Utopia - Perfect Harmony
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Anyone who’s into electronic music has enjoyed at some point the grandeur of rave culture. The intensity of the music, the fashion – heck, even the effort of getting to and from one is a right of passage. Joined by three of Sydney’s best, I get a fairly unbiased view from guys who started out as fans and have since become pillars of its community.
“It’s been a long time, since well before I was a main room DJ at Utopia that the line-up has been entirely home-grown,” Matrix says. “It’s great that the event organisers are acknowledging the local DJs. Their ability to rock a crowd week after week is what keeps the scene alive so it’s awesome that Utopia this time around embraces that.”
“When we started it was all locals, but for the last four or five years it’s been about the internationals,” Suae continues. “It’s a big move Powerhouse have made and it’s got such a good response – and it’s great for us ’cause it puts the attention on the local DJs.”
DJs Weaver and Suae have been playing the events for eight years and started back-to-back in the hardcore room but have been enjoying solo sets since the first three or four parties they played for Utopia promoters Powerhouse Productions. “The majority of parties are back-to-back, they try to fit in as many DJs as possible and make it look bigger,” Suae says.
With a spike in interest in rave culture reigniting post ‘electro’ backlash, this event could not have come at a better time, and given that the Reunion massive have their own arena, this Utopia could bridge a bit of a generation gap.
“What’s rave music these days might not be rave music to those guys anymore,” Weaver admits. “All of the old school guys wouldn’t go to a rave these days.”
“Hopefully they come and check out the other stuff,” Suae adds.
Technologically, a lot has changed since The Prodigy were looping up reggae hits and Mark Dynamix was holding it down on 2RDJ but the essence of raving hasn’t changed a bit in these three.
“The sound is fundamentally the same; whether it be hardcore or trance, the basic similarity in quality dance music is that it has to be totally sick,” Matrix says. “Dance music since Ultra Sonic’s Annihilating Rhythm through to today’s big acts like the Headhunterz have always been faithful to the basis of the sound.”
“We started playing vinyl back then, we were record shopping every week,” Suae says, “but now we get sent a lot of promos so we’re playing on CDs.”
“We produce [our own tracks] now, too,” Weaver adds, “so we play our own stuff out, when we were using CDs after people playing on vinyl, we would notice it was heaps louder than on vinyl.”
Not only has the technology changed for them but the rave scene also experiences similar frustrations to the other types of club music out there: annoyances such as – but not limited to – talentless posers getting gigs, people misunderstanding the music and douchebag punters spoiling the fun at events.
“It takes dedication, passion, talent, people skills, luck, tact, a big smile, a good heart and, above all, it requires you to check your ego at the door.” Matrix says. “I consider DJing to be a huge privilege and a massive responsibility.”
Weaver agrees: “We are the generation that work hard to get gigs and play gigs well consistently so we keep getting the gigs.”
“It’s all good when people bring their mates but six events in when your mates have done their bit you’ve got to have a consistent and dynamic set to back you up,” Suae says. “It’s about the guys with the passion and the talent.”
They’re very realistic about banging out party music for big audiences and don’t pay attention to the haters.
“Most of the rave stuff always has been cheesey!” Weaver admits. “People are like ‘Hardcore- That’s that chipmunk music-’, but it’s a respected scene in the UK and other parts of the world, but sometimes it’s frowned upon locally.”
“There’s listening music but if you play that on a dancefloor, on a dancefloor it doesn’t work,” Suae chips in. “You need stuff that gets people up straight away, it’s gotta be fun – and it’s the most diverse scene I know. At our parties they have drum n bass, trance, hard house… loads of styles!”
Aside from sped-up vocals and rinsed-out hits finding their way back on to dancefloors, the scene can be marred by ‘trouble makers’ who have been identified as ‘lads’ and will be barred access to the upcoming event. Whilst the boys say they can ruin a good night for some people, it’s universally agreed that they are a small bunch of grumpy young boys who will figure themselves out over time.
“You used to have candy ravers, which [are] people dressed up in fluffy stuff like they do in the States, you get people now dressed up in gang clothes but they’re going to get barred,” Suae says.
Admiring the effort that goes into such a production, the trio all end on a positive note.
“I think if people realised what was involved they’d be shocked!” Matrix says. “I’m sure the logistics of doing it are so daunting. I really respect the people that organise these events.’
“Because the crowd is there, you enjoy it so much,” Weaver says. “It’s awesome to be a part of it, it’s huge.’
Suae signs off: “Nothing beats an arena of six or seven thousand people.”
WHAT: Utopia Homegrown at Acer Arena
WHEN: Saturday 9 August