Meet DJ Dadmagnet, The Mid-Life Crisis Musician Making Power Tool Ballads From His Shed

It's basically PC Music for the Top Gear generation.

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16 February 2016, 4:15pm

Photos via DJ Dadmagnet.

Your dad's really gone and done it this time. All those hours spent in the shed, supposedly working on "a better way of storing everyone's shoes in the hall," have actually been poured into a satirical performance-art critiquing expectations of mid-life masculinity. Your mum's going to hit the roof when she finds out about this.

Okay, so not your actual dad in this case, but as good as. DJ Dadmagnet is a performance project/musician/DJ situation conceived by Chinstroke records, that combines all the facets of life as a mild, mediocre father and pits it against a soundtrack of hard rock. To cut a long story short, he DJs while using power tools. It's basically a high-concept mid-life crisis, R&S meets B&Q, PC Music for the Top Gear generation.

We only stumbled across DJ Dadmagnet relatively recently when he hit the headlines following a beef with Wickes when they ripped off an idea central to his entire project: "Power Tool Ballads." That's right. Hardware behemoths Wickes DIY plagarised DJ Dadmagnet's pun and ran with it in a nationwide advertising campaign. Don't believe us? Watch the following two videos.

Absolutely scandalous. Well, if Wickes thought they had picked an easy target, then they were seriously mistaken. The man, the dad, DJ Dadmagnet and his family of supporters were not going to let this one slide, and so began the #WarOnWickes—a social media campaign designed to fight for justice for the forward-thinking father-figure. Here at THUMP, we are acutely aware of how important it is to support DIY music scenes, so we got in touch with DJ Dadmagnet to find out more about the campaign.

THUMP: Hi dad, before we go any further, can you tell us a little bit about the DJ Dadmagnet project?
DJ Dadmagnet: It came out of a bit of a mid life crisis, coming to terms with my own masculinity and now it's an act signed to Chinstroke records, which is a label I run with my son, DJ Detweiler. It's a hobby as well, I spend a lot of time in my shed, I do it to escape my family a lot of the time. It's essentially a project I've started in order to perform what it is to be a dad and a male role model.

Do you work exclusively with power tools?
Well, working with power tools has been my most successful project, but I consider any act of being a dad worth working with. Any kind of DIY, keeping my kids of the straight and narrow, it's all part of the act.

What are your favourite tools?
Well I've got a good collection of them, mostly Bosch or Makita tools. Cordless drills, cordless screwdrivers, multi-sheet sanders—I've been collecting them for a while. I only take the cheaper ones on tour. I smashed up a circular saw on my last tour and it was a laser-guided one, so that was a mistake.

Has music affected your DIY game?
I don't think it's affected my DIY skills, I'd like to think I can still put up a shelf. It just takes me longer to do anything cos I'm dancing around the whole time!

Tell us a bit about Power Tool Ballads.
The idea was to combine two elements of dad culture, power tools and power ballads, it's fairly obvious as a combination. I listen to music in my shed, classic rock or whatever it is, as I'm doing my DIY and it struck me that the sound of the two things worked well together.

So what happened with Wickes?
They released an advert just before Valentine's day that was remarkably similar to my work. I'm not convinced someone such as myself should be able to "own" a pun, which is why I wouldn't pursue legal action, but the similarity was startling. I think either they didn't Google it, so they didn't find out, which is quite unprofessional for a media agency to do, or they did Google it, saw my stuff, but didn't think it was worth contacting me because I was too small.

It must have been a real blow.
Sad thing is, I'm a regular customer of Wickes, I would have happily been involved. I often go to Wickes, it was a bit of a kick in the teeth.

How did the fight back begin?
I started a social media campaign which got quite a lot of attention, started a change.org petition with got 160 odd signatures, and fans of Chinstroke records have been hassling Wickes for the past couple of days. They issued a vague apology, which is fine. What I want from this is a symbolic gesture. I don't want any money, I just want Wickes to recognise that I came up with the pun before they did. So that in two years time, if someone Googles power tool ballads, nobody will think I've plagiarised Wickes rather than the other way round.

I don't believe a pun can be owned, in the same way that a mortgage or a power drill can be owned. That said, for a big company like Wickes to attribute somebody is only fair. I want that credit.

What's the latest?
Wickes have no issued a full apology on Facebook, but I've spoken to them privately and they are sending me an apology on headed note-paper along with a "gesture of goodwill" which I assume will be a gift voucher of some sort. If it is I will probably replace my old circular saw. I'll probably go for another Bosch one. That's my favourite brand.

And when the sawdust settles on this, what's next for DJ Dadmagnet?
It's given me food for thought. DJ Dadmagnet is an ongoing thing, and like fatherhood, it has its ups and downs.

DJ Dadmagnet is on Facebook.

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