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An Open Letter To: Bartenders

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To the bartenders…

Your availability and presence through the night including the embers of the morning (and beyond), has not been taken for granted. You are unsung heroes, delivering fuel to all in need at the most ridiculous of hours, right till the very end. What’s more, your mission doesn’t end with the last track, instead, you soldier on till the station is spotless.  You, bartenders, are the real last ones standing.

You have the endurance to allow the night to go forth by motivating everyone that has crossed your path, with the energy and charisma to leave your mark and have the customers return for more, whether that may be for good or for worse… who cares! Your skills at pouring that refreshing gin & tonic amazes me every time, I want it, I want more of it and sometimes you’re even willing to grant me that wish. To me, you are the divine gatekeeper of my foolishness and self-respect.

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I’d like to apologise on behalf of all us who enjoy the pastime activity of so-called clubbing. There are many who disregard your expertise as a mere necessity to the operation, but they fail to acknowledge that drinking and dancing have gone hand in hand since… well since forever! You are true patrons to your trade, inheriting and mastering skills from a long lineage of predecessors, bringing the art of bartending through the ages, from the candlelit taverns of the midcentury to the dark and smoky rooms of today. It’s interesting (and scary) to imagine the world without you.

Us party-goers need to acknowledge these individuals for their excellence as industry professionals. We could alter the way in which their work is valued, and perhaps further improve the way they are rewarded...

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Words by Alexander Fetokaki

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A MEOKO Exclusive - Brett Jacobs

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Brett Jacobs undoubtedly represents a homegrown talent who has forged a solid name within the underground music scene; it is therefore with great pleasure that we welcome Brett Jacobs back to the mix series for a rare MEOKO Exclusive. A lot has happened since Brett Jacobs first graced the MEOKO vaults in 2013, with a string of releases under his belt and having played at some of the best venues in Europe, his solid reputation has grown over the years. With sets that fuse minimal clean cut beats with rolling basslines Brett Jacobs continues to feature on some impressive line ups, most recently playing along side DJs such as Cab Drivers, Varhat, Baby Ford, Audio Werner and Pedro for London party Unleash. Without a doubt his approach to DJing sets him apart from many other artists of his calibre, defining him as a unique talent, which in hand has lent itself to his success. 

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As a producer Brett Jacobs has released music on taste making imprints such as Luna Records, Act Natural and Nima Gorji’s NG Trax to name a few. His EP Law of Averages on Abarktic Records, which was released earlier this year, features a selection of stripped back percussion and minimal groove conveying Brett Jacobs signature style.

 

Most recently Resident Advisor ranked Brett Jacobs remix of Nice N Track’s Balansoars on Bodyparts Records in its Top 10, confirming that Brett's versatility and unique sound is fast becoming a favourite amongst music lovers and selectors around the world. With several tracks yet to be released, there is without a doubt many more gems in the pipeline from the man himself who approaches production with a mixture of skill and class.

 

As well as DJing and focusing on his productions, Brett has recently signed to forward thinking Paris based agency Yoyaku who have the likes of Vahar, Zendid and Andrey Pushkarev on their Roster. The agency also houses a record shop as well as playing host to a number of events in France. Brett’s move to Yoyaku marks the next step in his career, which will surely push him to the forefront of the underground scene in Europe where his sounds have been greatly received. As a busy year comes to a close Brett is currently focusing on launching his own label which will no doubt be a huge success. Constantly evolving and with lots in store for the new year I'm sure we will be hearing a lot from Brett Jacobs in 2017. But for now I'll let this MEOKO exclusive take over, believe me it really is something special.

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Words by Mahala Ashley

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Breaking: Fabric Will Be Reopening

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Breaking: Fabric will reopen. 

Fabric nightclub will reopen following it's lengthy dispute with Islington Council. 

The club had its licence revoked in September and since them has raised over £300,000 to pay for legal fees, in an attempt to appeal the decision. Today, Fabric and Islington Council have agreed a set of conditions under which the club can reopen.

Fabric will need to pay for Islington’s costs but this will not come from their crowdfunding, says judge. In addition to this, under 19s will be banned, there will be constant CCTV monitoring, ID scanners and a lifetime ban for anyone asking for drugs.

This deal is based on 32 new licence conditions set out in a 155 page document on new procedures that was submitted to the council.

Judge Robin McPhee has finalised the decision, saying: "I am satisfied that the council and Fabric pulled together to get a set of workable conditions to prevent drug use and supply future."

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Flare Audio ISOLATE® - Revolutionary Ear Protectors

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Flare Audio are bursting through the market with their revolutionary PA systems, rivalling the big players like Funktion-One, Martin Audio and Void. You might have heard of them by now and if you haven’t then maybe their new product will grab your attention. It’s not a speaker, in fact, quite the opposite... Protective earplugs! However, Flare Audio’s ISOLATE® are not like other earplugs you may have come across in the past. Typically, earplugs are fluorescent yellow or orange and stick a fair bit out your ear whilst not really delivering an all-round great experience. The music sounds unevenly muffled, your eardrums significantly feel the lower frequencies, and there’s always the one that decides to take a trip out of your ear onto the dancefloor, annoying the most patient of venue goers. ISOLATE® have gone in a different direction to that of the current industry standards and have come out with a product that actually sets out to accomplish what it’s designed to do!

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 The founder and innovator of Flare Audio, Davies Roberts, took the problem upon himself to correct what everyone else in the industry was doing, apparently using plastic, silicone and foam is not the best sound insulation. Roberts describes how those kinds of materials resonate their own sound so you’re pretty much listening to the foam muffling the music and the plastic resonating against it. They also fail to block lower frequencies and you’re left with, in the words of Davies, “a world of booming bass and sub-sonic pressure”. Which actually sounds pretty awesome if we aren’t aware of how unpleasant and damaging those things can be. His solution was to isolate a small piece of metal in soft foam that fits neatly into your ear, by doing this, sound waves can’t penetrate due to the composition of air, and it becomes a super effective isolator, who knew!

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There are plenty of earplug products that have hit the market recently, from the standard foam plugs to battery powered devices and even some bizarre playdough-like wax material which I had some real trouble with… messy. But Flare Audio’s ISOLATE® are simple to use and that’s really grabbed my attention. It’s as easy as plug and play or I guess in this case, plug and muffle. The foam is size-adjustable and replaceable for when the material wares, but the coolest part is probably how it comes in a wide selection of colours including two special editions: gold plated or platinum plated. They’ve also done well to reach out to professionals by introducing the ISOLATE® PRO, which use titanium instead of aluminium; this way it maximises isolation and can also withstand serious abuse. 

Flare Audio have really gone the extra mile to make sure they produce a quality product with huge significance in the music industry. An example of this is how they use an aerospace certified supplier to manufacture the metal components which give a quality look and feel far superior to most competitors. A piece of aerospace manufactured titanium inside your ear, pretty damn cool! This sort of thing has been long overdue, there is a significant problem in venues with distorted PA systems at high volumes that leaves a lot of us coming home with ringing in our ears. That is direct ear damage, no escaping it, and even if you try you’d most likely end up with something half decent. We should all agree that music should be amazing to experience and safe to listen to, and if need be, the option to isolate ourselves from noise that is harmful or annoying. In the words of Davies Roberts “hearing is an incredibly important sense that should be cherished and respected”, let’s take that to heart.

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To be in a chance of winning one of these kits, simply email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with "protect my ears"as the subject heading.

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Words by  Alexander Fetokaki

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The Importance of a Good Sound Engineer

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A performing artist or DJ can only be as good as the sound that is coming out of the speakers. This makes the sound engineer a critical entity to any event one might experience. For all of us familiar with going to see our favourite artists, the thought of a sound engineer is somewhat mystified or perhaps non-existent. As we are all well aware, the performer is responsible for entertaining the audience, but what's not mentioned is the sound engineer and their task of setting up and operating PA systems. Whether it be a system engineer or live sound engineer, both have an immense importance in how a venue sounds.

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These sound wizards make sure our ears aren't going to explode and that the overall power and volume give the performer full capability whilst keeping a crisp listening experience. They help keep the sound as consistent as possible whilst trying to accommodate as much of it as possible so we can all enjoy those bangers and we all know there is nothing worse than a track you like being brought in but for some reason the kick sounds like a wooden spoon on a saucepan or there's a crackling coming out of the left speaker hitting away at your eardrum.

 

 

The importance of the effects of sound on our ears should be taken into account here. We love house and techno music and their exhausting number of subgenres, but what we fail to take into account is that the venues that tend to play our beloved music could also potentially fall short in delivering a safe sound. You know that ringing in your ears after a night out? Well that is damage caused by long exposure at high volumes.

Read; Tinnitus: the last thing you want to hear...HERE 

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One of London's sound engineers who was part of the charity party 'Dance For Humanity', Lorenzo Stucchi Prinetti, had more to say on the issue.

Unfortunately most people, when talking about dance music, want a really high volume...which to me reflects the way individuals approach a party. They want to escape and let loose especially after a week of hard work.​”

A perspective that couldn't be more true today, the volume in techno events is a crucial aspect to enjoying the experience. “When I go to a party my main interest is to listen to the music and be able to enjoy it for what it is, without any distortion.” Except maybe some bunker techno where distortion can be a major aspect.

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Ainsley Adams, a double Latin Grammy winning sound engineer now living in Berlin, had a more technical response.

If we're talking about avoiding any kind of hearing damage, the ideal volume would depend on how long the listener is continuously exposed to loud music. So for 97dB, you’ve got about 30 minutes before some kind of damage occurs. This also depends on the quality of the sound system and the the frequency content of the music. High frequencies are what you need to watch out for because that is what we’re more sensitive to. The key to safe clubbing in terms of hearing is wear earplugs; don’t stand too close to the speakers; and take breaks.''

The sound engineer and performer should clearly have a strong understanding with one another in terms of what is going to be played. Which prompts the question, how close should the relationship between a live performing artist and their live sound engineer be? According to Lorenzo,

The communication between the artist and their sound engineer is very important, but many times it's not sufficient, doesn't take place at all or worse, DJs just don't listen to a sound engineer's advice because they don't care. ​Red lining is also an issue, in my experience 9 out of 10 DJs do not care about red lights and distortions, which is partly due to PA systems not being able to accommodate a sufficient power level for the size of the venue.

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Drawing upon his experience at 'Dance for Humanity', Lorenzo states how he had to make adjustments on the levels of the crossover when Craig Richards and San Proper started to play after Unai Trotti, Geddes and Voigtmann because of the different kind of music that was played that day. “These are the little things that make the difference to me if we want a good sound from start to end.

“Very Important!” according to Ainsley, upon being asked the same question.

The engineer needs to understand the artist's music and their sound very well. Everything the engineer does is to make the music sound better... Performances need to have a few 'venue rehearsals' before the sound engineer can fully grasp how to deal with it.

​It seems that more needs to be done to ensure all of this takes place, awareness is one thing but technical ability and application is another. The current situation is poor and things should be done to improve the conditions so we can all make it to sixty and still be able to hear! Of course there are some obstacles to overcome and the music community needs to do more to inform themselves and each other of just how much damage is caused.

Ainsley continues, “At the end of the day you can't tell people what to do, especially with club music, people really want to feel the vibrations of loud pumping bass, it's part of the experience and it's fun. The problem is a lot of people don't realise what they are doing to themselves until it is too late. Our ears can recover from a night out, but if we go too far, hearing damage becomes permanent.”

​All too true and quite eerie! Lorenzo believes the acoustics of a venue deserve a lot more attention than is already given,

I definitely think that there should be a better collaboration between promoters, owners and sound engineers to make the right choices; and it's worth to invest more on the acoustics of the room and a good sound system rather than decorations, lighting and video which have an immediate effect on the crowd. Finally, the sound engineer needs to be good and passionate about what they are doing so they will always try to get the best out of it.

I think we can all agree that there is a gap in the understanding and more efforts should be made to minimise the issue, we can do more to enjoy loud music without the expense of our hearing. It's madness, let's stop it. 

 

 Words by Alexander Fetokaki 

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