Rescued From The Fire: Blackdown

An ongoing series in which we ask artists what record they’d risk life and limb to save from a burning inferno

Martin Clark, the Keysound label co-founder, influential UK blogger, producer and DJ also known as Blackdown takes a stroll away from memory lane to savour some silicon for this 41st edition of Rescued From The Fire.

Blackdown’s Computer

What is the one record I would save from a burning house? That would be easy… my computer. Why? Because the track I’d save doesn’t exist yet.

Lemme explain.

Over the years I’ve interviewed a lot of mainstream dance DJs – hundreds, maybe a thousand – and one thing was constant. The bigger they got, the more disinterested in music they were capable of sounding. “Bits,” “floating about,” “doing it in clubland.” Yawn, mate, you’re just telling me the record is big, not how much you like it. (In fact Pete Tong once yawned all the way through an interview. Boy that made me feel special.)

But ask these kinds of dudes about records they bought when they were 17, and they go weak at the knees. Their voices change, drop into hushed tones. Their eyes glaze over as they reminisce and drift back. Those records… yeah that import ‘80s hip hop 12”… oh how it smelt, it smelt like excitement and and… it smelt like danger.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on ‘em. While in interview they don’t manage to display the kind of passion and excitement they’re trying to invoke in their audiences, they’re only human after all. They were young and they fell in love; in love with music in a way that’s symptomatic of society at large. Clubs are a constant feature of UK culture but if you step back and take the long view, they’re most often populated with people in a certain phase of their lives, finding out who they are and what they want to be. Same venues, different crowds. Think that isn’t true? Then go to their wedding when they’re 30 – they won’t be playing the music from that year’s clubs. It’ll be from 12 years ago. That week’s number one would clear the floor. It’s a law of nature.

Acting like the best record of your life was the one you heard when you were 16 is like saying the best sex you ever had was losing your virginity...

Here’s the thing though: I’ve been fighting this law for a very long time. Yes, I’ve fallen in love with music; truly, madly, deeply. And yes, I feel very strongly about those records from those times and the people and places they invoke. But I’ll let you in on a secret: it didn’t happen to me just once. In fact it’s happened many times… maybe six times most strongly? I forget, it was all a blur, a whirlwind romance. Please forgive me, I was in love. I’m hoping it will happen again.

The best relationships get better with time. Deeper, stronger, more rewarding. Acting like the best record of your life was the one you heard when you were 16 is like saying the best sex you ever had was losing your virginity, and, well, it’s been downhill ever since. How depressing. Acting like your sacred vinyl album bought when you were at school is the one you treasure most would be tantamount to admitting you married the wrong person. For life.

Maybe I’m deluded, a hopeless romantic or an eternal optimist, but I still think the best record I’ll ever hear, I haven’t heard yet. Some mind-mangling, life-altering, hold-on-wait-a-minute wot-the-bumba-do-u-call-it dubplate will be made, and somehow reach my ears. Will it come from the stacks of 12”s, LPs, 7”s and 10” dubs behind me in my record room? Unlikely. It’ll come from the PC in front of me, over the WiFi. So, when the smoke seeps under the studio door, the flames lick at my ankles and I know the time is come, I’ll grab the hardware and run towards the future, where the possibilities lie. Because I already know what the past is like, and that’s yawnsome.

By Blackdown on July 20, 2012

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