Picture this... It’s 2030, and the DJ Mag Top 100 has just been topped, for the first time ever, by an artist created with artificial intelligence. The furore is palpable. The DJ community and scene at large are up in arms.
Beats, the new film from director Brian Welsh, tells the tale of two Scottish teenagers attending their first rave in 1994, just as the Conservative government are cracking down on the free party scene. It’s set on the brink of passing the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act — which infamously banned large gatherings around “sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”.
And for dance music fans in particular, the film could be a reflection of moments in countless lives — those nights when you’ll do anything and everything to get to the party.
From South East Asia to the Western US, North to South Africa, people can’t get enough of synths and syncopated rhythms. Electronic beats are officially the global sound of now, and we couldn’t be happier.
According to the latest IMS Report, the dance music industry was worth $7.3bn by May of this year. By 2021, it could be closer to $9bn. As physical and digital sales continue to fall, and streaming fails to plug the void, live events are becoming ever more important sources of revenue for everyone involved.
To blame festivals alone for the rise in the number of techno nomads would be unfair, of course. Regular clubs have long-since relied on high profile guests rather than local talent to sell out. Those guests often come from other countries and, particularly in Europe where cheap airfares and short journey times are the norm, so do many in the crowd.
We're still deep in the midst of a resurgence in vinyl culture. Vinyl sales continue to rise year on year, up 12% in 2018, and vinyl-only sets in hotspots such as Ibiza remain a serious draw. Even Tomorrowland has featured vinyl-only stages in recent years, led by long-time record lover Sven Väth. In more underground circles, vinyl is central to popular “selector” festivals, and the culture that has sprung up around them, giving the medium and those who play it an aura of cool topped by little else in dance music.
“I’ve always thought that rich kids are the death of culture. Even when they do good things with their money, even if the motivation behind them is altruistic, wealth makes the playing field uneven. It increases fees and costs across the board, and pushes out independents”— JOSH DOHERTY
“Bonkers, light in the head; slightly drunk. Perhaps from bonk, a blow or punch on the bonce or head.” It's a word whose origins come from the British navy, at least according to Eric Partridge’s 1948 book, A Dictionary of Forces’ Slang. For a generation that had grown up in the ‘90s, however, the word instantly conjures up another image: the cartoonish covers and soundtrack of happy hardcore’s defining, and to some damning, Bonkers series, which released its final instalment that same year.
To comprehend the mindset of the haters, and see how ‘Bonkers’ was so influential, requires looking at the early roots of happy hardcore. A Year Of Mixtapes was a sprawling, ambitious blog project started in 2009 with the intention of releasing a mix a week from Chrissy, a now San Francisco based DJ and producer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything from dancehall and disco to jungle and happy hardcore.
The track itself was originally going to be called ‘Bonkers’, in tribute, supposedly, to a line used by Sharkey when MCing. But the name instead passed to the duo’s first mix CD together.