We continue our review of 2020 in dance music, with the second half of a year in which DJs tragically redefined the phrase ‘killing it’.
Do you remember, about ten years ago in January 2020, when we were all so positive and hopeful that this was going to be our year to get the DJ career together/label off the ground/disruptive artisan gin start-up going? Who would’ve thought that within a few months we’d all be arguing about the morals of playing at raves that might, you know, kill your Nan. Because the format wars, the loudness battles, that time Richie Hawtin pushed a speaker onto a fan, they all had nothing on this years defining DJ conflict: plague raves.
Throughout the summer we were treated to video clips of awful-looking super-spreader parties where nobody danced except the DJ – Plague raves: watch like nobody’s dancing. Where people gathered closely together for hours on end with no masks – dance like nobody’s breathing.
It’s easy to dismiss the DJs who played at these events as simply irresponsible but if you actually listen to what they play, you realise their music is shite as well. Still, at least now we have a new category of DJs, ‘DJs you’d only book if all the other DJs were on fire’. Perhaps they can all get together in a new agency, we could call it the ‘Needlessly Dying Alone Agency’ or ‘We Ruined Everything Inc.’ something like that.
Amid this almighty shit show at the disco, I mean it’s hard to pick a winner, surely we’re all winners here, but a special mention has to go to EDM haircuts the Chainsmokers who put on a socially what’s-the-opposite-of–distanced? show deep in the midst of lockdown one, ostensibly to hawk hand sanitiser, where the warm-up DJ was CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs. What’s the point of satire anymore?
Aside from the exponential increase in on-line mastering from DJ’s home studios, another unexpected symptom of covid was the rapid rise in DJ streaming. All across the world, in every country, right at this moment, DJs are going live on Facebook and Mixcloud. Meanwhile, there are plenty of actual raves going on during the pandemic if you know where to find them. What a time to be alive. Or indeed, in the case of the victims of supers-spreader parties, dead. Weirdest thing about it all though was why on earth the World Health Organisation didn’t contact techno Twitter about how to combat the virus when clearly we had all become expert virologists.
There were moments of light this year of course: Elliot Eastwick organising a GoFundMe for Denise Johnson’s family following her untimely passing, raising £25,000 in 24 hours and eventually over £30,000 to pay for her funeral for one. Faith Fanzine returned. Community shop Nour Brixton received a reprieve from the vultures, leeches and parasites who make up the world’s worst house DJ crew/venture capitalist cabal ‘Housekeeping’. Bandcamp emerged as the true friend of the producer and artist, waiving its revenue share for sales one Friday every month. Plenty of musicians and DJs organised charity albums and streams, creating community in the absence of actual dance floors. We even organised a successful covid fundraiser here at Attack. Then there was that tech house producer offering to tell you your tech house snare needs to be louder for thirty sheets, that was funny. And Omar S raised a brief smile when he released his follow up to ‘Get Lost Pitchfork You Twat’ with his ‘Fuck Resident Advisor’ album.