WAITING FOR THE GREEN MAN

Another morning on the bicycle taking toddler Paz to nursery. Its a short ride passing hundreds of coffee-hungry students under our local cafe’s umbrellas, drifting past different countries’ Embassies & down towards Tivoli park, but my hands certainly feel the chill. “Lets wait for the green man” I say as people straggle themselves to work. 9°C doesn’t sound bad on paper but I can feel the biting sensation of “winters coming soon”. The cold bites my hands as Paz sits relaxed in the child seat pointing at the orange leaves on the floor. Then I notice, the duck down jackets are here again & I wish I’d put on my gloves. How we’ll adapt to the pending minus weather I’m unsure but we always seem to pull through with thicker and thicker attire.

Today you will find me reading Marcel Proust: In Search Of Lost Time (Volume 1) and recording music at home. I’m really unsure when I’ll have a record worth releasing but what I do know is I’m thankful for good health & creativity & that there is still a core fanbase out there listening to the handful of music I released this year & the 6 years before it. Sending love to you!

 

 

 

ANIMAL SURNAMES & GOATS AHEAD OF THEIR TIME

Over coffee my girlfriend gets a text from a co worker & tells me their surname translates to Goat! I’m baffled. “Do you know how amazing that is?” – Honestly, I was quite jealous. She went on to tell me its quite common in Slovenia. Many people have surnames after animals. Also fruits and vegetables became second names too which is just bizarre to me.

I guess as a Williams its pretty easy to be blown away by people’s surnames. If I had the surname Goat I’d probably be more determined to be The GOAT in real life. You’d have to live up to it surely. That added pressure of having the name to live up to. That being said – plenty of Goats have my surname. John Williams (The composer of Star Wars), Pharrell – Robin (RIP). So I need to stop making excuses now!

Speaking of the GOAT… I really enjoyed this discussion on this recent Everyday Struggle episode, filmed entirely on the subject of NYC rapper Cam’ron. I found myself agreeing with most of Joe Budden’s favourable points.

Cam, although repping NY hard – paved the way for the southern wave of hip-hop to go nationwide. He was the first to really cosign Lil Wayne and also on his album cuts you could hear a sound that was still very hard & NY sounding but inspired by the south. Three 6 Mafia sampled soul tracks with double time beats in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, and Cam’s producers Just Blaze & The Heatmakerz were doing that for the whole of Dipset around the same time. Of course Kanye jumped on the soul sampling with his own unique chi town stomp but the Just Blaze & The Heatmakers were big on the southern double time hi hats at 60 / 70 bpm ten years before ASAP Rocky came out & popularised the southern sound in NYC once again.

Its arguable that if Dame Dash hadn’t been messing around at Roc-A-Fella trying to boss over Jay – Cam could be in Kanye’s shoes. Having watched documentaries on  early Kanye – he was quite wide-eyed & although eager to break as a rapper – he was very patient, always complimentary of Jay & I can see why he got ahead the way he did. Its also worth knowing Cam’ron had been going some 7 years as a street rapper before he released his masterpiece Come Home With Me.

Sometimes you pay a price for being ahead of your time. For having a certain swagger that rubs people up the wrong way. I think you see it a lot. Cam’ron being the head of the wave.  Look at the UK – Wiley and the Grime genre. He has always been the underdog despite being the creator of the genre.

Achievements aside – I believe Cam is more of a goat than Kanye. I believe Wiley is more of a goat than Skepta or Dizzee etc. Maybe I just love Pioneers and Underdogs.

Love to know your thoughts: darren@starslinger.net

JUST IN TIME

There’s nothing we disdain more than the clock. Everyday we have deadlines to meet. Most of them seem like a necessary inconvenience like getting up at 7.30 so you can arrive on time at your job or take your kid to school.

Deadlines aren’t just about handing in work. They’re cut off points in time we can’t afford to miss. At school (at least in most) you have constant deadlines. The deadlines at work might break you – they’re very real. Or they might make you rush & under-deliver. We like to think they actually help us deliver. That the extra bit of pressure gives us the kick we need sometimes. Beating the clock is a kick.

On the other hand though, taking time to do something you care about doesn’t have a deadline. It doesn’t fit conveniently in an allotted time frame. In fact time doesn’t matter when you care about committing to something. You go in blind. You don’t start your relationships with 2 year windows in mind.

The things that matter in the grand scheme of things always seem to happen just in time.

 

HOW KIDS IN THE UK HEARD RAVE MUSIC

STAR SLINGER RAVE TAPES

Last night I tuned into Mumdance‘s radio show on London’s Rinse FM online from my apartment in Ljubljana. I knew Mumdance had some very special guests (for him) on the show. I would learn that Mumdance as a kid/teen (much like myself in the nineties) was heavily into UK Rave music. So many cool memories came flooding back!

You might wonder how kids in the UK would hear about underground rave music.

By 1992 the illegal acid house raves were pretty much over & new sounds had infiltrated the rave scene. The people called it Hardcore (not to be confused with US hardcore punk). Hardcore was an exciting combination of acid house styles & the rolling breakbeat sound of Jungle. XL Recordings (now known for Adele’s success) championed Hardcore early on in their career and got it into the charts with the likes of The Prodigy and SL2.

I only heard this sound when a friend passed me a twin tape pack called Rave Classics or something in 1998. it was 3 years old but I loved it. Then shortly after that, rave tape packs (collections of real DJ Sets recorded at real rave events) were circulating the schoolyard. The tape packs would have a handful of hardcore DJ’s alongside Jungle and Gabber DJ’s so there was a history to learn about. Some of our Dad’s owned Dual Cassette Recorders and we would swap tapes & copy for ourselves. They had us wanting to attend real rave events but we were far too young.

UK Hardcore made me discover Sampling and Synthesizers.

I remember listening on my Sony Walkman on lunch breaks thinking “how did they make these sounds?” and being super confused. I had to make it my mission to learn how. Luckily around 1999/2000 I was on the internet & could begin to search forums. I found that most of the music was made on AKAI Samplers like the S1000, S950 etc. The producers would buy bootleg sample CDs of expensive synthesisers because it was cheaper. Similar things were happening in Chicago Detroit as early as the 80s with House & Techno.

What can be learned from UK Hardcore?

The limitations of the technology are what made the Rave sound possible.

I am for the argument that the producers of this time were mega Pioneers. They worked with their limitations and made music that was super exciting. They used the limitations to their advantage to make something of a culture. People like Paul Woolford aka Special Request and Zomby are still putting out albums using these limitations. It won’t suprise you then that XL who originally championed the sound have worked with both artists 🙂

To hear a glimpse of this sound – listen to last night’s Mumdance show feat. the legendary Slipmatt, Billy Daniel Bunter & DJ Vibes in the mix.

If you’re super interested – here is an archive of ripped rave tape packs from the 90s covering all styles – D n B / Jungle / hardcore / gabber etc.

To try making 90s hardcore – sample CD here.

 

PREPARING FOR THE RAMP

I was riding my girlfriend’s bike back to our apartment this morning after dropping Paz at Nursery. Her bike is an old imported black Mamachari. Its a sturdy Japanese city bike which I recommend to anyone but it only has 1 speed.

Driving past Cankarjedom (a big events hall in Ljubljana) there is a big flat square of land & I see a big ramp ahead that I have to drive up. Of course I know I’m getting closer so I have to speed up on the one speed with enough momentum to get up the ramp without peddling too much/stopping to walk up. This simple act of preparation was super satisfying.

Of course the one speed bike is a limitation but it made me more active. Imagine you have a mountain bike with 18 speeds, and switching gears. Sometimes its more rewarding to have a great one speed bike and speed up & get ready for the ramp.

Thats how I feel about making music sometimes. Its better to work on one good idea at a time than a thousand small ones for the sake of it. Thrash out on that one idea (preparing for the ramp) and then finishing it (getting up the ramp) will be a breeze & more rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOING THINGS FOR A LONG TIME

So today I was on Twitter and I came across a few brilliant reviews of Glasweigan DJ Duo & Clubnight OPTIMO‘s 20th anniversary party that happened over the weekend. They are infamous for not having a code of music & will literally invite anyone they liked to play the party and will play any song regardless of genre. Anything goes.

I’ve never been to an Optimo club night, but I have heard enough delighted stories & seen enough inspiring YouTube video of their parties (the one linked shows them playing Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain as their last ever Sub Club residency party – thats legendary in itself).

They started the club night in 1997 and played every week until 2010 at Glasgow’s infamous Sub Club. They retired the residency after that mammoth 13 year run but are now in demand around the world and run various labels together. This is the important thing here. The time they kept on going. The time they kept on doing what they loved. The time they spent doing something that might not have worked without persistence.

You may often hear people talk about “talent” being the reason someone is good at what they do. “They have talent” etc. While some people do seem good from day 1, more often than not its not really the case. People get good at things when they commit! Is anyone good at basketball on their first day training? I played Basketball pretty well for a while at school but I was never good enough for the A Team. Why? I didn’t want to work hard enough to get good. I didn’t even consider getting in good shape to be good at it.

Its when people hone in on things they like doing, put off the distractions & then do them for a long time that brings the fruits. The 20 year anniversaries etc.

“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it”

Alistair Cooke

Optimo are a great example of this. Years of throwing parties & they became this good! Not overnight. 20 years!

 

 

I recommend downloading their 5 part download of their last ever Sub Club residency night back in 2010. Its available with track-listing over here http://nialler9.com/mix-of-the-week-optimogeddon-the-final-optimo-club-night-at-sub-club/

Also this B2B House session with Move D in Berlin was also amazing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhNd1iSoBt4

THE RAINBOW FISH STORY

Reflecting on life is sometimes easier through Children’s books. Reading a good story to your son or daughter before bed will do the trick often by suprise. One book I’ve been reaching for lately is The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.

Although the protagonist “Rainbow Fish” is beautifully swagged out with a rainbow of glittering scales on the surface – you quickly begin to see the scales as status symbols. RF gives off a “You can’t sit with us” vibe.

He proceeds to brag and boast & will not share his scales with his friends & so quickly the friends of his eventually run scarce and tell everyone not to hang with him. He’s now alone from his own ego. All because he is not willing to share a little of his shine with each friend.

Its easy to look at it 2 ways.

  1. Either Rainbow Fish’s friends are merely swaggerjackers who want a piece of RF’s unique swag
  2. Rainbow Fish is egotistical and wants deep down to feel important, rather than one with a unit! This is quite common in humanity but nothing bad ever came from sharing a little shine with your friends.

So here’s what I gathered from the Rainbow Fish story who eventually learns he needs to share to be happy.

The people around you. Family. Friends. Acquaintances. The probability of us even sharing this earth together is scarce, when you consider the odds of being born. So you have to take a minute to be thankful for everyone.

Share a little shine with the people around you & I guarantee they’ll have your back forever.

BOB DYLAN SONGS UNDER 1000 PLAYS

This post is for artists, creators etc.

Bob Dylan never gave a Fuck, So why should you?

Just look at his 2016 album Fallen Angels on Spotify. Even though he’s still signed to Columbia/Sony- some of the releases have songs that are a year old & still have under 1000 plays. Thats insane. Every 7 years someone boos Bob off stage for singing Gospel one year or doing weird Christmas songs another. He doesn’t care though. People will still listen to Like A Rolling Stone, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Knocking On Heaven’s Door until they die – but he can’t and isn’t interested in writing another. He just does whatever he wants.

We should all take a lesson from Bobby D. Be fearless, make work you like & put it out for the world to judge. Because as long as you don’t offend people with bad music they will only remember you for your great stuff. Don’t get off on people accepting you by numbers or not. This is your work and your art. Its upto you to do it again and again and again. Occasionally the songs will resonate with others.

In the 2010’s its easy to look at data and say “oh my fans like this and that so i’ll do more of that” – but at the end of the day – art is supposed to change people. How will we change people’s lives by following data patterns. Chances are you made those songs people love back when you didn’t give a shit.

Make music you like. The end.

 

 

MUSIC & ART CHANGES EVERYTHING

Music and Art change everything. Honestly.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an armchair fan or if you’re heavily involved in their worlds. At some point in your life an act has came on the radio, or shown up in your feed, or you’ve seen them playing for the first time or you’ve been personally handed their demo. In the case of an artist you could have been to an exhibition on the off chance, saw a painting hanging on the walls of a bank, graffiti down a dark alley. These are all situations where I’ve fell in love with art and I dare bet most of you have too.

Not to say music and art are a Universal experience. Our minds all have different perceptions & art can rub you up the wrong way sometimes. For instance when I worked at a cinema – I loved Enter The Void and didn’t squint at watching it a 2nd,3rd,4th time (it did help that was my job too). Others who had paid to see it however didn’t last one sitting! They came out feeling sick from the camera angle and the bleak subject matter. To me, thats what a good piece of art does. It can make you feel something you otherwise wouldn’t have felt.

Art changes you for better or for worse. Subtly or in a big way. It shakes us up. It pisses us off. It brightens our day. It shows us another way. Another worldview that maybe we could adopt ourselves. It makes us feel less alone. I used to listen to the radio on earbuds until I was like 18 every night. I’d listen in on cheesy phone ins, John Peel sessions – whatever took my fancy.

It doesn’t stop at the media itself. The sound in a club will have you recalling the night for years to come. If I think back to most of my nights out in big clubs – the ones that stood out were because of the amazing Funktion One sound systems that were installed in them. If you’re not familiar Tony Andrews who makes those soundsystems clearly cares about that experience you get when you visit a big club.

Sometimes you can listen to a band and hone in on fully on the lyrics. Other times you can zone in on the guitar, how it makes you feel. Or the whole cacophony of chords meshing together can rub you up a different way.

As a listener or spectator we often take the music for granted. Not understanding the work that has gone into the songs we hold so dear. So much sacrifice often goes into the making of art that we don’t realise when we take a glimpse. People will do anything to realise their vision.

Part of the awe on the spectator’s end is definately linked with this sacrifice in my opinion. We see meaningful work and it somehow sucks us in. It often becomes a classic like Fleetwood Mac – Rumors. Sometimes it will slip under the radar to most but one person will repeat until they fall asleep & then they’ll tell everyone the next day.

I remember a fan once told me after a show “Your music makes me feel like I don’t have to go to work tomorrow” & I’ll forever remember that. I’ve always thought since then if music can have that effect on people, then I will do this for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

RACEHORSES & BLINDERS

Racehorses. There’s a reason they are pre-equipped with Blinders for the big race.

The blinders are there on the right and left side of the horse’s face to make sure they aren’t distracted by what else is going on around them. The horse won’t miss a step. Full speed ahead, tunnel vision!

Thats how artists should be. Put your blinders on & invest in some Tunnel Vision. Do you. Forget what the others are on.

Thoughts courtesy of Jimmy Iovine (Interscope Head Honcho), from the Eminem Defiant Ones mini-doc.