Picture: Obi Blanche | Check out all of Nina’s previous columns here.
A German translation of this column has been published in Groove 153 (March/April 2015)

I have always been a little overly sensitive and emotional about certain things, like digging for a deeper meaning and all sorts of things like that. Well, it’s good to be emotional in music, isn’t it? It’s good to be thoughtful. Yes, it is, but sometimes it can really get emotional and almost childish when you freak out and shortly after that question everything from scratch, turning your own beliefs upside down to finally end up on the totally opposite side of the road.

„It should be a little mysterious, small and more special I think. People in the underground scene don’t like it when the artist gets overexposed” „Oh really?“ I am going through the new arrivals section and am speaking to the owner of a freshly opened record store in Paris – a handsome Parisian in his late twenties. I like our conversation and already feel that I have something to say, but I wait until he makes his point clear. “Small record stores try to work with smaller distributors, avoiding giants and our customers kind of lose interest as soon as the artist becomes too popular. They just stop checking his records.” “Wait a minute, but what if the music is great and people are missing out on something really outstanding? It looks like snobbery and politics, what about the music itself? Seems like it’s not that important these days.“ “Well, this is the way it is!”

Wow. This really got me thinking about the cruel ethics of the so called „underground auditory” and how it seems to care about the myth more than about music itself. Well, I knew that music has a „dress code“ and invisible rules of behaviour but it kind of touched me this time. I thought, where else would the music itself actually be the main point if not in a small specialist record store? I guess people just need their myths more than anything else, something that makes them excited and intrigued, but also keeps them incredibly cozy in their comfort zone. No time for revolutions. Just give us a small, lovely world how we have always imagined it.

 

“Wow, finally more people will know about all this dope music!“

 

Talking about imagination, Chicago always seemed a really cool place to me. In my teenage years, I viewed it as a place where people would just do nothing else but make bad ass grooves. I’ve been enjoying this idea for many years and even went to Chicago myself to check out what was going on. I became so obsessed with Dance Mania, that I somehow started to perceive the label and everything that was going on around it as something that was directly connected to me. Needless to say how personal it felt when they started making CD compilations with some of my favourite tracks. Tracks that were very special to me and that I wanted to share with the entire world. but egoistically keep for myself at the same time. Nevertheless I thought: “Wow, finally more people will know about all this dope music!“ Young dudes would taste something realer than real, beyond what they usually go crazy for these days, which is maybe a little too polished to reflect genuine human emotion. My favourite animal groove is getting more exposure. Yes, let’s get this ball rolling…

Then I received a promo e-mail with some of my all time favourites re-mastered and soon to be put on CD, adjusted to the conventional loud standards of today, disconnecting it from the original, at times poorly sounding vinyl format that was so charming and somehow mysterious that it had strangely enough made it all very special. I know, I was wrong to feel this way. I know this is probably good for the artists and probably for the label and it is also not my label. But it almost hurt. I enjoyed the struggle searching for the damn record, maybe paid a fortune and then struggled to mix it in, breaking my own and other people’s ears in the process. Those frequencies could be really disturbing at times. But I always liked it in a kind of a Charlie Parker painful way. I love the music, but I also loved the myth. My precious myth of playing rare records from a mysterious label that we almost know nothing about. That all in all felt so very special..

I put all my feelings in a long furious comment and rated the compilation with five stars, pressed “send”, downloaded the promo pack and regretted everything that I wrote one minute later.

  • „I put all my feelings in a long furious comment and rated the compilation with five stars, pressed “send”, downloaded the promo pack and regretted everything that I wrote one minute later.“

    Haha… The funny thing is I’ve been in the same conundrum when I see a record I worked hard to get to only to be reissued. I do not know when to be happy about a good record being recognized or to channel my inner snobby hipster side & be annoyed. After all I feel that my listeners count on me to find the music for them. It’s a slippery slope. Good & hilarious read.

  • It is a hard balance to find between making money/get the music out there and stay niche to keep the myth alive.

    Although labels are repressing like never before, I believe it is also to avoid crazy cost on wax going on Discogs, which might sound cliche since it is pretty clear to everyone buying online,but as an artist or label owner, it must be an uneasy feeling to see people making more money than you without the sweat you did put into it.

    It does take the struggle away for a lot of releases, accessibility being the key work to any information or culture these days, but does also bring people together and get them talking.

    Not so good not so bad?

    Great article Nina x