Leeds Forum

Is Dance Music Dead John - Smokestack

Says only the superclub died

Name John Hope
Job Promoter and DJ, Smokestack
Type of music played Funk, soul, reggae, latin, 60s beat, old school hip-hop

What do you think of the dance music scene on the whole?
It’s a bit of a mix. I’m actually into loads of different stuff and like a lot of dance or electronically produced music. A lot of the commercial end of it sounds very generic to me now and is wanting for new ideas. The better stuff in that area is probably around the clash between dance and guitar-based music - The Rapture, Justice etc. If you head into the underground there’s lots of exciting stuff going on. Yes, the superclub phenomenon fell flat on its face a few years ago, but there’s loads of small clubs and some that are not so small that are very exciting at the moment. There’s lots of fresh stuff coming out right across the different genres of dance music.

Do you think the dance and indie scenes are merging somewhat?
Not entirely. With the way music is produced these days you’re going to continue to get a lot of overlap but it’s obvious that you’re still going to get loads of stuff that is out and out dance and out and out indie. That said, with the spiky indie punk boom of the past four or five years getting a bit stale now, a lot of the stuff which sounds freshest at the moment happens to have quite an electronic edge to it - MGMT etc.

Do you think people are turning from dance to guitar music, or do you think soul/funk is getting more popular?
I don’t think any of them are doomed! The guitar-based music scene isn’t as strong as it was a couple of years ago but there’s still loads of great stuff coming out and punters seem to be out gigging more than ever before. Equally the dance scene is ticking along nicely with new club nights cropping up all the time. Both present equally attractive scenes for younger people who aren’t so bothered with the mainstream. As for funk and soul, I think it’s as healthy as it has been for some time. It actually seems that traditional jazz is suffering if anything but funk and soul has certainly seen a rise in popularity, maybe partly due to the fact that there’s not quite so much good guitar stuff around as there was two or three years back.

Is dance music dead?
Try going into a club in Holland with 10,000 people and asking that! There may not be clubs that size in the UK but it’s going strong and still very popular. There’s lots of fresh exciting stuff coming out too. Take dubstep for example. That’s a very exciting new genre right now that can be taken in no end of new directions just as drum’n'bass has been, and that’s been continually morphing and re-inventing itself for over 15 years. As long as music is produced with computers you’ll have dance music in one form or other!

Posted on Wednesday 18th February 2009

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