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the value of experience

May 14, 2009 By: Brian Crawford Category: Personal

I used to think that the younger generation had a bit of an edge when it came to making electronic music. They have the spirit of youth, a good grasp of technology, and more than anything, lots of time on their hands! A lot of producers seem to be in their low 20s, and producer profiles on Last.fm often tout the amazing things these young hotshots have done at such a young age. And I am indeed impressed.

lately, however, I’ve started to think a bit about the other side of the coin. With age comes experience; not simply time spent figuring out how to produce, but also the experience of simply “being there” – growing up listening to certain genres of music that can formulate the kind of tunes that you eventually create. In my case, I grew up in Toronto during the 80s listening to (what else?) 80s pop music. When I got a bit older I started to get into Chicago house music (something that I still enjoy) and I was huge into mixes of the Hot 103 (and then Hot 97) dance party sessions that my friend Phil recorded and brought back from New York City every couple of months. I never set foot in Studio 54 or Emerald City, but I still have some old cassette tapes with some fantastic dance mixes spun in those clubs.

I can still remember the first time I heard a techno song; or something like it, anyway. It was Information Society’s instrumental version of Running, which I to this day feel was way ahead of its time. That genre of music didn’t really have a name back then, so in my youth I called it “Space Music” for lack of a better term. When techno started to flourish I was on the cutting edge of that. When the rave scene first broke out I went to a few raves, and what an era that was. I spent most of the 90s listening to bands like Orbital, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Drum Club and Underworld.

I missed the disco scene of the 70s, but I wonder what sort of attitude experiencing that culture would have brought to my music. Or if I could go further back, to the early days of electronic… what kind of an upbringing would that have been?

I have great respect for those who are making electronic music well into their 40s and 50s… what experience and breadth they must have!

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