A few months back we penned a piece about people taking underground music too seriously in relation to Denis Sulta and his BBC Radio One Essential Mix which contained an edit of a somewhat notorious Scooter track. That sentiment is something we still stand with today and within music there’s nothing more important than having fun and dancing, especially when it comes to nightclubs and festivals, but with that being said, are we really being honest with ourselves?
Since the dawn of time, the stereotype has existed within Ireland that we’re not the most gifted when it comes to being honest, especially if said honesty may have negative connotations. Examples of which would be when someone puts too much milk in your tea and you say it’s grand, when the barber asks if your haircut is OK and you nod your unavoidably red cheeks only to curse him or her out the minute you shut the door of the shop or when you offer someone a chip and they take two to your annoyance. Once off moments like that are what make us for better or for worse one of the easiest bunches of people to get along with, long may it last, but the line between being honest and being pernickety is a touch more blurred when it enters the realm of underground electronic music, most definitely within Ireland.
Along with stating that we’re taking electronic music too seriously, we were also quick to say that this is one of the most impressive batches of young Irish talent we have had on our hands in quite some time, yet again another statement we stand by. The thing is that while it’s great to have such an abundance of talent on our hands it’s important that we measure everyone equally and don’t let our standards drop as the rate of producers increase given the success the current crop are enjoying.
It’s natural for people to see a certain genre or sound doing well and for that to inspire them into throwing their hat into the production ring. No question that everything is in some ways an imitation of something else, mainly why there’s always a loose comparison that you can attach to any type of track or artists. Assessing current and past trends and reinterpreting them is something that we’ve done across all types of creative industries since their inception, that’s why it’s always the true innovators that pass the test of time and not the imitators.
So if we bunch together one of the most exciting groups of producers and DJs the green isle has seen for some time with a number of hungry party goers looking to emulate their success, it’s inevitable that a peak in the output of Irish tracks is going to be reached, and it seems as though we’re very near the summit. With DIY labels and collectives looking to gain a foothold in a scene that seems a touch overpopulated, it’s forgivable that they would play host to a number of tracks that may not exactly be bad, but of a lower standard to what we’re used to hearing from the upper echelons of the country’s production community.
It’s natural that for somewhere that never really had a hugely celebrated community of electronic producers to bubble up entirely once a drip of sunlight shines on what we’ve got to offer in terms of people making tracks, but at the same time we’re also responsible in terms of making sure that said group grows in the best way possible, not only for them but for all sectors of the electronic community. Once someone comes in and kicks down a door, we can’t just open the floodgates and let every Tom, Dick and Harry in. That’s not to sound like certain individuals that love to inhabit comment sections proclaiming the death of this scene and that scene, but more so that we should hold our heads higher than we currently are.
Again, not to wish bad luck on anyone, and with the basis of this article mainly focusing on the fact that we’re too nice as critics, we’re probably too nice as producers too, meaning it can be difficult to critique some people when this country in particular is so small.
There’s no room to piss someone off, yet there’ll never be enough space to keep everyone happy. Thanks to the glories of social media it’s as if we can tell who has a nice personality and who doesn’t on a global scale. Thankfully in Ireland, the place is so small that you’re likely to find out exactly who are and aren’t savoury characters more often than not in person at some point or another. With that in mind, it can be quite difficult to be honest with up and coming producers without being labelled a prick or not up for the craic or being too protectionist of the ‘scene’. While they are all very valid points to also keep in the equation, when people start getting booked because they’re sound rather than because of their sound, we’ve ran ourselves into a bit of problem, one that’s beginning to creep its head around the country at the moment.
With the number of slots beginning to reduce given the number of clubs that are shutting their doors on a regular basis, the openings for up and coming DJs are about as thin as they have ever been over the past few years, meaning promoters’ decisions are that bit more difficult when it comes to picking who plays and who doesn’t. With the margins being so thin and the number of producers and DJs never being so high, it has come to a point where people’s personalities are coming more so into play than their actual music and that really the only thing that’s being considered is how many people can be crammed in to watch someone that’s good fun behind the decks playing a few tracks.
That’s all well and good when we have a plethora of clubs to go to if that’s not one’s thing, but unfortunately that mentality is suffocating the quality of music emanating from the country right now as we’re looking to keep everyone happy, rather than keeping everyone on the best track. Producers are looking to copy an already successful formula that has worked for some of the countries brightest stars, meaning that instead of having another impressive crop of young musicians to look forward to, we’re left with a sea of endless disco edits and filter house tracks that are being uploaded at what feels like breakneck speed.
That’s not to take away from that genre, but that’s what’s most prevalent and what’s being stuffed down the throat of all fans of electronic music in Ireland at the moment. Tech house suffered a similar fate a few years ago, but it seems like we’ve already forgotten about that (Mixmag just noticed apparently) and now it’s as if we’ve grouped together to land the knockout blow on another genre, while suffocating the rest so we don’t have a back up plan when the current one bottoms out, all because people are too nice to be honest and that the country’s too small to receive criticism.
Every producer remarks in every interview of how democratised music making has become, with the ability to make tracks only a computer away from everyone reading that article, therefore it shouldn’t be labelled as negative and protectionist to criticise up and coming producers as the bar to begin producing has never been lower, so we must expect the initial standard to lower along with it. If we then as listeners, critics and promoters don’t in turn uphold our honest opinions, all that will happen is that people will get sick of hearing the same sub-par sound over and over again and that the ‘scene’ at large will be left entirely burned out, with no venues to go to and no one willing to listen to it.
“When people start getting booked because they’re sound rather than because of their sound, we’ve ran ourselves into a bit of problem.”
Electronic music is at a fragile state in Ireland despite it never being as popular. With very little legitimate venues for it to be played and a number of high quality acts on our hands it’s imperative to be honest with each other and to speak up when we don’t like something or when something is below par in terms of quality or all we’ll end up doing is squandering our own talent within our own echo chamber. We have international talent on our hands, and that should naturally be followed by even more, but that will all be wasted if we continue to emphasise sound people over people’s sounds.