A little over 12 months ago, I sat down with Omid 16B in London for a candid interview at what was an in depth and passionate look at Omid’s views on the state of the music industry. Fast forward to now and Omid and I recently caught up online and we both agreed to revisit our meeting and for me to fire over some questions, to my surprise, Omid fired back with a few of his own back to me. It is not often I am put in the hot seat, I am more akin to asking the questions. So sit back and enjoy.
Our recent article “Stealing Fame” placed a spotlight on a topic within the industry that has gathered pace in recent years. As a label head and artist manager, have you noticed a change in the way ambitious DJs chase their dream?
Let’s not get all serious just yet lol …..but if you insist Id say, No Ive not noticed a massive change in how over ambitious DJs chase their dreams, it’s just a touch more blatant now than a few years ago, of course there will always be ruthless nutters that are prepared to sell their gran mothers or children for the glory but we shouldn’t be any more concerned about that unless we like wasting our valuable time over nothing.
When you’ve got 100 DJs earning more money than 10000 people can spend, constantly headlining the same shows year in year out, monopolising events and festivals, living a life that could feed millions of people yet their music has no relevance to their status and certainly won’t be the reason why they will be remembered, it’s no surprise to me why a lot of the so called new younger artists are being influenced by that and seem to lack a true essence in creativity and expression but favour fame and glory in all its shapes and sizes, are you really surprised when all we do is glorify success in the most pathetic unnatural way and constantly penetrate popularity over finding true treasures?
The funny part is how the so called credible DJs who moan about others being commercial or talentless jump at the chance of having their photos taken next to Paris Hilton ..that’s even funnier actually, Paris is the smart one here… Or better still DJs who think they’re better just because they use vinyl instead of CDJs or Traktor in sync and get publicity and more spotlight regarding their statements, it’s a pathetic race to disturb and separate what could be a unified bond between all walks of life and all talents regardless of opinion or technology. I’m starting to bore myself now, next question please …
Streaming of music has gone in leaps and bounds over the last 12 months and the value of music now relegated to a few cents per play. Do you see a future where music is once again valued by the public or is this the decline of an old music empire and it it here to stay?
Didn’t you ask me a similar question last year? Come on Damion you can do better than that or you trying to catch me out? Music is valued by the public but not in the traditional sense, meaning “we” not them, we are using the facilities that are available and so we should, however one cannot put the public at fault if the value has dropped accordingly, it’s society as a whole and media companies that have made more impact on music becoming a tool rather than the source. No point blaming the streaming companies either which are doing good as much as what seems to be a smaller percentage of revenue going to the artists.
Who knows? Im not going to predict what’s going to happen in the future but what would be a more artistic approach is for all the artists to have the basic necessities for the survival of their art, instead of PRS / MCPS / ASCAP etc handing out money on the generalisations they make in favour of the pop sector and commercial artists, better to encouraging a way of life for creativity however simple or advanced, artists can then continue their love for their art without commercial pressure or a strike to feed more than they need due to pressure from the industry.
I really don’t see the point of going backwards or being traditional in any sense, the world is moving at a fast pace and it’s no ones fault directly. Streaming is part of the race and at pace to reach levels where everything is compatible and easy to operate, so of course certain values may get replaced for the sake of convenience which is always the case with technology.
Speaking of empires, let’s talk media, something we know is close to your heart. How important is it to have a fair, balanced and informative media today, rather than throw away click baiting journalism, is it a race to the bottom of who can get the most hits and ANY content out before others?
Ha, are you serious? How important is a piece of string specially if it’s attached to your head full of hair? There is no such thing, there is no fair or balanced journalism due to the facts being opinionated and from a singular perspective rather than the voice of all, So most people in that business won’t like me saying this but It’s not important at all on the bigger scheme of things, it’s actually a confusing factor having all this information that isn’t really making an artist who they really are but instead building a perception some people tend to believe . We’re all human and certainly not indestructible or born with a metallic heart fit enough to be Iron man.
Another artist over the weekend uses social media to display bigoted opinions which unsurprisingly are jumped on and vilified. Interestingly, Ten Walls a few weeks back, saw a surge in attention and even increased his fan base following his outburst. Are we seeing the start of a clever PR scam or is this 2 instances of poorly thought out posting?
Everyone should speak up and say what they really think or shut the fuck up? freedom of speech? isn’t that basically what freedom is? Free to be silent or free to say what you feel or think?
Some opinions and views feel wrong to some and acceptable to others so it’s really not for me to say if it’s done purposely for PR or it’s a stupid outburst …It happens and all the time, might be a famous person or the average joe? Homophobic or racist? Religious or inhumane? its an opinion it’s not a fact. However the fact that remains throughout time is a majority of humans are not very kind or understanding towards the ignorant or strongly opinionated whether they are haters or lovers, doesn’t matter, humans are generally still hypocritical and only act kindly when it suits themselves or who they represent, when it doesn’t sit well with them, they can be as aggressive as the statements that make them angry at the first place, revenge is always justified somehow in the rebound, that’s way too serious for me so I stay out of it because it’s all temporary and doesn’t make any difference on the long run, it just wastes time and energy resulting to regret of actions and a wish to have kept silent before any outburst was needed. It’s just my opinion and I’m certainly not saying I’m right.
Recently at IMS, it was discussed about the role agents have with an event, citing a large amount of promoters dis-satisfied that agents demand too much control over the layout and placement of their artists on artwork. Do you think a line needs to be drawn between the roles and agents leave the promoter alone, or is there a strong case to be more hands on?
Agents should take the promoters job once in awhile and promoters should become agents, seriously, only then will both sides appreciate the work and energy each partake for the love and comfort of the artist. Don’t get me wrong, most agents are doing what the artists order and wish for and only carry out what the artists desire, let’s not blame the agents for everything.
It may seem like a contradiction but the deeper you look the contradictions become complimentary, without good agents influencing the promoters, most promoters would be out of jobs because most artists don’t have the time, patience or knowledge in how to deal with the promoters and without the promoters having some guidelines and push from the agents the promoters would also try their luck every now and then getting away with lower standards, resulting to what would seem like a lack of respect for the artist.
As far as who sits on top of the bill or flyer? do it in alphabetical order? again I’m sure some artists will start thinking of names starting with the letter A or numeric number lol …its all a bit silly if you really ask me …Personally I turn a few promoters heads upside down when I request to be put last on the bill and they say “but you’re bigger than so and so don’t you think thats silly? I say “it’s all silly so why not be silly?“
Agents have one of the hardest jobs in the industry and if they are wise and honest it’s also a valuable asset for the artists to show respect and care to keep them strong and energised. Unfortunately some artists have a hidden hate for agents due to obvious reasons but a suggestion to those would be try doing what they do day and night and see how long you’d last, walk in their shoes and see for yourself, there are some top agents out there and they give there all to everything they do but they are also human of course and have their imperfections, take them out for a beer or a meal once in awhile and stop acting like they are your slaves.
Good promoters on the other hand are always under pressure to deliver in all sectors, very few and too far, it’s not to say most of them may eventually give in and go the easy way out, again it’s a matter of survival which seems to prioritise over true talent sometimes, yet to be a valuable asset to the industry on the whole a requirement for vision, a lot of energy and hard work is essential.
There has been much talk on social media recently about the way in which PR companies and labels manipulate the press in order to push promotion on their artists. Hype Machine have even issued a statement regarding it. Are the press fair game, and is this just another part of the way in which the old model of music business is failing?
Let’s be honest, well let’s be really honest and not play games, most PR companies have no idea or real love for the music they are promoting, just a robotic affair to create hype and money. If they really loved the music they’d become artists or fans not a market tradesman which is exactly what they are. There’s no better PR than a true fan base and word of mouth spread genuinely.
Unfortunately some artists fall for it and value the perception more than the source which is the music…I’ve always believed in the inner guide which will tell you if you listen carefully, none of this matters at the end, no ones front cover or statue will last the test of time and wherever it’s standing at the moment will be replaced by another and one day completely forgotten.. If you become famous and rich that’s great, if that’s what you want and if it doesn’t turn out that way, so what? The music is the eternal voice running through us if we’re lucky enough to experience it at its most purest and innocent nature which is there to be enjoyed and bring us closer, at present media hype or PR pressure seems to only generates a false picture and segregates us in different categories forming status manipulation of the highest order. Really if you knew how free one feels not playing that game there would be no PR In the way we know it today.
Your first album release was Sounds From Another Room (1998) you must have grown and changed with your style and approach to producing since then. Talk us through the old Omid to today’s Omid
Nothing’s changed, im still as innocent and silly as I was back then honest lol, specially nowadays more than ever. I did go through a 7 year stage in my life when I was leading with SOS and however much we tried to control our egos it wasn’t in our hands, all three of us fell into the trap that we were trying to avoid at the first place, that was not what SOS is about. It was suppose to be about the true essence of a collective spirit not 3 grown men trying to look cool acting like children with not enough toys to play with and still miss their flights and turn up to gigs late…good old days eh ;)
Honestly, Sometimes one of us would have an ego bigger than Australia and then one of us would get lost in time yet constantly trying to find themselves again, whilst occasionally the other would think they are the saviour of the planet and the next coming, it really was like a film made by a director on ketamine whilst their head was being chewed by a panda bear. Once the SOS thing was settled I began to find myself again and enjoyed myself independently without the search to be needed or loved artificially. Starting to accept my wild and spontaneous nature, living life more dangerously, I felt alive again and full inside rather than a corpse in a coffin of safety for comfort and security.
As far as how I produce or perform as a DJ, I don’t like things to be easy and straightforward, I actually enjoy the gigs that go slightly wrong hence why I always create the more complex methods of action to keep myself interested and sensitive to my surroundings, slightly insane it may sound but creating a logical or pre programmed safety net isn’t what makes me happy. I love the unexpected more than anything and certainly have no fear of getting it wrong in some people’s eyes whilst I’m in the zone, if it means I’ll get it bang on even for 30 seconds ? It’s worth it to me because I fall in love with it so deeply.
From the studio to your label, since its inception in 1994, just how far has the game changed for labels since those days? Is there still that imagination and excitement you must have had then, is it an extension of your personality and lifestyle or has it morphed into a business that keeps you grounded?
It’s never only about business even when it’s about money, I love and respect money and it’s useful specially if you are a nut job who still collects old Roland gear like me, but let’s be honest here, if you can do what you love to do for years and years and make a living from it without being greedy, there’s nothing more rewarding. Of course my imaginations continues to fluster in all dimensions but my excitement isn’t necessarily constant, it’s here and there, mainly due to growing up a little and realising certain things are nothing to get excited about and better to stay cool and play it down keeping your grip rather than being obvious or over the top.
What goes up must come down, but if you’re in between, then there’s no reason to drop or push too hard to rise, you can stay in the dream longer .
A difficult question I guess to ask, given your love of music – I quote “I love music how it can make our emotions flow; how it can change the way we think; the way we love; the way we express ourselves. – Omid 16B” but by some odd change of fate, what would you do if you weren’t a producer, DJ, label owner and artist agent?
I’d be Robin Hood or a farmer or a Mr nobody, just live a peaceful and quiet life, however boring it may be. All jokes aside, Id like to be selfish enough not to be concerned about any pressure to be somebody, I would do whatever I enjoy and hope there’s a variety of fruit tree’s I can pick fruit from freely, there’s nothing of more value than your entire freedom no matter what, and the only way you can have desire with freedom is to do what you love doing for the love of doing it without any concern for the outcome, I bet you’ve heard that one before lol …
Actually I’d love to be a swimming teacher or perhaps come back as a Dolphin, maybe even an actor? Who knows? A job takes away most of your freedom and gives you commitments which you must attend to, that’s why I love jumping from roll to roll, it saves me from going entirely mad or hating what I do, avoiding too much of one thing, it’s important for me to have personal space avoiding too many people around me all the time. I do love being around people and friends even in a working environment but not constantly.
Lets wind it down from being so seriously and talk about what makes you tick, who is Omid 16B, what makes you happy and what is the one thing people don’t know about you?
I used to be a chess player when I was little, I loved playing cricket as a kid and I was a massive Liverpool FC fan building up to my teens. Kenny Dalglish was my all time hero, before I discovered the music of The Cure! I’m not possessed by anything or anyone anymore which gives me the solid & reliable strength, true love and an honest stance in what I hate or dislike, till I start to love it again.
There were times in the past when I wanted something or someone so badly Id risk everything to get it, was my only source to fulfil me, all that mattered was the surface and what I could achieve for me and feed my hunger for power, but now looking back at those things, it feels like it was part of my growth and essential for my own understanding. There was a time I would get nervous about having a child one day, but that all changed recently when my girlfriend finally told me “we did the magic”, only yesterday we went to find out if it’s a boy or a girl. Our Daughter is due in November this year and it’s our first child so I couldn’t be any happier than this moment. If you want to do some thing, you got to be prepared to do it right now. Baby is coming!
— — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Now normally this is where we finish up the interview, but Omid turned and threw me in the hot seat with his own set of questions back at me, why?
“They say a good idea comes only when you naturally include more than just yourself in the equation, so when Damion Pell (Editor) of Decoded Mag asked to do an interview with me, the bulb on top of my head lit and I threw the idea of also interviewing him considering his dedication and a natural clear sense of confidence it was definitely worth getting inside his head making him also the artist, for a change.” – Omid 16B
Recently, from reading some of your posts it’s seems like you’re slowly getting back into being a DJ as opposed to a Journalist, I assume your passion for playing music in clubs is stronger than writing articles on artists etc ? Can you tell us a little bit about the two in comparison for you ?
I wouldn’t say there is a strong leaning passion one over the other. I love music, I love how it can tell a story and touch people, likewise an article can do that as well. Most people don’t actually realise that I have been a DJ for over 20 years, toured, done main stages to small sweaty back rooms. It is part of me and always will be in some respect I guess. I did however take a break about 18 months ago to really focus on the magazine and I guess in some respects other people’s careers.
I have also found myself in an odd situation where I believe it would be abusing my position possibly by approaching for gigs as it could be seen as an abuse of my position as Editor. I do believe in ethics and integrity and wouldn’t want a gig tarnished with rumours I only got it because I who I am. I have been quite focused of late with producing including a recent release with my production partner Alex Preda under the guise of Pell & Preda, so although not doing the club circuit so much these days, stuck away in the studio instead.
What makes Decoded Magazine relevant in today’s over saturated market with major publications taking the stage as far as power and influence in the industry is concerned. What’s so different about you and how do you aim to make a wider approach?
We always started off with a vision to stand out from the crowd, to stand up for the little guys, to not put out anything to do with the EDM scene, to stay away from click baiting or poor journalism. I believe it is something we have stuck to, although it is hard some days. We could easily put out Paris Hilton this or Justin Beiber is making deep house or a listicle (articles that just list things, like buzzfeed) etc, but what will it achieve? site traffic? sure, but we are not a tabloid mag and never will be. So, that means how do we reach a wider audience without breaking our ethos? A lot of hard work, networking with agents, speaking with promoters, supporting the base of the industry, right up to the top. A professional approach to everything we do, nothing half arsed and always informative, rather than disposable works for us. It is a long road, but we have gained a lot of industry respect for what we do and that means a lot to us.
List your current top 5 magazines in the industry and a little line as to why you chose them ?
1. Has to be Digital DJ Tips – these guys give us great support daily, looking forward to having beers with the team at ADE
2. Magnetic Mag – US based mag, but really on the ball with the underground scene and lots of integrity
3. Pitchfork – these guys have been around for over 10 years now and started as nothing to one of the most respected magazines globally – you have to appreciate that
4. Mixmag – now, let me explain. When these guys really get back to their old skool style of writing, they smash it,
5. Onion Magazine – now swallowed up into the pages of Rip It Up Magazine in Adelaide, Australia, but I have to always respect these guys for taking me on as a naive writer back in 1996, which lead to an amazing career in the music / club industry since
Which producers and DJS would you send to Tibet for a long holiday in self awareness and meditation and why?
Sneak, so he can just calm the fuck down. Luckily he wouldn’t be able to fly his really high horse with him in business class
What’s the difference between a TECH House DJ or an EDM / Electro House DJ? musically of course but you can elaborate further if you wish?
There is no differences between DJs when you really get down to it. We all live and breathe music, that buzz you get and so forth, what IS different is the nature of the scene that surrounds that music. I have nothing against EDM music, not my cup of tea and would rather stick a pot on my head and bash it with a ladle, but each to their own, what I do hate is the pretentious wankery that goes with it ie: bottle service, VIP sections, people there to be seen and not dance. It is so far removed from reality and what the dance music scene is really all about, that I can only shake my head.
Who’s initially responsible for piracy on the net in your eyes, any idea if there is a solution were still waiting for?
Well, the user in the end. If there was no demand for free music from people, if there was respect for music and creative property from the user, then there would be no industry around it to support it. How do we get rid of it? you don’t, that horse bolted a LONG time ago, it is how we deal with it now and into the future that matters. People need to feel there is a value to it and that then comes down to the artists, how they interact with their fans, giving something back and so forth. In time people will see the value in supporting that artists and buying their music and become defenders of it when someone they know tries to share it. It is not going to happen overnight, but it will happen.
You got the job to throw the best party and you got two rooms and all the budget you need ..can you list the DJs / producers you’d book in each room in headline order plus the kind of fee you think they would probably be happy with and accept?
Well, I will base this off a really good club night with the doors opening at 10pm and closing at 10am, otherwise we may end up with a festival
Room 1 Techno – Carl Cox, Underworld, Jon Rundell, Dubspeeka, Ida Enberg, Satoshie Tommie
Room 2 Progressive / Melodic – Sasha, Nick Warren, Hernan Cattaneo, Mark Knight (old skool set) Tim Andresen, You and me back to back would be interesting
As for fees, well, I am pretty privy to most their fees and best not to be putting it out there in public, I will get lynched.
List your top 10 tunes of all time with a little line as to why?
I am never good at this, as my tops tunes can change daily, but lets give it a shot
Misjah & Tim – Access – classic 90’s rave, what more can I say?
Commander Tom – Are Am Eye – used to play this a fair bit in the early 90s, is still as fresh as the day it was done. Love to have been in the studio when that was made
Bob Moses – Far from the tree – Met these guys recently in Dubai and had a great chat. Such nice guys and this track is simply amazing
Tony De Vit – Are you all ready? This one track sums up the days of raving and remember dropping this at a rave in 99 mainstage and never forget the room just so alive
Layo & Bushwacka – Love story – funny enough, this track really hit me just as I was turning my back from DJing in the rave scene and never looked back
Pachanga Boys – Time – massive massive, massive, plus is good if you need a long track to play whilst you duck out to the toilet
Sgt Slick – White treble, Black Bass – Jammin funky house, recall Carl Cox dropping this in Australia, don’t ask me what year it was, is all a blur
HMC – LSD – massive Australian techno from very early 90’s, it really set Australia on the map for awhile
Sasha – Xpander – This always reminds me of summer of 2000 in Australia for some reason, don’t know why, just a track that always brings back some amazing memories that I will never forget.
NWA – Express yourself – before dance music, was heavily into rap in the late 80’s, early 90’s and was all over NWA. This is just such a massive summer jam that brings anyone alive
There’s a good few BIG managers and artist agencies out there so imagine your an artist and you had to choose for your future/ career, who would you choose ? You can Only choose 1 from each category.
Manager – Ben Turner, Ed Karney or Safehouse?
It would have to be Safehouse. These guys are just so on the pulse 24/7 The way they have handled their roster speaks volumes and I am sure their artists agree
Agency – WME, CAA or Bullitt?
Bullitt – besides having one of the coolest websites out there, they do some really great things globally and consistently which is what this game is all about in the end.
Omid 16B – Jon Head