyone else. :D
I'm 36 years old and I live in Germany but I was born in Australia. I have been spinning breaks now for 12 years and I have been producing electronic music for 10 years now. I have been involved in music production since I was 14 though. I used to be part of the band scene in my teens and early 20's, playing bass guitar and guitar. I recorded and produced many original tunes with my band on an old 4 track recorder and many techniques crossed over into dance music – however it was still a huge learning curve crossing over to the electronic side of things. I had my first official release in 2005 and since then I've released many tunes on various labels. It took me around 8 years though to finally write „what I want to „. There is a huge difference between making a track in a way that it will turn out somehow and consciously compressing your visions into music.
no one should be afraid of the unknown since that is the very place where all the new stuff is coming from
The way I see it, just like Lifelike, there is a clear line between music with an artistic merit and pop music. "Pop" music is called that because it's "Pop-ular". People pay for such music because it's rammed down our throats by corporations who are paid to do so, just like the previous article says – push a "brand". Unfortunately in today's scene there are many performers who have absolutely nothing to do with the creation process of the music, they are just the faces behind the „brands" – the big light shows, the big stage acts. Sadly, this goes on in our breakbeat scene too to a lesser extent and some would be very surprised when they would hear „who" is doing this– in some cases, it is common knowledge who is doing this but no one seems to care – or those that are bold enough to expose some of these fakes get called haters. Commercial music in the 80's and 90's was cool. Nowadays it is horrible – maybe because I'm getting older, I don't know – but now I do really understand what my parents were saying when they said they couldn't understand the heavy metal I listened to as a teenager.
It is really hard to balance music in terms of serving customers and expressing your own visions since there are no rules to making music – I suppose if it's your day job and you are paid to write commercial music (for radio, music beds, voice overs whatever) then you would have a strict guideline to follow. For the artist there is no rule. I personally write what I am feeling at the time.
Unfortunately, nowadays not too many people are „buying" music– especially at the level that I am writing at – so I tend not to worry about what the „buying" listener wants as people are more interested in downloading free music than paying for it.
By not paying attention to anything but our own imagination maybe we can educate our audience in the sense of opening their mind to sounds or sequences not heard before. Also I don't really see the way in which this sort of education could define people – I once thought that. Listening to DJ Mutiny's old cyberfunk stuff and tearout breaks I thought he would be this mean, big bastard who was angry at the world. When I met him and spent time with him for a week or so in the mid 2000's , he was a tall, skinny pasty English guy with bottle top glasses and softly spoken (mean this in the nicest possible way – Mutiny was an absolutely top bloke) who had some deep intellectual (and still to this day) thoughts on the world – and had other music styles that wasn't in the „definition" that I had him in before meeting him . So no – I don't think music defines us at all.
Back on commercial music and its effects: it is generic, same sounding and re-hashes of music that aims to draw in audience by repeating the same thing over and over has a negative backlash on the ways how one could perceive new things.The M-Pill"Big things have a gravitational pull, sucks in all sorts of shit."
Having all these inputs it is time to go forward with the art & money theory. Luckily there are quite a lot of talent on this planet to push their unique craft hard enough to raise from the depths all the way to the surface. While some can rise with their craft by domesticating it, some should stay there for a very good reason. If anything becomes successful in the world of music than it immediately becomes the synonym for success and money. Money makes large scale advertising affordable and hype with a bit of character can make things grow huge. As Deadmau5 told it
"Big things have a gravitational pull, sucks in all sorts of shit.". By this age the art of a single producer can grow into a genre known worldwide which is the synonym for becoming mainstream. Once something becomes mainstream everyone wants it, for the trend and for his friends are listening to it even if the subject doesn't really like it. If repeated over and over anything can slip into the mind without the involvement of any conscious will. Success cannot be all underground for quite a few reasons. Nowadays a successful producer has to travel non-stop to play all places where he's needed and he becomes more of a celebrity than a musician. This is most definitely not the place to talk about celebrity life, but flying three times a week, living in hotels and the constant battle with jetlag is not the perfect way to free your imagination. In these conditions it is very rare for the music to keep all its spirit and to evolve it even further. The question is if this process poses a general problem or this is the way how it is?
In the last article Marten Horger will give us an insight into a world, where a musician has to be more of a manager than a musician. Do you become a sellout immediatley as your success forces you into doing other stuff or what is the thing that keeps your artistic "dignity"? Stay tuned for the last one :D
Written by: Kado
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