Monday, November 17, 2008

"After the idea, there is plenty of time to learn the technology"-James Dyson

I've always been of the opinion that technology is something that should be used to our advantage with regard to music. Coming from a background where i was a serious vinyl collector for many years this has sometimes led to some big dilemmas recently, and converting a lot of music to digital format gave me a lot of mixed feelings these last few years. Having used both digital and more traditional methods DJing i can safely say there is a lot to be said for both, and it simply depends on the person or scenario.
As a hip-hop fan, it is always necessary to pay respect to the role which technology has played in the music. The technological advances of the late 70's and early 80's provided the cornerstone for many of the great ideas springing from the harsh inner city boroughs of New York and elsewhere. In those days, rather than having to buy loads of equipment such as guitars and drums to emulate their funk and soul heroes, many music fans could now simply make music by grabbing a mic and assembling a groove for cheap.

These grooves were often supplied by a DJ operating on relatively cheap turntables, cutting up two copies of a record while the MC simply spat lyrics. Suddenly music was readily available for everyone and like the DIY punk and scene of a similar era, kids could now get records out on the cheap and on the fly. Years later it's much easier and dance music culture has moved on but now it may not be as easy to make your release feel as special as bringing out a 7 or 12".
As a DJ i can download more or less anything in 5 minutes but it will never replace the feeling of lusting after a vinyl record for years, and eventually tracking down a copy in a dodgy second hand shop basement full of dusty wax. I can now bring 20,000 tunes with me on CD or on a hard-drive, the same number of tunes that were once in my vinyl collection, but nothing will replace the feeling of flicking through the actual records with the original covers and the sleeve-notes and history that each brought.

Playing a few gigs lately where i was pretty much using only vinyl, i got an incredible buzz and realised how much i love the format, the sound and the culture of these records. I never got rid of any of my main records anyway, and they will always be my pride and joy, and even though it's much easier to go to 90% of my gigs with a laptop and loads of CD's, there are times when it will have to be beautiful black vinyl!
Purists will shrug their shoulders and dismiss the young DJ's who have never bought a record, but I can honestly say that i would never begrudge youngsters the convenience of the format they use. There is no doubt in my mind that years of record collecting and crate digging has benefited my music knowledge, and i will always treasure this, but technology is there for us all, and there is nothing wrong with using it to your benefit. After all, it's what comes out of the speakers that really matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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    I'm a DJ from Cork in Ireland. I work with RedFM, presenting Red Drive, The Hitlist and my specialist show, Black on Red. I'm probably best known for being one of the main hip-hop/soul DJ's in Cork and Ireland. I've been DJing in Cork since the early 90's in legendary clubnights such as Sweat in Sir Henrys, Mor Disco, Free La Funk, Yo Latino and also Jam and Jam Junior at the Savoy and the Pavilion. I've also held down long term residencies at clubs around Ireland such as Brown Sugar at the Kitchen in Dublin, U-Turn at Ri Ra in Dublin, Jazz Juice at the GPO in Galway, Thompson Garage in Belfast, the Soul Clinic, Dee-Bop, Meltdown and Mo Bounce in Limerick and i've played abroad in the United States and the U.K. on numerous occasions. I also write a music column for the Evening Echo and i'm a regular contributor to the U.K.'s Blues and Soul, the longest running black music magazine in the world. These days i run the Pavilion, a music venue in Cork, which hosts my Jam night every few Fridays also you can catch me at