Our esteemed columnist wonders why it is he isn’t more famous, musically speaking. We whistle, scuff the dirt and look in the other direction
Multiple choice question. Pay attention. One: am I an internationally renowned songwriter who’s penned hits for Adele, Autechre and Crazy Frog. Or two: am I a failed techno musician who masks bitter self-loathing with “witty” egotistical columns for leading electronic music magazines? Yeah, you guessed it. I’m an unsuccessful knob-twiddler who writes diatribes about more successful artists in the name of journalism. My jealousy is so acidic, you could pour it on your chips.
I had piano lessons as a kid, fancied myself as the new Mozart. There was something so human about an upright piano and I loved the mathematics of musical notation. Then rave happened. Rave taught me that all old things were rubbish, so I tipped my stupid piano into a river. Even now, there’s a swan somewhere downstream playing ‘Chopsticks’. I grabbed myself a copy of Ableton and let the pixels do the work. Finding the groove through incremental mouse clicks is in every way as human and as mathematical as a piano score.
These days you can release music on a paper aeroplane and still call it an album, so I signed up to Bandcamp and thought of a name for myself. I wanted something that sounded a bit mysterious, a bit Conan Doyle, so I plumped for Hounds of Hulme. Hulme is home of the classic night Herbal Tea Party where I used to dance like a tasered hippo.
You can have a listen to the music I farted out: it’s still there. A bit 1990s dour, a few too many presets, but some interesting samples and every beat constructed from scratch. In one year, I blurted out 20 tracks including a passable ‘Call Me Maybe’ drum ’n’ bass cover.
Since then? The creative flow dried up. Turn on the tap now and all you’ll get is dust. Paf. While that swan’s happily playing ‘The Entertainer’ to a simpering audience of quacking ducks, all I have are a million failed attempts to be half-good again. Everything I produce is yawnsome and crap. I wish I could throw my Ableton program into a river.
And so it’s back to my egotistical columns and writing about successful acts, something I’ve done for 25 years and something that will never let me down. That Gary Numan, huh? What a loser. Jeez. He’s literally worse than a piano-playing swan. That’s “witty”, isn’t it. Really, really “witty”. Sigh.