David Guetta and Laptops Don’t Kill Techno, You Do!
(Originally written and released in 2010)
Note: Apparently the term “Techno“ has a different status, depending to where you live and/or how old you are. When I grew up, “Techno“ was here in Germany the collective term for all the other electronic music genres. House, Drum & Bass, Trance, Tech-House, Minimal, that’s all Techno. But over the years I noticed that other countries and younger people list Techno as a genre on its own and sometimes use “Electronica” as collective term, while for others this is also just another subgenre. Anyway, whenever I say “Techno” in the following blog entry, I mean the whole package of electronic music with all its variations. Thank you.
Yes, YOU are killing Techno. You know who you are. You are the guy who is always complaining about the lack of “The Spirit” these days. Instead of dancing and having a good time, you are standing in the corner of the club and mumble curses about how commercial and mainstream your favourite music genre is these days. I got news for you: TECHNO IS MAINSTREAM AND COMMERCIAL SINCE PRETTY MUCH 20 YEARS! But now you are complaining about it?
During the last year, David Guetta became the favourite punching ball of every fucking hipster in the scene. Why? He is producing some well made, radio compatible vocal house songs for years and inbetween he even managed to crank out some credible club hits. (Like the acid track “Jack Is Back” or “Just For One Day”, his remix of the David Bowie classic “Heroes”.) But in 2009 he dared to have a world wide smash hit with “When Love Takes Over“! Seriously, what was this bastard thinking, when he placed this song in the sales charts all over the world. Oh, wait. It wasn’t his fault? What does that mean? He made the song! Oh, you mean OTHERS bought it and made it a smash hit? Yeah, that’s a good argument. Okay, not a really good one. Because you could say that he made it on purpose so catchy and radio-compatible, just to make money with it. Yeah, that might be true. But you know what? I got some more news for you. EVERY MUSIC PRODUCER JUST WANTS TO MAKE MONEY WITH THEIR TRACKS! Even your favourite, most credible underground DJ does that! Or otherwise he would give out his music for free!
But I’m not really writing this to defend David Guetta or convince you to like him. Hey, whatever floats your boat and the world of electronic music is full of diverse styles and acts, so you can like or dislike whoever you want. This is not my problem and shouldn’t be yours. To be honest, I just did it like everybody and used him as an example for what is wrong with the scene today. Although I don’t point at him and say that he “destroys the scene”, like I read on several message boards and comment sections of respective websites. Is this seriously what you think? He destroys the scene? After 20 years full of REALLY emberassing stuff, like the Techno Smurfs, Scooter, Gabber, the cliche in most people’s head that Techno is nothing else than boom-boom with stolen soundbites from “real“ musicians, the other cliche that only drug addicted teenies listen to Techno, Sven Väth’s “Gute Laune” emberassment, Hands Up and what the fuck else happened during the last decades HE is destryoing the scene? Not even this years Love Parade tragedy could destroy the scene, as the success of Nature One and other festivals, that took place shortly afterwards proved. It even makes the scene look pretty indestructable, if you ask me. No, sorry, commercialism is the least dangerous problem. If any, it’s even good for the scene, because the stuff that gets a wide mainstream audience might act as gateway drug for new fans. Hey, when I was young, I got into electronic music because of Eurodance acts like 2Unlimited or Culture Beat, so the possibility that David Guetta and the commercial exploitation from plastic pop acts like Lady Gaga or whatever rapper now uses Technobeats, will slowly lead a whole new generation into the depths of “real” techno music is very high! And we all want to turn as many people as possible into fans of our favourite music, don’t we?
No, like I mentioned before, it’s the hipsters who are the real danger! They are the wet blankets who ruin the party for everybody. The ones who, when they see someone having a good time on the dancefloor, just shake their head in disgust, because the DJ who is spininning right now is probably known by more than three people! Seriously, I shit you not, just yesterday I read a comment on the website of a popular Techno magazine, where someone called Tocadisco and Wippenberg commercial? Did I miss anything? Is now everybody who is at least a little bit successful commercial? Isn’t it necessary to be in the, well, commercial sales charts anymore? Tocadisco might be a well known and successful DJ and I can imagine how someone would call him commercial 10 years ago, or whenever “Nobody Likes the Records That I Play” was played on MTV (just because it was played on MTV, not because it was a bad track or something), but today? Nobody outside the scene knows him! (No offense.) Tocadisco is no David Guetta, y’know. And Wippenberg? I can’t even remember him being a headliner of any bigger event! (No offense. Also feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about the headliner thing.) And suddenly these guys are commercial? Oh, come on.
You can’t even call their music commercial, because no commercial radio would ever play one of their tracks before midnight! And even then it had to be a genre related show. Yes, you like your underground Djs and you are happy that only you and maybe five other people know them, but y’know, if they are really good, they will sooner or later attract the attention of more people and stop being underground. And if they will stay forever in the underground and will never gain a fanbase beyond you and your hipster friends, then it might because they just suck at what they do!
But like I said before, you can like or dislike whoever you want, the problem is just…people like you are everywhere and constantly complaining! So many people noted that the Love Parade and other big events are these days full of chavs, who don’t care for the music and just wanna get drunk and that it’s (again) the fault of David Guetta and co, who sold out and made Techno popular among the commercial crowd. And I agree with this. It’s just that these people have been there since the early 90’s (when Techno ruled the charts). And even though I’m not okay with how and why they do it, they have at least a good time and enjoy themself! They are not like you, who is sitting moping at the bar, constantly complaining about how shitty everything is. Also the drunkards are much easier to avoid than you, because they don’t go to real Techno clubs. They go to the Top 40 discos. You will probably see them only at open air festivals and even then they mostly occupy minor spots in the audience. Also they are only there, when the tickets are cheap or it’s for free. But you, you love Techno (or at least say you do). You will spend 80 bucks for a festival full of Star Djs, just to hate them with a passion. But why? Shouldn’t you be happy that your favourite music genre is suddenly more popular and that less people look down at you and the music you listen to? I don’t ask you to swallow every shit that is going down in the scene, but more than just once you and your friends should lighten up a little. Techno is about love, party and having a good time, not about knowing more underground DJs than the others.
And it’s definitely not about critizing DJs for the gear they use! Yo, hipsters! (Do hipsters even say ‘yo’?) You wanna be a credible underground DJ by yourself? I got a nice equipment suggestion for you: BUY A LAPTOP AND GO ALL DIGITAL! “Wha-wha-WHAT!?! Spinning music with a laptop? Like all the teeny-bedroom-DJs do? Never!” See? The reaction you got out of it is exactly the reason why Digital Djs/Controllerists/whatever you wanna call them are so fucking underground these days. Club owners don’t wanna book them and “real” DJs, who use turntables or CDJs look down on them, because the most popular prejudice is that the laptop does all the mixing and the “DJ” who uses it is just pushing the play button.
Let me assure you that this is wrong. I don’t know any DJ software that does all necessary mixing on its own. Yes, some of them, maybe even all, got an “automix” function, but this is not what it sounds like. You just compile a playlist and then the computer plays each track at the same speed, but with a simple crossfader transition. It’s a piece of shit and I would understand the bad reputation of laptop DJs, if this would be everything they do. And unfortunately I’m sure that there ARE several of them who really do just this and hope that nobody in the club notices how shitty their mix sounds. No, even if you got a laptop and the newest, hottest DJ software, you still have to mix by yourself if you want it to sound good. Yeah, okay, there are some gimmicks that make mixing easier for you, like a beatcounter and a waveform monitor, but…CD players have this stuff too and they are widely accepted as real DJ equipment. Shit, I remember when all the CDJs came up, how the DJ community was highly suspicious, because they just considered it blasphemous to use anything other than vinyl! And now every club has turntables AND CDJs in their setup and nobody cares whatever you use. But if you set up a laptop in a club, you are suddenly no real DJ or even a traitor!
Laptops and controllers are just tools that won’t make a good DJ out of you. If you suck as a DJ, can’t mix anything right and are completely unable to read your audience, no software in the world will fix these problems for you. It’s that easy. On the other hand, if you witness a bad DJ in a club and he uses a laptop, it’s not the laptop’s fault either. I’m sure he would suck as much behind a turntable or a CD player. I remember a while ago, when a friend of mine was spinning in a club, the DJ who came after him (and whose name was written bigger on the flyers than my friend’s) first showed everybody his vinyl case without asking if they even wanna see it, then bragged about how he is an oh-so-real DJ because he is using vinyl and constantly made angry comments about my buddy’s laptop while he was playing his set. And then, when it was his turn, he sucked. The beats were never matching right and he almost raped the crossfader, by moving it to the other side whenever it was exactly the wrong moment. So much for being a real DJ, because of your equipment.
You see, shitty DJs come not just with laptops, but the popular opinion seems to be that they do. Damn, if I read only one more comment from Tom Novy about how he wants to pour his drink over other DJ’s laptops and thinks that they are losers and no real DJs, I’m gonna piss all over his CD players. (Despite being a vocal member of the computer-do-the-mixing-for-you party, he is using equipment with beatcounters, waveform monitors and some other stuff that turntables don’t have.) Come on, DJs! Let’s be united! Isn’t it bad enough that we are the victims of stupid hipsters who divide us into „underground“ and „commercial“!? Do we really have to fight because of the equipment we use? I mean, again, after we finally accepted CD players as not the antichrist? And yet we do! You think digital DJs are no real DJs? Well, so many really, really credible DJs are getting digital these days! Even Fatboy Slim and Jazzy Jeff! Are you telling me that Jazzy Jeff now has to prove his DJ skills AGAIN, just because he suddenly has some timecode vinyls spinning on his turntables? And controllerism even breathes some fresh air into the clubs! Just look at the things controllerists can do with their equipment! I don’t have a problem when you hate on and make fun of bad DJs. But if you think the equipment alone makes him bad, or that he accidently sells enough records to get played on MTV, then you are destroying Techno! We don’t want your hate and your prejudices.