You know I honestly never even considered...?
I've recently spent a couple of enjoyable hours parsing through Vanity of the Vanities' excellent set of articles and music samples dealing with the fascinating local Carolinian "beach music" genre, an interesting parallel to northern soul and the missing link between The Swinging Medallions and The Chairmen of the Board. Loads of meaty info, relevant interviews and interesting analyses.
But what really fascinated me was the portrayal of the scene's DJs, especially in the two follow-up articles. Because they, and by extension the entire craft of DJing, were portrayed as highly suspect and possibly even evil.
It's a very peculiar thought to me but it actually makes surprising amounts of sense from some perspectives. I've been brought up on enough positive accounts of the DJing profession to have a highly romanticised view of it, and I'm fascinated by how a good DJ works. DJs manipulate their audience in interesting ways, shape narratives of music, cleverly subvert the intentions of the original artists, link together diverse records and create fascinatingly complete new sounds and genres.
But all those skills can just as well be used for, well, bad things. Malevolent manipulation. Insinuating narratives and connections, cruelly warped artistic intentions, preserving old genres by moulding new records into their limited vocabularies. The authors of the article bring up the example of how beach DJs regularly bowdlerise R&B records of all their rapping so as not to offend the audiences with the "degenerate" content they contain.
I think it's a fascinating twist of perspective, and I'm surprised it comes so natural to the writers. Because rejecting DJ craftiness, like David Mancuso famously did in the late seventies, seems so strongly connected with conservatism and 19th-century ideas of "genius" and "the work". I guess that ought to teach me to try to see the opposite perspective as well.
Essential EP’s #13
2 weeks ago