Last week, Florian Kupfer took to Facebook to voice his displeasure with a promoter that booked him without paying adequate attention to his tech rider. Without getting too technical, Kupfer plays using predominantly only vinyl, and if the right measures aren’t taken to ensure that the vibrations coming from the speakers don’t interfere with the vinyls and ultimately distort the entire sound. While Kupfer’s rant seems like one surrounding an isolated incident, it scratches at a much wider yet still underlying issue within the clubbing industry itself.
Vinyl and all its associating accessories have been left in the dust of the technological revolution, and while there are still plenty of DJs, young and old, that still place a strong emphasis on vinyl, the same respect is not unanimous throughout the entire sphere of promoters, DJs and so on. I’ve never really believed that you’re not a real DJ until you can DJ on vinyl, but that ability is certainly more of a certificate of your authenticity within the scene and another string to your bow in the eyes of the scene itself. With that being said, anyone that can DJ on vinyl deserves a certain level of extra respect because they’re acknowledging one of the major aspects that came to shape the landscape we find ourselves in today.
DJs are popping up everywhere and anywhere and with that comes promoters, nights and eventually money. Just like a certain article on Ibiza party culture and its uneducated ramifications on electronic music, the lack of education surrounding vinyl represents a similar, money-grabbing element to the scene. For someone like Kupfer, a very well-respected and, presumably, expensive act to book, so anyone that would do so should again presumably have an idea of how to go about setting up a stage for the man himself. The mistake in question may not have actually been at the hands of an inexperienced promoter that hadn’t come into contact with vinyl DJs yet, this was probably an ongoing problem that Kupfer finally spoke out upon.
Without sounding too pretentious, the soul of clubbing lies within its creativity. It shouldn’t be exclusive and inclusion is arguably the best thing about it. Promotions, DJs and everyone else involved make the entire sphere unique and entertaining because their roles within the scene rely heavily on their ability to be creative, and that creativity should always be at the heart of whatever is taking place within the clubbing scene. It isn’t that tragic that vinyl isn’t as prevalent as it was because it allows for more people to get involved due to both the accessibility of CDJs and the cost-effectiveness of USBs. However, no one should ever be hampered by their choice to use vinyl. Using vinyl means that you know the tracks you’re playing inside out, you committed hard cash to them all and you’ve hauled them to wherever they need to be played. That’s not to say we should worship the ground that every vinyl DJ walks upon, they should be judged just as fairly as everyone else, but when they’ve gone the extra mile to bring songs that don’t fit neatly into the coin department of their wallet, they should be treated accordingly and the promoter should learn how exactly to prepare for someone playing vinyl. The effort should go both ways.
Vinyl fell apart because it eventually became far less cost-effective than its virtual cousins, the same shouldn’t happen to DJs that still utilise it within their sets. Not every DJ needs to be pampered before their sets and not everything has to be laid out in its entirety for them because of course promoters can be busy too and naturally a thing or two does get lost in translation, however in Kupfer’s particular case, it was clear that whoever booked him didn’t have a clue when it came to vinyl and thought any old set up would do. In fact, I can recall a not too distant incident when I booked a DJ who used some vinyl and I couldn’t source Technics for them use and didn’t think an awful lot of it at the time. After seeing said DJ lug a bag of vinyls halfway across the country to hear they were pointless kind of reinstated this train of thought. The vinyl isn’t extinct and while its ice age meant it probably won’t reign supreme, it’s still one of the key building blocks of the clubbing world we live in today and if we don’t respect it and learn up on it, then it’s just another aspect of a treasured culture that’ll fall through the cracks of commercialisation.
More parties are great, and not everyone has to know who coined the terms ‘House’ or which club played what style first, but everyone willing to benefit from the clubbing industry should be willing to go the extra mile for it.
Words by Cóilí Collins