Friday 23 November 2012, 13:14 | By CMU Editorial
Calvin Harris threatens legal action over BBC Newsbeat report
Whether or not the live shows of many dance producers’ can be truly considered ‘live’ was a topic of much debate over the summer, after Deadmau5 discussed bringing electronic music to the stage with Rolling Stone and then published a blog post entitled “We all hit play”.
He wrote: “When it comes to ‘live’ performance of EDM [just pressing play is] about the most it seems you can do anyway. It’s not about performance art, it’s not about talent either (really it’s not) … I think given about one hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of Ableton, and music tech in general, could do what I’m doing at a Deadmau5 concert. Just like I think ANY DJ in the WORLD who can match a beat can do what ANYONE else (not going to mention any names) is doing on their EDM stages too”.
This week BBC Newsbeat went a step further and asked if it was OK for superstar DJ types to pre-mix their DJ sets, simply playing a CD they’ve brought with them for an hour or so while pretending to mix tracks live and occasionally gurning at the crowd.
Amongst the producers, DJs and journalists quizzed on the matter was Calvin Harris, who said: “DJing’s DJing, and making music’s completely different. I think, if you go to a club, there’s going to be a DJ there. So maybe you’re going to go to that club to see that DJ, and maybe it’s your favourite music. Personally I’m not expecting the DJ to ‘perform’ that music with all manner of things, it’s a club, you play tunes like any other DJ would, it’s all good, I don’t see the problem with it. There’s a lot of acts that are over developing it to the extent that it doesn’t work any more, you can’t dance to it. It’s like, you know, just play tracks. You know, you’re a DJ, it’s fine”.
He continued: “I used to perform with a band putting all sorts of work into a live show and I can tell you that the reaction was worse than it is when I’m DJing, because in a club you want to hear a produced piece of music, you want to hear the bass, you want to hear it as good as it can sound, so I think it’s not a problem”.
Now, none of that really answers the big question the BBC piece was asking (Harris is seemingly discussing whether electronic music producers should perform their own work or just DJ it), but in the context of the report many inferred that Harris was saying that it’s fine for DJ’s to pre-record their sets, and that it might be something he himself has done. His answer doesn’t quite fit, says Harris, because he wasn’t asked the question “Is it OK for DJs to pre-mix their sets?” but rather, “Is it OK for DJs to play records in their sets?” The answer, he claims, was then used out of context to support a different argument.
This all came out on Twitter earlier this week after the story was broadcast on Radio 1 and published on the BBC website. Initially Harris didn’t seem to realise quite how he had been represented in the report, and when a follower made a quip about it he responded: “Is it shocking to you that DJs play records in their DJ sets?! Get a fucking grip”.
But once he realised how his quote had been used, Harris fired off a long series of increasingly angry tweets, saying: “Find the audio where I say ‘it’s OK to pre-record a DJ set’ – it doesn’t fucking exist, and I don’t know ANY DJ that actually does that … Fucking raging with this Newsbeat guy. I remember the interview and his stupid fucking question ‘Is it OK for DJs to play records?’ Then he’ll change his question in the edit to ‘Is it OK to PRE-RECORD a DJ set?’ and use my answer to a DIFFERENT QUESTION?! … Fact is BBC Newsbeat pre-recorded my answers to a different set of questions. The guy wasn’t even wearing a fucking mic”.
Finally he tweeted that he was “looking into taking action [against] BBC Newsbeat for that libellous broadcast”.
As I understand it, when things like this happen, if enough people repeat the lie “Calvin Harris pre-records his DJ sets” on Twitter, the Director General of the BBC will have to resign. Tony Hall only got the job yesterday – come on guys, we got rid of Entwistle after 53 days, let’s gazump this dude in 53 hours!
You can read the full series of tweets from Harris here: