A little more than two years ago, I moved to London. I left a very comfortable life under the sun of Kuala Lumpur to settle in this exciting city of London that I had the pleasure to visit a few times. The main reason for my move was that London is a world capital of music, arguably the world capital of music.. The rare contenders could have been Berlin, Amsterdam, or Los Angeles.
Alas, London is not any more a world capital of music. I discovered during these two years here that the music scene is slowly – but steadily – dying, a movement which had started about ten years ago.
I met an incredible number of talented people here, and I’m very proud to have been along their journey. But these talents have less and less means to express themselves. The talents are there, however the opportunities for these people to express themselves have shrinked.
London, and UK in general, have seen the birth of incredible music movements throughout the world’s history, and has most of the time been leaders and precursors in shaping new styles and genres in the world. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Ed Sheeran, Queen, Oasis, Carl Cox, Calvin Harris, Elton John, David Bowie, Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, Adele, Genesis, Jamie Cullum, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, and a few other thousand prominent names, in all genres, have all had a tremendous impact in the shaping of music throughout the history of our planet.
Besides – or even before – radio, TV or internet, the places where these talents are or have been made are live venues, from the classical salons to the night clubs. The clear decline of these venues in the UK (in the past ten years, a whopping 50% of them have closed in London) is strangling the artists.
I’ve met some people with huge talent who came to London to make their dream come true, and who eventually gave up. They will continue to make music, they will possibly explode somewhere else on the globe, but not in London.
So a global effort has to be made to revive the night life in the UK. Transforming the country into a series of posh buildings and of standardised chained restaurants will have the effect of creating a boring environment, and the secondary effect of diminishing the attractive charm of its beautiful cities (with its consequences on tourism among others). Who wants London to become a museum-city?
The definitive closure of Fabric, #15 club in the world (last DJ Mag pool), is an icon which disappears, showing the will of the UK authorities to not let the night life survive. Like in the Victorian or the Thatcher eras.
Closing more venues on drug related issues is a wrong answer to a real problem.
Remember the Prohibition in the twenties in the USA? Forbidding alcohol has generated a whole underground scene of dodgy venues, crime, and the rise of the mafias. The result has been the exact opposite of the goal.
Remember the tough regulations imposed on venues in Glasgow to curb down the use of drugs? Many venues closed, and the kids resorted to illegal and uncontrolled gatherings, making drug-related deaths – and crimes – increase significantly. So is closing more and more venues the solution? No.
– Education and prevention is one side of the solution.
– Chasing the drugs importers, fabricators and dealers is the other side.
– Closing venues is nowhere in between.
So as the trend is clearly here to continue closing down venues in the UK, and therefore relegating this country in a consumerism of music coming from more innovative countries (at least for some while, maybe a decade) and not allowing the local talents to develop, there is a conclusion for me:
London has lost its title of music capital.
So now I’m wondering: should I stay or leave?
JP Lantieri – 14 September 2016