In October 2013, VICE News was invited to visit the infamous tech mogul and creator of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, at his palatial property in New Zealand. Even though Kim is under house arrest—since he’s at the center of history’s largest copyright case—he’s still able to visit a recording studio in Auckland. So check out this brand new documentary we made at Kim’s mega-mansion and in the studio where our host, Tim Pool, got to lay down some backup vocals for Kim’s upcoming EDM album while talking about online surveillance, file-sharing, and Kim’s controversial case.
Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones is the founder of London’s Club Drug Clinic, started in 2011, which aims to provide aid to people who have “begun to experience problems with their use of recreational drugs.” After they were overwhelmed with users of ketamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and legal substances who wanted help, a second clinic was opened earlier this year.
Unlike heroin and crack, for which many rehabilitation and counselling services exist, party drugs often aren’t associated with bad things like addiction, losing your job, losing your mind, and ruining your life. Owen hopes that in addition to helping individual users, his clinics will spread understanding of the dangers of these relatively new drugs through the medical world.
I gave Owen a call to find out what he’s discovered from treating people.
VICE: Has drug use changed much in the UK in the past ten to 15 years? Owen Bowden-Jones: What we’ve seen are relatively major reductions in heroin and crack use and an increase in a new group of drugs called “club drugs”—things like ketamine, MDMA, and mephedrone.
I’m familiar with the category. What about the ways in which people take them? Actually, we’re finding that quite a few of these people are beginning to inject their drugs, especially mephedrone and ketamine. So all of the very real dangers that we used to see with heroin injecting, we’re now beginning to see with these newer club drugs.
Oh, dear. What are the drugs that cause the most problems? Here at the Club Drug Clinic, the four main drugs we’ve seen have been ketamine, GBL or GHB, crystal meth, and mephedrone. You can often determine the drug someone’s using [when they come in]. It seems to split along the lines of sexuality. We’re seeing a lot of gay men using crystal meth and GBL—for sex—while we’re seeing a lot of straight clubbers and students using ketamine and mephedrone. Interestingly, we’ve hardly seen anybody come into the clinic saying they’ve got a problem with MDMA or ecstasy—that just hasn’t happened.
In the first episode of Big Night Out, Clive Martin heads north to Glasgow in search of the dark heart of the UK Gabber scene. To do this he must endure 200 BPM tunes, scores of shirtless men punching the ceiling, hockey mask-wearing hardcore fiends, and a man with a rather unusual tattoo.
WE SPOKE WITH AL WALSER -THE EURO DJ WHO TROLLED THE GRAMMYS
Yesterday, everyone started collectively freaking out while trying to uncover how Al Walser—the dark horse candidate alongside more famous douchebags like Avicii, Skrillex and the Swedish House Mafia—managed to score a nomination for Best Dance Recording at the Grammy’s…even though nobody has any idea who the fuck he is.
Al’s “hit song,” which currently has 5,000 views on Youtube, is a low-budget carnival of cheesiness that you’ll have to endure for three minutes to understand what the hoopla is all about. Even then, it may be hard to grasp the collective sum of human atrocity happening before your eyeballs. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather listen to Skrillex’s vapid screeching for an hour than have to play that video again (so please, guys, let’s not make this a meme?).
I don’t need to tell you how horribly embarrassing this debacle is for the Grammy Academy, which has lost most of its relevancy anyway. While they haven’t commented on it officially yet, an “anonymous source” toldHouse.net that “This kind of thing doesn’t happen. [The Grammy Academy] takes this really seriously. They are super embarrassed that this happened.”
Meanwhile, Spin dug up the fact that Walser also runs a record label/PR firm called Cut the Bull—which has an incredible logo of a pissed off bull flaunting its anus, behind a pile of shit being cut by a pair of scissors (seriously). He offers consultations to aspiring musicians, but only after they provide their Paypal or credit card details. These are some of the DJs signed to Cut the Bull:
As if this story couldn’t get any weirder, a bizarre Barack Obama cameo pops up in a video posted on Walser’s Myspace page, in which circa-2007 Obama asks Walser about Liechtenstein—the tiny country that he grew up in.
Nobody seems to know what the fuck is going on, I decided to give Al a call and let him explain himself a little. The “DJ” I talked to was slick (con artist kind of slick, not put-your-dinger-in-me-now kind of slick) when he wanted to be, like when he was harping about how EDM shouldn’t be just about the the big-time artists. Or when he was recounting how he “hit it off” with Obama and Michael Jackson.
But as soon as I mentioned anything about a “hoax,” he got super agitated and started yelling about suing people for libel. So if you’re reading this, Al, fine: I don’t think you hacked the system. I think you’re a very capable self-promoter who took advantage of the fact that most Grammy voters are hopelessly out of touch with the state of contemporary music. And you networked spammed the shit out of them until they circled your name on the ballot sheet. So congratulations! You’re now as respected as Skrillex. What an achievement.
Anyway, here’s what he had to say for himself:
VICE: Hey Al, congrats on your nomination.
Al Walser: Thank you so much, Michelle. But first can you give me a rundown? What is Vice magazine exactly, is it about dance music?
Sure. But we also cover a lot of other stuff—movies, sports, politics…
So, what everyone wants to know right now is how you got nominated alongside Avicii and Calvin Harris, who are pretty much household names at this point. And yet no one has really heard about you until today. How did that happen?
First of all, I’m a big fan of all the guys that were nominated by me, I’m very inspired by them, and I’m a huge fan of some of them that did not get nominated.
I think it’s a long story. I’m going to have to start with the fact that the Grammys consist of people who are half-time musicians, and sometimes have a day job. These are people, maybe in their forties, that are not too familiar with EDM music. I just have a very close relationships…I met all these people—my fans—and I have email newsletters that let them be part of the process. I send these newsletters out to thousands of people, some of them who are also maybe voting members. So they become a part of the song, and I nourish that environment.
When someone emails me, I email them back. They appreciate it, and I don’t think that some of the other guys in that category would even have the time to do all that. So there’s a nourishment going on that the other guys probably can’t even handle because they’re too busy doing other things. That puts me at an advantage with the voting members.
Second of all, I think the voting members, and the US in general, is probably not too familiar with a DJ being behind a DJ booth and just putting their hands in the air and fist pumping to his own music. So maybe they appreciate the fact that I’m doing everything from A to Z. I’m producing my own music, I DJ, I’ve been around for decades. I’ve been performing in Japan in ’97, in front of a hundred thousand people. I’ve been in this game for a really long time. This is not a joke.
And guess what, Michelle? They connect with me because I communicate, so there is close relation right there. Are you still listening?
Yep. I’m here.
The other thing is, why should this always be about the big production with a lot of money spent? Why is it okay that the big corporations spend a lot of money all over the place, why should that always be better than an independent artist? And if you would have to quote me in one phrase, I would tell you that “this is the rendezvous with destiny for all the independent artists.”