Chris Moon aka Manik plays in several strange and wonderful ‘difficult alternative’ bands and will be hosting the NBT offshoot podcast for darker music ‘Bullets From The Belfry’ starting in feb 2008.
An alternative dj in South Africa…that in itself is an oxymoron…look, I love music, i just feel that everyone else should feel the same.
My musical appreciation started in the 70’s, and like any young lad if it was loud and raucous it was great. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep ruled the roost, Status Quo and Thin Lizzy were heroes and David Bowie the ultimate rebel. A couple of friends and I started a mobile ‘disco’ because we wanted to bounce around to the kind of music we liked, not the drek dished out at the local school hop.
By the late 70’s, rock was disappearing up its own sphincter and the disco kids wanted Donna Summer and Saturday Night Fever – on repeat. I wanted something else – I ‘found’ The Ramones, my mates were distressed, what’s this, no complicated chord structures and no guitar solos, no nodding along knowingly. On the disco kids’ side….no shiney shirts, doo-wop choruses and carefully synchronised dance moves to a bog-standard m.o.r. beat….. I abandoned the mobile disco thing. Look, I know a dj , is supposed to, play to the crowd, but what do you do when the crowd knows squat? 30 years later, things haven’t changed. Alternative to me is exploring new sounds, new experience, new innovations, these days I get requests for tracks 20/30 years old!! Not that I’m averse to the odd classic, mind, but Siousxie Siousx’s (bless her) ‘Peek-A-Boo’ aint one- not with the wealth of what the Banshees have put out….(She has a new album, its great, what do you mean you can’t dance to it ‘cos you haven’t heard it the necessary 15.4 times?).
South Africa is small, musically (yes it has a wealth of ethno-centric music, but we are talking ‘rock’ here). There has always been a serious lack of exposure to new music – back in the 70’s there was one radio station that played ‘pop’, by the 80’s on that there was one dj who attempted to break new ‘alternative’ music. The only place to hear music even remotely off the mainstream was in music clubs – discos by any other name- and they were few and far between. Being a small market means directly that in heads through the door, alternative music had/ still has a very small market. Clubs that cater for such don’t last long, those that do, some become legend, some bland out and cater to the masses. I don’t like the term ‘alternative’ any more, its meaningless, its been out-marketed. Alternative today means ‘rock-in-general’, quite frankly, an alternative to R n B, house, ‘disco’. Labels are evil – look, I go to a ‘goth’ club today and hear…….well basically house with gloomy vocals..hooray, either that or metal…. *clicks on rant mode *
Metal aint goth!!, It aint even ‘alternative’ (in the original context), its distorted testerone-driven over amplified play-by-numbers drivel performed by misanthropes with bad make-up and no sense of humour!!
*end of rant *
Anyway, where was I…..there was a time I’d nip down the nearest (only?) alternative club and hear a wide variety of sounds, from electronica to rockabilly, ska to rock, metal even, ‘disco’ even. The emphasis was on new, ground-breaking, the only skill being to keep a thread going. Clubs that would be a meeting place of like minded- music freaks, alternative in music, alternative in thought. A place where some eager young pack with a couple of instruments between them would have the opportunity to do stuff – good or bad!! Dodgy photostatted fliers with forthcoming events, always something happening, something new, something to look forward to over a few pints – a musical meet-n-greet! Glory days. We’ve gone backwards, that’s gone. Now, music has become so Balkanised that you’ll hear one genre-all night- each ‘artist’ trying to sound like each other, the only skill demanded that the dj ‘beat-mix’ , the only demand that the dj keep the dance floor packed the masses catered for and soothed with similar sounding, uncomplicated rhythm-pah! As cutting edge as a plastic butter knife. The internet-good and bad – good that its a never before dreamed of wealth of access to new music, at your fingertips, listen to it NOW. Bad in that it is also a wealth of bands that sound like bands that sound like…..Bad in that, hey, why go to a club when all I need is here, why go and physically interact with real people with other real interests in other things, other music………