Most New Year features are just shopping lists: buy this, go here, wear that, talk about them... you'll be cool (and we'll get paid). Two weeks ago that might have been acceptable. But when gunmen stormed into a magazine office in Paris and murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo for having opinions and daring to voice them, everything changed.
The crime was a stark reminder that 25 years after dance music's Summer of Love the world is full of hate. Paranoia, power and poisonous ideologies dominate the news and creep like carbon monoxide. Governments lie and spy, banks swallow billions, social services crumble, unemployment soars, the media preaches. They tell us to obey the rules, to wait for “them” to fix it, that if we play along eventually things will get better.
I Voice has a polite suggestion: FUCK THAT.
Je suis Charlie is the perfect example of people stepping up, speaking out, realising that nothing is going to change until each one of us takes a stand. Things won't get better. We have to make them better. Fuck obedience, fuck waiting in line, fuck consumption, fuck following trends. The revolution begins with you.
Twenty-five years ago a band of revolutionaries instigated a Summer of Love with using vinyl, land-line phones, flyers, 35mm cameras, and plenty of high-grade E. We have tools they never dreamed – all we have to do is use them. Here's how we can party, play and love our way to a better world.
Communication is the basis for any social revolution and for the first time in human history we can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, instantly.
“Social media is reaching out to millions,” says communication wizard and club promoter Kai Cant, who runs London's biggest “music/fashion/banter” Twitter account LDN House (@LondonHouse_) – as well as events like Abode. “Back when I started raving we collected club flyers – that's how you found out about things. Now we have a whole new club culture.”
With a few keystrokes like-minded party people can exchange information, organise raves, share music and images. Social media takes the power out of the hands of the TV and newspapers and puts it where it belongs: with we the people. “It's so powerful,” says Kai. “Anything is possible.”
Creativity is what separates active from passive. Followers consume. Leaders create. Twenty-five years ago it was tough. You needed expensive analogue gear to make music, elaborate print equipment to make posters, film cameras to make video. Now, digital tools allow anyone to create. For a revolutionary this isn't just an opportunity, it's a responsibility. And creators excel by immersing themselves in their passion.
Pixelate Studio founder, DJ and graphic designer George Woodman-Harrison, whose clients include We Are FSTVL and the Warehouse LDN, started Djing when he was 13 and doing graphic design at university. “If I'm not designing for the events I DJ at them,” he says with a grin. “It's eat, sleep, rave, repeat.”
The result? A visceral sense of what drives electronic culture and the skill capture and promote the ethos of dance music through sound and vision.
Clubs, parties, and festivals are the flashpoint where something can happen. Where individual energy combines to make something greater than the sum of its parts.
When clubbing went mainstream a lot of people started going to events just for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night. This diluted the rebellious energy of club culture – but not for long. These days, electronic music events are more sophisticated and intelligent than ever. Gone are the days when a festival was a couple of tents in a muddy field and a bar serving warm cider. Events like We Are FSTVL, SW4, and Eastern Electrics bring together music, fashion, food, visuals, and communications to create playgrounds of possibility.
“The electronic music festival is now almost unrecognisable compared to five years ago,” says Nikki Gordon, director of the award-winning We Are FSTVL. “The stakes have been raised in all aspects: production, programming and marketing. Party-goers are fashion conscious, they expect top quality acts in plush surroundings with great facilities. They are social media savvy and use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc to spread the word and show the world what a fantastic time they are having.”
History proves you can't fight fire with fire. From the Crusades to the War on Terror, all that ever came of hate is more hate. The alternative? Love.
The bravest, most revolutionary thing we can do – as individuals and as part of the electronic music scene – is break down the walls of hostility and connect with other human beings. We can get started on Twitter, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr, and a thousand other social media apps. But the key to real change is to get out of the digital realm and connect in the real world. Don't just message, meet. Turn your Twitter followers and Facebook buddies into real friends. Party with them, hook up at festivals, hop on a plane and visit, seduce, love, share, engage.
The world isn't going to change unless we do. Let's fight the hate with a Year of Love.