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mo' fidelity | November 15, 2018

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808 State @ London Electronic Arts Festival, 06.03.2015

808 State @ LEAF London Electronic Arts Festival March 7 2015 Graham Massey talk Ninety album
Raya Raycheva

Remember that incredibly bad, stupid, mind-numbingly awful ‘ROCK VS DJ’ Rolling Stone Italia ad? You probably don’t because there’s no point of wasting memory space on such blatantly uneducated crap and also because you have a plethora of good-at-holding-a-grudge music bloggers to do it for you.

It is, of course, yet one more example of the continuing inability of mainstream media to differentiate between EDM (or what DJ Harvey called yesterday ‘erectile deficiency music’ but more on Harvey’s shenanigans in a different upcoming post) and brilliantly composed and executed, game changing, era-defining electronic music which, unlike the former, will forever hold a most deserved place in Music History’s Hall of Fame, and will be played, replayed and studied by generations of self-respecting music fans.



Yesterday, March 6th, was a day for the aforementioned – both the music and its devoted appreciators. LEAF – or London Electronic Arts Festival created and curated by Bestival and Radio 1’s Rob Da Bank and International Music Summit’s Ben Turner – held a day of talks, workshops and general amazingness with some of dance music’s finest and brightest examples of ‘rock’ icons (imagine me saying this with a snarky bitch stare in Rolling Stone’s direction). And all of this happened at one of the city’s coolest venues – the Grade I listed historical warehouse that is the Tobacco Docks.

In the coming days I’m going to write a couple of different posts on the various events I attended throughout the day but I wanted to start back-to-front with 808 State’s majestic concert. The performance came after an intimate audience with Graham Massey, who was interviewed by Modeselektor about 808 State‘s now classic 1989 album ‘Ninety’ and which the band later played live.

(Sidenote: Modeselektor, I love you guys but don’t give up your day/night job 😀 However, points to Gernot for mentioning the amazing KiNK in relation to contemporary and fresh use of analog gear and recommending him to Massey!)



The reason I started with the abysmal Rolling Stone Italia ad was because I was reminded of it during 808 State‘s concert. Reminded of its ignorance, that is. I don’t remember all the rock concerts I’ve been to (and I don’t want to cause I can bet that at least half of them are quite embarrassing) yet I can still say that 808 State‘s concert last night blew them all out of the water.

Earlier in the day, during the interview with Modeselektor, Massey talked about ‘Cubik’ – one of the band’s biggest crossover hits – and how, if you think about it, it’s a totally rock song. He even played a snippet of his son’s guitar interpretation of ‘Cubik’ at the age of 6 (musicians’ children, man – they have a head start with coolness). When a snippet of the actual track was played and then paused in order to continue the talk, the audience’s disapproving reaction was clear – don’t stop it, we need to hear more, you can’t stop that tune!

Hearing ‘Cubik’ played live later on, with the band members’ children watching from the side of the stage (wild speculation on my part but whose children were these if not the band members’?), was even more perfect in the context of that episode during the talk.



Seeing an audience half made out of the people, who loved ‘Ninety’ 25 years ago, and half made out of people, who weren’t even born at the time but were subsequently influenced and inspired by it – well that, ladies and gentlemen, and Rolling Stone Italia, is goddamn rocknroll.

Being one of those people myself, and a foreigner who was prompted to move to Britain for its rich cultural electronic music history and current creative life, the experience of hearing 808 State‘s ‘Ninety’ live in 2015 was, of course, priceless.

Watching from the right hand-side of the stage, I briefly talked to a South African guy and Point Blank Music School student named Jamie (Hi, Jamie! I hope you remembered to check out our humble online space!), who echoed my sentiments – this concert was unbelievably cool and very, very different from what we’re all used to experiencing as an electronic music audience.

Hard-hitting drums, razor-sharp guitars, Massey’s saxophone on the certified classic that is ‘Pacific State’… and a whole lot of that unmistakable 80s/early-90s air of against-all-odds freedom that was The Rave.



This seems like a high enough note on which to end my first post about London Electronic Arts Festival. Yet to come – a post about Nile Rodgers’s 3-hour-long fantastic Unmoderated/Uncensored/Unlimited talk, a post about a seminal film about Balearic Ibiza that you need to watch, a post about the ‘Ninja Tune at 25’ panel and the earlier mentioned breakdown of the LOL-fest that was DJ Harvey’s interview with Rob Da Bank.

Stay tuned for more from LEAF London!


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