Dj Sneak has, over the last few years, caused a bit of a furore on social media, with his high profile “calling out” of various djs, and producers. His targets have have included the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Seth Troxler, Armand Van Helden, Tommie Sunshine and Deadmau5. All these guys have had recent commercial success, and have engaged with Sneak back in various different ways, some antagonistic and some just plain blocked him. So what is his beef, and does he have a point?
Sneak himself, for those not in the know, was one of the second wave of house DJs to come out of Chicago in the late 80s/early 90s. So from this we can gather, he’s been around for a while, seen quite a lot. He was even name-checked on Daft Punk’s seminal “Homework” album and even wrote the lyrics to “Digital Love”. So, a bit of a pedigree.
So what has got him so riled? The word that comes up most is FAKE. This is what links every incident. Swedish House Mafia (to start you could see this would wind him up, since Sneak is the self-proclaimed “House Gangster”) were accused of “cheating their fans” by playing recorded sets that were linked to pyrotechnics.
Given the amount of money they were able to demand for their high profile stadium gigs, you start to think that if they are pre-recorded, there is an element of truth in what Sneak is saying. He comes from the days when it was all about working the vinyl, and it was near impossible to “Fake” any part of a dj set. He sees this as calling them out. The problem is, for those who don’t know his background, its seen as jealous whinging.
The second part of Sneak’s argument is to do with respecting the underground. This leaves him on slightly shakier ground in that mainstream EDM is always a result of the underground. The difference this time, is that whereas before, the cream of producers rose to the top, had a number of small successes, then returned to the underground, this time the major labels have seen house as a way to make some serious cash. And they’ve hit the all you can eat buffet with seriously high metabolisms.
What happens when the majors get hold of anything? It gets diluted, homogenised, and the soul of it is lost in the scramble to make money. This is why guys from the higher paid echelons of the scene get asked to work with high profile artists, to bring their “edge” to what otherwise be formless shapeless throwaway songs.
They’ve done the same with dubstep, now they are back with house. Its an endless cycle.
This has caused real worry for those in the underground since they rely to an extent on the mainstream to attract and lure people to the purer stuff. When the mainstream stuff had little link to the underground scene, the underground suffers from a lack of new fans.
So is he right, and do I agree with him? Well, in terms of calling them out, I kind of think fair enough. DJ fees are so low right now, that anyone earning the kind of money they are better be damn good to show their worth.
But does calling them out go against the original spirit of house music? House is supposed to be about a shared love and experience. But then you could say that even when you love someone, you should still tell them when they are being an arse.
I suppose what I’m saying is right argument, possibly the wrong way of going about it…..but then if it gets people talking………
Pete Le Freq
Llama Farm Recordings