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Following on from his appearance at our live session from Let It Roll Records, CMRN. After a tough year, we discussed the impact of moving things online, and the rampant elitism in dance music.
June 9, 2021

The Blackpool-born DJ got into drum n bass after moving to London three years ago. Despite once having a thriving nightlife scene, there wasn’t much left in Blackpool by the time Cameron was getting into music. ‘In the early 2000s there used to be the biggest club in the UK in Blackpool, the Syndicate,’ he explains over Zoom. ‘So it had a pretty good nightlife then. But Blackpool’s not exactly the most affluent area, and everything sort of died down so there's not much of a music culture there anymore.’ Therefore, it wasn’t until he moved to London that Cameron’s interest in drum ‘n’ bass gathered momentum. ‘The reason why I like drum ‘n’ bass is probably because it's fast paced, quite energetic. When it's a bit drawn out I can start to lose attention,’ he confesses. ‘But that's a very personal thing to me – I'm not trying to bash slow mixing.’

CMRN is therefore inspired by DJs such as Dimension, whose quick mixing and careful selections carry dancers through for hours. Cameron carefully plans his sets, and he told me about his first pre-pandemic nights playing at Corsica Studios, down in Elephant & Castle, last year: ‘It was very intense. That adrenaline is flowing and there's all the worries about messing it up, you know? But I was playing the closing set so half the dancefloor was comatose by the time I was on, so even if I was doing a bad blend it's not like anyone's going to notice,’ he laughs. ‘Afterwards it was a fat buzz – once I’d finished I was up on such a natural high!’

“It’s about social interaction, to make friends and meet people, and no amount of Zoom, FaceTime or online live streams can replicate that – not even close.”

Taking charge of UCL’s underground music community has been Cameron’s biggest challenge in recent months. Being part of the electronic music society (EMS) since arriving in London, we witnessed the society ascending from strength to strength, and putting on club-favourite Synergy, a series of nights packing out Corsica Studios every other month. But of course, we’re now all too familiar with the spanner that’s jammed up many of our works: by the time Cameron’s presidency arrived, London was in lockdown, and all in-person activity banned. ‘Ahhh, it has been terrible, I'm not gonna lie,’ he sighs. ‘We had so much momentum. And then Covid just fucked it.’ Moving things online hasn’t quite been the same. ‘The whole idea of EMS is it's about social interaction, to make friends and meet people, and no amount of Zoom, FaceTime or online live streams can replicate that – not even close,’ he says.

Yet Zoom aside, Cameron acknowledges that the direction a lot of creative endeavours are heading in is online. ‘If you were an artist and not on social media nowadays you'd struggle. It can be really good as an organic marketing tool.’ Despite Zoom not being to his liking, then, Cameron sees the benefits of social media as long as there is a dancefloor to link it to. ‘There's these no phone parties now, where if you’re seen with your phone on the dancefloor you get turfed out. But if one person is recording on their phone, it doesn't really make that much difference,’ he says. ‘It's just another thing that people want to complain about I guess. Not to mention that so many people that record on the phone are going fucking mental at the same time..!’

“In electronic music people just love bashing other genres, which just blows my mind. The one thing I hate is the amount of snobbery.”

CMRN therefore has a passion for underground events, but wants to do away with some of the elitism that has become engrained in the dance music community. ‘In electronic music people just love bashing other genres, which just blows my mind, man,’ he tells me. ‘The one thing I hate is the amount of snobbery,’ he says. ‘Genre snobbery, sub-genre snobbery, you know, DJ snobbery. Just let people enjoy what they want to enjoy!’ It’s true that in the dance music world, there seems to be a greater stigma towards DnB in particular. ‘I think there's just like the misconception that people at drum ‘n’ bass events just take like five pills, and then are absolutely off their nut for the whole time.’ Instead, he suggests we all just live and let live: ‘I just think people care far too much what other people are doing.’

Moving forward out of the pandemic Cameron therefore hopes to channel his energy into hosting more welcoming club nights. ‘It's such good fun – there's such good camaraderie with people running it, you know. It's still a good time even if you don't make any money – as long as you don't lose too much,’ he says. ‘There's just a certain enjoyment that comes from putting on a party and seeing people having fun.’ He’s excited for what the future holds: ‘When in recent times has anyone been forced to basically be on house arrest for an entire 15 months, man!’ he says with wonder. ‘We could be on for a cultural revolution akin to the second summer of love. Genuinely. It'll be absolutely crazy but we're living in such a unique time period. Everyone will just be taking such hedonistic attitudes, it’ll be intense I think. Yeah, it'll be interesting.’

We can look forward to a fast-paced set from CMRN this coming Monday (7/6) as he returns to the decks. Make sure to tune in to the stream or pop down to Let It Roll Records from 19:00 BST. In the meantime check out his favourite tunes on Spotify as we await a toasty guest mix.