woensdag 5 september 2012

An open scream to Markus Schulz

I wrote this on Markus Schulz’ forum in reply to his reaction to critical reception of his new artist album ‘Scream’. His original post can be found here: http://www.markusschulz.com/forums/showthread.php?1547-Markus-Schulz-Scream-Coming-August-31-2012/page12

Dear Markus,

First of all I take my hat off to you for coming here and replying to our criticism. That really shows character and makes you stand out among your colleagues, who comfortably hide behind their hired Facebook marketing employees. At least you have the balls to interact. Much much appreciated.

Nevertheless I am saddened deeply by your replies.

First off I'm actually insulted by you categorizing us as "forum people". Yes people who actually still visit forums and take the time to write stuff there and read others comments are small in numbers nowadays compared to the lazy masses on the social media who only consume pre-fabricated marking bla and add zero themselves except maybe “MaRkUsSsS wHeN aRe YoU cOmmmInG 2 mY cOuNtYYYY???!!!!” below every post. And we “forum people” probably are not the current 15 year olds either. Heck 99% of those don't even know what a forum is. But that doesn't excuse the current industry trend to put us away as an insignificant bunch of frustrated old people who complain about everything that is different from 2004 and doesn't resemble what they used to love in the past. What we are are people who have loved you music all our lives and are probably the last ones standing of those who made it possible for you to become a DJ and a producer. We were the ones buying your first albums, singles and compilations when you were still small potatoes. We were the ones screaming our heads off at your gigs. We were the ones who fell in love with your music and your sets when you were still making them from them heart, from what you truly believe in, from who you really are. Uninfluenced by popularity poll ratings, drugged up managers and promoters or sales figures.

What you are now saying basically is that you have to compromise yourself under the commercial pressure of the pop dance explosion. That you now produce new “radio friendly” vocal tracks to please the networks, that you adjust your GDJB programming to avoid being kicked of the air and that you compromise your live sets because money hungry promoters bow to the pressure of crowds that only consist of 15 year old nitwits who get bored if they don’t get their fabricated built in SHM style pitch bend climax every 3 minutes. And that is a big big shame.

Why? Let me tell you man. You cannot stay on top of the food chain forever. Noone can. Yes you can prolonge your career by compromising into every new trend and the next, the way guys like Tiesto and Armin are doing, but like them you will become a total caricature of yourself. Because what you have to do to stay up there goes more and more against everything you really are inside. And even if you keep on compromising, at some point people WILL spit you out because you are like us. Too old. Not cool anymore. You will end up the Rubens Barichello of dance music and get dumped in a back alley through the backdoor without so much as an appreciative farewell party.

Obviously you are not the first to come to this point in your career. How do you think people like Sasha or Nick Warren or John Digweed felt at the end of the 90’s acid rush in the UK? When all of a sudden new guys like Ferry Corsten and Paul van Dyk stormed the scene with their new and more energetic interpretation of trance music? It’s the exact same thing. But what they did is keep their dignity. They accepted that a new thing had arrived and that the new thing was more popular with the crowds. But they NEVER COMPROMISED. They kept on doing music the way their hearts told them to do music. For the people who appreciate that style. Maybe less in numbers from there on, but loyal as a dog. Because they are connected through the same musical values.

And guess what? All of them are still around, touring the globe and playing in clubs to crowds adoring them for what they do. Without any compromise. They don’t give a flying fuck if radio stations wanna play their radio shows or not. They don’t need to release radio tracks with cheap nameless singers who can’t sing fuck live (you should go and see an Armin Only show if you have a chance, it’s hilarious). They don’t have to star in cheezy videos for those tracks. They don’t have to do gigs for hostile crowds holding up phones all night long and giving you the finger for not giving them instant climax tracks or childish heart signs every 10 seconds. They don’t care. Because they are completely independent and they do what they love. And the people who come to see them and buy their new stuff love it from A to Z. And they always have. That Markus, is where real gratification lies. Not in trying to be the hero of the 15 year olds. They will spit you out the moment the new fad comes on stage and forget you ever existed.

Unfortunately your career seems to have been taken over completely by power and fame hungry managers and promoters who are only interested in being the biggest and making the most money. Who force release schedules upon you. Who force you to make radio friendly vocal crap. Tracks that you should be ashamed off. Who force you to adjust your radio show format. Who force you to headline festivals. And force you to play this constantly further derailing aggressive shit music that every producer and his dog is now making and has diverted so far off from your own original Markus Schulz sound.

You know what? Fuck them. You don’t need that shit. Do you really feel a need to compete or even compare yourself with Dash Berlin? The Milli Vanilli of trance? A completely fake act fabricated by Armada marketing and a bunch of studio engineers? Come on man, you are so much better than that. You are one of the few remaining originals. One of the few who actually knows how to DJ, how to produce a track with a unique and distinctive sound and how to compile a legendary compilation.

Remember that DJ gigs and festivals are not what will eventually be your musical legacy. They are here for a second and are gone the next. Vaporized into total silence. Witnessed by what on a global scale is only a handful of people. What really forms your musical legacy are your own productions and your compilations. And to some lesser extent your radio sets too. Those are heard time and again by a thousand fold of people compared to the numbers at your gigs. And locked into eternity in peoples homes, cars and mobile players.

Compromise those and you compromise the essence of yourself as an artist. If you don’t untie yourself from this commercial madness you will eventually end up in the trash bin with all the other pop stars.

zondag 21 augustus 2011

Finland and Greece: A better deal

This week Finland was headline news around Europe because of the additional negotiations regarding their multi billion Euro participation in the Greece bailout deal.

Now obviously the Finns have shown a damn lot more financial intelligence than the rest of the European governments combined by actually demanding collateral before dumping their money into a bottomless pit like the Greek economy. The way they went about it was not the smartest though.

Now obviously Greece is a country full of law abiding, hard working people, who are among the most honest in the world, have a culture that despises corruption and deceit and are totally not to blame for their financial misery. They just have a small temporary cash flow problem that needs to be resolved with a loan.

But lending out money and then asking for almost the same amount in collateral in a frozen bank account doesn’t really solve their problem, now does it? And on top of that, even when Finland does get this collateral deal, all the other European countries will want the same and we will all be back to square one.

What Finland should have done is demand the islands of Santorini and Mykonos as collateral. When Greece eventually files for bankruptcy these islands will then automatically become part of Finland’s territory. And until that time all Finnish residents should be made be eligible for 75% discounts on hotel rooms, apartments, restaurants and car rentals plus free beach chairs. Furthermore Greek males are no longer allowed to harass Finnish female visitors anywhere on the island at any time. Oh and all Finnish residents get unlimited free access to Cavo Paradiso of course.

Voila: a much better deal and Finnish tax payers’ money put to good use. And since Greece is hip deep in islands this deal is easily replicated towards other EU countries as well, so there will be no opposition like there is against the current plan. Just part out the rest of the country in collateral to all the other bailout fund participants, and when in the end of the day Greece eventually does go bankrupt the entire problem is solved automatically. Greece will simply no longer exist and the rest of Europe will have their own little vacation paradises. Bought and paid for.

zaterdag 23 april 2011

Tooth fairy

I'm the tooth fairy
I came for your teeth

- I heard that I get to keep them, from my lawyer

Well, my lawyer told me to come down here because
I'm the tooth fairy and I take your teeth okay?

- Okay well how 'bout, ehm...

Look, just gimme your damn teeth okay?
And then I'll go, okay?

- I can't, neh I'm not gonna do it

Gimme your damn teeth, that's it
I'm gonna take your teeth and them I'm gonna go
And ehm, you'll hear from my lawyer tomorrow otherwise
And ehm, I don't think you wanna meet my lawyer

- I think you don't wanna meet my lawyer

I think you don't wanna meet MY lawyer

- I think you're a cheap ho

maandag 14 maart 2011

Armin clothing line surprises customers

People from around the globe are reporting various unexpected side effects from wearing products out of Armin van Buuren’s new clothing and shoes line.

The main concern appears to be connected to the upper torso products like jackets and shirts. Early customers say that that wearing these products make them extend their arms horizontally and getting stuck in that position. Jochim Struss, a 21 year old taxi driver from Hamburg Germany, reported that ever since he started wearing his new Armin jacket he has not been able to get his arms down, which is causing him some serious challenges in performing his job. "I can leave the driver window of my car open to stick my left arm out and I can steer with my knees, so that is not the biggest problem. But passengers in the right front seat are not very comfortable with my right arm being right in front of them. A female passenger even accused me of trying to touch her private parts and got out of my cab before we even drove off! I’m afraid I’m gonna lose some income over this, but I don’t wanna let go of my precious Armin jacket. He’s the number one you know, and I read on the interweb that he said himself that these clothes fit with his way of life and that he can really identify himself with them. So I just have to have them.”

2 Year old Juan del Peseta from Rio del Plaja reports a similar problem with his stylish new Armin polo shirts. “I tend to sweat a lot, so I bought seven polo shirts so I can change them during the day and stay fresh. But I haven’t been able to wear more than one because as soon as I put it on my arms have extended which has basically made it impossible to take it off. As such I don’t mind, you know because it’s Armin’s stuff and he said that he can really identify with it, but after a few days the armpits have gotten really smelly. I really can’t go into my shower anymore because it’s not wide enough so I think I’m just gonna go to the beach and walk into the water with it. I’m sure the girls on the beach are gonna go crazy over me because I wear such a cool Armin product.” When asked if he was going to return the other 6 shirts Juan replied he wasn’t. “I’m just gonna keep wearing this one till it wears out and then have someone cut it off me and start wearing the next one. It’s gonna be a great summer!”

ot only the shirts and jackets seem to be causing unexpected side effects, wearing the Armin shoes reportedly causes the owner to jump up and down uncontrollably at random moments. Sandy Ploofings, a brain surgeon from New Zealand, reports considering a career change. “I absolutely love my Armin shoes. I mean especially since he said that he really can identify with them and stuff. Plus they are really comfortable and supportive, but yeah they do make me jump up and down at them most unexpected moments. First time it happened was when I was in the supermarket waiting in the cashiers line. People thought I was being impatient, but I just couldn’t help myself. The bad thing though is that this also happens randomly when I’m performing surgery and that obviously is not very practical. I guess I’m gonna have to give up my career and do something else, because Armin means everything to me and not being able to wear his shoes would just make me miserable.”

Upcoming DJ Cheese Frankfurt from the Netherlands is one of the few customers who is actually really pleased with the side effects of the new Armin shoes. Frankfurt: “A few years ago I bought a set of Ti
ësto sneakers, because I was convinced they would make me a better DJ and help me progress my international career. But I have still never played outside my home town of Lutjebroek and even there people are not exactly showing up in big numbers for my sets. Now with these Armin shoes I feel I can be just as successful as Armin because they make jumping up and down on stage a lot easier. I finally understand why it never worked out with my Tiësto shoes. They must have been broken from the start.”

A spokesperson of Quick Sports International was rather surprised by all the mayhem their new products seems to be causing. “These clothes were designed in close collaboration with Armin himself. He really wanted them to fit his way of life and be able to identify himself with them. In fact Armin himself was used as a model for the initial design patterns. So I don’t find it very surprising that our designers tried to incorporate some of his trademark moves into the line. As a matter of fact, we are currently planning a line of Armin branded headphones that are made of extremely light fibers, so they are easy on the shoulders while they force you to hold them up in the air constantly.” When asked if people are allowed to return the articles for a refund if they become too annoyed by the side effects he answered: “We will consider that, if they haven’t sweated too much in them.”

donderdag 7 oktober 2010

A random day at the ID&T headquarters

Employee 1: Hey check this out, I just managed to book Tiesto for Trance Energy 2011, how cool is that?!

Employee 2: Tiesto? Dude he doesn't do trance anymore, he has completely converted to house and shitty hitparade music.

Employee 1: Really?? Tiesto? Damn I didn't know that.

Employee 2: Can you still cancel the booking?

Employee 1: No, I got an extra good rate by taking the no-cancellation option. Only 200.000 euro instead of 250.000.

Manager: You know what guys, we can easily solve this by changing the concept of the event. Let's just axe the trance and call it 'Energy'. Then we can get away with whatever shit lineup we want. I'll talk to Duncan about it.

Duncan: Hmzzz... Trance Energy without trance eh? Brilliant idea! Go make it happen and stop by at Personnel on your way out, you're getting a raise.

zaterdag 25 september 2010

Review: Gareth Emery - Northern lights

Gareth Emery is probably the single most successful one of the new generation of DJs that have rushed into the spotlights in the past few years. After he skyrocketed into the DJ Mag Top 100 in 2009 his schedule has completely exploded and today he is one of the most sought after names around the globe. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same guy we were hanging out with in the crowd at Tomorrowland only a few years ago, eating an ice cream and not being bothered by anyone.

What’s even more remarkable is that Gareth did it all on his own. He runs his own label and is not on the massive promo waves of companies like Armada, who in todays market full of ignorant consumers can make any talentless noone into a star DJ. Boosting his popularity by his early adoption of the Podcast phenomenon and a stream of quality productions and remixes, all laced with his very unique signature sound, him being embraced by the global audience is proof that there really is a place for real telent, next to the Tiestos, Armins and Paul van Dyks of this world.

Perhaps a bit overwhelmed by this massive career acceleration it became clear that he needed to put out a debut artist album fast. With expectations being sky high after his quality single productions and being pressed for time because of the aforementioned bizarre travel schedule this obviously was not an easy nut to crack. Yet he finished it and didn’t fall for the temptation to recycle his former releases but instead came up with all new tracks. So let’s press play and see what he made of it:

01. Stars
In between the loads and loads of generic garbage the dance music scene has been flooded with in the past few years Gareth Emery and Jerome Isma-ae are two of the best examples of new producers that deserve massive respect for their unique styles.

This track is a magical fusion between the Emery and the Isma-ae sound, which totally works for me. Really excellent track.


02. El Segundo
Well well, El Segundo. I know a guy who left his wallet there once, but that’s a long time ago. In the meantime this is a pretty nice piece of work, although sequenced right after the powerful ‘Stars’ track it lacks a bit of umpf. Still an album full of tracks like this would make me a happy consumer.


03. Too dark tonight
Hmz, this one is seriously lame. Even though working with your sibling from another genre is not entirely original (Eller van Buuren anyone?) I think as such it is a cool idea, but the result is a disappointing track. Unworthy of the album.


04. Arrival
Gareth immediately recuperates here with this track he opened almost every set with this summer. This is really one of the strongest tracks on the album and one of his strongest productions ever I might add. While it sounds actually quite simple it has a massive drive and all the great Emery ingredients. I experienced the effect of this track live a few times and it’s just the perfect set opener. Progressive, yet driving and setting you up for more.


05. Into the light
Not really into this one. In general I’m not a fan of vocal tracks, so I always try to listen beyond the vocal, imagining an instrumental version. In this case that leaves a decent but not great track, which I would rate with a 7 perhaps, but with the vocal I have to deduct. A very similar situation as with various tracks on Armin’s new album.


06. Full tilt
This is getting better again. Nice typical album track, nothing particularly special but pleasant on the ears.


07. Sanctuary
The single track that preceded the album and a great example of the smartness of the Emery sound. It really balances between trance, progressive and house which makes it a great fit in any set, and it’s really hard not to like it. Also a great use of vocal in this one, it’s nicely executed and actually adds body to the track. The only point of criticism I could think of is that right before the track gets into the chorus that annoying buzzing sound sample that Gareth also used before in his ‘On a good day’ remix is back. This sound makes me think my speakers are blown all the time. Nevertheless really liking this one. Had he put the club mix in here it would have been a 9.


08. Citadel
Great instrumental track. If only the entire album was like this it would be heavenly.


09. Fight the sunrise
The number of vocal tracks is getting rather annoying at this point. And not being a particularly good one this just doesn’t add anything. It’s too simple, the structure is borderline generic deggadegga uplifting and the vocal is seriously nagging. Will probably fit perfectly in the second hour of A State of Trance and therefore will not make it into my iPod.


10. All is now
Failed crossbreed between Emery and generic uplifting. At least it’s instrumental but as much as the collaboration with Jerome Isma-Ae did work, this one with Activa just doesn’t. Not really working very well as an album closer either as it doesn’t really leave you with any particular feeling.


As seems to be the trend nowadays CD buyers get screwed over by getting an incomplete product, compared to the digital download buyers who get bonus tracks. Let’s see what us CD heads are missing out on:

11. I will be the same
This should have been called ‘I will be the shame’. Poor track and very poor vocal. Which is rather odd, since Emma Hewitt is one of the best singers around atm.


12. Global
Absolutely great track and an even more absolute shame that this is only a digital bonus and is not on the CD. This instead of ‘Too dark tonight’ or ‘Fight the sunrise’ would have boosted the quality of the album significantly.


13. On a Metropolis day
Big tripple meh on this one. I’m not a fan of mashups to begin with, and even though technically this one is well executed it basically wastes two tracks that were already great by themselves. The worst part however is that every Tom, Dick and Harry DJ plus Gareth himself have been playing this thing to utter death all year long and if I hear it one more time I’m gonna puke. For real. I am sooo done with this mashup and besides being totally misplaced on Anjunabeats Volume 8 it now needs to pop up once again here. Blegh, meh and what else.

Not rated/10

In conclusion
Becoming a really popular DJ may seem cool and glamorous, but in reality it’s not an easy thing. In fact it puts immense pressure on you, because your crowd suddenly changes from just underground lovers who can ID every track you play to masses of people who come to see you mainly because they heard your name mentioned on MTV and are not primarily there out of love for the music. Once you get into the DJ Mag Top 10 your crowds will convert to 90% of this type of people and except maybe when your name is Deadmau5 and you really don’t give a fuck you will feel the pressure of going for tried and tested safe tracks and loads of recognizable vocals. Plus if you don’t endlessly keep on playing your own hits the masses will still think your set sucked.

I’ve heard Gareth perform in multiple occasions this year and unfortunately the signs of his sets turning into the typical superstar DJ ones are bright and clear. And although I still vastly prefer hearing him over Armin, Tiesto, Ferry or Van Dyk I can’t help but wanting to run when he gets On a Metropolis day or Lethal industry out for the umptieth time. I know he has to, but I hate it. In this light the collection of songs on this artist album doesn’t surprise me one bit. Too many vocal tracks and definitely no risky experiments. The average rating came out at 6.6, which is right there with my thoughts of Armin’s and Markus’ new albums. All three of them share the same hit and miss selection of really cool and rather meh tracks. The cool ones are seriously cool in this case, but gawd do I hate DJ Mag.

donderdag 23 september 2010

Armin van Buuren changes name of radio show

After the surprising decision by Dutch event powerhouse ID&T to rename their long running event ‘Trance Energy’ into just ‘Energy’ Armin van Buuren has followed suit this week and announced that effective immediately he will rename his world famous radio show ‘A State Of Trance’ to just ‘A State Of’.

“I get a lot of emails from people asking me why I play so many tracks that are not trance in my radio show”, the world famous DJ explains. “The reason is that there are many styles of music that can get me in a state of trance, and that is why I play them in my show. I can get into deep trance when listening to VanVelzen for example. Or when I write pop songs with producers that worked with world famous super stars, so I can mention having worked with them in every single interview I do. That is what really gets me in a state of trance. Actually I can’t wait to work with people like Lady Gaga or Beyonce, man that would be so awesome. I’m getting in a state of trance just thinking about that!”

Van Buuren, who is currently said to be in close competition with the ultimate cheese dance master David Guetta for the number 1 spot in the 2010 edition of the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, admits that he’s getting pretty tired of having to explain himself constantly. “Those trance lovers just don’t get it. They expect me to play trance music, just because the radio show is called A State Of Trance. I really don’t understand what they are so upset about. There is so much more great music than just trance. The other day I was in the studio working with a guy that used to have a neighbor who was the nephew of a guy who was in high school with Justin Timberlake. I mean, wow!

I hope that with this new name we can finally put the past behind us and that everybody will understand that we need progression, which means developing trance music into everything that it is not”.

It is unclear at this time whether Van Buuren will also reset his episode numbering back to 001 and if so what effect this will have on the current planning of events celebrating the 500th episode of his radio shows in early 2011.