Age Over Beauty or Beauty over Age?

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 7/10/10 19:21

Age Over Beauty or Beauty over Age?When 37 year old Polish born, Cologne based producer Robert Babicz announced he intended to start a record label as a base for a large archive of productions accumulated, he joined a growing number of older producers opting to get visible. Producing since the 90's for over 2 decades, notably as ‘Rob Acid' it's not a case of throwing Babicz and his age on a scrap heap, but, on the overall debate for and against the ‘older' dudes, I feel slightly cynical on the whole ‘emergence' from the ‘shadows' and marketing of established producers as ‘new' because some brand, spanking free-for-all marketing tool called the ‘internet' and a new generation of lambs has come along. There's a 2 tier system in the EDM sector at the moment particularly in the politics filled prog/techno scene, a scene that has made a career of putting its artists up on a pedestal where they are aloof and out of reach.

As a younger healthier underground within the underground are up against it in terms of garnering visibility because the big names keep ‘taking' all, its translating with some having to kiss-ass, embrace false sincerity in hope of being developed by new labels as artists and a real lack of mentoring happening within the scene. It almost looks like unwillingness by a number of the older guys to not mentor a new generation. When I was belittled at Ushuaia by a mate of Sasha who came between us as we were having a brief conversation and bluntly asked ‘Do you know this man' to which I replied ‘Not really, I wouldn't say we know each other I met him randomly once or twice.' Then told ‘Sorry love I can't do anything for you' and therein made feel inferior I thought to myself if the ‘gate-keepers' won't allow a lowly writer access to the artists to talk music, what hope for a young producer?? Sasha was talking; it was the gate-keepers interfering.

On the other side of the coin though, there are those who have earnestly been doing their bit, mentoring new talent. Sometimes, cross marketing their name to a new generation, but still bringing in fresh blood. Nick Muir who mentored in Neil Quigley, Claude Von Stroke bringing J Philip into the picture, Francois K helping John Daly garner some visibility by taking his tracks onto his label. Even the estimated £20 million owning Pete Tong is responsible for bringing Deadmau5 to a wider audience and has been doing his bit with Ben Turner to get IMS moving and get some debate started in the scene. Sasha took a step by starting the Sasha and Friends night at Ushuaia, but, his programming could be a little more cutting edge. Why only your friends Sash? What about putting cool new younger progressive producers on your programme?

The struggle for New Electronic ProducersSo you see, Babicz struck me as doing one thing right, his new label, great, bring it Babicz. But, then announcing to the world that it would be an avenue only for his productions and for collaborations with his ‘friends' Charlie May, Martin Eyerer, Gui Boratto. I just thought, c'mon man. Seriously, your totally working the 2 tier system there, when there is so many out there that could do with the chance of being supported and taught about studio processes.

It bears wonder why the producers are taking this route when maybe their time would be better served in mentoring a newer generation of talent and graciously handing over the reins to incoming talent such as Manuel Tur, Nicholas Jaar, Alex Niggeman, Jon Hopkins, Dibby Dougherty and Max Cooper. Of course what is interfering with this is in the background we have to listen to ‘Industry' types moan about that they can't develop new talent because of a lack of ‘quality' productions and how ‘new talent' will ‘break through anyway' if it's good enough etc etc. If you listen to some of early dance music releases some of it is complete muck, yet they still put it out. So, why can't they develop new artists?

Could it be the fear of losing control and becoming irrelevant or having to take a profit loss because they have to re-invest and start again? Perhaps, when you see the strength of interest at nights like Luciano's Vagabundos and Zoo Project they've already lost control and if anything the industry needs a little bit of focus on younger artists without profit generation being the primary purpose.

Then you listen to tracks Babicz has produced and you can see the debate about age being irrelevant and studio knowledge and ability to design sound kicking in. The man has skill in sound design I will give him that. Its lush and beautiful in its depth and colour but y'know I think Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Francis Grasso and more probably were willing to step aside when a 22 year old Sasha was put on the cover of Mixmag way back in 1991 and deemed to be the first ‘DJ pin up'.

I'm split on where the tussle between age in dance music is going to end up as it's pretty obvious a lot of the older producers still feel they have something to give and think there is enough room for them to stick around whilst the younger ones keep finding it tougher and tougher to get that elusive gig or a bit of transparency to break through. It's a bit of a sorry state of affairs that we can't have a bit of a gracious bow-out to hand over the reins and give the kids a chance because, isn't it time to scrap the rule book, start all over again and give the underground a chance?


Roberto Capuano
Politics Of Dancing
Ralph Lawson