In the music industry it seems like all our resources are focused on looking ahead, keeping current, and following trends. Calling an artist, DJ, or blogger “forward-thinking” is just about the best complement you can give them. Nobody wants to be behind the times and nobody wants to waste their energy on something that’ll show that will make it seem like they’re out of touch with a given scene, be it a specific genre or music in general. This is good, and it’s something I try to do with 110; deliver the newest, freshest, grooviest things that I can. I’ve spent a good deal of time on long trips with nothing but my iPod to keep me company lately and my experience going through my library of music led me to the following question: Why don’t we ever look back?
I think that we learn an immense amount by analysing trends in music and predicting (or playing a role in) new ones, but I’m strongly of the opinion that we can learn just as much by going back to old genres, artists, and trends and finding the songs that still sound “fresh” despite being dated. Focusing less on trending synths or sample packs and more on the structure, progression, and the layering of unique elements from tracks that have withstood the test of time could teach the burgeoning mass of bedroom producers to make music that will appeal to people for more than a few months. In my opinion, nobody does this better than Diplo. At a recent show put on by Vancouver promoter Blueprint Events, Diplo dropped his 2010 collaboration with Don Diablo, ‘Make You Pop.’ I for one was familiar with the track, but the vast majority of the 4000-strong crowd didn’t… and you know what? It went fucking off. The reaction to this track was stronger than any of the subsequent ones dropped by Pretty Lights or even the main act, Skrillex. That’s because despite being a dated dark electro track it still had substance beyond what was trendy at the end of 2010. Speaking of 2010, you know what else came out then? Take Over Control. Just imagine what would happen if anybody but Afrojack dropped that in a set now.
Anyway, that’s my two-cents. If you want to be innovative you’ve got to know how to look back as well as ahead.