RA Exchange 537: Year In Review 2020


While I was sort of bummed that this wasn’t the ordinary “Critics Roundtable” format (it’s usually talking about releases, events, labels, etc, but this was a discussion about the “scene” in general) or guests (it’s typically RA staff, but this time it was Ash Lauryn and Turtle Bugg), and I miss Will Lynch leading this shit, it was still a great discussion.

And Tajh Morris spit straight FAX at the end, which i took far too long to transcribe by hand below:

Matt McDermott (RA): What do you think could be done to keep the momentum that’s been built this year going?

Tajh Morris (Turtle Bugg, Sublimate): I think that people should really take a step back and really just study what’s going on… What could happen, whats been happening. I’m a historical materialist so it’s a little different when i’m looking at things and when I compare to most people that are in the scene, i feel like.

and it’s just. it’s just like Federick Douglas said – power concedes nothing without a demand. Whatever, i’m paraphrasing that too.

But it’s like, people… I get where you’re coming from, and you know especially people who are just like “ah yeah, Fuck resident advisor” and all that stuff. And like, that’s cool, and it’s funny “haha” it’s whatever you know, who cares. But at the end of the day it’s like, I don’t know what people want instead. There’s a lot of talk and complaints, but i’m not sure what the alternatives are.

Because this is the way the world works. This shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I feel like there’s always this underlying idea that’s kinda been accepted that somehow because we’re in house and techno we’re better than the rest of society, almost? And that we’re operating outside of it. Like, no, we’re still operating – people gotta pay bills, corporations run the world, like you know.

I mean, people will probably get mad at me for this, but remember how people were mad about RA and i guess Fabric and other clubs getting grants from whatever European Institution that was? It was like, What are you guys mad about? Do you think they’re taking money from the homeless? Do you think that that money was just gonna go to like, giving kids computers and sneakers and shit? No, the money was there for corporate beauracratic purposes, and because these institutions are institutions and they have the means, the means of production to do such things: to hire lawyers, to fill out grant applications, to do all this stuff,. It’s not like me or you could have just gone up, and be like “oh yeah, i play stuff – grant money please”. That’s not how it works! Noones giving out free money. That’s not how it is. The only reason these things are getting money is because they are taxed. They pay taxes in some way, they’re major tax revenue makers in some form or fashion for whatever economy they’re attached to. It’s not, this isn’t in a bubble. It’s capitalism baby – this is what it is. you gotta pay bills, you gotta eat. Who do you think…what are you gonna do? Like OK, You’re mad at RA, you’re mad at…

First of all, nobody likes any publications apparently. They just want no publications. I don’t know what the, I guess everyone just wants to not have things, and just yell at each other on twitter and hope that Jack Dorsey doesn’t decide to just mute everybody. Because I don’t see what the alternative is. If you don’t have anything, if you don’t want DJ Mag, you don’t want any magazines. you don’t want any kinda websites. It’s like, are you guys… I don’t see anyone building no websites! All I see is a bunch of people just being mad. Just being mad, and being mad ain’t doin nothin. It’s put up or shut up – and if you don’t like how it is, let’s build something different! I’m down, I have people are trying to do whatever they can, but I haven’t heard anything too revolutionary yet. To just complain and be bitter and you know, and wanna go on the pile on. Noones helpin’-- you’re not helping the situation. Like, Clubs are closing, We need to talk about real things here. We need to talk about how we’re gonna rebuild this thing, Because it’s not gonna come from the government and we need to figure this – like i said earlier, [clubs are the] first ones to get cut, last ones to get put back on – so we need to figure this out ourselves and come together and stop with the divisiveness in alot of ways. It’s gotta start somewhere. If everyone’s just mad then ain’t nothing gonna get done.


I think this is a huge tendency for the twitter mob and i don’t know why. The tone has been very dismissive of RA on the interwebs the past year or two. Why is goal to eradicate any kind of centralized publication? I mean, at least DJ Mag, RA, etc are trying out here. I think creating a platform at the scale that RA does is probably pretty tough and I’m sure mistakes are to be expected. Let’s imagine for a second that the twitter mob does succeed in immolating RA, and indeed any sort of powerful/central media, what are we left with? the twitter Mob on twitter? a bunch of hot takes? a cancellation every 2-3 days? yikes. I’ll take RA even if they post some wack and/or problematic shit a few days a year. Mistakes are OK.


I remember recently seeing an Omar S. album that said Fuck Resident Advisor on it,

I guess the world is so complicated that maybe it isn’t fun, but I dig RA’s stream of information and also being an easy way to discover events when I travel. Its really easy to hate everything, maybe a little naive to be positive but after the past 4 years of amerikkka de-evolution, I feel grateful for every person and “institution” that I can resonate with and connect to the world of music at large through.

Libramix generally puts out more interesting mixes, but RA is like the VH1 of dance music idk.
It has a science fiction font, cool color palettes, long-ass interviews that always worth the read.

Looking for the meme I saw about all the major dance music outlets and it had RA on here,
it was pretty funny


Sounds like Mr. Turtle Bugg is ready to go easy on RA because he needs the platform. Can’t hate on that, (almost) everyone who wants to make a living in dance music needs RA to sell tickets, hype releases, etc. But when RA is the one-stop promo/review/news/ticket platform monopoly, I think they deserve whatever criticism they get. I don’t talk trash on my employer publicly because I need a job to eat. That doesn’t mean I disagree or get defensive when people trash them from the sidelines :man_shrugging:

Anyway, on to the podcast more generally: I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t get the usual roundtable format. This seemed way too narrow-focus for an annual review. What’s RA doing with all that sweet grant money if they can’t even get 4 critics to Zoom into the pod??


Completely agree on the broad point that there’s a lot of criticism and not a huge amount of interesting alternative ideas going about. And the critique doesn’t seem to be structural it’s just “I hate RA and they should pay attention to me / what I care about”. It’s not making some critique of big outlets and globalised scenes (if it was it wouldn’t be solely about RA).

It does seem a bit like people think they want to be politically radical in some way (often in a kind of identity politics way) but also be rewarded by the establishment. If anything you were saying was truly politically radical or threatened those at the top then ofc they are not going to just give you money and attention? That’s obviously not how it works.

If you are doing something genuinely politically radical and threatening then you may be able to find a way to make money off it, but you will probably have to build your own thing before major tastemakers will pay attention to you. And even then they may well try and ignore and divert from the more politically radical elements.

But tbf if the goal is to raise the representation of certain oppressed groups within some privileged group (e.g. DJs, producers or music journos who can make a living from their stuff), then the way people are going is probably a reasonable strategy. And it’s a good goal to pursue imo, I just personally don’t think it is hugely politically radical or threatening to those in power, either within the music business but particularly in wider society. Imo it’s probably going to end up with RA being similar to how it was but with better representation in some areas and some more diverse coverage, that would be a modest victory. Some people would probably prefer it to just wholesale devote itself to black music and women / trans / non binary artists, but in that case it seems like you’re just going to undermine the vehicle - it got big as a news and reviews site partially bc it is interested in what the mainstream are interested in, and for various reasons that is probably going to overrepresent privileged groups. If you completely remove that element you’re probably sawing off the branch you’re trying to balance on. And it’s fairly likely that if that happens there’ll be an explicitly apolitical (or perhaps even reactionary) business techno publication that will happily cater to that large, relatively well off audience, and the money will just leach away either gradually or rapidly. But I could be wrong.

Having said all that - better gender diversity is a good thing for the scene obviously, and whitewashing scenes that are all variations on black forms of music and often gay subcultures is a bad thing to do. But you are probably going to have to do it in a way that engages ppl rather than guilts them. Ppl don’t get attracted to dance music to be told to eat their greens imo. My guess is that it’ll be a long slog.


Completely agree on the broad point that there’s a lot of criticism and not a huge amount of interesting alternative ideas going about. And the critique doesn’t seem to be structural it’s just “I hate RA and they should pay attention to me / what I care about”. It’s not making some critique of big outlets and globalised scenes (if it was it wouldn’t be solely about RA).

the problem with RA and euro reporting in general is that it always presents itself as the source of truth, the know it all. its always “best new music” - never ‘RA picks our favorite friend’s music’, which wouldhave been fine.

im probably going off topic here but another issue is the misrepresentation of scenes and false narratives. it seems every time i open the website theres a new ‘hot booming brazilian scene’ that i never heard about and a ‘local representative’ dj speaking on it. i literally live here and never seem these. i don’t know if anyone can relate, but i can imagine this happens to other emerging countries aswell. if thats the case, i find it strongly problematic…


Arguably this is just you (or whoever else) projecting onto it though? Obviously there is no source of objective musical truth. No one could literally give you a “best new music” in that sense if you need it to be that literal? It feels trivial to me. Not to be too aggro, but who cares about a colloquial label that 90% of people are going to take as it was intended? Why does it bother you?

If you think it is literally only people reviewing their mates tunes and pretending that that’s not what they’re doing then I can understand that, but why would you think that? I’m sure there’s an element there (small scene, people circulate) but I doubt it actually is “i’m going to pretend my mate’s shit tune is great and then ignore everything else”. Maybe I’m wrong.

I can understand this a bit more, but I would be interested to know what specifically you find problematic about it? Like maybe there’s some bait tech-house type scene in Lisbon that is bigger than the Principe stuff (for example). But why should anyone care?

Is your problem that they don’t cover things which are more popular on the ground (which is the criticism a lot of people seem to have cared about re: the ignored Deep Tech scene in the 2010s), or is it just that it’s being contextualised in a way that’s not truthful (i.e. as a “hot scene”). Do you think there is room for aesthetic judgement about the value of things that isn’t linked to whether it is the most popular scene in a particular place?

I guess I’m more interested in getting into the specifics of why people think things are morally wrong, or practically damaging. If it’s just “they have a perspective on it that doesn’t align with my perspective”, why does that matter? I can see why it might be frustrating maybe, but people do have different perspectives. Why should the most popular music site share your perspective? Maybe it’s the most popular site precisely because it doesn’t.

I realise I’m coming off as a massive RA fanboy here - I’m not really, it’s not something I pay a huge amount of attention to. I appreciate the occasional podcast or feature, I don’t really keep up with the reviews (which I’ve never cared much for) or the news.


Side note:

But would this really have been fine? I suspect not.