woensdag 29 augustus 2012

Ferry Cor$ten, Justin Bieber and the Scene's Wolves

Scene Analysis | August 28th - August 29th 2012 |

It had to happen, didn't it? Someone just had to remix Justin Bieber. Just between you and me, I would have put my money on it that Tiësto would be the one but instead it was Ferry "Out Of The Blue" Corsten who was approached to retouch one of the "biggest" teen "stars" ever. And so he did. And #Trancefamily Land was instantly bombarded with a lot of hatred. As usual.

What also seems to be business as usual is that a lot of colleagues rush to the victim-DJ/Producer's side, defending the person in question with nearly as much passion as the haters that flame him. Of course, Ferry is not a nobody. If we were to consider the five most influential Trance producers of all-time, Ferry would undoubtedly be voted #1 or at least secure a Top-3 spot. The productions this guy put out in the beginning of his career helped establish this scene of ours and he cannot receive enough praise for the likes of Carte Blanche, Out Of The Blue, Dance Valley Theme 2001, Gouryella tracks, Exhale and his many, many, remixes and aliases that have entranced hundreds of thousands if not millions over the course of time. Ferry, hate him or love him, is a Trance Legend and this early Legacy of his will be cherished for Time Immemorial among those of us that know what Trance is. At one point, Ferry introduced a new sound. He called it L.E.F. (in Dutch these 3 letters together translate as "guts") > Loud, Electronic, Ferocious. Some hated it. Others, including yours truly, LOVED it. Ferry used to be one of few producers who knew how to blend Electro with Trance properly. In retrospect, he always had a rougher edge to his productions, long before L.E.F. actually (just listen to Needlejuice, Punk, Right Of Way, DV Theme '01, etc.). I always felt L.E.F. was the perfection of this rougher side. And hey, after his Electro-Adventures he did return to Trance with Twice In A Blue Moon and some tasty remixes, didn't he? Credit where credit is due. Fastforward to Summer '12 however and the man is approached to remix Bieber: he says yes, gets the job done and before we know it, all hell breaks loose in #Trancefamily Land (again). What else is new? *rolleyes*

Is the outrage justified? If you ask me, hell no. Though not for the "cut this Legend some slack already"-reasons. It's obvious that after Twice In A Blue Moon and with the release of "Feel It" & "Check It Out" more specifically, Ferry decided to join the Trouse bandwagon. His last album WKND combined this "new sound" with lots and lots of lyric-intensive tracks. The few I heard sounded like the typical Pop-dance hybrid garbage that has come to characterize EDM's "Top Dogs" (if we are to believe the useless DJ Mag). The result was an album that sought to resonate within the interest of that mainstream area bordering between Pop and EDM. His newest fans loved it no doubt, his elder fans were nothing but disappointed (if they still had any naive hopes that Ferry would manage to deliver). It's obvious he, like Armin, like Emery, like Above & Beyond, like any of the (former) Top 10 (Trance) DJs/artists decided to start producing "today's music". However, whereas in the past this guy was way ahead of others production-wise (and thus able to help establish the genre Trance), in this 2011-2012 period I cannot conclude otherwise than that the tables have turned: he's been chasing after others. And with others I mean those so-called "EDM" artists that have taken not just our scene but nearly any scene within EDM as well the mainstream (or Pop) by storm. Yes, the accursed SHM/Avicii combination. What I am trying to say is that Ferry kinda lost his credits a long time ago, so why the sudden outrage at this so-called mainstream remix? The moment he joined Trouse, and thus, the moment he released WKND he was already serving the mainstream. If you liked WKND, why are you bashing this remix? Somehow, this level of mainstream is too much even for his most contemporary fans? Oh you bunch of hypocrites, you! :D

The shift to a new, "more accessible" (read: more accessible for the mainstream) sound has been perceived by many former fans as betrayal. One the one hand you could call this wrong as who the hell are fans to think they own an artist? On the other hand, you could also argue that it were these very fans that supported you through the years and contributed to your rise: without them you wouldn't have been here today, so why turn your back on them so radically? Now "artists changing debates" always revolve around these two aspects, and supporters of the former camp never agree with the latter. So let's leave that aside. Instead, let's consider this:

(1) EDM music has a certain logic and feeling that surrounds it which draws in certain people. This music can be fragmented into several genres which each have their own champions, some which are hard to categorize in just one genre as they have an overlapping sound. Fans of EDM will have expectations of their champions and will praise some exactly for not being the other.

(2) Then there is Justin Bieber: personally I couldn't care any less about his music. It isn't for me but for millions across the world he is the most talented/greatest artist of the moment. His music too, follows a certain logic and has a certain feeling enveloped around it which draw in his fans. They too have expectations from him and like him for his sound which others do not have.

(3) As an artist you should be free to do whatever you like and I can understand that eating potatoes everyday gets boring at one point, no matter how addicted to potatoes you might be. So yes, artists change their sound over time. To keep it fresh, to re-invent themselves or just for some variation every once in a while. 

This all makes perfect sense. But not in the mind of the contemporary Trance fan. If you have them among your fanbase, you are going to have to endure a lot of hate the moment you start remixing something as mainstream as Bieber. Ferry himself was shocked and no doubt annoyed by the many furious, extreme hateful reactions he received: I haven't run into any of these, neither do I intend to run into them (I've had my share with the Fei-Fei at #550 debacle, thank you). He responded on Twitter with the following:

"Hey guys, as a response to some extremely ridiculous reactions to me doing a remix for Justin Bieber, I just want to say this… The request for this remix came in and I found it quite a challenge to make a dance radio remix for such a young and talented artist. And YES, if you can play 3 instruments and you can sing, I call you talented! I just had fun producing this, please don’t cry over it, I create EDM!" (http://www.twitlonger.com/show/j2kmbn)

I fail to understand why anyone would insult him (assuming this has happened) for this move. Criticize him? Your good right. But to take it further than that is pathetic imo. It goes to show how degenerated and bastardized Trance fanbases have become over the years. That said, I do find it amusing how these same former-Trance artists constantly seem to be living on this "new EDM walhalla Cloud 9" where everything is so amazing, until they decide to remix the likes of Guetta or Bieber and discover how the majority of their current fanbases are composed of Wolves In Sheeps' clothes: Make them their cheesy Emma Hewitt sung burgers and you'll be their Trance God. Make them their generic mass-produced 138 BPM deggadegga Candy, and you'll be their Trance God. Make them their noisy kindergarden-melody driven Wack&Wack Trouse record and you're their Trance God. Remix Pop's currently most celebrated hypes and they'll kill you. Verbally. Through Social Media.

You see, an artist can revert to point (3) all they like, the reality remains that when point (1) and point (2) don't want to mix, but they try to achieve this anyway, there will be collision and there will be fires burning. You can complain about it all you want or you could spare yourself the hassle and leave it. You can create this illusion that boundaries don't exist, but fanbases do exist and they are restricted by boundaries. Someone of the Ferry Corsten caliber should have been aware of this ages ago. Any high caliber artist should know how this works. Yes it sucks for you, but hey, that's life. Get over it.

Though I disapprove of insults and personal attacks at any time, I have to admit that somewhere I find this situation fitting for the lack of backbone these artists have had when they decided to completely turn to new hypes, pretend to still hold on to what made them big (and what they in turn made bigger) but in the mean time became more and more mainstream in the process. If you want to be mainstream, fine, but at least be as arrogant though at least gutsy as Tiësto was and say: "Scr*w you all, I'm going for the $$$+MTV success". Heck, you'll get a lot of piss over you too, but it will last only for a bit and then it'll be over for good. Who in there right minds nowadays would ask Tiësto to "please come back to Trance" and "please make another Lethal Industry"? Exactly. NOBODY.

What I personally don't understand from Ferry's side is where he gets the idea that he was trying something "new". The track sounds like it could have been featured on WKND: cheesy vocal, Electro sounds, predictable main lead. Furthermore, the fact that Bieber plays three instruments and is thus talented is a lame reason to remix him. I mean, if the to-be-remixed song in question contains none of his talentful traces beside the singing, he might as well remix anyone that sings? Also, if it was just for fun, why not release it under an alias or as a free bootleg? Or, why not simply decline the offer to remix Bieber? Oh wait, I know. Though Trance might come Twice In A Blue Moon, this was a Once In A Lifetime opportunity. Ferry can claim this as fun and as a challenge all he wants but anyone remixing Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Lil' Wayne, Britney Spears Rihanna or Kanye West knows it won't hurt their wallet in the long run, on the contrary!

What has increasingly come to annoy me about these "gradually/completely change my sound but afraid to come out of the closet with it"-artists is how they tend to act so victimized, at least that's the impression I get. "I'm just trying something new, what's wrong with that?" Seriously? How come everytime said artists "try something new", it coincides with something that leads to more exposure in the mainstream, more money, more fame? How come they never try something new that works for the non-mainstream? How come they never try some Drum & Bass if they never made that before? How come they never try something more Techno-based if they never tried that before? How come they never try a new time-signature if they never did that before? A sudden rhythm-shift throughout a track? A combination of breaks with 4-to-the-floor beats throughout a single track? Instead, whenever it's something new, it's usually vocal or something that is extremely popular atm. Everyone is talking "out of the box" but no one is acting like it. This is one of those things "that grinds my gears", to quote Griffin.

I'll admit: Trance fans seem to become less and less mature as time progresses. Obsessive, abusive, instantly insulted, close-minded, ill-informed (Guetta is not House, get it out of your bloody system), the list grows longer with each "Trance debacle". Though this says a lot about the persons in question, former-Trance artists have had a big hand in this development themselves if you ask me. No, they didn't make these people stupid, but yes, they did pull them into our scene! The hatred they get doused with is immature and stupid, but in my eyes it's the price they pay for having sought to move Trance into the mainstream. Since it didn't work in its original from, they thought they'd make it work by watering it down and removing more and more of its characteristics until it finally worked for these mainstream lovers but the music itself had ceased being what it was supposed to be. The result? Fad-hungry people were introduced into a scene where they don't belong. Because of that Trance holds the record for the most fragmented fanbases of EDM in its totality nowadays. The self-acclaimed most serene genre of all has Fallen From Grace at the hands of those that made it rise to prominence and the fake fans in their wake. Irony has it that these fans scream for blood the moment someone of Ferry's caliber remixes something as non-Trance as Bieber, yet the joke is on them: half of them only know Ferry's discography of the past two years or so anyway. The rest of us know that portion of his discography can be denied any association with the sounds that earned him his Legendary status in our scene.

So the joke then? Fans of a non-Trance Ferry are crying over his non-Trance Bieber remix. LOL. On a more serious note: what's sad about all this is that the scene hits a new low because of these antics by fans and artists alike. The people that are supposed to be keeping it alive do a piss poor job at it.

*A little off-topic note to some of the re-occurring nonsense arguments I've seen people use in debacles such as these:

- Tip: don't say you'll support an artist forever. You can't look into the future and I wouldn't want to go "told you so" over your ass the moment they do a 180 degree soundshift on ya. ;)
- Everyone trying to shut up critics with the argument: "don't b*tch unless you can do better". I expect you to support and cheer on every athlete, politician, cook, writer, driver, boss, nanny, parent you set your eyes on, REGARDLESS whether you like what they do, UNLESS you can do better. Freedom of speech (HA! Don't make me laugh!)? Only if you can do better! Having an opinion (What, are you living in a free country or something?? Pfffffffft!)? Only if you can do better!
- People using the argument that the person in question is a legend: if you helped establish a scene; yes. You are indeed a Legend then. BUT, if in your later career you put out stuff that destroys this very scene, you lose any credit for or claim on this Legendary status. Legends don't destroy what they stood for. Betrayers do.


You know what, screw all this cr*p. I'm just gonna put on some Synaesthesia (Ferry Corsten Remix), Cubikated, From The Heart, Invisible Touch (Ferry Corsten Remix), Sublime, The Orange Theme (Moonman's Orange Juice Mix), Gouryella (Extended), Possesion, and Sweet Sorrow (Ferry Fix) right now. You know, awesome tracks by that Trance Legend. Imo some of his best ever! That's a cool guy I definitely won't forget about anytime soon...

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