I like Brussel Sprouts. Do you? No? Ok, but does not liking them mean they actually taste bad? Does the act of you saying you don’t like them magically make all those who do like them stop? Does it magically change their taste buds? No, that’s just stupid, such as is this whole scenario I just drew you into. But I had to make a stupid point to talk about something else just as stupid: DJs that say they are “real DJs” because they had the good fortune to learn how to spin using actual vinyl records on real record playing turntables, or because they actually had to make the trek to physical record stores to buy music and not just click a few links, and anyone who does otherwise is a “fake DJ”. It’s unfortunate when people give in to such childish beliefs, especially when it’s people who should know better given their age, or, when it’s someone you actually admire.
That’s more or less what happened this past weekend when legendary DJ Sneak started what amounts to a DJ beef by calling out the Swedish House Mafia on Twitter for not making “real House music” (for the record, the qoute is from an article but it reared its ugly head this weekend). Steve Angello replied of course, as did many fans in support of both sides. And now, being that this issue, whether it is real DJ vs fake DJ, or one genre against another, has been on my mind for quite sometime, I felt compelled to add my two cents. It might very well be in vain, but this is the kind of ignorance I can’t stand behind no matter who says it. Since so many feel they can just casually throw around their opinions, why should I remain quiet.
Who the fuck am I? Before I go any further and before someone tries to undermine my point of view by mouthing off about me being a nobody in the business or some kind of wannabe (which may very well be true depending on ones limited point of view), let me tell you who I am. I am a fan. At the very least, even by the exacting standards of these very same people who feel comfortable deeming what is “real” or “fake” I am undoubtedly a very, very big fan. My love for House music goes back over 20 years, I learned to DJ on belt driven turntables, and use to travel over two hours just to come to New York to buy records, usually only what I could afford, which was about 10, tops. I use to record my mixes on cassette tape. And for extra points: I knew how to slice and dice them up too, with scotch tape and a razor. To this day the smell of a newly opened record makes me smile, or the memory of them – I haven’t opened up a new one in a long time. But I digress. Bottom line is if I am not a fan what is? I mean, when I ask an artist during an interview what keeps them motivated or when you see an artists win some award, they all say the same thing, they do it for the fans. So, at the very least my opinion means something. Right? Or is it all just bullshit?
I use to have this theory that the majority of people that go around saying so and so is a fake DJ or a certain genre is garbage, were the usually annoymous squeaky prepubescent voices of young kids too immature and ignorant to the ways of the world to know better. This theory derived from my own experiences. I remember as a kid hating the Mets cuz I loved the Yankees, hating Pepsi cuz I loved Coke, hating Burger King cuz I was Mickey D’s all the way, hating Heavy Metal because I was Hip Hop, and on and on and on. I eventually grew up and realized that this was all a waste of time. I think I first began to become aware of this when I received that same type of energy directed at something close to my heart, music. When my elders would say my music wasn’t “real music” I would get mad. Who the hell are they to say my music is not real because it’s not from a bygone era? Getthefuckouttahere!
But wait, now we’re doing it? To each other? You mean to tell me Deadmau5 is a fake DJ because he didn’t grow up spinning vinyl, or that Skrillex is not as committed because he learned how to produce on a computer or that Steve Angello, who did grow up using vinyl, is a fake DJ or spins fake House music because it doesn’t sound like what Marshall Jefferson or Farley “Jackmaster” Funk or Ten City was singing or what Chez Damier, Mr. Finger, or Frankie Knuckles was spinning back in the day? Seriously?
You mean, it doesn’t matter that many of these cats actually have musical talent, can create compositions that are just as complex, just as emotive, just as passion fueled as anything created by a “real” artist? Getthefuckouttahere! If you believe this, and you are an artist, you should leave the game now, because nothing you do will be of any value. Ever. If you’re a fan, I ask you, what are you really a fan of, music or a scene?
Oh but wait, acts like SHM, Tiesto, or Dave Guetta play prerecorded sets! For me, that is not an indication that they are not real DJs. I call that a Hollywood decision. I can bet that is a result of concert organizers and the like wanting to present the best show they technically can by removing human error from the mix, pun intended. Would I prefer them to play live? Yes, but guess what, one skipping record or CD or frozen computer and you’ll never hear the end of fans calling for the DJs head! Either way someone, somewhere will find something to hate. I’ll settle for the good show. Now, play a prerecorded set at a club on a Saturday nite and you deserve what’s coming.
As for the hating of a particular genre or sound, Dubstep anyone, let’s not even go into the fact that people have different tastes, that there are as many rhythms as there are frequencies, that age, culture, race, even social economic class, and time, yes time, as in the passage of time, all play a part in the various musical expressions that we humans create -and that is exactly what music is, our individual expressions of this thing we call life. Who is anyone to say one is more real than another?
Here’s a reality check for all you purists. If this kind of thinking actually prevailed then our music would’ve never gotten to where it is today, in fact, it never would’ve gotten off the ground, we’d still be listening to Mozart being played by an orchestra, if we were lucky. The unlucky would be hearing it on old bar pianos. Or worse still, listening to our so called “jungle music” in the jungle somewhere.
All one has to do, especially if you were a teen anytime during the late 70’s and 80’s, is remember many of our parents claims, or grandparents depending on your age, when the electronic keyboard began to be used in popular music. That is not a real instrument they shouted! What about when Hip Hop burst onto the scene? Oh man, lyrics? What lyrics? Those are just profanities and nonsensical growls by a bunch of lowlifes. Hip Hop is just a fad they said. Disco or any kind of Dance music, even the Pop kind was just repetitive garbage. And House music? Oh lordy, House music was simply jungle music made on fake instruments by people with no musical talent who couldn’t really sing, much less read music. And a real musician must know how to read music. Otherwise, you are not a real musician. Do you know know to read music? If you don’t, I’m sorry to say, but you are a fake.
One simply cannot allow themselves to think that House music from Europe is not House music because it doesn’t sound like Chicago House circa 1984. Or to think that because a young kid learned to mash up MP3’s as opposed to records makes him any less legitimate. You cannot expect a genre to remain the same or for newcomers to adhere to some strict standard because otherwise they are not being true to some floaty ideal. Actually, you can do all of this and more. You don’t like something, that’s your right, but it doesn’t make your opinion right.
I know what I am into. I have my opinions about what I like, and dislike, but what do they say about opinions? Yeah, you know what they say. The most fake thing of all is the frame of mind that leads you to believe your opinion is fact. Like what you like, or waste time hating something, at the end of the day, hate doesn’t change a thing on the outside, it only changes you on the inside, for the worse.
In the meantime, I’m gonna go on loving DJ Sneak and Swedish House Mafia, they are both equally real to me. Come to think of it, I think I’m gonna go home, get on my digital controller and create a mash-up of both their works. It’s gonna be the greatest thing ever, or not.
Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!
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