Much like the nightlife industry, live music has come to a complete standstill during this year’s pandemic, and has been just as sorely missed as its club-orientated counterpart.
This has certainly been the case for Oslo-based DJ and founder of the Moon Roq mix series, The Iron Glove. After a few months of lockdown, a major yearning to be back in an energy-filled venue and to feel that connection with others hit home. This absence prompted an idea; if he couldn’t enjoy the real thing, he’d simply create his own.
Titled “The Great Gig In The Sky”, an ode to Pink Floyd’s seminal track, he crafts a fictional live concert in an imaginary stadium above the clouds, that splices music from veteran stadium rockers like Jimi Hendrix, Hawkwind, Osibisa and Skudge with newer cuts from Yussef Dayes, Wolf Cat and Unknown Mobile, permeated with atmospheric interludes and the distant wails of the crowd.
Why does stadium music mean so much to you?
Ideally I wouldn’t be replying to your first question with such a clichéd answer…. but on the most personal level, it really just goes back to my Father’s love of Rock. It was the style that laid a musical foundation for the rest of my life. Though my love of the genre has wained over the years, it’s in my very core and it bubbles up every few years. I’ve been
going wild with again it this last year.
I started playing the guitar when I was around 10, I think, and when I think of the music that I’ve enjoyed in my life, whether it’s rock or not, it all has quite an epic and big feel to it. So it feels a part of me somehow, for better and for worse.
What makes a stadium record so unique?
With stadium rock, it’s the mad, coked-up self-indulgence of it, the monster egos, the hedonism, the debauchery, the clichés. It’s all rather old-fashioned now and rightly so. But there’s also the experimentation and psychedelic flavours that are really interesting. When you listen to one of those classic stadium rock albums like the Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon you’re listening to a piece of history, of a world that in so many ways, does not exist any more. I think that’s called gravitas. Also power chords.
When did you first hear stadium music and what impact did it have on you?
Again, it’s my old man. He introduced me to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ELO, Genesis, Black Sabbath and the like, probably all of the most well known and most “stadium” of stadium bands. I have very strong memories of being entranced by Robert Plant’s high-pitched wailing on Physical Graffiti. Sadly, I never got to see any of those bands live, which is a great regret of mine.
What’s your most sacred stadium record and why?
It’s an obvious one, but who cares, it’s my favourite album of all time, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s the only record that I’ve listened to every few months of my life from a young age and it never gets old on me, I never tire of it. I get sucked into the drama every time. I used to listen to it whenever I flew on a plane and sometimes I’d look out of the window, down on the earth whilst listening to the instrumental track “The Great Gig In The Sky” and just have a little cry.
How has stadium music impacted you as a DJ?
I’m not sure, but probably in the sense that I love drama and making use of volume. I like kinda hitting people in the face every now and then and reminding them that music can be physically powerful. I feel like stadium rockers do that with their massive guitar amp stacks. I also like the parts of DJing that can be a bit virtuoso and all kinda “look at me” and “I’ve-got-my-foot-resting-on-the-stage-monitor-whilst-I-bust-out-a-guitar-solo” vibe. I
played in a band for a while so I guess I have an urge to perform in that way.
Any standout memories from dropping a stadium track in a set?
Stadium music isn’t often all that danceable, in a disco sense, so it’s tricky to get it to work on a dance-floor. It’s more of a fist-pumping, phallic energy. That said, I’ve played some Steve Miller jams a few times, they always work. Once I was playing a party that was getting a bit cheesy and I played the extended version of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. It’s really drawn out and has this sick synth that comes in half way through and things get moody. I
remember people’s face’s turning from ‘you’re not really gunna play this?’ to ‘hold on, this is rad!’ which was a nice feeling! It always makes sense in the end.
How did you approach this mix?
I’ve been feeling down about what is happening to live music this year. It’s heartbreaking seeing the whole industry hung out to dry by Boris and his gang. I wanted to put together a tribute to that. But I thought I’d try to make it a little more unique and varied than sticking to just the typical prog rock genre so there’s all kinds of stuff in there from ambient, to disco, heavy metal and lots of weird spoken warbling from Hawkwind and The Grateful Dead. It just seemed like a fun idea too, to create a fictional concert of my own. My own Great Gig In The Sky.
What did you want it to say about stadium music?
I wanted to be honest and I didn’t want to shy away from the fact there are some things about stadium rock, specifically, not to be proud of. The rampant commercialisation, the lack of diversity, the overly masculine energy. I wanted to find a way to keep the good and fun and hedonistic bits from the genre and make it more contemporary and balanced representatively. I didn’t want to create just a rock concert but something more eclectic. I also wanted some moments in it to be really intense and perhaps even difficult to listen to, because, the live music world is in pain right now.
What would you say is stadium music’s biggest legacy?
100% it’s Mötley Crue’s Tommy Lee getting stuck upside down whilst playing the drums on some sort of absolutely ridiculous stadium drum kit roller coaster thing. I think that sums it all up nicely. It’s on YouTube.
The Iron Glove has picked out some charity and crowdfunder links in support of the live music industry.
Compilation raising funds for Help Musicians UK and UK Venues
Compilation raising funds for Birmingham Venues
Moth Club London
Sneaky Pete’s Edinburgh
The Zanzibar Liverpool
Dalston Superstore London
Five Miles London
The Waiting Room London
The Leadmill Sheffield
Soup Kitchen Manchester
SIGN: Petition to extend the furlough scheme for the theatre and live music industry.