Last night – mixed the Fosca song ‘Don’t Be A DJ’. It’s not strictly anti-DJ-ing, more about people who fall into non-creative jobs around the creative works of others, where they can keep their head down, immune from any criticism. Fear of tall poppy syndrome. PRs who should be stars, working for dull stars who should be PRs (or anything else). Music journalists who are more attractive and have more to say then the dull bands they have to write about. How even the finest piece of music criticism only benefits the subject not the writer. A beautiful essay on Scott Walker only benefits Scott Walker. Whereas if Scott Walker recorded a beautiful song about the journalist… it would STILL only benefit Scott Walker. Thus with DJs. The need to rely on the works of others adds a level of compromise that irks me.
And this is one reason why I’ve turned down any hints of a career in either field myself. I feel the need to get on with writing an original song, story, or even just something in this diary. I’d feel a fraud if I did DJ-ing or reviewing seriously. It’d feel like an alibi. An excuse for not doing what I’m meant to be doing.
Had a discussion about this with producer Alex M, and we agreed that even the lowliest creative act, the record no one buys, the song no one hears, is still more noble than the finest book on pop music. Because creating is always greater than spectating. Then we thought about oh, Coldplay or someone we don’t care for. Are we really saying that Coldplay have more worth than great critics like Paul Morley or Simon Reynolds?
We solved this one by deciding that what Coldplay did wasn’t at all creative… Ah, a cheap jibe I know. I’m sure they feel the sting in their glittering mansions. Sorry, Coldplay.
It’s not like the art of literary biography, writers on writers: if a book on the Sex Pistols survived their music, it’d be worthless. The best thing a book on pop can do is make you go and listen to the records. They can never really stand alone, by their own nature. Writing about music will always be popular, because of the need to make sense of the abstract. But it still needs to come from, and go back to, the music. I leaf through a magazine and read some great pieces on bands I’ve never heard, and it’s all pointless unless I can get hold of the music too. It can’t stand alone in its own right. Just as DJ-ing can’t happen without records, but you can make records without being a DJ.
Dear Lord, let me not die a Fan.
Still, the occasional and unusual bout of DJ-ing here and there is fine, I decide. So I have turned down all offers of summer DJ work except one – the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be booked or not, but today I find out for sure. Yes, it’s on. I’m booked. With Miss Red too, as The Beautiful & Damned. DJ-ing every evening in the Cabaret Arena, while silent movies and strange tableaux abound. And I will be shunning loitering within tent in favour of staying with my parents, in the cottage they rent every year by the Southwold lighthouse. Once again Latitude coincides neatly with their week’s holiday nearby. I like festivals which seem to be arranged entirely around my mother’s holiday plans.
I’ll bring a change of suit this time: last year, I had some unkind comments from passers-by when I walked around Southwold after three days, still in the same white ensemble. It wasn’t very white by that point.
Let’s see who else is there. CSS, Bat For Lashes, Arcade Fire, Jarvis Cocker, Patrick Wolf, Camera Obscura, Charlotte Hatherley, I’m From Barcelona, Final Fantasy, Stewart Lee, Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran, Josie Long, Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy, Marcus Brigstocke, Roger McGough, The Puppini Sisters, Robin Ince and his Book Club (which I hope includes Martin White), Simon Munnery, Esther Freud. But I should also do the festival serendipity bit: wander into a tent and see if something I’ve not heard of delights the heart.
In my bone fide creative life, Fosca have been asked to play London on Weds August 1st. The Windmill in Brixton. Headlining, for the first time in… well, it must be years. So we said yes. Please come. Bring everyone else. Because, oh, because we’re worth it.
Some of Fosca are single. Well, all right, just me.
When choosing which bands to go and see, at any time, you should be told which band members are in relationships and which one’s aren’t. It should be in the listings. Never mind “Rock” and “Jazz” and “Blues”. There should only be two categories:
“Bands With Single Members Who Are Looking, Actually.