Dancing for the revolution ..

March 10, 2009

Thanks to paying attention to the VUW Orientation guide, I had the opportunity on Thursday last week to meet Darin McFayden, aka DJ Freq Nasty, during an on-campus seminar of wanna-be DJ’s and electronic music producers. This turned out to be about a dozen keen musical types, John from Vuwsa, and me (the token journo).

Bryce Mason from Sandwiches carefully shepherding his international star aside, it was an amazing amount of access to get with someone who has a regular gig at Fabric in London, and splits his time between home in LA, gigs in the UK, and a family in Auckland, NZ.

Darin left Auckland for Sydney in the early 90’s, arriving in London in time for the big wave of rave and techno/electronic music production that powered the big club scene through that decade. Of that period, he said new genres were popping up all the time, taking about 3-4 years to mature, then the scene moved on to the next thing – now, new scenes go global much more quickly, there’s no time lag; producing your own work & getting it out to radio stations and club DJ’s is much more of a track to professional fame (and full-time employment), than just playing other acts’ tunes in a club.

The other big shifts he’s seen involve technology – the rise of social networking sites like myspace, YouTube, etc, where new bands and producers can get huge exposure very quickly; and the advent of software that lets music produced on a laptop have production studio quality – so the initial investment in moving form DJ to Producer is becoming less of a barrier. “As soon as you knock out a tune (you’ve produced yourself), you’re ahead of 90% of the competition” – prime advice to the young players in the room.

The industry bogey of downloads vs album sales was raised – Darin emphasized the value of collaborating with other up-and-coming producers on work, and used his own experience with web-published tracks to illustrate that it’s no longer an ‘either-or’ issue for most artists in the frontline, but a strategic use of media to gain maximum exposure. The other great tip from this was ‘cultivate a tech geek, to do your website stuff, so you can focus on producing tunes’. This man is very switched on! We did touch on techy stuff like software to use, bit-torrent download sites and the like, but they were very specific questions that only music producers need-to-know, so I won’t go into all that here.

So, fortified by this rare discussion, I joined the line shaking DJ Freq Nasty’s hand on the way out the door, Bryce whisked him away, and I bought my ticket to the gig.

Rolling into Sandwiches at 11.30pm-ish, I was surprised to see only a few peeps in the bar, and not a lot on the dance floor as the warm-up valiantly tried to fill the concrete box that is the main room. Walked smack into Darin, who smiled & said “So, you made it”, chatted for a minute, then excused himself to prepare for the beginning of his set, up in a few minutes.

The room began to fill as soon as he appeared in the DJ booth, just standing alongside P-Vans, and the 3-hour set that ensued was a mash-up of dubstep, breakbeat, old-school rave, and a bunch of Lee Perry classics. It was all that a good nite on dub should be, sweaty, smokey, amazing light-show (yeah, the lighting guy looked after my handbag; big props to him for the excellent flicks and shades) and a mad collection of dub fans jumping and bumping through the set.

When Dunsta took over at 3am, there was a general move to the bar, and a collective slump as we realised it was now raining heavily outside. I managed a quick last word to Darin after the floor cleared – he hadn’t known what to expect of a Welli Ori crowd, was pleased the floor filled up minutes before he started, and bemusedly said “Come along next time, we’ll bring a bigger show back & do this again”. Yeah, Darin, I will, and I’ll get a few more friends along with me, too…

Samurai’s on Willis Street if you’re interested in picking up his latest production, Fabriclive.42, and I’m reliably informed that they’re stocking a lot of dubstep, if you want more of the genre.

Check out the links below, Darin has made waves by setting up Giveback.net to allow artists to support causes with their musical talents. Great free download to support Tibetan Bhuddists, and see the article on his myspace blog about his efforts to support social justice while still running kickass dubstep parties.

links: freqnasty.com, tribe.net/freqnasty, giveback.net, myspace page.


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