Everyone is talking about the proposed £30 annual “licence fee” for internet users to mitigate illegal downloading of music (and possibly films). The money generated from this scheme – which would be charged via your ISP subscription – would then be distributed to labels and publishers to help fill the void in sales revenue. Users would then be free to download and P2P share as much music as they wanted.

There are several fundamental flaws in this “solution”:

1.) It does not tackle the behaviour change required by consumers of music. The message this sends to people that are illegally downloading is that it is now ok to do so – for the paltry sum of £30 a year. 

2.) There will therefore be no reason for anyone to legitimately buy music – shops like iTunes and Beatport will inevitably be forced to close. These stores help artists to grow by profiling them, giving them editorial space and helping people to discover new music.

3.) Those that have never downloaded music before will have to pay what is essentially a tax. ISPs would have to administer the charge – why would anyone agree to pay this if they objected to what they saw as an unfair tax? 

4.) The revenue will be distributed based on popularity. Therefore the labels with the most popular artists (presumably “most popular” will based on actual sales) will receive a larger slice of the pie, regardless of whether or not they should be due compensation for loss of sales.

Clearly the big labels will opt for this as it will be additional revenue in their pocket. But it will not address the cultural problem that we are creating in de-valuing music and the people that work very hard to create it. The music industry needs to consider behaviour change tactics for its customers and seriously reconsider the value it is providing to the consumer in its product. We need more innovation, and less intimidation!



I'm not even sure where it was that I first heard Thugfucker.

I think I had been bouncing aimlessly around MySpace, and simply stumbled across their page. If I hear something I like, I tend to add the band as a favourite to check back with later. You couldn't forget their name - definitely memorable.  

Since then I have been loving their work immensely.  They have done one of my favourite mixes for the brilliant Dirty Dancing label (Compuphonic - Analog Sparkles) and with each new track they produce, they gain respect. Theirs is a special take on electrodisco - one that makes no apologies for use of melody (so rare in the electro genre!).  All wrapped up with an impressive splash of funk.

So it is with great pleasure that we can reveal their remix of "Revolutions". Sensitive to the original, but with its own joy - this is one of my favourite commissions since Gaymonkey was launched.

Check out Thugfucker on Myspace - and look out for their debut album ...

Melnyk - "Revolutions (Thugfucker Remix)"
taken from Revolutions EP
out 1st September
Gaymonkey (GAY26)

To get on the Gaymonkey DJ promo list, email us at freestuff@gaymonkeyrecords.com

Just send your name and MySpace or RA page link in the email.


Coffee Table Music

"Designer lives. Designer films. Designer music." 

Thus proclaims The Guardian (Friday 11th July) in their analysis of thirtysomething lifestyles. The thesis? As we get older, we lose our edge.  We begin to consume, shall we say, more highbrow fare that is easy on the ear or eye.  And with music, the "coffee table" genre is born.

Music that you put on in the background to set a mood. Stuff The Guardian reviews. Bands you might hear at the Latitude Festival.

There is no need to apologise about the coffee table music in your collection.  In fact, as I was reading the article, Sigur Rós's 'Untitled 3' came onto the pod, followed by The Beloved. Attributes such as melody, a downtempo pace, and artistic integrity tend to get bands tossed into the genre (just look at every Mercury Prize winner for the past five years ... pre-Klaxons of course).

Maybe I'm just being defensive.  Gaymonkey did deliver Ebb to the world, after all.

Ebb - "When Dusk Begins"
taken from Loona 
Gaymonkey (GAY17)


Dancing to Save the World

Design Week reports the launch of a yet another venture to save the world - this time, we're going to do it by dancing.

New London club Surya opened this week - the city's first "eco-nightclub" - by an organisation called Club4Climate. Alongside serving organic and fairtrade beverages in surroundings furnished from recycled materials, the venue features a dance floor that can generate electricity from people dancing.

Although the idea sounds intriguing, and I agree that all venues need to examine their energy use and procurement to do their part, my immediate reaction is that Surya will go the way of most of London's expensive concept clubs. People won't give a monkeys about the magic dancefloor or the sustainability of the venue - clubbing in London is all about location, who is playing, and where your mates are going.

My replusion at the whole idea is actually centred around Club4Climate's ten point mission statement, which sounds like it has been ripped out of some early nineties rave manual and is about as effective at saving the planet as Madonna and JT's latest call to arms. The whole cause is being championed by Austin Powers' cast reject Dr Earth - the sustainability movement needs icons, but Dr Earth certainly isn't the posterchild we have been looking for.

Club4Climate are also promising a "eco-friendly holiday destination" island, which further points to the likelihood that the whole venture is one giant, opportunistic, greenwashed turd.


Revolutions - The Artwork

The sleeve for the new album - "Revolutions by Melnyk" - is finally complete.  

The artwork was done by our favourite photographer - Boyarde - who did all the work for my last album, as well as the video for "Sound of Falling".  She is an amazing talent, and really great to work with.  

We met through a mutual friend just before "Silence" was finished early 2005.  I had a few ideas for what I wanted to do with the sleeve, but really wanted to give up control.  (Mark Farrow had offered to do some work on it, but other projects came up ... one day, he will be mine ...)

I had seen some of Boyarde's portfolio work where she combined fantasy elements with her photography - in a pop art style that felt really fresh.  After meeting her I knew she would be great to work with, and I was really pleased that she had time to do "Revolutions" as well.

With this piece we wanted to explore some of the themes from the album - revolution, falling from grace, this strange biblical concept that keeps coming up in my work (for an atheist, very bizarre ...).  I wanted to steer clear of any military connotations - no tanks, russian propaganda, or Guevara. 

I think her choice suits the album perfectly, and am honoured to be able to use the piece for the sleeve.  Thanks again Boyarde!


Music Makes The People Shop Together

I few weeks ago I blogged about the trouble John McCain was having in finding music to soundtrack his campaign.

David Lister - The Independent's arts editor - had a comment a few days later. Under the headline "Music belongs to everyone - even politicians", he argues that once a piece of music is in the public domain, it should be "used, interpreted, directed as its user sees fit". He states that by denying others the right to play their songs, musicians are stating that pop music cannot be "art".

Part of his argument is true - the user can interpret music in any way they wish. We should debate meaning and ideas in music, and once a piece is released an artist cannot be precious about holding on to their own intentions - though this sometimes causes problems due to the media attention that surrounds pop music (think of The Smiths - "Suffer Little Children" - in which Morrissey was accused of being unsymapthetic to the victims of the Moors murders).

It is the concept of "using" music that is in this case contentious. Copyright dictates that no one has the right to use any art form without the owners permisson. In the same way that it is against the law to copy great works of art and sell them, it is illegal for anyone to publicly broadcast songs without the writer's consent.  For a politician to use music in their campaign, they would effectively be broadcasting to large groups to people without license.

The bigger issue is more psychological. What sets music apart from other applied arts is its versatility, and how easily it is to form associations. Music evokes powerful moods and feelings, which are instantly memorable, and sticky. This is why it is so valuable in marketing. It is impossible for me to hear "Albatross" from Fleetwood Mac without thinking about M&S products. A whole generation now thinks that Phil Collins is a giant drum playing chocolate-loving gorilla (well, not so far off) thanks to the recent Cadbury's campaign. The association people make is also easily transferrable from product to artist - José González is sometimes better known as the "bouncing ball guy" due to the use of "Heartbeats" in the Sony Bravia ad.

Politicians are brands - not people. They are selling a product, and they want music to help shift their wares. If a musician does not want to be part of this transaction, we thankfully have copyright to protect us.


Shocking Independence

Happy Independence Day, America.

Today is a day of observance for all Americans – to celebrate their independence from the British Empire, and the creation of a nation built on a foundation of democracy and human rights.  One of the most defining moments in western history – a revolution remembered around the world.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- Declaration of Independence

It has been over 230 years since the Declaration was signed, and how ashamed would its authors be to see the degree to which the great nation they were determined to build has eroded human rights – not only within its own borders, but in nations across the globe.

Over my slow travel I started reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine - which should be made compulsory reading in every American school (if not worldwide). Klein dissects the past sixty years of history – for the most part, the untold story of  American and western capitalist imperialism.  A meaty, well researched and compelling exposé of how nations around the world have been subjugated using economic shock tactics, with the primary aim of opening up the free market economy. Klein answers questions I have had for years, giving insight into the subversive invasions and meddlings by the CIA and US government in South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

The economic shocks – designed to eradicate the economic structure of a country to replace it with a free market – are compared to electric shock torture – a technique now widely known to be used by American troops on prisoners in Iraq. The invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces is described in terms of economic motivation, with Klein revealing the economic, cultural and psychological eradication of a nation for corporate means.

Clearly this is unacceptable – but what is even more unforgiving is that we, as the public who have elected our governments who rule on our behalf, simply sit back and let it happen. Americans continue to put individuals in office who create administrations that support these policies, while politicians mislead the public to earn support for conflicts in the name of “democracy”.  

European nations endorse the policies, either for their own capitalist gain, or out of fear to stand up to US dominance.  Klein even touches on indiscretions by the Canadian government – who I have feared for some time had been beginning to stray from the pillars of social democracy that we have always held dear (and that set us apart from our southern neighbours ...)

The result has been the destruction of nations, cultures and lives – all to line the pockets of big business, all in the name of democracy.

So happy birthday, America.   
Give yourself a gift this year and read The Shock Doctrine.  


Back to Speed

The verdict is in on slow travel.  
It is the only way to go this summer ...

Slow travel goes beyond just the obvious zeitgeist of cutting down on one's carbon.  Everyone is doing that - in fact it is becoming quite pedestrian.  The fringe benefit is the sought after state of relaxation that can only come with forcing yourself to just stop.  Turn off the phone, leave the laptop behind, and not check your email.  It is 21st century liberation.

There is now no excuse for flying to Europe.  

I caught myself several times over the break developing thoughts to put down in this blog.  It was actually one of the things I missed the most - once you get in the habit of writing, it is a shame to stop yourself.  I jotted down a few notes and will post them over the next few days. I have no doubt the Balaeric bliss will have worn off by the weekend.  London has that power of you.