Stuff You Didn't Know About Captain Jack
October 8, 2002
Captain Jack has enjoyed Eurodance success for many years, but before the Eurodance legend made it big in Germany he lived an astonishing life in the Western United States.
As leader of Northern California's Modoc tribe, Captain Jack was forced to confront the white man's federal armies time and again. Originally, his inclination was to negotiate with the U.S. government in order to see his tribe resettled, but skepticism and frustration amongst the Modocs took them down a path of war.
In 1873, Captain Jack was persuaded by his advisers to murder the government's peace commissioners. When assurances of a Modoc reservation on Lost River were denied, Captain Jack shot U.S. General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby to death.
The Modocs fled from the region and hid for months. Eventually, their tribe dissolved into bickering factions. Many voluntarily surrendered to the feds.
Captain Jack was captured. Some of his tribe received amnesty from President Ulysses S. Grant, but others, including Captain Jack, were hanged on October 3, 1873. The Modocs were resettled in Oklahoma, where they were subsequently wiped out by disease.
In 1995, Captain Jack returned to the public eye with an eponymously titled debut single. He released a string of hit dance songs, including "Drill Instructor," a cover of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," and "Don't Haha." Captain Jack continues to release dance singles today.
September 5, 2002
It should come as little surprise during an election month in Germany that the issue of Eurodance has come up. But many were stunned today when Christian Social Union party leader and candidate for chancellorship Edmund Stoiber accused Eurodance act Brooklyn Bounce of "not keepin' it real."
"Whereas Pulsedriver has kept it real, and 2raumwohnung are keepin' it real, Brooklyn Bounce has failed to hold up its end of the bargain," Stoiber announced to an astonished crowd at Berlin's "Bang Bang" discotheque.
Stoiber's beef with Brooklyn Bounce stems from a recent country-by-country survey of the EU's "realness," published in this week's Economist. While Germany is still a very real nation, it has slipped four percentage points since the 1998 election. Meanwhile, bands like Daft Punk, Cassius, and Daddy DJ have allowed France to move up two percentage points in realness. While France remains behind Germany, the gap is closing.
But if Stoiber is correct, then what exactly makes Brooklyn Bounce less real than their counterparts? Amateur philosophers and Eurodance fans alike gathered in coffee houses throughout the nation to dissect Stoiber's comments. Among the more popular theories advanced is that all of Brooklyn Bounce's songs sound pretty much alike, which would be OK if the original blueprint had been good to begin with. Also noted was the fact that the band's frontman is called "Diablo."
The band dismissed Stoiber's allegations. "We're pretty used to critics dissing us!" exclaimed Diablo. "But that just makes us more real, you know, because we're like an underground thing, not a media thing, or a political thing. That makes us more real than . . . a real telephone . . . on a real desk . . . ringing . . . "
But are they keepin' it real? When we asked him, Diablo shifted in his seat.
"We're real. We're the same Brooklyn Bounce. So, the realness . . . is real . . . and I think we're keepin' it that way."
Diablo then looked nervously around the room.
"Word!" he cried. "Word to the underground!"
The band has been actively courting Stoiber's competitor, German Chancellor Gerhard Schr�der, in hope of receiving an endorsement of realness. But Schr�der has been silent on the issue, suggesting that Brooklyn Bounce has become something of a political liability since the release of "Loud and Proud," a song that sounds exactly like every other Brooklyn Bounce song sloppily intercut with chunks of the Fairground Mix of Prodigy's "Everybody in the Place."
"Brooklyn Bounce's claims to 'realness' do not hinge on my endorsement," Schr�der said in carefully prepared words to voters at a Munich discotheque. "If Brooklyn Bounce keeps it real, then the voters will see that for themselves. Peace out."
Welcome to "5-2-5," wherein we ask an artist five questions related to Eurodance output and five questions about other stuff.
Stefano Sorrentino is a university student in Milan who is also enjoying success as a composer of electronic dance music. When his song "Take Your Time," released under the name "Danich," tickled my ears , I decided to track Stefano down, bind him to a chair with duct tape, and force him to answer my ten questions.
Unfortunately, plane tickets to Milan are not cheap on such short notice, so on June 15, 2002 I duct-taped Stefano in effigy and tossed the following questions his way via e-mail:
Five Questions About the Music
Q: "Sans Egal" [released under Stefano's own name] and some of your other tracks suggest a strong love for African rhythms. Are you particularly interested in the music of other cultures?
A: In the last few years I've grown a great interest in both electronic machines and native acoustic instruments. So I'm really happy when I'm able to join them in a single track.
Q: What records inspired you most while you were growing up?
A: I discovered dance music in my early teens, and it was love at first sight. I also love other kinds of music such as house, drum & bass, and electronic music from the 80's. And fine songs always give me goosebumps.
Q: I love "Take Your Time"; great music, and Daniela's voice is just fantastic. However, I haven't been able to decipher exactly what she is singing in the chorus; can you help me with that? And what inspired the lyrics? I am cheating on my ten questions, I know . . .
"Take your time, to be you, don't you need a chance to feel good.Of course this is cheesy, but I think we need to be a little more optimistic, don't we? So this is the spirit of the song!
Daniela is a really nice singer, with an interesting voice. It is really nice to work with her, so we'll probably see something more in the future...
Q: What do you think of Audiogalaxy, Gnutella, etc.?
A: It is really useful to have any song from any country for free in a few minutes. But I think that music is something like a present to yourself; the pleasure of having original records is immensely stronger than that of having some mp3's on hard disk.
Q: Where would you like to see yourself ten years down the road?
A: I study at the University, so I hope to find a job as a developer in some nice musical instruments factory.
And of course to have time to produce my own songs, and still a couple of hours a night to sleep!
Five Questions About Other Stuff
Q: How is Jenny [Stefano's pet ferret] these days?
A: She's fine, and she's greeting you.
Q: Is Jenny allowed to accompany you in the studio?
A: She used to follow me, but she ate my "not very cheap" optical cables twice, so now I keep her away.
Q: Your site reports that you are studying telecommunications at the University of Milan. Does this tie into your music, or is this a separate interest for you?
A: I'm also interested in the technical aspects of sound and acoustical synthesis, so maybe one day I'll be able to join these two aspects (see answer above).
Q: What is your idea of a perfect day, from getting up to going to sleep?
A: The perfect day is much different from my actual day; anyway I try to imagine it: Get up late in the morning, do some university work, have a small lunch and many snacks, spend an afternoon alone in my studio with my music, and have a great night out with friends, maybe in a disco or in a pub (hic!).
Q: Do your friends treat you like a celebrity?
A: Who is the celebrity??? I imagine a celebrity as someone who is stopped and asked photos by people in the streets. I'm far from that state, and do all the usual things all people do. Now please I have to go: my driver is waiting for me in my limousine... HA HA, I'm joking!
Visit Stefano at his Web site at http://www.stefanosorrentino.com/ to learn more about his cable-eating ferret, his life, the electronic equipment he uses, and, of course, his fabulous music!
Click here for more 5 to 5 with Chris Menzi, aka Wavetraxx
June 10, 2002
It's in Pafendorf's "Where Are You?" Jazmine's "Makes Me Go (Mmm)," and every song by Scooter. It's crowd noise, ubiquitous in dance music since techno burst onto the Eurodance scene in the late 1980's. But why is it so popular with Eurodance artists?
Recent research suggests that it is due to a deep-seated sense of insecurity amongst dance music producers. "They're hurting," says Dr. Robert Gold, Department of Psychology, Emory University. "In order to affirm that their efforts bring insane levels of joy to their fans, they insert crowd noise onto their tracks."
Working on computers and keyboards in the isolation of their apartments and basements, Eurodance music producers lead lonely lives of quiet desparation. Unlike, say, drum circle participants, who circulate their energy amongst their cohorts, Eurodance producers must anticipate and imagine crowd responses to their work in a shadowy netherworld far from the clubbing masses they cater to. In fact, two out of five Eurodance producers are hunchbacks.
"At some point in every Eurodance artist's life, something snaps," says Dr. Gold. "That's when they start bringing in the crowd noise."
DJ Max's "People Get Ready" is a prime example. The lyrics: "People won't get it / they'll be zapped out totally / how we made it to the top / really beats me" is rendered all the stranger by the fact that the song was obviously recorded before it started charting in Italy. Explains Dr. Gold, "In addition to the roar of the crowd noise, we find in 'People Get Ready' lyrical affirmations of success before any success was had. How pathetic."
But at least DJ Max enjoyed Italo chart success. Sadder are the numerous crowd noise songs that have failed to chart at all. These include DJ Crackles's Latin-tinged "Numero Uno," which included the lyric "I'm numero uno / bigger than Menudo!" It tanked, and DJ Crackles currently works at a Hungarian gas station.
Dr. Catilina Havela of the Department of Applied Biology, University of Helsinki, offers a more evolutionary explanation for crowd noise. She feels it is a reflection of a highly competitive dance music environment where natural selection favors crowd noise in songs.
"Eurodance music is generally played in clubi.e. socialenvironments," Dr. Havela explains. "Crowd noise excites us because we are a social species. So, it behooves the Eurodance composer to use crowd noise. Crowd noise may fool clubbers into thinking that a song is generating pandemonium on the dance floor. As clubbers go out and investigate, a formidable positive feedback mechanism is introduced." Dr. Havela predicts that in five years all Eurodance songs will feature crowd noise.
"If the song is good, it doesn't need crowd noise," says Ricco Vestergaard, a Danish clubber. "But if it sucks, crowd noise won't make it better."
Most recent news
News from October 2002 - September 2004 (Next Joe Millionaire, Scooter's NY Times editorial, Erika, Master Blaster, American Juniors, German Dance Songs Evolving to Aid Fatter Clubbers, Atomic Kitten hit the USA, essay on the death of undeground music, E or E? seeks money, American Eurodance distributors)
News from February - April 2002 (Chris Menzi [Wavetraxx] interview, Alice DeeJay, Snow Parrot, Eurodance Summit on Life, Cheney and the Clown Song, Grammy Awards, ATC)