Many years ago, when the internet as we knew it was simply nerds sharing cat memes and naked ladies that took half an hour to download a photo a few of us discovered each other on a thing called the Delphi Forums. It was a bit like Reddit used to be, simple layout, users who loved their speciality subjects be they politics, pizza or photography. We are talking 1996, retroheads!
I got my first guitar around that time. A Chinese made Squier Strat. Black like Clapton’s but obviously a damn sight cheaper and with a rosewood fingerboard. It took me over 3 weeks of wages on a payment plan with the shop to pay it off and get my hands on it! Being 18 and wanting to learn as fast as I could I took to the internet and discovered guitar forums at Delphi, and from there an electronica related one.
That was where I met guys such as FBF, Benskia, and a Skinny Puppy fan called Graham. Its been a few years, and I hope I haven’t lost enough brain cells to get their names confused, so please forgive me there if I have! There were a few hundred other characters give or take that, the occasional troll that logged in to post “TITTIES!” but what it became was a classroom of encouragement and understanding.
Modern forums tend to be a little acerbic, sometimes derogatory. New musicians post “does this sound any good” to replies of “please, just kill yourself now!” Or at least it feels that way at times.
Eventually Delphi died on it’s arse.
And so we looked to another who could provide us with a quality platform to share music. MP3 dotcom died in the bubble too. Peoplesound ended with a little controversy in the music press. Marvey of FBF (not to be confused with the recent FBF hardcore band) decided to create Electromancer.com. He had wanted to call it Neuromancer but others had the rights to the web addresses or something I forget in the haze of time. It was essentially like Soundcloud was initially designed to be – community based music hosting, but with a great forum to back it up. You could stream or download mp3s, leave constructive comments or simply the encouragement of “this rocks!” or post up music of your own.
What I learned from those times was how beneficial it was to leave constructive comments and in turn to receive them. I could listen to one person’s music and say “the drum beats are incredible, but you need to bring the bass down in the mix.” And in turn another could listen to my music as say they “loved the guitars but the rest was lacking.”
But it was more than that!
On those forums I heard techniques and sounds I’d never heard before. I asked, and I learned. I tried to emulate and improve. Others did the very same. There were old masters to learn from, and young and brash musos who simply wanted to find out what music could sound like if you just experimented with the ingredients. Bands before that often told A&R guys “I’m influenced by The Beatles” or “the local scene” but here we were being influenced by an online musician thousands of miles away who very few others had even heard of.
Then sadly Marvey had to close the site down. I forget the exact reasoning, I remember he had lost his job at some point and that he had mostly self-funded the whole thing. A couple of years later and I had mostly given up my hobby of music.
I started again about 10 years back with Ableton Live 6, uploaded a lot to Soundclick, but never found that same audience or encouragement at the time. Everyone was making electronic music and the great noise had become. My love for music also waned again until 3 years back when I got back into Ableton again, and then Soundcloud. However it seems to have come full circle, with people posting encouragement and finding influence. I have heard musicians from Texas, Prague, Paris that have made me explore sound more. No matter the politics of the world there is music to discover, and perhaps music that will help shape our future.