Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Evil Nine Interview

So Evil Nine will be playing at Superfly on New Year's Eve - here's an interview I did with half of the outfit last time they played in Leicester, two years ago:

For someone who cuts such a slight figure, it’s hard to believe Tom Beaufoy is one half of Evil Nine, a production outfit responsible for producing some of the most perverse and snarling breakbeats in recent years, and a DJ duo capable of destroying dancefloors around the world with their filthy electro-charged party sets.

Alongside Pat Pardy, their productions have mixed low slung breaks, growling guitars and insanely catchy raps from the likes of Aesop Rock and Juice Aleem to devastating effect, sounding like nothing else in the world of dance music.

They also recently released a Fabric mix CD, taking in the rocky aspects of their own productions and combining it with some of the most exciting electro around to wallop the listener around the head and leave you begging for more.

Despite this clear musical diversity, they’re commonly associated with the breakbeat scene, after all it was fellow Brighton resident Adam Freeland who first signed them to his Marine Parade label, but Tom doesn’t consider themselves as breaks DJs.

“What people class as breakbeat isn’t what I really thought of it when I started getting into it. Id play a bit of electro, a bit of techno… I’d just take wicked tunes from different areas. At the beginning it seemed like it embodied all those qualities and it doesn’t necessarily do that anymore but our philosophy is still the same.

“DJs I always loved when I grew up were people like Laurent Garnier, who used to take you into different areas and it was exciting when he dropped something unexpected and I like that kind of DJing, a bit haphazard and all over the place.”

Unlike many big name DJs who claim to be eclectic, Evil Nine quite evidently are, with a background and taste in music that's quite encyclopaedic.

“I like all kinds of music and I think all kinds of music have something to offer you. Every kind of music influences us because we listen to so much of it such as The Cure, Joy Division, Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Pixies… I even like folk music!”

It’s all these influences that help them come up with such tunes as ‘Crooked’ and ‘Pearl Shot’, which on paper shouldn’t work but somehow their evil fingers work miracles in the studio. Earlier this year they took this brand of rock influenced dance music to the festivals, including a little known appearance at Leeds in August, the memory of which visibly excites Tom.

“We played in the Duracell tent and that actually was amazing, just crazy, that was the only thing that was open on the whole site that night and it was just rammed and they were all so young, just kids and they were screaming and chanting, it was just mad!”

The small but loud Duracell tent was one of the highlights of Leeds festival this year, with the breaks and electro DJs going down well with the traditional rock crowd and Krafty Kuts played a blinding set to an equally packed arena the next evening.

Although this particular gig seems to rank quite highly with Tom, it turns out they’ve played even better ones on their travels around the world. Tom’s face lights up further: “There’s obviously been a few amazing times we’ve played and different countries do different things.

“We played an incredible gig in Hong Kong seven stories up in this apartment building overlooking the whole city and we had about 700 Chinese people singing the words to ‘Crooked’.”

So we’ve established that their musical influences are far ranging and their touring habits are equally varied, but just where does that name come from?

“To be honest it doesn’t come from anywhere,” says Tom. “It’s just a name that Pat thought up and I said yes. We need a name for a demo and it’s lucky because we were gonna call ourselves DJ Wheels and Cheekomendoza, which isn’t quite as catchy!” Quite…

“People have theories but the real answer is there is no reason. At one point Adam [Freeland] thought it might alienate people but I think once people start liking your music the name transcends the meaning anyway.”

Whatever they had called themselves, their music would have found its way into our world eventually and one must thank Adam Freeland for finding them when he did.

New album "They Live" is out now. I'll review it soon as I get my pesky hands on it..

Monday, 15 December 2008

License to Thrill (Revoked)

Tucked away in the corner of the latest edition of iDJ magazine is a little article about the latest music licence to be lobbed in the direction of DJs. The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), who represent musicians, introduced the Professional Dubbing Licence in July this year to scrounge more money from the poor DJ.

The £250 annual licence is aimed at DJs who use copies or recordings of music taken from vinyl or CD, such as laptop/virtual vinyl DJs like myself, or people who have made copies of CDs to use on CD decks, even if this music has been purchased legally. MCPS have declared their intentions to come down hard on venues who book DJs not registered with ProDub, a move which threatens the health of the scene if you ask me.

MCPS business director, Neil Jones, told iDJ: “We are keen to educate venue owners about ProDub and ask for their help in regulating unprofessional and illegal copying activity. The primary responsibility lies with the DJ or the entertainer to purchase the ProDub Licence, but venue owners should be aware of the potential implications for their business. Penalties for venues could include fines, court appearances or having their entertainment licences revoked.”

A similar licence already exists for ‘digital DJs’, the PPL, which venue owners and event promoters are also legally required to own if they are to play music. However, this only covered the playing of music and not the copying, or ‘format shift’ of music, hence the introduction of ProDub. Things are a little unclear but I think ProDub has effectively replaced PPL for the individual by including it within the remit of the ProDub licence.

So take myself for example. I rip a lot of music from my CD collection to use with Serato Scratch Live, and eventually I want to convert all my vinyl to MP3/Wav for use with my laptop. If I want to then play in a venue with this music I have to purchase this ridiculous licence for the privilege of playing to a crowd, even though I’ve already purchased and paid for this music through legal means. And as for promo music that I receive for free, I still have to pay for the licence. I can’t even record a mixtape for friends, promoters and venues without requiring ProDub.

Now, I’m sorry, but this is completely and utterly fucking ridiculous. I don’t download illegally, I pay for all my music, so why should I have to pay further? For a superstar DJ £250 is nothing, but for people just starting out, beginners, students, people on low incomes, people who only get the odd gig etc. it’s a lot of money and an unnecessary and immoral barrier to doing something you love.

As for venue owners, they now have to be diligent about who they book to perform, and could be prevented from booking an excellent performer simply because they don’t have the necessary paperwork and are afraid of legal repercussions. And what about open deck nights or DJ tournaments, where many shy DJs are tempted out of their bedrooms for the first time and a lot of talent is unearthed?

The whole debate about paying for music is a contentious one. I’ve always believed recorded music should be available to all. Music is made to be shared, not to make money. Musicians should make their money from performing live, which after all, is where music is from. Music existed long before the studio, and I have a personal distaste for bands who overproduce their music but are actually shit live, like Foals. When Hot Chip cancelled their Leicester gig earlier this year because they had studio time booked, I lost a hell of a lot of respect for them and the wounds still haven’t healed.

But I find myself in a tricky position of being a DJ, playing mainly electronic music that is created on computers that can’t be performed live, and that I actually profit from. Combined with the need for good quality, this is why I always pay for downloads that I use as a DJ. Which is why it irks me so that for me to play out legally in bars, clubs, even house parties, I need this ProDub licence. I’ve purchased my music legally, I’ve given the artists a fee, why should I pay anymore?

It struck me as strange when I bought my first record and it had the whole bumf about ‘unauthorised public performance and broadcasting is prohibited’ emblazoned on the sleeve. Surely that’s the point of us DJs buying the records in the first place? To play the damned thing to an audience! Back then and for decades before, I’m certain DJs and other performers were using records that were protected by copyright laws, but no self-appointed society were chasing them up on licence fees for the privilege of sharing the music.

When PPL was introduced, their business affairs man Peter Leatham even had the gall to say: “At the end of the day you don't have to DJ using a laptop, if it’s not worth your while spending the £200 then don't do it.” And according to iDJ, the new licence only came into being because research showed DJs were using more music copied from vinyl and CDs. This just shows how profit driven and out of touch the MCPS and their PPL friends really are. If I want to DJ using a laptop, I should be allowed to do so without also having to buy the right to do so. Again, I’ve legally paid for my music, fuck off with your demands for more money!

It’s a joke, a restriction on my freedom to DJ, and a threat to the smaller scenes. Despite this licence being unrealistically enforceable - do MCPS really have the manpower and resources to check every single event in the country, whether each performer is licensed, and to subsequently take any action against those that aren’t? – there will still be many venues prosecuted whilst others get away scot free, not to mention many more afraid of possible action who will refuse to book unlicensed acts who realistically can’t actually afford the licence.

Personally, I’ll be fucked if I’m paying for it - the MCPS and PPL can shove ProDub up their arses.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Fabric Live 43 - Sinden

The latest curveball from the monthly Fabric series is here, this time from the stable of Get Familiar. Switch was originally pencilled in for this particular mix, the Fabric website even saying as much months ago and I'm not really sure what happened along the way, but the outcome is actually a rather confusing mix from the boy Sinden.

Along with Switch, Sinden is co-founder of the raucous Get Familiar nights at Fabric, well known for its eclectic mix of what's hot in the world of dance music. Sinden is one of the biggest names at the forefront of the whole fidget, bass, B-more whatever you wanna call it concoction of downright dirty dizzyness that has swept across dancefloors, uniting long time dance fans with the indie kids who crawled out of the woodwork to earn some NME cool credentials.

The promo material touts this mix as a snapshot of contemporary clubland and a flawless blend, which it certainly is, taking in such artists as Yo Majesty, Skream, Buraka Som Sistema, Tigerstyle and a fair share of Sinden's own remixes, but it never really rises above the 'snapshot' description and the mixing, though flawless, lacks any imagination or forethought.

Moving seamlessly from bassline to baltimore to dubstep and everything in between, Sinden never really manages to establish a groove or indeed any kind of rhythm. It's straightforward beat matching with little flair and almost feels like the tunes have been picked randomly as the flow never really goes anywhere. It's completely devoid of the breathtaking style and panache of real 'cut and paste' jocks like Yoda or 2 Many DJs.

Just like many of the mandy fuelled indie kids crashing the dancefloor, it's a mix that's more style than substance, a mix of what's hot but a mix which itself really isn't. Not one to write home about.

2.5 / 5

Friday, 21 November 2008

Look, let's just get it out of the way...

Regurgitated from FaceSpace.

1. Although I may come across as an opinionated, downtrodden and angry son of a bitch, I'm also very happy about a lot of things, unfortunately, I find it easier to write about my gripes than anything else.
2. I have a scar running the length of my penis from an operation as a small child.
3. I have followed Manchester United since I can remember. My fondest childhood memories are bunking afternoons off school and travelling along the M62 with my dad to go to midweek matches at Old Trafford. My first game was vs. Arsenal in 1992 and I was sat in the Stretford End, happy times. (I also follow Hull City, my local team. First game was against Reading c.1995 when they were both in Div 3)
4. I was born on the 23rd December. People always ask if I get 'shared' presents, usually, yes.
5. I was also born on the same day that the Voyager aircraft completed the first non-stop flight around the world.
6. I used to make animated films out of Lego when I was a kid using camcorders we borrowed from friends to film my sister's karate gradings; if my parents had bought me my own camera I'd be in LA by now. Thank God they didn't.
7. I was in the Air Training Corps (cadets) at secondary school. I had issues with authority (particularly a fuck of a sergeant) and didn't even get as far as Private First Class; did get winched up and flown around by an RAF Sea King helicopter though.
8. I read Bravo Two Zero when I was 12 and then told the rest of my classmates about it in a book review, many of whom hadn't even progressed beyond picture books. Henceforth my swear word vocab and knowledge of automatic weapons expanded dramatically.
9. Despite the above, I now abhor war, though I'm not a pacifist. I also despise the media for sanitising their coverage of violence.
10. Best goal I ever scored was when I curled a free kick around the wall and nutmegged the keeper. Admittedly, I was only 14.
11. The only film I've ever cried at is ET, when I was 5, something my Dad won't let me forget. I had tears in my eyes at the end of American Beauty though.
12. I honestly don't find blondes that attractive, nor many English girls. Latin types (including Mediterranean) and Arabians float my boat. In fact I prefer it if they can't speak English really.
13. Nor does the idea of travelling around Thailand and Oz appeal to me. In the slightest. But I do want to see more of South America and go to the Middle East.
14. I think it's a shame that America has been ruled by such despots because every American I have ever met has been a great person who has made a lasting impression. And on that note, I'm not holding my breath on Obama.
15. I used to love acting as a kid. I remember being Joseph in the nativity in Year 6 and pestering the teacher to include extras in the scene when Mary and I approached Bethlehem. She didn't.
16. I think I was born in the wrong decade - I love 60s music and in May 1968 in Paris I'd be in my element.
17. Generally, I hate students at DMU. Bunch of apathetic slacks.
18. I now live in Coventry. Can't say there's much to shout about.
19. I once sucked the face of my best friend's brother in an effort to pull two girls who'd been lezzing up. He was succesfull, I wasn't.
20. I regret not learning an instrument when I was a kid (I don't count turntables) I had a bass guitar for a year at uni and learnt shit all on it.
21. My favourite book is American Psycho despite being one of the hardest books I've ever read. When I watched the film I was actually squirming because I knew what was coming. Thankfully it's not too faithful to the book or it'd be unwatchable.
22. I'm also a massive fan of Joseph Conrad, one of the greatest writers in the English language despite actually being Polish (how'd the BNP like that?) and started my dissertation with a quote from 'Nostromo'.
23. I will write my own novel one day but I'm not sure what about; some kind of dystopian allegory probably.
24. I once travelled to Manchester to go clubbing on my own. Had a great night out and would definately do it again.
25. People always think I'm on drugs when I'm dancing but I'm not, I just love the music.