Did Justice Deserve to Get Served?

justice in jacuzzi

Justice seems to have hit a rough patch lately, eliciting speculation from their fans and no doubt causing their publicists endless headaches. After a slip of the tongue that brought to light the fact that hundreds of samples scattered across their much-lauded 2007 debut, Cross, were never cleared for use, several photos have surfaced of Gaspard (better known as the taller, hairier half of Justice) rocking out at a gig on an un-plugged MIDI controller.

Anyone who knows anything about electronic music knows that in order to function, a MIDI controller has to be connected to a computer; otherwise….it’s dead useless.

So what does this mean? Does Justice fake their live sets? Does the short one do all the work? Does any of it really matter? Well, Gaspard had this to say to URB.com in his defense:

“Yeah, shit happens! I remember the story, I couldn’t remember the city but i think it was in Manchester. I didn’t noticed at first, because as you can see I was looking at the computer to launch the next vocal hook and right after I realised that the blue screen went black, so there was no way possible it could work. So I plugged it back in, big deal! And the next thing you know is this picture.”

Hmmm…curious. What timing! Regardless of whether or not Justice is taking us for a ride, their live album and tour documentary, wittily titled A Cross The Universe (get it?!), drops digitally today via iTunes. The physical release comes out December 9th via Atlantic Records.

Watch closely and see if you can’t spot the loose USB cables!

Words: Carl Ritger

Exclusive: Ben Watt Shakes Off Writer’s Block with “Guinea Pig”

ben watt

DJ/producer Ben Watt of Everything But the Girl fame has talked to Big Shot exclusively about his upcoming single, “Guinea Pig,” which marks his first track in three years for his revered London-based Buzzin’ Fly imprint. Though Watt’s discography is packed with choice house singles like “Pop A Cap In Yo’ Ass” with Estelle, “Attack Attack Attack” with Baby Blak and “A Stronger Man” with Terence Trent D’Arby, among others, he says his new single is the result of conquering a three-year battle with writer’s block.

“‘Guinea Pig’ is my first stand-alone single for the label for three years. I’ve been suffering with periods of indecision and writer’s block for much of that time, which has not helped my productivity much!” Watt confessed. “But I discovered a new working method where I kidded myself that I wasn’t really working but just messing around. It was an experimental process, hence ‘Guinea Pig.'”

“People imagine that after 25 years of making music, I must be permanently creative. But even veterans suffer doubts.”

Watt says the glowing reaction to the track—the vocal version features Julia Biel, who sang on “I Love You” released on Buzzin’ Fly in 2004—by several top DJs “has been like a blood transfusion. To see kind words from people like Francois K, Laurent Garnier, James Zabiela and Will Saul gladdens the heart. People imagine that after 25 years of making music, I must be permanently creative. But even veterans suffer doubts.”

In addition to Watt’s new single, Buzzin’ Fly will release Chaos Restored 2 mixed by Justin Martin next week.

Saam Farahmand Talks About Directing Soulwax’s ‘Part of the Weekend Never Dies’

soulwax part of the weekend never dies Saam Farahmand

Saam Farahmand is one of the hottest directors around, and he’s also an avid dance music fan. So it’s not surprising that Farahmand linked up with Soulwax and created the excellent tour documentary Part of the Weekend Never Dies. The film captures key moments during Radio Soulwax’s grueling global jaunt, which included 120 live shows and DJ gigs (where the band’s Dewaele brothers, David and Stephen, spin as 2ManyDJs). in North America, Europe and Asia. Armed with a video camera, passion for the music and the ability to stay up all night, Farahmand also interviewed close friends of the Belgian act, including Justice, Klaxons, Peaches, Tiga, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Nancy Whang. In the end, he captured what life on the road is really like for a band who also DJ at their own gigs, and provide the first cinematic document on the nu rave scene.

“I have been a Soulwax fan since seeing them play in 1999, and I have followed their evolution closely since then,” Farahmand tells Big Shot. “It was an honor to be asked to collaborate on a film project with them… we didn’t know exactly what it would be, but we knew if we worked on it together it would be right.”

Look for a full interview with Saam Farahmand in Issue 24.

Nearly Blinded by Crowd Injury, Community Rallies to Help RITM’s Bunny

bunny

A literally blinding eye injury from a festival in South Korea has changed the life or Rabbit in the Moon’s Bunny forever. The dance community is rallying to help him, this Saturday with a benefit dubbed the Bunnyfit, at Giant’s anniversary party in LA on September 6th.

For more than a decade, Rabbit in the Moon has pushed the boundaries of live electronic music through stunning stage antics, theatrical costumery, and a dedication to expressing the best of life through their music. RITM frontman Bunny personifies what the group is all about, and he’s become a sort of icon in the dance community. He is warm and gracious to eager fans who declare their obsession with him after a gig and accessible on stage and off for those who want to share in the love-filled rave or post rave experience.

It’s a cruel irony then that Bunny would fall victim to an act of violence that has caused his near-blindness brought on by an audience member. This past May, Bunny and Rabbit in the Moon were hired to perform at the second Annual World DJ Festival in Seoul, South Korea. Bunny performed the first night and accompanied his friends DJ Dan and Donald Glaude to the festival the second night when they performed, assisting them with some technical and sound issues. It was the second night when a glass bottle, thrown by a member of the festival’s crowd, was launched intentionally and directly at Bunny, hitting him squarely in his left eye, destroying his retina, lens, some skin underneath, and his vision. He talked exclusively to Big Shot about his ordeal and the painful aftermath.

“I was standing next to Dan and I got hit in the chest with like, a coin, and some dude in the crowd was flipping me off and looking at me like ‘yeah, I threw it.’ I didn’t think anything of it, just what happens at festivals and stuff.”

“It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

It was 20 minutes later when the second object was thrown. “It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

At the hospital, his flesh wound was stitched up, but he was given the option of having an immediate and dramatic surgery on this eye to recover some of the vision there in Seoul, risking complications that would have stranded him overseas, unable to fly for months. Bunny opted to return to the US, with the promoters’ promise that his medical expenses would be paid for. That was not the case.

Although every live music event is contractually obligated to insure themselves for these kind of accidents, and RITM’s contract with the promoters of this event was no different in its stipulations, it has become clear since this incident that any insurance policy on hand was insufficient. Unlike in the US, Korea has no law regulating punitive damages, meaning nobody can be sued for liability. Bunny has no legal recourse in Korea, only in the US, and even if the promoters are sued in a US court, they would have to be extradited to enforce a US court’s penalty of law.

Bunny has paid out of pocket for two surgeries this summer. At this point he has about 20% vision in his left eye, which renders his depth perception and peripheral vision obsolete. From the surgeries, he’s also acquired trauma-induced glaucoma, which creates erratic levels of a painful pressure on his eye. “It’s so extreme I can’t even put sentences together,” he says of the times when the glaucoma flares up.

 

It’s been four months since the accident. While he’s learned to manage the day-to-day details of his life, it’s understandable still an upsetting ordeal. He describes moments of waking up and thinking that it didn’t really happen, and then—upon looking at anything—realizes it’s all too real.

He estimates his basic monthly expenses for his eye care—including doctor’s visits and eye drops—is about a thousand dollars, and that doesn’t include any extra procedures or surgeries, many of which still loom in the future. Because so many artists like Bunny don’t have healthcare (certainly not group health plans either), and the US has no national healthcare, Bunny’s story has caught the attention of the dance community, which has organized a benefit, the Bunnyfit, to aid and offset his considerable medical expenses.

Naturally, DJ Dan and Donald Glaude are performing at the Bunnyfit, forgoing their fees to help their friend. Other performers include LA-based artists like Sandra Collins and her husband Vello Virkhaus, Quivver, and Freddy Be. Rabbit in the Moon, of course, will also DJ at the event.

This experience has impacted Bunny in ways yet to be seen, not the least of which is his intermittent anxiety about what could happen to him when he’s on stage. “Things I never thought of in fifteen years of interacting with an audience,” he says of these fears.

Luckily for his fans and his own life, he hasn’t let any of this stop him. “I have to trust. I am at the mercy of the audience and they are to me.”

Words: Zel McCarthy

Update: September 6, 2008
Since this story first ran on September 3rd, we’ve received a great deal of feedback from fans and members of the dance music community. Many have asked if there’s a way to help the cause if you’re not in the LA area. Bunny has sent us a link to a page set up specifically to help him out. To make a secure donation, you can visit TheBunnyCoalition.com.