So, let’s discuss re-issues.
Re-issues are a business within the music industry that have existed as long there has been a history. Over time music goes in and out of fashion, cycles rotate, time passes, legends are born and legacies flourish with age - A lot of these instances are driven by circumstance.
The dance music industry, and especially house music, in recent years, has started to thrive on its history. In fact, at this point in time, it seems to be conditioned by its history. The global obsession with all things gone by that appears when people feel they need security from things they are familiar with. Scared with unfamiliar ground, worried by uncertain futures, tainted by society and life in general.
It’s a strange place to be. I am a firm believer that music should always push forward, but, I am also happy when artists that spent their life in struggle and torment, suddenly get a new lease of life, rediscovered by the new generations.
BUT (And it’s a massive ‘but’), I only enjoy these situations when the artist is:
a. Around to enjoy it.
b. in control of their new found success.
c. In control of their catalogue or estate
d. Actually getting their dues
The reason for me writing this open letter is as a result of a situation that directly effects a dear old friend of mine, Spencer Kincy aka Gemini.
He was not only a friend, he was also a mentor and a great inspiration. His forward thinking approach to music, production, and DJing, constantly inspired and moulded me and the way I applied my own approach and outlook to the path that I chose. The first time I met Spencer was in 1994. I was turned on to his production via my late friend Kenny Hawkes. Kenny called me and blasted my ear drums with a track. The track was called Klonopin ( named after a mood stabiliser that Spencer was taking at the time,) and it was released on Relief, a label from Chicago. I travelled to Chicago in May as an ambassador for Freetown Records, where I was working at the time. I met with a lot of people around that time that luckily became life long friends, business partners, and so on. I stayed with one of the people that worked at Cajual at the time, Rob Kouchoukis.
That’s when I met Spencer.
We hit it off instantly, sharing a like minded view on most things, and equally, we shared some very similar demons. Fortunately for me I have always managed to stay in control of my demons (just about.)
Unfortunately for Spencer, he didn’t cope with the demons so well. After some years, they got the better of him. Whether it was situations or his own mental state that forced him, I was never quite sure. He became very very paranoid. I was often woken at night with phone calls and I constantly tried to talk him down from the tricks his mind was playing on him. Slowly it began to affect his relationships with friends and people around him and, in time, it became very very messy. All the while Spencer continued to produce music and DJ. His mental state started to make its way into his music and his DJ sets. Not in a bad way I might add… in fact I think it pushed his creativity further and further into a different realm. It no longer became about making music to feed his career, it became a way of him expressing himself and the voices inside his head.
My time line is a little askew these days, and I am not sure when the last time I saw Spencer was. It’s been a long time now. I miss him dearly and he is still one of the greatest reasons I continue to do what I do as an artist.
I write this now as a few months ago I was made aware of a series of re-issues of his music. They were brought to my attention as some of them were originally released by Derrick Carter and myself on our label, Classic. We had taken the decision to never release this music whilst Spencer was not in a position to be in control of it. We felt that it was the right thing to do. It was respectful, and it is what we, as artists, would want for our own music. I looked into the re-issues and the background. I got in touch with both the labels and the publishers asking for explanations. They told me that they had been sanctioned by Spencer and gave me Spencer’s email.
I emailed Spencer and got very odd, nonsensical response.
I, for one, know that Spencer is very much out of the industry and out of society as a whole. I am not in a position to judge Spencer’s sickness currently, but I am pretty sure that he is not in a correct mental state to make calculated decisions that govern the future of his music, and a legacy that deserves so much more than the one that is being offered to and presented right now.
It’s all very well saying that Spencer will get paid. It’s all very well having the best intentions – stating that money can be used to help him pay to deal with his sickness and a place for him to live, but he deserves so much more than this.
Spencer never took things lightly. Every piece of music he made, every DJ set he played, every record label he made music for was part of a grander scheme,and a bigger picture that he was always in control of.
Sadly, at this point in time, Spencer has no control of his legacy. It is in the hands of others.
The hardest part being is that Spencer is still very much with us.
I write this not with anger, but with a feeling of frustration. I have seen this happen to many artists over the years, and it saddens me that so much art is not treated in an appropriate way.
This is dedicated to the Spencer that I know and love.