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#TBT: When Mistabishi made great music…

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Mistabishi: You don’t like drum & bass any more. We get it. You’re not a fan of DJing. We got that a while back (late October 2009 I believe).

But calling TeeBee a Euro-clone and saying Noisia and Mefjus productions sound full of fart noises?

Sir, you have taken it too far.

You may think current drum & bass sounds ‘sterile’, like ‘bad CGI’ and that it’s ‘not exciting’. Cool; that’s your opinion. But ‘internet music?’ Tell that to the IRL crowds who are pinned to the walls, screwfacing, gunfingering and physically excited by these sounds in Fabric Room 2, Cardiff’s Vaults, Bristol’s Motion, Manchester’s Sound Control or, further afield, Let It Roll, Outlook or EXIT or thousands of other real venues and locations around the world.

Places where passionate drum & bass fans gather to hear DJs playing the latest mutations and constructions, joining the dots with tracks from a 20+ year genre legacy.

You asked “when did electronic music become synonymous with DJing?” and “was it done simply to try and sell it to the thicks?” Electronic music has always been synonymous with DJing. Since house music first developed from disco the mid 80s. Sure, live electronic music, improvised and creatively twisted from machines is a sight and sound to behold (and yes, drum & bass needs more of that) but if every artist had to take their expensive kit out on the road for people to enjoy then electronic music wouldn’t have spread like it had. Decks have been electronic music’s passport, taking it from fields to clubs to warehouses around the world. Back in the 90s DJing was a fraction of the cost of production; it wasn’t sold to “the thicks”, it was sold to us all – aspirational music lovers as a (relatively) affordable way to participate and take their love of the music to another level.

Agreed, some people get into DJing for popularity or kudos sake. But denying it as an artform? Tell me that when I’m watching Hype double dropping beastly basslines from nowhere, Marky laying down soul I’ve never heard at 3am, Zinc rolling out historical dub after historical dub, Rockwell twisting my head with juke fusion, Calibre running six hour marathons playing his own material or Icicle slapping up the senses with sudden jolts of techno. I could go on and on with that list.

DJing is an artform and drum & bass is one of the genres to have taken it as seriously as hip-hop. Even if you think elements of EDM theatrics have come into the scene, even if you think DJs are “just playing other people’s music”, drum & bass is one genre where DJs still properly appreciate the artform and really do mix creatively. Ruthlessly so, at points. Double drops, triple drops, switches, scratching and the art of  pressing, digging or making tunes that no one else owns have always been a key characteristic of drum & bass… Including when you first fell for it.

So drum & bass has changed hugely since the early 90s. Every genre has. But one thing that remains constant is its bubbling cauldron nature where ideas from all corners are smelted down. In this sense fusing elements of pop and songwriting are just as valid as the fusion of ragga, jazz, classical, soul or any other genre drum & bass has incorporated, sampled and referenced over the years.

Not everyone is a fan of the style you describe as “high street shopping mall” that’s been topping the charts over the last few years. Similarly, not everyone is a fan of the twisted sound design and infinitesimally detailed dynamics of neuro or tech D&B. But that’s been the beauty of drum & bass for years: there’s something for everyone.

And it is for everyone: To say “it’s not your music unless you’re making it” does not chime with the perspective of any other creative individual we interview, support and celebrate on this site. Or with your free party ethics. Every creative craftsman of any kind harbours that urge to make something; there is nothing else they could see themselves doing in life. We, as fans, respect and love that creativity immensely; music gives us all connections, a purpose and huge amounts of inspiration. To say it’s not ours unless we make it is hugely elitist and is the reason why you’re currently being plastered by memes and C-bombs.

You say we look like “a gaggle of thick semi-literate broke twats.” Firstly, people’s wage and level of education has nothing to do with this (and has never had anything to do with drum & bass – music is the ultimate leveller). Secondly, all that vitriol you’re facing now isn’t a true reflection of the D&B community, it’s a reflection of the bitterness you’re expressing yourself.

It’s an angry internet mob comprising fans, DJs, artists, labels and anyone else who loves this music. An angry mob that feels aggrieved that someone who they once admired because he made some really exciting, forward-thinking drum & bass a few years ago has decided to call us all wankers. You piss on a fan’s right to define their own soundtrack and tastes, or an artist’s right to make the music they want to make, you should expect the backlash.

I’ve been advised not to feed the troll and I know that, if you read this, you’ll disagree with it all and no doubt slag me off too. But as a fervent fan of drum & bass for many many years I can’t stand back and let this go by without exercising my own freedom of opinion just like you have.

You’re a talented man Mistabishi. Drop is a fucking fantastic album. I still listen to it frequently. So you don’t like drum & bass and feel it has lost the edge you once loved? Cool. Apply your skills and creativity to the genres you do love. Don’t waste time and energy in epic social media battles, mugging off thousands of ardent music lovers.

Life’s too short. And for that reason I’ll sign off with a salute. You made GULLY tracks like Greed and White Collar Grime. These are what I’ll remember you for and not this week’s  insults. Thank you.

Dave Jenkins (editor, drum & bass lover)