Monday 5 October 2009, 16:08
My DJ sets, especially, have always been a bit of a tumble through 60 years of blues, jazz, rock n roll, rap, indie, dance - all these labels functioning a bit like ingredients in a stew.
But stew isn't to everyone's taste. Even if you do try and disguise it as a cassoulet (French stew). Or tagine (stew with chickpeas in it).
This kind of eclecticism (and we'll get to that word again, trust me) was due, in no small part, to DJ's like John Peel, Mark Radcliffe and Steve Lamacq ignoring genre delineated barriers. The increasingly catholic booking policies of the major festivals, especially Glastonbury, were also incredibly influential. To be a purist meant you were a bore, a stick in the mud and blinkered.
But, for reasons I can't quite fathom, there feels as if there is a change back towards a more tribal and genre-orientated approach to music. Especially in the clubs.
This is anecdotal, I know. Hell, all writing about music is anecdotal, to a point - so I'd appreciate your leeway on such matters.
I have noticed that the people I DJ for every Friday night have a much narrower idea of what they want to dance to than at any time since the late 90's.
Someone will come up to the DJ booth looking confused when I'm playing Major Lazer, or F*ck Buttons: "Isn't this supposed to be an indie night?" And the reverse happens when I stick on some Phenomenal Handclap Band, or - if they're very lucky - Future of the Left.
Of course, this could just be my experience in the venue I work in, but I've noticed it when I've DJ'd elsewhere, too, and particularly when I'm broadcasting my show.
Last night, for example, was a particularly eclectic affair. You can't go from Cate Le Bon to Frank Sinatra to Slayer, via R Kelly without inducing some kind of travel sickness. But a track that doesn't fit into a listener's perceived idea of what the show should be playing can generate a surprising amount of ire.
Within seconds of each other, I got e-mails from someone ecstatic they'd heard some Slayer on the show and someone else who was mortified that their indie enclave had been invaded by those notorious death metallers.
My friend and broadcasting compadre, Soundhog, pulls a face that would curdle yoghurt if you use the word 'eclectic' in front of him. He thinks that slapping together songs from a multitude of different disciplines is lazy, haphazard and infers a lack of vision. And I must admit that most of my favourite DJ's and producers - Soundhog himself, Erol Alkan, zWolf, Kaptin (mix coming up this Sunday night) - encase the breadth of their love for music in something identifiable. The eclecticism is there, but there is also a unity of sound - an identity - that permeates their work.
So, I think that 'eclecticism' might have become uncool. Not that such facile considerations bother me, but I would be intrigued to know where you stand on this.
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