Danny Daze, Toddla T, Bill Brewster & B.Traits Share Industry Insights

Considering the saturation of the industry the accessibility of technology, today you need much more than talent to actually “make it”. Take Note 2.0 is aiming to share with you exactly that knowledge. Meanwhile, we asked the speakers of Take Note to share some of their industry insights before the event.

After a successful first year, Take Note conference caught our eye. Finally, the conference, that is aimed at the next generation of musicians and artists, is back to London with the second edition. This year in stock there’s a meaty programme of workshops, talks and performances, but the honest success stories, tips and inside knowledge that is hard to get, is the best take-home package that is to be expected from this full one day event.

Thus instead of further introduction to the event we wanted to give a short preview on what Take Note is about and bestow the stage to the speakers themselves and answer some questions of ours. Among which:

BBC Radio host, a resident of Richie Hawtin’s Enter. – Canada’s techno queen B.Traits;

Toddla T the XOYO’s resident, also BBC Radio 1 host and a producer , who due to his extent music style range spanning from garage, hip-hop, grime and electro, has collaborated with all the unique – Roots Manuva, SkeptaWileyMs. Dynamite & Moloko’s power voice – Róisín Murphy and more;

Industry’s ‘Enfant Terrible’ Danny Daze, who’s climbing up the throne of underground techno and house in the speed of light, due to his excellent productions, that charmed the ears of the industry’s biggest and his curation of the very unique and upcoming label Omnidisc and a sharp Twitter tongue (or would that be fingers?);

Last, but far from the least, Bill Brewster, a DJ with a few decades of spinning the decks everywhere from NY to Fabric, but most notably a writer and the co-author of the “DJ Bible” ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life‘, the definitive history of DJing.

DANNY DAZE

What do you regard the most positive aspect of dance music culture?

It brings people together. I believe dance music let’s people forget about their problems, but also serves as a celebratory medium. When people are down, they go out and dance to forget their problems. When people are up, they go out and dance to celebrate. Also some criticize dance music as a cop out to being a classically trained musician… but I think with “MIDI” being responsible for a lot dance records, it has given opportunities to express one’s creativity to many who might not be classically trained or even have some sort of disability that doesn’t allow them to play an instrument. This alone is a huge positive.

What do you believe you personally contribute to dance music from a social or political perspective?

I believe an artist has an opportunity to un-forcefully challenge people’s thoughts when it comes to social and political views. I don’t find it appropriate to go out and push your own political agenda when it comes to any social stance… for example, I find it important to point out both pros and cons to fans who may not otherwise get involved in something like a voting process. If I’m able to open up at least one persons mind to something they hadn’t thought about before, then I believe I’ve done my part. The purpose is not to feed fans with biased thoughts, but to encourage them to seek for what they feel is the truth.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, how do you believe the industry is best equipped to address such issues?

Now more than ever I think diversity is being celebrated. With the rise and fall of manufactured EDM superstars, people are digging thoroughly for authenticity. I’ve always felt as an oddball when it comes to being included in “cliques” or” crews” as my influences range from a wide spectrum and have always just pursued my own path. The last couple of years have shown how many artists have gained notoriety without having to be propelled by being under someone else’s umbrella which I think is great for the industry in general.

For you, what is the single most frustrating aspect of the modern dance music industry?

The only thing that’s been, and will continue to be frustrating in the music industry, is the fact it’s very political. You play one venue and you’re not allowed to play another venue. You play for one promoter and you’re not allowed to play for another promoter. You release on one label and you’re not allowed to release on another label. This is where ego’s and greed come into play and I’ve always felt this puts a ceiling on what an artist can achieve. There are very few artist out there who have what I call  the “F**k You Clout” …. Where they can do whatever they want and still have any venue, promoter or label be willing to work with them.

For me, my primary “issue” is the continued blurred lines between organic creativity (artistry) and the market based necessity of market economics. This leads to, what I believe to be, brand monopolies. How do you view the DJ as brand?

First we would need to separate these DJs into tiers. The “top tier” DJs are the ones (who for the most part) have “brand monopolies”. Under the top tier DJ is the umbrella of “middle tier” DJs who help support the entire brand. A lot of promoters are looking for these “brands” to drive club goers. The manufactured EDM superstar created an expectation for a lot of new dance music listeners. I feel years ago, people used to say “we’re gonna go LISTEN to DJ ..blah blah..” while nowadays you’ll hear people say “we’re gonna go SEE DJ ..blah blah..”. I think this subconsciously tells us where the state of dance music is today. Unfortunately, having a “brand” seems to have become as important or more important than what’s being brought to the table musically. There’s a couple reasons why I feel it’s gotten to this level. The main one is over-saturation of parties spreading things too thin. Therefore what is being searched most is brand recognition rather than the music (artistry). Thankfully there are many new festivals who are quite counter culture in the way they book their acts, focusing more on branding their festivals as “good music whether you know the artist or not” …… and this to me is the light at the end of the tunnel.

TODDLA T

What do you regard the most positive aspect of dance music culture?

The most positive aspect of dance music culture is the unity of human beings in a space, room, field, whatever it may be, them coming together, because if there wasn’t dances, raves, festivals, etc, we wouldn’t stand side to side. I think nowadays we’re all so obsessed with our phones so its good that dance music culture can still bring human interaction whereas other platforms are limited in this  e.g. snap chat, instagram, etc. So the most positive thing for me is that its unifying and socially bringing people together for a mutual love of dance music.

What do you believe you personally contribute to dance music from a social or political perspective?

As above… As someone who plays in these raves, clubs, festivals etc you bring people together with your music. I think thats something that can be perceived as political as if you’re bringing together people of different races and persuasions in a place where they wouldn’t normally be thats instant politics. Particularly when I do my notting hill carnival party stage, that brings every crowd you can imagine, and that again is social without even meaning or necessarily wanting to.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, how do you believe the industry is best equipped to address such issues?

To be honest I DON’T think the industry is set up for diversity nor inclusion, especially here in the UK. Major labels are made up with predominantly white male executives and there’s very little entry level criteria. That means a lot of early work, internships and experience is completed by those who know someone or their parents get them there. Coupled by the fact that there’s a lack of grants and graduate or school leavers schemes it means that when young people are asked to work for a reduced salary, it excludes people from low income backgrounds. So being in a position to do unpaid or low paid work in order to get the experience thats so needed is really hard.

For you, what is the single most frustrating aspect of the modern dance music industry?

The monopoly by certain management companies and agencies and the power that they have over situations particularly in the club world. For example if you’re a big agent with a big act and you’re booked alongside that act, that party is almost in the agent’s power rather than the promoters a lot of the time. So that agent will decide exactly when that act goes on, who’s on before or after (who are usually on the same agency shoehorned onto the main act) and thats really frustrating sometimes as you wonder why your set times been changed a few hours before the gig. Then you find its completely out of the power of the promoter as he doesn’t want to piss off the agent cos the agents got the big act. So the person that holds the key to the rave is often the person thats the least musical in the room and that came be really frustrating.

For me, my primary “issue” is the continued blurred lines between organic creativity (artistry) and the market based necessity of market economics. This leads to, what I believe to be, brand monopolies. How do you view the DJ as brand?

I think that in an age of internet & technology defining the way for development (which is a great thing), it’s harder and harder for the true creative (whether that be a producer, a DJ, a painter or a poet) to succeed without developing a brand and story around them. People now really want to buy into more than whats just coming out the speakers at the minute because of the way that we consume art. People are exposed to so many different forms and mediums now that its difficult to keep someone’s attention. Therefore its important to develop layers, you have to create something people can buy into and care about if you’re asking them to part with their hard earned cash to buy gig tickets, buy your album, merchandise, like on Facebook, etc. Of course there’s always going to be the innovators and ground breaking artists who don’t need any of that, they cut straight through because true originality creates the greatest brand of all. We get one every couple of years, all they need to do is create one thing, maybe a piece of music that rewrites that whole statement. But I do understand why every DJ these days has a brand these days and why they’re trying to promote it.

19th November | Take Note 2.0 | Tickets | Second Home, London, UK

B.TRAITS:

What do you regard the most positive aspect of dance music culture?

For me and many others, dance music represents unity. It’s about coming together and having a great time with people who are mutually involved for the same reason.

What do you believe you personally contribute to dance music from a social or political perspective?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to present a weekly show on BBC Radio 1 where I am granted the freedom to play what music / artists that I feel passionate about. I take pride in exploring brand new and up and coming artists and highlighting the more unconventional sounds less focused on UK Radio. I am also able to play my own and other artists music in DJ sets around the world, where I get to soundtrack various evenings of unity and self-expression. With these opportunities it has also made me understand how influential my own voice can be, and that it’s important to speak up about what you believe in, the right and the wrong.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, how do you believe the industry is best equipped to address such issues?

I think the industry is already taking steps in the right direction by opening the dialogue up to wider audiences. The more we speak about diversity, inclusion, amongst some of the other issues we face, the more common the conversations becomes.

For you, what is the single most frustrating aspect of the modern dance music industry?

There are a lot of politics in this industry, but there are in every creative industry. It’s important for me to remember that. For me, the most frustrating aspect of the current dance music industry is the lack of general knowledge and harm reduction with regards to drug use.

For me, my primary “issue” is the continued blurred lines between organic creativity (artistry) and the market based necessity of market economics. This leads to, what I believe to be, brand monopolies. How do you view the DJ as brand?

I view each DJ / Producer differently. There are artists who truly come from organic creativity, and you can always tell the difference. We now live in a very digital-hypersensitive-short attention span- era, where sometimes, to succeed as an organic creative artist, you have to explore and expand your brand.

BILL BREWSTER:

What do you regard the most positive aspect of dance music culture?

When I first got into electronic music in the late 1970s and early 80s, what was attractive to me was how forward-looking it was. It seemed to be the polar opposite of rock music which always seemed to be looking back to a golden age that everyone had just missed. I think this was mainly to do with the new technology which electronic musicians were embracing at the time (and have continued to embrace).
Another thing that I liked was that the club scene then was like a secret world. You didn’t read about it in national newspapers or glossy weekend magazines and even in specialist music magazines. In fact, it didn’t get much coverage outside of Black Music and Blues & Soul. Obviously all of this has changed now. I’m not sure whether anyone in music is now looking to the future very much, which I think is a bi-product of the internet which has turned us all, temporarily, hopefully, into nostalgia junkies. Now it’s not unusual to see an interview with a DJ or a profile of an electronic musician in the Observer magazine or the Evening Standard.What I love most about the culture as it stands is the enthusiasm of the best DJs to unearth and promote brilliant music and that’s also what drives me on every week, either digging for great old records or ploughing through thousands of new releases trying to find gems to play. That still excites me like it did when I first heard ‘Memorabilia’ being played at Leeds Warehouse in 1981.

What do you believe you personally contribute to dance music from a social or political perspective?

I’m not sure whether it’s my place to claim I’ve contributed anything. If I have, then it would be the book I wrote with Frank Broughton, ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’ (and, to an extent, How To DJ(Properly)). I think we helped to codify DJ culture a little bit and at least show people our culture has been around for a lot longer than just acid house.In terms of diversity and inclusion, how do you believe the industry is best equipped to address such issues?

I don’t know if there are any easy answers to this. It’s a societal problems I think it needs addressing on a national level and not just in dance music. Given how many gay men and women, and young black kids are involved in the industry, I think it’s actually doing okay, though it could always do much better.

For you, what is the single most frusrtating aspect of the modern dance music industry?

I live on the fringes of the industry, so I don’t really get involved in the minutiae of it all. So nothing frustrates me, really, though if I had to listen to Swedish House Mafia and Tiesto every week, maybe i’d change my mind

For me, my primary “issue” is the continued blurred lines between organic creativity (artistry) and the market based necessity of market economics. This leads to, what I believe to be, brand monopolies. How do you view the DJ as brand?

I guess if you are in the DJmag Top 100 or you’re near the apex of the RA DJ chart, DJs might well regard themselves as brands. But what shit examples of brands they all are. A DJ’s job is to listen to hours of terrible music in order to fin the gems no one else has got. A DJ’s job is to create magical moments in a room armed only with some great music and stacks of empathy. A DJ’s job is bring people together. A DJ’s job is to act as a filter in an over-saturated culture. If they concentrated on building and developing those skills rather than fretting about what chart position they were in gamed placings, they might actually be better at their jobs and the world would maybe have a few less underwhelming and overpaid DJs.

19th November | Take Note 2.0 | Tickets | Second Home, London, UK