Social media has transformed the way we interact with artists, but at what price to the artist's integrity?
Social Media allows a direct line to artists, no longer is a musical hero out of reach, they are only a tweet or Facebook message away.
Once upon a time drum & bass royalty were characters out of reach with near celebrity status amongst their adoring fans. They were inaccessible and viewed with aw and respect. Moreover, the only outlet for spurious abuse or rumour would be by word of mouth. As you can imagine, this quickly leads to a game of chinese whispers and plain old bullshit. Have you heard the “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” story? I’ve been told this story by several people, all giving me different versions and of course claiming they “were there”. The story goes something like this…
Sometime early in the 90’s (I’m guessing around 90/91 [Insert DJ name] dropped 4Hero’s “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare”, an anthemic rave classic by any measure. As the vocal sample came in “He died of an overdose” one unlucky raver did exactly that.
I’ve heard several variations of this story, some saying DJ Rap played the track, some DJ Hype and various others. The dates also vary wildly between 91 and 93… The only trend that runs throughout is that the person that tells you the story always claims to have been present.
True or not, the story is an example of how mythical an incident could become, but also how loosely it could be given true credence. For artists, DJs and performers these were the good old days, for now social media shows all. And the fans have realized the artists are people, flawed like any other… In the world of social media word spreads fast.
A fairly innocuous example would be when in 2007 Guy Brewer from Commix stopped the wrong track on the CDJ at a Ram Records event at The End, London. Unluckily for him someone managed to capture the moment on camera. The image of a shocked Brewer with mouth wide open, finger still on the start/stop button quickly circulated across social media. Funny as it is, it was ultimately harmless and more a case of good timing on the photographers part.
In 2009 former Hospital Records artist Mistabishi aborted what was billed as a live performance at a label night to which he attributed performance space issues, to then instead play a mix CD while pretending to DJ himself. He was denounced online by those that attended the event and some well captured photos by photographer Nick Wild, showing the CDJ he was pretending to use was not even on! What followed was a focussed hate campaign from what remains a relatively purist drum & bass scene and a slew of amusing twitter exchanges between Hospital Records’ Tony Coleman and some of drum & bass’ main players. Hospital subsequently dropped Mistabishi.
The award for Facebook abuse however surely has to go to the veteran happy hardcore DJ, DJ Sy who last year was reported to have been charged for possessing child pornography on his computer, an accusation that was later revealed to be false. What seemed like a wind up quickly spiralled into a torrent of abuse across social media platforms. Gary Glitter, Jimmy Saville, DJ Sy? Isn’t quite the same is it?
So what have we learned? If you are an artist you should probably perform legitimately for a start. The camera never lies, however old skool ravers sometimes do.