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Following the news that Judge Jules will no longer present a show on Radio 1 I’m thinking of announcing the death of dance music – and particularly trance – on UK national radio.
There are still some presenters playing dance music, a few shows tucked away, some digital stations and plenty of internet ones but if you are a fan of dance – and particularly trance – don’t listen to national UK radio.
Except dance music is alive and well and bursting with creativity. Dutch dj and producer Tiësto (who plays a range of dance music) presents a hugely popular radio show and this year has played to massive sell out audiences inAmerica. Armin van Buuren reaches 15m with his radio show and receives well over 250,000 downloads a week for his podcast and UK dance festivals are consistently sold out.
So why isn’t dance music played on UK radio stations and particularly our licence fee funded national stations?
There are excellent UK based artists creating amazing dance music which rarely gets played or playlisted. The legend that is Boy George working with Marc Vedo wrote a fantastic track this year. Gareth Wyn created some amazing dance remixes of the likes of Emeli Sande, Britney Spears and Beyonce.
On the trance scene, there are so many excellent artists with stunning tracks I dare not try and list them for fear of leaving so many out. Above & Beyond, Gareth Emery, Lange, Daz Bailey, Paul Morell, Loverush UK, Headstrong, Lost Witness, Jon O’Bir, Chris Cockerill, Jamie Harrison and Matt Davey have all written numerous notable tracks which deserve to be heard by a UK audience.
And those are just artists working in the UK. What about Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Kyau & Albert, Super8 & Tab, Dash Berlin, Alex M.O.R.P.H, Arnej, TyDi? I could go on and on and on.
And yet, their work is hardly, if ever, played on publicly funded UK national radio stations.
Why is that? Well, I’m going to say something which might be contentious.
It is because the people in charge of these stations don’t want us to hear dance music and particularly trance.
These days national radio doesn’t seem to be about reflecting what we – the audience – want to hear. It is about reflecting the interests of those who run the stations and create the shows. They don’t like dance music – particularly trance – so we can’t hear it.
There are presenters, radio producers, artists and dance music labels who try so hard to get their music to an audience via national radio who are denied the opportunity, not because it isn’t good enough, but because staff at the radio stations aren’t into that kind of music so they won’t play it.
I think that is a huge shame and a missed opportunity to share some truly great music. It also utterly fails to reflect the wide diversity of the UK radio audience. Surely, national and publicly funded stations should reflect the wide ranging musical interests of the many not the narrow minded concerns of the few?
I’m sorry Judge Jules is being forced out of his show. I’m sorry that wonderful talented artists can’t get their music on UK national radio. I’m sorry that dance music labels can’t survive because people don’t get to hear their music. I’m sorry that we – the passionate dance music audience – are being utterly, comprehensively and disgracefully failed.
New names have been added to the line up for this New Year’s Eve event which promises to be one of the biggest nights in the clubbing calendar.
As well as Ferry Corsten and Dash Berlin, Judge Jules, Richard Durand, Marcel Woods and Sied van Riel will be performing.
The event takes place at the 02 Academy in Brixton on 31 December 2011.
Early bird tickets have already sold out but saver tickets can be grabbed via www.ticketmaster.co.uk/fullonferry.
More information at www.fullonferry.com.
The third weekend in July 2011 will see the Sunrise festival take place on the Amfiteatr in Kolobzeg in Poland.
On the decks will be the likes of Above & Beyond, Eric Prydz, Dash Berlin, Fedde Le Grande, Dada Life and Kyau & Albert.
To coincide with the festival on Friday 22 July 2011, High Contrast will be releasing a new album – Follow The Sunrise – compiled by Judge Jules and Marcel Woods.
CD2, mixed by Marcel Woods, includes tracks by Tiesto, Arty, Setrise and Blake Jarrell.
This album will be the next best thing to being at the event itself so, if you can’t make it, grab the compilation via retail sites and download portals as soon as it is released.
I should probably tell you right up front that Above & Beyond are some of my favourite djs and producers in the whole wide world.
This summer they are hosting their own 5,000 capacity arena at London dance festival South West Four as part of a global tour to support the release of their second artist album Group Therapy.
They have chosen some of their favourite artists and djs to play alongside them and help deliver the unforgettable experience of seeing them live.
Ferry Corsten, Judge Jules, Andy Moor, Super8 & Tab, Mat Zo and Jaytech will be on the decks in a special Group Therapy Arena.
In anticipation of the event, there has been a Group Therapy takeover at southwestfour.com which includes dj mixes, video messages, interviews and competitions.
Special guest Ferry Corsten gives an idea of what might be in store during his set in this exclusive video.
Above & Beyond, Jaytech, and Super8 & Tab give a little teaser here.
If you haven’t got your tickets yet, you better grab them now.
On Saturday 9 April 2011 the very last episode of Dave Pearce’s Dance Anthems will be removed from the BBC iPlayer marking the end of an era for dance music.
For the last 2 years the show has been broadcast on BBC 6 Music and prior to that on BBC Radio 1.
It formed part of the triple whammy of dance music shows on the BBC which used to start on a Friday night with Pete Tong’s Essential Selection, was continued by Judge Jules’ on Saturday and culminated in Dave Pearce’s Dance Anthems on Sunday night.
As well as these shows there were others on stations such as Kiss presented by Steve Smart and Big Al.
For hundreds of thousands of dance music fans these shows were undoubtedly the soundtrack to their weekend and an accompaniment to their work, study and leisure time during the week.
These radio programmes showcased past, present and future dance tracks to a devoted as well as casual audience.
The shows helped to drive music sales and supported clubs and festivals throughout the UK.
They also fed tracks into regular daytime playlists, complimented their sister shows on other networks, and drove passionate audience members to seek out smaller fledgling dance radio stations.
But gradually this situation began to change.
Time slots were changed, the amount of air time was reduced, the tracks featured were no longer included in regular playlists and dance music generally started to lose popularity.
Gradually – together with illegal downloading and tough economic times – this started to have a knock on effect across the entire music and entertainment industries.
Legal music sales decreased, people stopped going clubbing, radio networks reduced the amount of air time devoted to dance music, some of the smaller digital stations went internet only and others simply stopped broadcasting.
We’ve now reached the stage where dance music gets hardly any national UK radio airtime.
Yes, there are some shows playing dance music and one or two tracks on radio playlists but – I would argue – dance music is grossly under-represented.
And I mean the full range of dance music from remixes to commercial tracks, to hard house, to trance.
Home grown artists get hardly any national UK radio exposure.
Above & Beyond, for instance, have a huge national and international following and yet get barely any representation on UK national radio.
There are many other hugely talented UK artists who receive hardly any recognition but surely deserve support – Daz Bailey, Paul Morrell, Loverush UK, Mike Koglin, Don Jackson, Lost Witness – to name just a tiny few.
Then there are up-and-coming ‘bedroom’ producers, such as Chris Cockerill and Jamie Harrison, who need to be encouraged and developed.
International artists with huge worldwide followings rarely appear on UK national radio.
When was the last time the likes of Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Bobina, Christopher Lawrence or Darude were featured in a UK based peak time national radio show?
So, I want to say a massive thank you to all the radio presenters, producers and stations who have won and (in some cases) lost the battle to represent dance music in the UK.
I also want to make a plea.
To all the budding djs, artists and records labels who are passionate about dance music in whatever form, don’t give up the fight. There is an audience out there who loves dance and wants to hear your music.
To all the scared radio presenters, producers, executives and radio stations: try to be brave and innovative, try to take a risk, try to be creative and don’t abandon dance music. You never know what huge rewards and dedicated listeners it might bring you.
For fans of dance music there were two amazing festivals over the bank holiday weekend.
It started with the brand new Electronic Dance Festival in Victoria Park in east London. David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Audio Bullys, Zombie Nation, Leftfield, Goldfrapp and Professor Green were on the bill across the two day festival.
After a week of torrential rain the London Electronic Dance Festival was so lucky that the weather settled down and stayed – mostly – dry for the thousands of people who turned up.
This was a brave experiment created by three giants of live music – Cream, Goldvoice and Loudsound – who joined forces to introduce a brand new outdoor electronic dance festival in London.
The dance fraternity certainly showed their support and the response of the crowd – particularly to an excellent set by Calvin Harris – will hopefully ensure this festival becomes a regular event on the London scene.
The second festival was the mighty South West Four Weekender which took place on Clapham Common on Saturday and Sunday.
Artists on the line up included Armin van Buuren, Erick Morillo, Sasha, Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold, Sander van Doorn, Marco V, Judge Jules and Gareth Emery on the Saturday. On the Sunday, Fatboy Slim, Salt – n – Pepa, Armand van Helden, Zane Lowe, Carl Cox and Layo & Bushwacka!
I went on the Saturday as the world-famous Gallery were hosting an arena with a stunning line up which included Italian dj and producer Giuseppe Ottaviani.
Although I have long been a fan of Ottaviani I have never seen him live so I was hugely exciting about the prospect of a trance session surrounded by other passionate trance fans.
I arrived in time to see a packed arena much enjoying the sound of Radio 1’s Judge Jules who entertained with his usual gusto.
If you are familiar with Giuseppe Ottaviani’s excellent debut artist album – Go! – you will know he is a hugely talented musician and craftsman and as he launched his live set with chords from the keyboard I knew we were in for something special.
He delivered a beautifully paced set incorporating tracks from the album including Angel and No More Alone with a real musician’s feel for the music.
At first – to my surprise – the crowd were slow in responding to this euphoric and uplifting brand of trance.
But as Ottaviani played several ‘anthems-in-the-making’ including his remix of Paul van Dyk’s We Are One they began to appreciate a truly fine performance from a considerable talent.
For me, Ottaviani played the set in The Gallery arena. I can’t wait to hear him again.
The South West Four Weekender was sold out across both days and the London Electronic Dance Festival was certainly very busy when I went on Friday night.
There is obviously a huge audience and appetite for dance music in London and it is fantastic that the promoters of both events take a risk with the weather and dare to put on these festivals.
I hope they will both be regular fixtures in the diary from now on – although, any chance we could have them on different weekends in future?
Maelstrom Records are celebrating 10 years in the business with a massive party at Ministry of Sound in London on Friday 2 July.
Hosted in conjunction with The Gallery, the night will feature Judge Jules, Lange and Bobina on the decks in the Box.
Tall Paul will be in the Bar and Riley & Durrant will play for 3 hours.
Maelstrom have been at the forefront of the dance scene over the last 10 years and have an artist roster including Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Sander van Doorn and Cosmic Gate.
The label were also responsible for Guru Josh Project’s Infinity 2008 which reached no. 3 in the UK charts and received worldwide acclaim.
Head down to Ministry of Sound on 2 July to toast the last 10 years and look forward to the next decade in the success story which is Maelstrom Records.
Jerome Isma-Ae is one of the djs on the line up for the hugely anticipated SW4 in London over the 2010 August bank holiday weekend. Over the next few months he will also be playing in Spain, Ukraine, Czech Republic, the UK, Canada and Croatia.
When and how did you first become interested in music?
Hmmmm – let me think! I can’t really remember but if I remember it again I’ll let you know
During your early career you enjoyed exploring different styles such as soul, disco and funk. How do you define your sound now?
It is always hard for me to define sound. It is like trying to explain colour to someone who was born blind.
You have also created music for commercials. How does this differ from creating a track for the dance floor?
The short version – a track for the dance floor should be pump, roll and kick asses. Music for commercials or movies should accentuate the picture.
From reading about you I get the impression you might be interested in cars? Am I right?
Yes, absolutely! I am also planning to do my car racing licence next month.
Why did you once say “I should be an octopus”?
Because I thought it would be cool sometimes to have more than 2 arms.
You recently created a stunning version of O T Quartet’s Hold That Sucker Down. How did you approach refreshing such a revered track?
I always loved the original song but the sound is not up-to-date so I decided to do a version which fits my sets. I never planned to release it. I just produced it for my dj bag but plans changed…
What are you working on at the moment?
I am doing remixes for Glenn Morrison, Menno De Jong and Markus Schulz and collaborations with Gareth Emery and Paul Thomas.
You have been added to the line-up for the premier dance festival in London – SW4. What are your expectations of the event?
SW4 will be massive! It is one of the gigs I am most looking forward to playing this summer.
How will you prepare? Are you a planner or will you just feel the vibe on the day?
Short set times at big festivals are prepared but mostly I am spontaneous.
Will you join the festival crowds after your set?
I always like to get out front after my sets!
Jerome Isma-Ae will be playing alongside Paul Oakenfold, Sander van Doorn, Marco V, Judge Jules and Giuseppe Ottaviani in The Gallery Arena.
Grab your tickets now!
I salute Alexandra Topping of The Guardian for writing this article:
The mainstream media has been negative about dance music for far too long and this goes some way to redress the balance.
It is very pleasing to see the recognition she gives djs such as Richie Hawtin and Deadmau5 for “breaking the mould.”
I am also glad that – at last – someone in the national media has recognised the unique contribution made by the likes of David Guetta and Tiesto to “the new wave of dance music.”
Dance fans will already be familiar with these names.
But I don’t think they have received the widespread and mainstream recognition they deserve for supporting and developing the genre through years when dance music has been deeply unfashionable.
Both Guetta and Tiesto have been creating innovative and inspiring dance music and playing to clubs and events full of dedicated fans for years and yet they are not household names in the UK.
It is time to give them the credit they deserve and to thank them for the enjoyment they have brought many many people on the dance scene.
Can we now share that enjoyment with others?
Dance music has recently been sidelined by the national UK radio stations particularly BBC Radio 1.
Advocates of the genre – such as Pete Tong, Judge Jules and Dave Pearce – have been shamefully downgraded and their opportunities to showcase new and emerging talent limited.
It is worth noting Tong, Jules and Pearce helped the careers of people like Guetta and Tiesto and nurtured the UK dance music scene for years.
Outstanding UK and international producers and djs rarely get exposure on many of the mainstream and mass market radio stations in the UK.
This has had and continues to have a negative impact on the dance music industry, events and venues.
Although Tiesto recently appeared at the Radio 1 Big Weekend I notice he was billed below Chris Moyles and Tim Westwood.
While I understand the appeal of Westwood and Moyles I think he deserved somewhat more credit and appreciation.
Not only is Tiesto an energetic, innovative and inspiring dj but he is a creative musician with a richly deserved army of fans worldwide.
I could mention names such as the outstanding Above & Beyond, Paul Oakenfold, Lange, Darren Tate, John O’Callaghan, Greg Downey, Jon O’Bir, Will Holland, Ben Gold and Adam White as ‘home grown’ talent which should be getting much more media recognition.
And – of course – when did we last hear the amazing Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Paul van Dyk, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Filo & Peri, Christopher Lawrence, or Manuel Le Saux – to name but a few – on a UK based national radio station.
But the future looks hopeful.
In The Guardian article Ben Turner, co-founder of the International Music Summit in Ibiza, says “We are in an amazing moment but we have to make sure we keep dance music in a good place and don’t seize on the wrong opportunities.”
Isn’t it time UK radio stations, tv channels, newspapers and magazines, websites, record labels, event organisers and venue promoters offered more opportunities to djs, artists and passionate fans of dance music?
Guess who has been added to the line up for SW4?
Armin is headlining on the Saturday but djs recently added to the line up include John Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Mark Knight, Judge Jules, Josh Wink, Gareth Emery and the wonderful Giuseppe Ottaviani.
Jerome Isma-Ae – who recently created a fantastic version of OT Quartet’s Hold That Sucker Down – is also playing.
It just gets better and better.
Have you got your tickets yet?