I’m only human!
So what’s happened to the up-beat Fleming blogs of recent? ‘He always seems to be moaning about something and bleeding his heart out’ I hear you all say. That’s probably because the usual happy-go lucky John Fleming has been in a very sad place. Music has a very special place in my heart. It’s been a healer for me while in hospital. It was the stimulus to get my life back together after recovering from cancer. All aspects of my wonderful life, music plays a big part in this. So now you see why I’m so passionate about it. You’ve heard me repeatedly moan about the state of the current dance world, and I don’t see things changing. What has happened to the club scene around me that I dearly loved? Not so long ago the UK was at the forefront of the Worlds Electronic dance music scene, we where proud to have the rest of the Worlds eyes watching us as we lead the way. All the major cities had multiple nights running every weekend specializing in all types of electronic dance music for open-minded clubbers. Today we only have one Club (Ministry of Sound) that can sustain a weekly event and I see many territories around the World heading this way too.
I dearly miss those nights where I could express myself musically and simply be able do a true job of a DJ and use my music as a tool to control the dancefloor. This used to be the reason why clubs where packed, as these specialist/underground clubs offered fresh approach to music, as opposed to the commercial clubs where DJ’s played anthem after anthem. Back then there was a clear divide. In today’s World a new breed of DJ has been born, that seeks fame and glory that has crossed into the specialist club market. This is something that the new generation of clubbers only know and understand. I have nothing against these guys, as many are my close friends, we all have goals in our careers and admire how well they have done. But it’s worrying watching the whole scene move forward with blinkers on and not acknowledging the history of electronic dance music scene and how it works. Without underground/specialist clubs we don’t have a place for new music/producers/DJ’s to be born, hence why things have gone very generic.
I too would call myself a moaning old fart if I were the only one worrying about the scene. Recent conversations with fellow friends; John Digweed, Nick Warren, Christopher Lawrence and more, we all share the same pain. This is the reason I’ve felt so low recently. In fact at one point the thought of giving it all up even crossed my mind as it was hurting me so much. I’d never ever thought this in my whole career. The last six months has been a pretty tough time for me inside my head. It’s getting increasingly harder for me to source specialist music and clubs. I’m watching my favourite producers give up because they’ve lost their faith in the scene, they refuse to head down the commercial route so would rather throw in the towel. I’m watching all of the malicious marketing tactics from the commercial World come into my World, and I refuse to stoop that low to play their games. This was the point that hurt me the most. So I’m now faced with some difficult decisions in this new world of electronic dance music. Do I take a crash course at a circus so I can jump around on stage to entertain the crowd? Do I hire out a fancy dress outfit to impress the crowd? No thanks to both of them!! I felt like I reached a dead end……then something amazing happened. My next Ministry of Sound album project involves me looking back at some older music. I initially spent a couple of hours in my garage going through some old vinyl. This was supposed to be a mornings worth of work, but something magical happened over the next FIVE days while listening to loads of old tracks. I fell in love with music again. These older tracks where made at a time when producers made music for the actual dance floor, instead of radio and fame n glory in today’s world. The difference is like black and white. It was like being reborn and taken back to the basics of why music works to likeminded clubbers. If you understand cars, then you appreciate every aspect of it while driving. If you don’t; you get drawn into the manufactures eye candy that’s easy for the brain to absorb. The same can be said for music. A room full of clubbers who understand and appreciate music will be taken on the magical journey the music and DJ provides; whilst others simply want those candy moments and wont understand what’s going on. They want a commercial club approach with an entertaining DJ offering a visual form of entertainment, so it’s obvious that these two forever clash in today’s club land.
Whilst looking at my wall of vinyl I realised I was looking at 20 years + of musical history and it struck me this is not the first time this has happened in clubland. The commercial World always follows what happens in the Underground World, and then evolution takes over as the scene goes through a new cycle as things head back underground again. I then realized this evolution is beginning to happen again and there is light somewhere at the end of the tunnel. This process has taken a little longer than the previous ones in history but there are many new promoters starting to move things forward. I remember in the past going through these new cycles, it’s so exciting finding new music and producers with a fresh take on the scene who actively want to move things forward. Going through my old tracks reminded me of those very moments. So I’m only human, and have down periods too. But now I’m ready for the new period in electronic dance music and yet again its music that is healing me. Motivation to get in the studio has been at an all time high, simply wanting to make twisted music for the dance floor, my goal is now clear!
A note for the critics (I have to cover all angles for forums!) I’m clearly not a devoted underground DJ myself, yet I have absolutely no desire to become a ‘Superstar DJ’. My roots belong firmly at underground clubs and festivals, something that I will never let go off and will continue to support, as these are the places that I’ve had the best times in my whole career. I enjoy offering people a different take on mainly Trance music, this sometimes seems like a one-man quest in today’s World, but the satisfaction in showing people this other side to Trance is joyfully satisfying. Before I get attacked by a flock or Amarda fans (!), I think Armin, Tijs, PVD etc (my close friends) are doing a sterling job at what they are doing. They are pulling people away from live band music and introducing them to Electronic dance music, so hopefully somewhere along the line those new people will want to discover more genres inside once they feel the love. I’m hoping more people will start to respect the history of this wonderful scene and start supporting the more specialist nights…they are coming back for sure!
- John '00' Flemming