Lend me a moment
Retro Future Fest 1 – If you were there you will remember how exciting it was.. Granted, not the first live synthwave event in the UK, but it was mine. How amazing it was to finally see some great synthwave artists live and in the company of so many people that had become online friends – Sharing tracks, giving opinions and enjoying the community.
I came into synthwave around 2011. 10 years ago. Like many others, Drive was my gateway. Kavinsky’s ‘Night Call’ hit me like a brick to the face.. From there is was a youtube and Spotify rabbit hole of French Touch acts, dark synth, synthpop and the spattering of blogs and podcasts.. More importantly, friendships were formed.. Established artists who had been making music for many years were open to chat, feedback and having a beer. For me, it was a well timed and welcomed life addition. Quality music and quality people – Like minded, a little introverted, but open to chat and chew the cud on the new music of that month. It was a wonderful time. I have often been criticised for harking back to these days.. Personally I don’t understand the reason. What a time to be in a fledgling scene.
As time went by I found myself wanting to comment and give an opinion. With a love of writing and a day job that is anything but relaxing, Patrick Fakeman was a great outlet. Fakeman launched quietly around 3 years ago. No fanfare, no agenda.. for the 1st year I was completely anonymous and quite enjoyed that aspect. I wrote about the emerging vinyl craze in the scene and the new releases of that time… I will say with 100% honesty that the aim back then is the same as the aim now – to write, to share and to give my view. Fakeman brings me a creative outlet that I chose to direct into music and movies that I love.
No one asked for Fakeman.. It was one of only a few blogs at the time and clearly times have changed. I enjoy seeing the varying styles of writing that are out there around this scene and elsewhere.. I certainly don’t agree with everyone’s assessments, but thats fine. Iron Skullet was an extreme example of this. Openly criticising artists directly with gatekeeper-esque reviews that were truly Marmite. Skullet left the scene and with that, created a vacuum that was looking to be filled.. and filled it was. We have any number of radio shows, blogs, reviewers – each their own identity and each of the exploring this small scene and picking out what they feel to be good music. Let’s be clear – This is a good thing. New artists and fans have lots of choice on where to learn about new music and find their new favourite band. Even if everyone is reviewing the same tracks and records every week!
Interestingly though, the last 12 months has brought with it what feels like a new level of defensiveness in music critique.. When synthwave became quite saturated, I chose to expand Fakeman to include movies and actor interviews as well as touch upon the exciting world of vaporwave. Despite this, I was constantly looking into new synthwave releases and continued to be sent albums for review and consideration. Those that I liked have had published reviews. Like my fellow bloggers, finding the time is also hard and there does seem to be an expectation to write about every album or track that you are sent. I don’t think I am speaking out of line when I say that its not possible to review everything.. If I did, you would get a poor one line article.. I would rather take the time write something worthy of the time the artist put into making the music – Especially if I liked it.
What has been interesting in recent months though is the very low tolerance for criticism. If I am sent music to review, I take this as a given that the artist would like my opinion.. I have been quite vocal, on Twitter primarily, about my disappointment in how some of the music quality has dropped. Yes, in a recent discussion I used the word ‘shite’. Expectedly, I received quite a lot of ‘feedback’. Some very constructive, some quite abusive and lacking debate – all welcomed. I was called a gatekeeper, a troll, unsupportive, causing ‘turmoil’ and ‘looking like a dick’. I was indirectly called a cunt and a number of the responses were simply just personal attacks. Fine. It’s all online and I haven’t deleted any of it. I was happy to leave it up to individuals to make up their own minds. So often there are people who will tweet and delete when they have got the positive affirmation they needed. What I wasn’t expecting was the overwhelming level of DMs from people who felt I was being honest and agreeing with me. People who choose not to talk publicly for the very responses that I got. Abuse.
I’m not here to be Skullet, despite being accused of that by a couple of people. Point me towards a Fakeman article or social media interaction where I tear a named artist to shreds.. What I do feel passionate about is retaining the amazing talent we have in the 80s inspired music arena and nourish the great quality new arrivals.. I personally don’t feel that extends to endorsing lower quality music production that imitates other established artists in what is already a very small scene. Everyone wants evolution.. And we have some amazing pockets of that – but let’s not pretend that it’s not getting harder and harder to find those tracks. It also disappoints me that fan favourite artists have chosen to leave the scene due to its direction.
Those of you that have met me, that can call me a friend and that I speak with regularly will know that I am opinionated, that I want to see more and more original music but also that you can rely on me to be at your gig – be that in London, Toronto, New York or Amsterdam. I’m invested – Which is why i just want to see continuous improvement.
This is my downtime, my hobby, my passion, my love of writing and music coming together – Fakeman isn’t here to be a synthwave celebrity – i’ll leave that to others. I just want to enjoy music, enjoy the great friends I have in this scene and not target individuals for abuse or incite such actions. I will continue to be honest. I’ll continue to support projects and promote those amazing artists that share with us their creations.
Finally, I think it’s a shame that with the pandemic, where it has strengthened some relationships with friends, it has weakened others. Having an online existence lends itself to a need to be heard amongst all the online noise. I personally think that has resulted in some clashes and upsets which would not have otherwise happened. I’ll put my hands up if I have done this and will approach those people when the time is right – when we are in the same room. I just hope that they will have decency to do the same.
All thoughts welcomed here.
Now you’ll need to excuse me, I have to return some videotapes