The Digital age of music from slim beginnings to what we have now

by Taran M

The internet was inevitably the Trojan horse of the music world. The unknown steed was wheeled slowly into the fort of the music fraternity, mystified by this technological gift, speculative about its power, amazed by the sheer beauty of its concept and above all ready to exploit the power that lay before them. Unfortunately what lay inside that was given to the secure guarded palms of the music industry was the very thing that would reshape it forever. In June 1999 the beast slay the confines of the walls and revolutionised the consumption of the musical world. From here in the metaphor ceases and so did the sure-shot multi-billion dollar industry we here on planet Girth call…music.

Ableton LogoNapster turkey slapped the music industry, slept with its sister and then defecated on its parent’s bed and introduced itself as the arsehole “Johnny Rotten” Boyfriend of a virginal industry that had never really been threatened. Sure record companies had been competing against themselves for sales, signings and strength. But now they were all challenged by their own product, their own sales had turned around to them, repacked themselves and gone AWOL. It’s the equivalent of the Navy Seal team storming Bin Laden’s safe house, kidnapping him to the outer regions of Mongolia and demanding a ransom. How would Barack Obama deal with this, he’d “kill em all” and that’s exactly what the major record labels did.

The “I disappear” fiasco which triggered Metallica’s famous court case against Napster, subsequently initiating hundreds of others, gave us the very clear reality of what was at stake, more importantly what we sometimes fail to see with peer to peer sharing. While the reaction from the public was especially skeptical of a multi-million dollar band complaining about losing a few thousand sales, Metallica was not just drawing a line for themselves, but for the other bands or producers that they supported. For every major label success, there are six failures. Bands that get a record deal get forwarded $60K to make their record and more often than not, fail to meet sales expectations over three albums. Three albums times $60k is a lot of money for producers and bands to recoup when they’re earning roughly $2 per album sold. So to appreciate exactly why Napster became the target of nearly every record label and most bands is understandable. Napster is great for free exposure, but I would never base a foundation of a music career on the basis of peer to peer websites if I was an unsigned artist.

CDJ200 USB inputNapster cut the wound and for a time the wound was stitched. Record labels realised however the imminent threat. When Napster went to a paid website, the whole medium of how music could and should be distributed by record labels entered into a whole new realm. The effect on this especially rippled through the dance scene. Music consumption has developed considerably since the late 90’s through to today by a combination of the way music is played and how it is purchased. It’s funny to think that the cutting edge of dance music, the new technological revolution, up until about 2004 was banged out with a device originally conceived in the late 19th century, the humble turntable. As 2005 hit the CDJ cut the swathe through the electronic scene, tearing through the rotary drive denon CD players like the sword named Excalibur. Suddenly in no less than six years, turntables are an “Analogue clock in a digital age” to quote George Clooney in Oceans 11. DJ’s no longer carry 300,000kgs of vinyl that they might play, or not. The advent of the latest Pioneer CDJ’s allows the DJ to wander into the club with two USB’s (If he has enough faith). Macbook, Serato, Ableton, Traktor, Dongles and APC controllers now litter the dance scene, the humble Technics 1200 is sitting at the unemployment line or the pension office muttering its jaded diatribe “The scene has changed man” or “It’s not like how it used to be in the olden days”. Yes the discontinued 1200 is now eating cat food, wandering around the pub and hoping that number 6 in race 3 at Randwick is going to pull through, just so it can buy some budget steak for dinner. In short it’s dead and technology is the box they are going to bury it in.

With all these advents in technology of course the way users and abusers of music purchase tracks is going to change. After its initial inception in 2004 and then re-release in 2007, Beatport opened…….. a port…… to true online music purchasing for the dance music scene. There was no more shipping, no more waiting for that Aust Post slip to say tracks had arrived. The whole art of relic hunting for the likes of 5:55 by Durango was gone.

Beatport LogoWith every action there is a reaction of course and as Beatport inspired others to do the same, major dance labels stopped pressing as much vinyl and their stores evolved into online digital download stores. Slowly but surely the likes of Vinyl Warning shut up shop, focusing on equipment only. Beatport’s inception, and the digital age in general, inspired Producers to not look for a major label to support their quest for promotion and fame. If you can hook onto Beatport, or any of the boutique labels our production talents can be wormed all the way through the world. Just think right now DJ Novi Stoalstarki from the small nation of the Ukraine could be banging out Blinky’s “Kiss not a Kiss” or any number of Kalus’s tunes to a bedroom crowd, to 800 people at the “Capitol to Central” (I hear it is Moldova’s biggest nightclub) or to himself as he hunts down wild game with a rusty coat hanger and a picture of Jennifer Love Hewitt. The fact is that this Digital sphere has harnessed the world of electronica and shortened the very big distance that needs to be covered by producers in Australia. Australian artists like Steve May, Blinky and NFX have their tunes played by the likes of Tiesto, Dubfire, D-Nox and Beckers and maybe even DJ Novi Stoalstarki (If he even exists) and for them I know personally this is extremely humbling.

The other effect of this last five years has been the closure and the slimming down by major labels in the dance scene due to technological advances. As I mentioned before producers are able to farm their tunes off to boutique labels on Beatport and if marketed right can expect some degree’s of royalty payments. The major labels are no longer the shark in the pond, just a slightly larger fish in an ever expanding sea. Two weeks ago Kevin Energy announced the subsequent closure of the “Nu energy Collective” sighting all of the above as explanations for the dwindling sales. For those that don’t know of Nu energy, they have been strong in the Hard dance, free-form and Happy hard scene for over 15 years. There are more to come in both the electro, hard dance and tech scene’s, that I know of personally. The big cause again comes down in part to that ugly beast, that we all love and use… Peer to peer sharing.

Carl Cox 'avin it large on some Vinyl back in the day!I really wonder if the whole torrent thing is a backlash by people who think the music and now motion picture industry are just greedy. Peer to Peer sharing has never been so out of control and don’t ho and hum, unless your brethren or you haven’t looked at a PC since 1985 you have illegally downloaded something. Everybody wants something for as next to nothing as they can get it. With torrenting as rampant as planking at the moment I guess we can’t really tell what is going to happen next. I guess for the best part that is why they call the future the unknown. I’m sure if you told Carl Cox ten years ago that one day his set would just comprise of him playing solitaire and Ableton instead of working up a sweat with three turntables, he might have a heart attack. But that’s the way it goes, who knows what is going to happen next? We just might have to brace ourselves for some pretty interesting developments as the life of dance music continues to embrace adulthood.

My Top 5 most influential releases ~ J-Slyde

by J-Slyde

After the interest that Taran M’s Top 5 article received, we thought it worthwhile getting the rest of the krew to write up their own list. I personally found Taran’s list extremely interesting to read, and felt it gave a great understanding of how he’s progressed as a DJ over his career. With this in mind, I hope to illustrate that with my selections.

I’ve opted to include purchase links to each album to encourage those that may be interested in the music to support the artists rather than downloading for free.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the top five albums that have not only influenced my desire to DJ, but those that have shaped the music I play.

1. Hybrid ~ Wide Angle (1999)

I can safely say that this album has influenced me the most, not just with my DJing, but also with my general appreciation of electronic music. When I first heard it I was a young and impressionable phat-pant wearing raver. Somewhat narrow-minded with what I listened to as far as electronic music went, my knowledge was restricted to Hard Trance, Trance, Hard Dance, Hard Style and pretty much every other genre with “Hard” or “Trance” in it. When I briefly came across a magazine review about the album, I was instantly intrigued. I’d heard a lot about these “Progressive” and “Breaks” genre’s, and had only briefly been subjected to them in side-rooms at larger events. On a whim I headed down to my local Dance Arena store (R.I.P) and picked myself up a copy.

At first I thought id purchased the wrong album, and had instead grabbed some kind of orchestral CD. But once the acidic intro of ‘If I Survive‘ filtered in, I knew I was in for something good. Almost instantly my taste in electronic music began to shift. Slowly everything I used to listen to started to sound bland and I began to crave for more depth in my music.

The album itself, for those that have not had the pleasure of hearing it, is a unique work that combines Break Beats, Progressive House/Trance and orchestral elements with a heavy nod towards string arrangements. All fused together, Hybrid create a cohesive journey that’s heavily emotive, at times dance-floor orientated, and ultimately, utterly brilliant. Put simply, it’s an electronic masterpiece of the highest caliber. Even 11 years on it still holds it’s own against current dance music. Every track stands on it’s own, with no fillers.

I could go on and on about how great it is, but will instead urge those that may be unfamiliar with it to give it a listen. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and was the main catalyst for pushing me towards playing Breaks and Prog – two of my most favoured genres.

Disclaimer: I opted to list ‘Wide Angle’ over their 2000 re-release ‘Wider Angle’, purely because it was the first version of the album that I heard. In comparison ‘Wider Angle’ is a much stronger release taking into consideration that they re-recorded a majority of the string sections and bundled it with a second disc of a live recording from one of their shows in Sydney, Australia. Not only do you get a feel for how they are in the studio, but it also shows how they adapted their music for the live stage.


2. Sasha ~ Involver (2004)

Hands down one of my all time favourite electronic albums, or any album for that matter, this is as close to perfection as Progressive music gets as far as I’m concerned. A unique approach to the tried and tested DJ mix compilation, Sasha and his talented production team (Charlie May, Barry Jamieson and co) took each track and remixed them to construct one of the best Progressive House albums of our time.

Some might classify this album as a straight up DJ mix compilation, but it’s far more then that. The amount of time and care that has been taken with the reworking of each track is mind blowing, and it shows! There’s not one stale part in the whole album – instead, each track compliments the other, blending together seamlessly to create an intensely interesting and highly emotive piece of art. The scope of artists included within the album is also noteworthy – from the intro track of Grand National’s Indie-Rock number ‘Talk Amongst Yourselves‘, to  UNKLE’s vocal Prog masterpieces ‘What Are You To Me?‘ and ‘In A State‘, through to Shpongle’s Psy influenced ‘Dorset Perception‘ – listening to any of these in their original forms instantly demonstrates just how much they were changed and adjusted to fit within the album.

Introduced to me when I was first starting to play around with DJing Prog, this album showed me that not everything you play behind the decks needs to be peak-time bombs, and demonstrated the need for light and shade when attempting to construct a musical journey through the medium of DJing.

Later seeing Sasha live during his Involver tour in 2004, at the then Metro nightclub in Melbourne, changed me forever. Seeing one man command a crowd of thousands was astounding. For his entire 2+ hours set he had the whole venue in the palm of his hand. It was absolutely magic, and something I’ll never forget.


3. James Zabiela ~ ALiVE (2004)

Released as Pioneer was beginning to take a firm hold of digital DJing, this album played a huge part in the CDJ and EFX revolution. Zab’s first release on Renaissance, this was the album that got everyone’s interest. The digital wizardry contained within the two disc compilation was nothing that had ever been replicated before. Technically brilliant and precise, it showed Zab’s out-of-this-world skills whilst at the same time demonstrating the full potential of Pioneer’s CDJ1000’s and the EFX1000 unit. In my opinion, this album helped lay the groundwork for many of today’s digital DJs, and is in ways responsible for Pioneer now being the club standard world wide.

Not one to be shy about his technical prowess, Zab’s also included a play-by-play of how he constructed the two disc mix – giving an insight into the inner workings of his digitally geared brain, listeners were able to pin-point just how he crafted and manufactured the sounds, transitions and effects within. Thinking back to my first read through of the booklet, I was astounded at how he had pulled off some of the effects and digital tricks – a majority of what he’d done I actually thought were part of the original tracks! Another thing that stood out was his ability to accomplish such a polished and cohesive journey using a huge variety of different genre’s – Breaks, Techno, Prog, House, Electro, all flowing seamlessly throughout.

However, the most significant part this album played in influencing my DJing was in demonstrating the scope and advantages of the digital approach. Before I’d heard the album I was a Vinyl purist through and through – swearing against CDJs and getting on my analog-high-horse at any given chance. Once I heard it, I knew that I was putting myself at a disadvantage by restricting myself to just the one format; it made me realize that whilst there was still a big place for Vinyl in my DJing, that there was also more to it than just beat-mixing two records together.


4. BT ~ Movement In Still Life (1999)

A true pioneer of the electronic movement, BT is one of those producers that’s been around since the early days and continues to constantly change and adapt with the times. This album illustrated, as my previous selection did, the need for diversity, not only in the music that I listened to, but also later in how I began to approach DJing. Touching on everything from Nu-School Breaks in tracks like ‘Ride’ and ‘Movement In Still Life’, to the Prog-Breaks masterpiece of ‘Running Down The Way Up‘, all the way through to the Trance anthems of ‘Dreaming‘ and ‘Godspeed‘, this is a fantastic example of how an artist album should be approached. Not pigeonholed or confined to any one sound, BT broke away from genre constraints to deliver an extremely varied release that showed his diversity as an electronic artist.

I first purchased this album after hearing ‘Godspeed’ and ‘Dreaming’ – a big fan of Trance at the time, I’d never really been subjected to Breaks. This changed all that and was what initially sparked my interest in the genre.


5. Gatecrasher Black (1998)

Gatecrasher black was the first mixed DJ compilation I had ever heard. Before then, I had no real grasp on what a DJ was, or what they did behind their consoles. Previously I was of the mind that all they did was press play and stop. Black changed that. My first listen was somewhat confusing – I had no idea why there wasn’t any type of pause in-between each track. After repeat listens I began to hear that the tracks were somehow being pieced together. Further research revealed that the CD itself had been mixed by a DJ. Almost instantly my mind was opened to a whole new world.

If I could pin-point where my obsessive love for electronic music began, it would be this album. Don’t get me wrong, I’d heard plenty of electronic music before this, cheesy shite like 666’s ‘Amokk‘, but none of it had the depth that this album displayed. None of it interested me as much. It sparked something in me that’s still apparent over 12 years on – a feeling that can’t be described in words – just a knowing. I can still remember traipsing round the streets as a young teenager endlessly listening to it on my Sony disc-man. Engulfed in the music, I knew that electronic music was destined for my ear-drums.


Next up in the series, Simon Murphy delivers his Top 5!

My Top 5 influential releases ~ Early years and beyond, the music that got me playing!

by Taran M

These are the five albums that I feel have influenced not only my desire to play, but also my influence in exploring dance music as a whole.

1.) Paul Van Dyk – Out there and back. (2000)

Paul Van Dyk - Out There and BackI originally bought this because I had heard “For an angel” played out and only knew it was a Paul Van Dyke track, that release was not in this CD I felt like I had been violated. Until I listened a bit longer. I can even remember buying this on my break at Borders on Chapel in 2000. To me this CD was always a perfect car CD on the long haul drive into Billboards from Eltham. With this album Paul really brought his production to a whole other level in my opinion. The albums flow is a graceful progression from the stigmatic Break Beat intro of “Vega”, detouring into the tingling melodic rifts of gems like “Avenue”. This is a beautiful album, incorporating what was back at its time of release all the major elements of trance. The more you get into the album the mood gradually builds, plateau’s then builds again. There is a twist of genius in using “Face to Face” which I would occasionally play as an early morning tune at festivals as an elevator to reach you to the very clubby “Love from Above” which is my personal favourite tune on the album. The album culminates with the massive dance-floor hit of 2000 “We are alive”. Paul proved a lot of naysayers back in the day with this album that he was not a one trick pony and whilst this album did travel over a few pundits’ heads, it flew right into my CD library and never really looked back.

2.) Astral Projection – Another World (1999)

Astral ProjectionNever leave one of your favourite cd’s at a drug dealers house. That is the lesson I learnt with this CD. This was the 3rd or 4th electronic release I ever bought and although i have the digital copy on my laptop, I miss the CD. This was the only Psy trance purchase and probably will be. The thing that really got me about this CD was probably because it was less Psy trance and a little bit more tech. This was when Psy was still referred to as “Goa trance” and this CD to me is a perfect wedge to see how Psy Trance has developed. You have to remember that when this album was released Psy was still very much a two year old bastard child of tech and trance parents, keen to run away and do its own thing, but still heavily relying on its parents for daily necessity. Its a gritty and earthy listen with a constant tech fueled beat. “Nilaya” and “Searching UFO’s” were the picks of the bunch. If you can find it have a good listen.

3.) The very best of 3 years Headline – From Tech to Trance (2003)

HeadlineThis is in short the best tech trance album ever released in my opinion. Myself and my then girlfriend had this wedged in our CD player for possibly six or seven months. Oliver Klitzing basically threw together all of the releases that had spawned of his label, remixes, his production as Chromedioxide 2, Kaylab and his countless other aliases into a two disc marathon of balls out tech trance. This CD testifies him as an amazing producer and I for one feel he was majorly over looked as the likes of Tiesto, Van Dyke and Van Burren came into dominance. His problem which can be noted on this album was that at the time his music really had no genre, he was the only really flat out tech-trance producer and tech trance was being built or probably was built around most of his releases. Oliver is best described using the Hunter S. Thompson rant on Dr. Gonzo “There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high-powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die”. As trance built and tech backed off he was left a duck in an ever changing pond, It was either Tech or Trance. Not both at once, well at least for the masses. Tunes like “Fucking society”, his remix of Emmanuel Tops “Turkish Bazaar” and Judges “The only one” show off his creative sack of beans. Seriously I cannot stress how unbelievable this two disc compilation is, it’s hard, but not hard enough to be hard trance. The fluffy melodic “I feel love” riff’s are kept in line by swift, non-exaggerated break downs and 808 drum lines. I fear that if you do try to track this down you may hit a number of brick walls. But if you can hunt it down it is well worth the listen.

4.) Hard Kandy Episode 2 mixed by Nexus and the Kandy Kollective (2006)

Hard Kandy Episode 2“One and in comes one, then there comes the two to the three.” “ All your bass belongs to us” “Full Intention” “Oh yeah baby jam your fingers in my……” You get the idea, we all got the idea and the kids were fucking hooked. This CD was seriously like crack cocaine when I was just starting to come up on the scene as a DJ. It had dropped like an A bomb on the Melbourne club-rave scene in 2006 and while Bass Station vol 1 killed “power trance” (whatever the fuck that was anyway) and delivered hard darker style trance; Episode 2 went the other way, showering us with a serving of hard trance and then delivered us the desert of UK hard house and hard dance. The two CD’s in episode 2 act as an amazing catalyst for each other. Nexus’s offering on disc 1 delivers us an array of very serious German hard trance. Relying on a heavy dose of Scott Project who at the time only had to record his farts to have a number one, this CD is littered with classic gems that still get their fair share of rotation. The unbelievably picturesque classic Alex Bartlett “Amnesia” (Flutlicht Vs. SHOKK RMX) is timeless, whether it be the at times haunting female vocals or the intensely crafted breakdown , much like Marc Aurel’s “Running”. Packing his mix with the likes of the Scott Project remix of the Signum classic “Coming on Strong” and Thomas Trouble’s “Insane Asylum” Nexus took us through an intelligent journey in German Hard Trance, culminating with the epitome of classics Ultrashock’s “Sound of E”.

If Nexus’s mix was the sun then disc two was definitely the moon. While Ajax and Krash’s offering on Hard Kandy Episode one pointed me in the direction of what sound I was after, Episode 2 disk 2 stamped exactly the sound I was shooting for and eventually the sound that would define the beginning of my career. Mixed by the Kandy Kollective (Sott Alert, Ajax and Krash) this hyperactive offering of UK hard house and UK hard dance is one of those mixes that has developed into an institution for my generation of ravers. So many scattered days in my memory of running around repeating Tomcrafts “Prozac” “Prozac”….”Prozac” or “This is what we call a global killer….The end of mankind.” Featuring five releases out of the Tidy Two label and offerings from Stimulant DJ’s and War Brothers the key developments of this mix was that it clearly illustrated the cognitive shift Hard house made seamlessly into UK Hard dance. In tracks like “The Birds” or “Snatched” the bounce of the hard house scene is there, but the kick drum is just that little bit heavier and hollow. Songs like “Blow the Roof” and “You’ll know it” have the sharp tight snare rolls and driving bass lines that would come to define UK Hard dance. There is the damn right obscene in Pornrockers “Cuntlicker” and the swiss cheese of cheesy songs, Scott Alert its “10am and there are still 300 people rocking it on the billboards dance floor and we’re not fucking leaving till you drop ‘WE ARE ONE!’” by Chemistry. To those that were partying at that time and for the next two generations of party goers this album will always be an institution in its own right.

5.) Clubbers guide to 2007 mixed by Goodwill and Kid Kenobi (2006)

Clubbers Guide to 2007Usually I am not terribly enthused by Ministry of Sound annuals or cd’s. Unless it’s the chillout albums or the NRG series from back in the day I tend to shy away. However this release was one I actually went in search of whilst I was still living in Sydney during the period where I had left Kandy and starting Substance. This release was in fact very much the “How Taran M, got his groove back” in terms of releases, as this release prompted me thinking about what I was going to play at this club I was starting up. It is very much an album where for one brief moment MOS have seemed to lapse in creative control over DJ’s and just let them do what they are best at. Sure there are a couple of radio friendly bleeders like Fedde La Grand’s remix of “Creeps” and the annoyingly earwormish Body Rocks- “Yeah Yeah”. But where this CD succeeds is the foot tapping Kid Kenobi mix on Disk two. Apart from the Hook and sling remix of Stanton Warriors “Shake it up” which has about as much class as an Ikea vase, The mix is decidedly well prepared. Tracks like Canberra locals The Aston Shuffle “Killer Application”, Trente Moller’s remix of Moby’s classic “Go” and Plump DJ’s- Mad Cow gave me the basis of what I would begin exploring in my sound at Substance. Goodwill’s mix as well carries a very solid feel to it, although being a tad commercial “ (previous tunes mentioned) there is not a lot of pretension and wank which you would come to associate with the general expectation of MOS annual. This was very much MOS’s retaliation against the now famous “One Love” CD’s and for once they actually achieved a release that I’d score over the 8/10 mark.

Well there you have it, that’s my top five influential CD’s in my time behind the decks the last 10 or so years. Other notable mentions would Be Hardware 1-3 for my dollop of techno and Aqua’s first Album, but in terms of what I have played and when, that would be it. Actually Aqua should have been in there, I mean I used to play Brooklyn Bounce back in the day and there the same thing kinda??

Next top 5 in a few weeks, probably chillout albums… Peace out 🙂

Dubstep and beyond, what could possibly happen next?

by Taran M

Dubstep!Sub genre’s in general at the moment seem to be the new black and in the words of the famous rap tune “It don’t take much to realize that”. I state this as we gaze into the open abyss of obtuse genres of electronic music making the acoustic ‘jump’ across to the mainstream pond of both the popular electronic and pop music spheres.

At the moment it’s all about Dubstep. Yup its fucking everywhere and I for one feel a little ill about the concept. I’m not hating on Dubstep, I am actually quite fond of the occasional slice of Dubstep with my afternoon coffee. What I’m not entirely sure of is how it became so big so quickly. In the last three weeks I have seen/ heard comment’s whilst out and trawling Facebook that have made me want to throw a sack of puppies in a meat grinder. People who have been vehemently against Dubstep, to the point of driving in my car and saying “Turn that fucking rubbish off” are now jumping up and down gayly clapping their hands as they dance around like an autistic child who has been stung by a wasp. At Day Glo in the middle of a brutal tech house/ Electro set…. BOOM! massive Dubstep breakdown…. Creamfields everywhere….. Dubstep… The thing that made me throw my earplugs out and walk away throwing hand grenades was…. Gabrielle and Dresden… Dubstep breakdown….. For fucks sake, really did I just hear that…. Oh and for the previous examples, Britany Spears’ last radio hit… MOFING DUBSTEP BREAKDOWN, how does that make you feel? It definitely seems more sturation than admiration.

I just don’t understand what has changed, although I understand more after seeing Skrillex at Creamfields. I regularly played his track “Kill Everybody” in the last few months of playing out. I never knew he was predominantly a Dubstep producer as “Kill Everybody” is a banging piece of Electro house. However the majority of his production is a blend of dub step and Electro. So here is the bridge that got people across to Dubstep. This is where the sub genres become murky bout whats what, whats not etc. Hardened dub veterans will state Skrillex isn’t Dubstep, a hybrid, like a 95 Toyota Camry with a Sunroof and a V12 engine. Instantly unique and attractive to some but not what the core element of driving a Camry is about. Now I’m not wailing on Skrillex, he played a stellar set at Creamfields for what he is, but for what he is when he played and me having another idea about what he played, his sound is way too loose to fit into either Dub or electro. The core throw away is to compare Skrillex to Ed Solo or Love and Light. “Hello Chalk….Have you met Cheese?” that’s pretty much it. I’m gad that this form of Dub has got people interested but the thing that producers have to worry about is not so much selling your soul, but the soul of your genre.

It has happened so frequently in the past with Grace. “Born Slippy” by Underworld gracefully danced across the EDM sphere and popular radio without damaging the underground tech scene. “Addicted to Bass” introduced the public to Drum and bass and then Pendulum’s recent crossover hits have reengaged the music buying public to DnB without saturating and exploiting. Then the most delightful graceful crossover was in 1997 was DJ Honeysmack and his quirky “Walk on acid” which brought funky minimal tech/ house into the rooms of the public.

So it has always been form that Sub genres will occasionally dip their toes into the waters of popular music and with merging Dubstep and Electro, the market has been exposed and another genre will either grow or flop in its 5 minutes of fame, or its 30 second breakdown of fame. In writing this though I think I have already worked out why Dubstep in general has been slotted in with every genre, it runs at roughly half the BPM of most 4/4 electronic music, that’s the fit. So while I listen to a mix i have just done of Scrillex, Egyptian horns and Chase and Statuses mix of Heartbeat, played in between the breakdown to Energy 52’s “Cafe Del Mar” I wonder in 6 months what is the next crossover… I can see Psy Trance and Hip-Hop, then again maybe I can’t…

We Heart Simon Murphy

by Taran M

Simon Murphy DJing at Room - Photo by Alison SpongThere are not too many people I can say that I have watched from punter/ promoter to DJ as gracefully as one man and that is Simon Murphy. From the first time I met him, in an acquaintance’s house nearly nine years ago, it was clear that Simon possessed a didactic approach to his love of electronic music. At that time Simon was heavily involved with the MTM crew with PDT and Degenerator. It was clear this cat had the knowledge, a refined appreciation for everything from hard trance to his first love, that being techno. Before he was even DJing his ugly mug had graced the cover of “Play” Beat’s dance music centerpiece. Every undertaking that Simon has contributed to the Melbourne dance scene has been done with aplomb. Not one to name drop, or even more so big note himself, the focus for him is to always push the music. If anyone ever accused him of having his head up his ass, I and I think anyone who knows Simon, would glass them immediately and after explaining to the police why they glassed them, gain the order of Australia. Simon worked tirelessly for such crews as MTM and Smilepolice for the love. You have to remember back in those days he was not even DJing; There was no underlying reason other than his passion for electronica. When I think back on every action that I have personally undertaken in the EDM, Simon has always been in the foreground.

So when I found out he had started spinning and I was harvesting people I respected to work with me on Substance, it wasn’t hard to see that I would naturally ask him to assist. What Simon brings to Substance is only just beginning to be recognised in terms of being a DJ. If you have ever played a versus set with Simon the first thing you will notice nowadays is his precision in mixing, cutting and general demenour around a mixer and CDJ/ 1200’s. I can think of a number of DJ’s who are tricky, have great show pony tricks but when it comes to precision mixing, lightning accurate cuts and set structure there is only one person… Yup, you guessed it.

To be rivalled with his skill in mixing is his scary techno dictionary of tune knowledge. If you want to know who has done a remix, ask Simon…”That tune that goes da da da da ” Simon will know it. The tune knowledge that Simon has amassed into his little cranium defies logic, if he wasn’t Simon we’d think he is obsessive compulsive. If his knowledge was physical matter, we’d call him a hoarder. And it is also lucky that the digital medium has overset music consumption because Simon would have to be living in a 200sqm meter warehouse to accomodate the mythical amounts of vinyl he would now own.

So the points you have learnt in this article:

  1. He has done everything in the EDM scene and has not become the Dick Smith of it.. thus making him awesome
  2. His DJ skills are on fire…. watch out
  3. He is awesome
  4. Chuck Norris and Mr. T only concede defeat when arguing Adam Beyer to Simon Murphy

For those who like Simon as much as we do, ensure you add yourselves to his Facebook Fan Page!

You can catch Simon at our upcoming April Prognosis event!


Melbourne’s Beautiful Scene and why it’s the centre of the earth

by Taran M

When it comes down to brass tacks, we all know which city in Melbourne will forever hold the title of Australia’s electronic music capital and it is of course…Melbourne.

From the very first times I started going out, on reflection it was always clear to me that there is something special about the Melbourne scene. Whether it be Progressive, Tech, Psy, Hard trance, electro, drum and bass our beautiful city carries its flag highly on our mantelpiece.

So why does Melbourne work? Why is it possible? Who wrote the book on love and why does the toilet flush when I haven’t even pressed the button; I think I am digressing a touch.

From the time I first started going out late last century (no really 1997!) the thing even as a newbie party goer that I noticed was that the different genre’s of electronic, majorly techno, House and trance/ hard house all intertwined in some way. Whilst purists and pundits did exist there was co-existence and intermingling between all factions. From its inception Hardware insisted on blending tech and house, there CD releases on Shock Records would be split into a house disc and a techno disc. From the onset of both Hard Kandy and Bass Station, Hard trance and house music and electro was always paralleled albeit in a side room. Hard Kandy went as far as having two house DJ’s playing on rotation for warm up sets. The much famed and missed NRG parties run by smile Police always encouraged a plethora of music styles and whilst very much a “rave” spectacle never failed to mix genres on any stage at any time. This establishment of diversity and working together basically galvanised relationships and genre based promoters. And while at any given period a genre can hold popular demand it has never been seen to issue “coup d’état” amongst the others.

All you have to do is look at the festivals that Melbourne holds to understand exactly how deep Melbourne’s scene runs. Since the hallowed Days of Every Picture tells a story, Belfast and the early years of Hardware there has always been an “Enjoy Music” at major events. Rainbow Serpent, Summerdayze, Welcome, Good Vibrations, Stereosonic, Hot BBQ, and Future music are festivals that Bred from Melbourne promoters and have become state and even national success stories. At grass roots smaller scale promoters have been encouraged more than discouraged by the bigger promoters. More so Melbourne has bred promoters to appreciate the party more than the cash. It is amazing how quite a few of the middle tier production companies run at next to nothing budget’s just to throw a party, just to get people shaking it…like a 35mm picture.

There has never really been any such “stand over” tactics by larger scale promotion companies to undermine smaller event organisers. There is a healthy buffer and intermingling between the likes of lower, middle and upper tier promoters that helps breed a pro active approach to maintaining and growing electronic music. There is always going to be the fuckwit promoter who doesn’t pay his DJ or the arrogant, self absorbed money hungry promoter/ rapist that springs up from time to time. The only problem is that us promoters all talk to each other in one form or the other and sooner or later the evangelistic, fly by night promoter is found out, I can think of a few that have all to quickly sunk under their ego’s own mistakes.

It’s always going to be about the talent and in the words of Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing “We’re chock full of that!”. Australia’s first two early superstar DJ’s came from the Melbourne scene, Will E Tell and Richie Rich. I think sometimes we are spoilt to the point of under appreciation of the amount of talent around in Melbourne. Whether they be DJ’s or producers the quality of the gene pool in Melbourne cannot be under estimated. Whether you’ve loved Hard trance/ house, love it now or hate it with a passion; you cannot ignore the talent we have in Melbourne. The original Kandy crew of Scott Alert, Ajax and Krash are still some of the most talented producers and Dj’s you will find. NFX is one of those producers that can only be truly found once in a blue moon (I think we can claim Dr. Willis as well!).

Producers of all genres whether it be the Progressive/ tech stylings of Blinky (Beat Geek Records), the tech house/ electro antics of Kalus, Trance extraordinaire Steve May (5am/ Armada) showcase the depth of Melbourne’s talent. So much so that many of the above names have featured on the set lists and podcasts of such international stars as Dubfire, Armin Van Burren, Tiesto and Carl Cox. We can’t forget our biggest national dance music export, TV Rock who also hail from our beloved city. We have even thrown a major contender into the ever popular “Mash arena” in the vein of Substance’s own Mouka. Seriously this guy makes Girl Talk sound like a poor man’s Bob Hope. To list the talent in Melbourne in terms of DJing would require an almost dictionary like bible. Melbourne is “Spin city” a haven for the master of the pioneer, mac and now the almost extinct 1200’s.

Finally this article would be a miss without giving praise to the Melbourne crowd. I have partied in every city and played in most of them as well and I can easily say that WE ARE THE SHIT! You won’t find a friendlier crowd on a dance-floor than in Melbourne. More so Melbourne’s regular punters don’t just go out, they live and breathe the scene. Not so much as scenesters, but more as crowds that love their music, support their cause and promote our city for what it is, the centre of Australia’s electronic music scene.