How was 2019 for you?
Deepchild: 2019 was a strange year. A year in which ‘post-nostalgia’ reached a curious peak. New producers born in the ’90s lamenting the supposedly ‘authentic’ sound of an 80s, whilst posting overly confessional tropes on Instagram. A year in which the narratives of capitalism conveniently suggested we forget the future in favor of stolid acquiescence (once more) into irony. Of course, I’m being facetious here, but I feel we’ve been witnessing a growing self-obsession with the more aspirational side of DJ culture (alcohol and clothing sponsorship, selfies from business class flights, etc.) in a way which feels quietly tragic.
I hope that 2020 might be a year in which we hear far more from DJs seated atop their golden plinths – and not just more about themselves, but perhaps about the wider cultural challenges unfolding in front and within our digital communities. It takes courage to name the fact that success in dance music is as much a product of privilege and chance as it is of hard work and following your dreams. Ultimately, I believe that we need to learn to dream together, rather than as individuals. 2019 reminded me of the ecological and social cost of the narrative of individualism. It’s time to burn it all down and build again, I believe.
Seeing queer voices rise, defiantly, within the ranks. Witnessing (rather unexpectedly!) the incredible surprises and advances thrown forth as pop and trap music re-dream what song structures, hooks and form might resemble. Witnessing with glee when established artists like Jimmy Edgar throw their hat into the southern rap production ring, as purists stand aghast and look on.
Reconnecting with old friends forged through playing shows across North America and Europe – friendships holding strong and forged on unlikely dance floors. Working with incredible young artists in prisons, youth centers and my own fledgling studio called Neu Studios in Sydney. Seeing students of mine shine with potential and joy at feeling empowered to make work.
Traveling to India – not as a performer, but as a wide-eyed nobody with a wonderful wife reminding me of what I so easily forget. Spending time with my dad as he slowly dies.
Witnessing the continued cost of Australia’s right-leaning government on our arts, culture and environmental lives. Leaving London with some sadness because of family health issues. Witnessing some very real and heartbreaking mental health issues in fellow artists who can no longer compete/survive/find validation in their chosen position in the arts world. The arts, at best, is fickle and erratic, and traditional models are rapidly collapsing. Remember (to any listening) the process is the art. All else (as mentioned) is privilege and chance. If you can maintain joy in your practice, then this is enough. No one owes us (as artists) anything – and there’s a strange sort of liberation in the recognition of this; joy found beyond the modality of commerce is rare and precious, and in our power to take part in. All we have, ultimately, is grace and each other.
Song of the year?
East Of Oceans – “Hard Red” (R&S Records)
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
To be kinder. To learn to listen more clearly. To keep imagining a new kind of future. To learn to rest.