The problem with drum and bass is… aggression
Before I start with this, I’d like to remind all readers that this is by no means an attack on particular individuals. It is an observation from a dedicated fan about the world in which I occupy firstly as a fan, and secondly as a record label owner and businessman. This is a commentary and opinion, not an act of aggression towards my peers.
All too often I check my Facebook and am greeted by hostile posts from people in and around drum and bass music. Unfortunately, this hostility seems to be engrained in the culture at the moment, and you can expect such an attitude from all corners of the scene, from djs and producers, right through to promoters and even fans themselves. Whether it be producers calling out other producers for “copying” music, DJs calling out people that “can’t mix”, promoters calling out DJs that are divas, or just fans fighting about whether house is “real music” compared to DnB, spiteful sniping at one another is rife, point scoring, and ultimately detrimental to our genre. It is inherently petulant, and something that needs to be stamped out immediately for the scene to reach its former glories.
Since jungle music was conceived in the 90s, the culture was all about inclusivity. It was about expression; a breakaway from the norm. You didn’t have to be a certain person, dance in a certain way, whatever. It was about the expression, and diversity was welcomed. Drum and bass was founded on such principles.
Fast forward and things are a lot different. Despite access to music becoming easier in the digital age, drum and bass culture has become a closed society. Some are sceptical of new DJing techniques or new digitalised production equipment; people even bicker about what is and isn’t drum and bass (although this is perhaps a separate issue). As such, Dnb has become unwelcoming. Collectively we are snobs towards the outside world, with no time for those we consider unknowledgeable or underexposed to the “proper” elements of the scene. For the entry-level punter, drum and bass is so impenetrable it’s no wonder people turn elsewhere in dance music.
I can’t imagine that when the genre was conceived all that time ago, Goldie or Fabio and Grooverider would have behaved in such a fashion? Change and differentiation was welcomed back then, as it always should be. Music is an evolving concept, even for a genre such as ours.
I think several conclusions can be drawn from people’s hostility, particularly on social media, a notably hostile world, but the most predominant of those conclusions to me is simple: a guilty conscience.
The reason that someone might jump to defend anything as aggressively as some drum and bass fans do about their genre is because deep inside they fear exactly the opposite of what they pronounce. Fans are scared that in the twenty-teens of this decade, a sound once at the forefront of underground music has been cast aside and replaced by other genres. A Phoenix-like resurgence in house and techno music has meant that drum and bass music has been marginalised by promoters, and several former fans. Some still true to the cause have a chip on their shoulder, and a point to prove.
The freedom fighters that remain actually behave more like aggressive fundamentalists than ambassadors for the genre. If these people had any consideration for the resocialising of our genre we so desperately need, they would stop being so aggressive and become an exemplary fan: being supportive of new ideas; new concepts; new ways of working both in the booth and in the studio. That does not mean you must enjoy everything, but tempering your aggression towards the things you don’t like would be a good start.
Until such a time, drum and bass will remain a lions den of egotistical and arrogant people that embarrass the entire genre and stop it from climbing back on the pedestal it so rightfully deserves.