This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Hello, we're DJs Complaining. You may know of our work. We gained some unexpected internet fame when we retweeted the complaints of DJs on Twitter. We then went on to write an intellectually challenging yet hilarious column on DJ culture for a national music publication, until we got sacked for making fun of Ben Westbeech, even though he started it. Nowadays we are recycled into clickbait lists by stupid websites.
But before the op-eds and thinkpieces, our job was simple: skimming through a few DJs' Twitter feeds until we found the bit where they complained about their latte, and then clicking RT. Soon we didn't even have to do that; the good people of the internet would send the complaints directly to us, nominating their favorite DJ for a brief spell in the spotlight of shame. Things got more complicated, however, when DJs started nominating themselves. This confused us. We were trying to take the piss out of them; they weren't supposed to be enjoying it, ffs.
You see, for some, DJsComplaining has become a badge of honor; to appear on our Twitter feed is to show that not only are you successful enough to live a glamorous lifestyle involving plane travel and hangovers, you are also well-known enough to get retweeted in the first place. Subsequently, we've found ourselves in the strange position of having to differentiate between the genuine moaners and those actively seeking a lucrative DJsComplaining feature, which got extra hard when it became apparent that we had absolutely no idea who any of these people were.
While we like to consider ourselves reasonably knowledgeable about the world of dance music, we also remember the Vengaboys and we aren't American, so this newfangled "EDM" scene holds little appeal for us. Sure, we know a good complaint when we see one, but ask us to tell you anything about 80 percent of the DJs we retweet beyond "they're a DJ" and "they're a moany bastard" and we'll draw a blank. When clicking on the profile of a flagged complainer we more often than not have no idea if they're going to be a spotty 15-year-old with 70 followers, or a slightly less spotty 18-year-old with 700,000 followers.
If you're into dance music, why not take a look at Thump?
While not being familiar with the oeuvre of Firebeatz or R3HAB or Alopecia Key$ isn't something that keeps us awake at night, it has started to occur to us that these people are more than just names on a social media website—that their legions of Twitter followers can't simply be signing up to read about delayed flights and inferior WiFi. The appeal must be the music, and we wanted to find out why.
The natural place to start seemed to be DJ Chuckie. Possibly our most nominated complainer, Chuckie is responsible for such gripes as: "I need to update my rider because they sent me a fucking Prius as transportation today," and: "Nobody beats me when it comes down to renting the worst jet." Top drawer. He also has 579,000 Twitter followers. We've never heard of him, and can't imagine that you have either. Have you?
A quick glance at his Twitter reveals that Chuckie is a DJ and producer based in Amsterdam who often wears a hat. At 36, he's a little older than most of our patsies, but still in many ways perfectly embodies the bizarre sense of entitlement that we've come to know all too well during our time at DJsComplaining. Like most feeds we peruse, there's absolutely no indication of any kind of passion for music, or indeed anything apart from himself, booze, and toking on little plastic vape sticks. Maybe that's deliberate. Perhaps the man separates himself from his art so that one is not sullied by the other. Perhaps his success can be explained by his talent, and his grumbling forgiven by the same token. After all, aren't all geniuses touched by a little grandiosity?
To get an idea of what the self-proclaimed "King of Dirty Dutch" is all about, we decided to listen to his most popular track on YouTube, 2011's "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas." The title alone is classic EDM, one of those picked-out-of-a-hat phrases that will be monotonously spewed out before every drop; something hollow enough to not actually quite mean anything, but memorable enough to stick in the MDMA-addled head of the average Chuckie punter long enough for them to get to a laptop and pay 23p for it on iTunes.
The title is rendered especially meaningless when you watch the accompanying YouTube clip; quite clearly whatever happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas, it will be laboriously documented by Chuckie's poor cameraman and hastily edited into a five minute video before being broadcast to the world. And just in case you were expecting to see the salacious activity that the title teases at, what happens in Vegas is that the Chuckster stands behind some decks and points at the ceiling over and over and fucking over again for no reason at all, and sometimes looks a bit bored in a taxi.
The tune itself is equally void of any emotion; three separate GarageBand loops sellotaped together with the occasional trance crescendo. The "drop" is just that, a descent into a wintry abyss consisting solely of a two-note portamento'd saw synth and the same anaemic tip-tap beat that runs through the entire tune, just about keeping it ticking along.
This spareness becomes even more confusing when you notice that three composers are listed in the credits for this song. Three! We can barely count three elements in the entire track. This could point to some greater powers being at work here, that behind the nursery rhyme melodies and rudimentary drum programming lies a hidden scrutiny; that while the track may sound like it was knocked out in 20 minutes between meals on a transatlantic flight, it was actually meticulously pieced together in some kind of utilitarian EDM testing facility in rural Texas, where lobotomized rabbits are locked in strobe-lit cages, forced to drink ROCKSTAR, and listen to single note DOOT DOOT DOOT trance presets to find the one that causes an immediate and catastrophic loss of all judgement. When they finally hop over and press the "repeat" lever, despite knowing that it will deliver a dangerous electric shock, that's the one. Chuckie and his sinister vivisectionist "co-composers" can stand surveying the prone and convulsing bunnies, eyes spinning, blood dripping from their poor little ears, with the satisfaction of knowing that they've found something that the kids are gonna go wild for.
Perhaps judging someone based only on a four-year-old throwaway electro house track is unfair. After all, every producer has a skeleton or two in their closet—Butch Vig probably turned out a couple of skweee tunes he hopes never find their way on to YouTube. They say you're only as good as your last game, so we moved on to Chuckie's latest release, "Traphall EP," to see how his vision has developed.
Nobody can accuse Chuckie of not moving with the times, and he continues to show an outstanding commitment to running after genres that were fashionable two years ago. The "Traphall EP" is billed with impressive literal-mindedness as a mish-mash of trap and dancehall. However, on listening, it's very quickly apparent that Chuck doesn't really know what trap music is, which isn't surprising considering that he's 36. Any visit to Soundcloud demonstrates that the average tween in possession of a Samsung Galaxy can successfully ape the two fundamental elements of trap—a big 808 kick and a bunch of scattergun hi-hats that sound like they've been programmed by a chinchilla walking across a very hot midi keyboard. "Traphall" doesn't really have either. No, see, what you've done here Chuckie—and it's a very easy mistake to make, mind you—what's happened is you've made some really shit dancehall out of vocals that you stole off a bashment compilation.
So no, our findings do not suggest that DJ Chuckie is a master craftsman. He is not knocking out genre-defining underground benchmark after genre-defining underground benchmark, and no one will be penning any 1,500 word thinkpieces about him any time soon, apart from us, right here. But we can't imagine that Chuckie cares much either way. He is a career DJ who understands that there is a lot of money to be made by skitting from scene to scene, churning out whatever dirge the spring-breakers are "plopping" a "molly" to this year. It gets him booked and it gets him paid, and all the best to him. Besides, someone has to be up there on stage behind the CDJs grinning and jumping up and down like a toddler who needs a piss—and it might as well be Chucko.
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