DJing for your country – would today’s prima donnas do it?

As Britain gets ready to begin the four-day jubilee today – celebrating 70 years of having Queen Elizabeth II on the throne – our thoughts at Ears To The House turn to DJs. Naturally enough. Because believe it or not, there was a time when they were more than happy to do their duty for their country.

And we’re not just talking about the UK here. DJs heading out to the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s to entertain the troops was a common phenomena which no one appeared to have an issue with. We know this thanks to the kind reader who trawled through the Resident Advisor archives – presumably so no one else has to – and found this article from September 2004.

At the time, British armed forces were still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article read “Trance gods Tiesto and Paul Van Dyk will show their support for British troops on assignment throughout the world by appearing on the British Forces Broadcasting Service… DJ Mag has also revealed The Shapeshifters, Judge Jules and Pete Tong will be on the airwaves”.

Ears To The House understands that the aforementioned DJs were not paid for their time – they did these gigs solely to boost the morale of the troops. But would today’s breed of typically pampered, overpaid touring DJ would be prepared to do such a thing?

It’s questionable. But if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us – at least from a music perspective – it’s that the big name DJs in the dance music scene are increasingly choosy about when to switch on their moral compasses. For example, they leave them firmly on the off setting when lots of money is on the table from the human rights abusing Dubai – just ask Jeff Mills.

Yet if you were to ask these same DJs whether they were prepared to play in Russia – the same Russia which is currently involved in all kinds of human rights abuses in Ukraine – they’re more than happy to utilise those dusty moral compasses once more. They appear to operate on nothing more than the principle of whatever the cause célèbre is this week.

It goes without saying not all DJs are morally bankrupt – far from it. But an awful lot at the top do seem to be…

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