What We Started (2017)

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WHAT WE STARTED (2017)
RATING: ★★★
DIRECTORS: Bert Marcus, Cyrus Saidi
STARRING: Carl Cox, Martin Garrix, Pete Tong
CERTIFICATE: 12A
RUNNING TIME: 94 mins
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

A documentary about dance music feels like a contradiction in terms; to document what is an intuitive, primal, physical activity risks robbing its essence. That said, the form’s history is as colourful and politically charged as the well-worn, hoary old saga of rock, and co-directors Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi give a decent, star-witness-studded account of the evolution of sexually-liberating New York disco to the more consumer-led EDM (electronic dance music) of today. Fresh footage of fiftysomething Carl Cox working a crowd over a ten-hour all-nighter in Ibiza is contrasted with 18-year-old, laptop-enabled Dutch bedroom wizard Martin Garrix inarticulately awed by a dance festival’s tens of thousands whom he will coax into ecstasy with EDM’s signature move, the pause and climactic “drop”. What We Started pays respect to pioneers Paul Oakenfold, Louis Vega and Pete Tong, and teases old-school opprobrium from them as they accuse today’s “superstar DJs” of lacking their hard-won turntable skills in a USB-stick age. Does the technology matter? The jury’s out in what is two-sided account. But the granddads certainly have better war stories to tell.

 

 

NB: We are experiencing technical problems at Radio Times and are unable to post this review. So I’m putting it up here for the time being.

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25 years in showbiz

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As 2013 fades from view, and with it, one largely overlooked anniversary – that is, My First 25 Years In Showbiz – I ponder the fact that I had once considered actually marking my silver jubilee in the media with some kind of tour, or one-man show, but I seem to have settled with some determination into scriptwriting (under which umbrella I include script editing) as my chief creative outlet in recent years, and even radio seems to be fading now, so it seems more suitable to simply mark its passing with a blog entry. Writing prose for free: that sums up my current lot, too.

My quarter-century is well documented, not least in my third memoir That’s Me In The Corner, which you can now buy as an eBook for £5.42 from the evil, tax-avoiding Amazon. (I can’t. Or at least, I can, but I don’t have a Kindle to load it up onto.) So I thought I might cut the yakkin’ and sum up 25 years of indecision and happy accident in a single image. The grab above was captured from the studio webcam of what was the main 5 Live studio in Television Centre, a building now cruelly and unsentimentally condemned. I think an eagle-eyed listener grabbed it, and sent it to me. If it was you, raise your hand: it’s a superb shot. I’m dating it back to circa 2009? I am clearly waiting for the light to go green. My best guess is that I was filling in for Mark Kermode – a gig that I haven’t done since I was pushed off the subs’ bench by Simon Mayo’s producer and replaced by Nigel Floyd and Boyd Hilton because their names rhyme – and Simon was broadcasting from a sporting event, possibly the cricket, which is why the studio was otherwise empty. There I am, on my own, waiting, with my BBC canteen coffee, summing up my own career!

Actually, the very fact that it’s indistinct is perfect. Here are a few other images that either give me a Proustian rush or say something thematic about the past 25 years.

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I’m rather tempted to leave them uncaptioned. Let the images speak for themselves. If they say anything, it’s that I have spent a good chunk of the past 25 years being around famous and talented people and not complaining or being self-conscious about that fact. Not always by the side of a lake in Sweden, as above, usually in front of “branding”, but in the vicinity of talent, and that’s the key.

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This one needs captioning. It’s the mighty 6 Music team finally winning Digital Radio Station of the Year at the Sonys in 2012. I was not there, which is the significant part. I celebrated their win anyway.

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C&H166I hope you enjoyed that visual celebration of not knowing what to do with myself for 25 years. (My home life has been, it must be said, a whole lot less chaotic.) Let’s get on with the 26th and make it so boringly focussed, there’ll be nothing to illustrate it with bar a selfie of me at my laptop.

Happy New Year!