What is one of the sole reasons musicians get to where they want to go in the music world?
Music blogs. If it weren’t for music blogs in this day and age, nobody would be where they are today. The times have changed in terms of who gets famous and how. Nowadays, it’s definitely partially thanks to our faithful, dedicated bloggers who are passionate about music.
If you are a blogger, a music writer, a music blog connoisseur, then you know exactly what MOARRR, formerly the famous AudioPorn Central is; and you highly respect it. One of the very first blogs I found in my young, formative blogging years was APC, and, as far as blogs and websites go, it was my idol, no pun intended, along with about 900 other music bloggers.
The creator and founder of this masterpiece of a website is Simon Iddol, a somehow still anonymous yet seriously strong staple of a footprint in the online music community.
We got to sit down and have a really nice FaceTime conversation with Simon Iddol who was all the way in Hungary (crazy how technology works). He talked to us all about what inspired the start of APC, how it became MOARRR, and what the future of music and music blogging looks like.
He also graced us with a personal Simon Iddol Jukely Mix, which you can listen to right now as you read the interview.
Tell us a bit about your transition into MOARR.
MOARR is definitely bigger. Definitely huge, about ten times bigger than APC, and MOARRR is more like a broadcast, a nonstop constant flow.
APC was something else, it was fun. It’s so strange because I never thought I would get into this kind of blogging thing. And the idea behind APC was that it was going to be the best music blog in the world. And I think we made it. It was the second-best music blog of the world. We were officially number two.
But who cares! It was really interesting period in my life, and it’s so strange to see the effect of it, even today, after all these years. I’m going to a show in Romania and the organizer and promotor announced and commented like, “Whoa, hey, Audio Porn Central!” But its like, to me, it’s MOARRR now. Let’s take the next steps for the future.
And I have to sometimes slow down, and make my brain think slower. Sometimes I am so fast and passionate and sometimes the world cannot follow. Hang on, let them understand, it’s interesting.
What inspired you to create AudioPorn Central in the beginning?
Well, here is the long story.
I’ve been involved in music as long as I remember. Before I became ‘Simon Iddol’ I was DJing, in a band, and I had a TV show. And it was one of the first electronic shows in Europe—kind of like Party Zone on MTV—in the ’90s. I was also DJing, since ’91, and I was involved in a label, but I was managing artists, I did marketing and media for underground artists in Hungary. They are big musicians today, important parts of the Hungarian music history.
For some reason I got fed up with music business and in 2000 I quit music. I stopped even listening to music. I had a crazy idea at that time that I would make music with CD players. The new CDJs came out, and on those you were able to save loops and back then it was like “WHOA, what IS this!?”
And then I had an idea I could do this music project; I need eight CDJs, and I could make the loops manually. I thought like, “Okay, I could do this with some new music,”I told it to Pioneer, but… you know. But I was like, “Oh you know, I don’t believe in music anymore,” and I had this new thing.
Fast forward five years and the project I started failed. So I had some time on my hands, I was looking around on the internet for something to do. I came across DJ Earworm, one of the most famous mashup producers of the world and I thought it was so amazing what he was doing, and that’s what I had tried to do before with the CD players five years ago, but he’s doing it 10,000 times better than what I could do with CDJs. So it was then I discovered the mashup and bootleg culture, all the things I was doing back in the ’90s while I was DJing.
I became a music scout. I thought it was natural to throw in an a cappella and put it over another beat. I thought it was a DJ thing, nothing less. It’s a whole music style!
I put all my energy into creating mashups and then… I needed a name. I didn’t want a connection between my past and my new project, and I always used to tell my artists that being incognito or having an alias will help your career in the beginning, and nobody listened to me, so I said, “Okay, fine, I will do it.” And I became Simon Iddol.
It was through a name generator, and I went through thousands of names. And I had a book when I was a teenager, I was really into literature and writing poetry, and I put in the name one of my fictional characters and BOOM—Simon Iddol came up.
So it was 2006, and back when you wanted to share music, you could only do it through Myspace, otherwise you had to have a player which was a big deal because most people were not educated on the internet. We were all learning it.
I registered to Myspace and then you needed to provide all the information—and I didn’t want to list where I am from for incognito purposes, and since one of the options was Vatican City, I picked it. And nobody understood my joke. So many people still think I am actually from the Vatican.
So… I went with it and said I DJ’d for the Pope, and I did minimal techno for him because that’s what he liked, and nobody knew who Simon Iddol was. Only five people know who Simon Iddol really is to this day.
Bateman, one of my friends who still runs a Hungarian blog knew—and I told him what I had been doing, and after a few weeks I was invited to Mashuptown, and Art from Mashuptown asked me to blog with him about Mashups.
I was literally new on the scene. Nobody knew I was from Hungary or whether I was black or white or a dog or a cat or a UFO, but somehow the effort I put into it came true. People came to me. Really big bands trusted in me and would send me their albums and stems, one by one. Because they saw what I was doing and saw that I was working so hard on it, putting 16 to 20 hours just on this.
And I was sitting in my small village in the hills of Hungary (very romantic), I was living like a hermit. I was not even going to the city or anywhere, but i was connected with the world via internet. I was rocking and shaking and turning the world upside down by the internet.
It was such a bizarre experience, I was the advisor of international big labels, I had experience with all of it, so much and I knew something is changing in the world right now. This change was right now. No one really had the experience with all of this; we were all learning together by doing it together. Everything was new.
I remember when SoundCloud came up and they came up to us and asked to spread the Beta for them, and they were so excited they gained so many people when we put it up because AudioPorn Central was read by so many people.
Mashuptown was a big mashup blog—I learned blogging in Mashuptown, but since I could put in all my experience, it became big. But after a few months we had some differences, concept-wise and creative-wise, and I decided to focus on my own thing. I quit Mashuptown and created AudioPorn Central.
I had a clear vision of how I wanted to do it. I just knew it would work. Nobody really thought it would, but I knew it would. It was that kind of moment where I knew it would be a hit. I had a future, AudioPorn, and writing about music technology and gear was like writing about items of desire—like sex objects.
Now, I grew up close to the Russian border, which is not understandable for most kids today. For example, a can of Coca-Cola was ‘West’ because you weren’t able to buy it. So it was a collectors item in the East. We never saw music magazines, we never had any shops or stores or anything for that. We couldn’t go to the city and buy anything.
One of our friends had rich parents and somehow they were going West all the time and they would bring us back music magazines, and every time they came back we would be at it every night, like how kids look at porn. We would be like “Oh my God, look at those keys!”
For us, it was more valuable than a Playboy; and that’s where the name AudioPorn Central came from. To be honest and to give proper credit; it wasn’t fully my idea. A good friend of mine, Copycat from Sweden, told me to call it AudioPorn after the series I had on my own website—and it was taken by some band so then we just added “Central” because it would be the central of music blogs.
People were freaking out I was leaving Mashuptown, and then I started AudioPorn Central and it had a huge following from day one. It was going up like nothing else I’ve seen before. I created the structure—Monday Kick, Saturday Morning Cuties, Illegal Sunday, and those are still running on MOARRR.
How did you meet Phil Retrospector?
Through the internet. When I started the Simon Iddol thing, I was incognito for three-and-a-half years. NOBODY knew who it was. I was making Skype voice calls with people, without letting them know who I was.
I clearly remember when I heard the first tune of Phil and Copycat and they were both mashups. I was like “Whoa, these guys are so cool.” Their sound is so different, they do it so well, and since I have the WHA!? compilation series, which has like 50,000 to 80,000 downloads in every two months, it was very well received.
So we basically made a team, shared concepts, and a group of producers created new mashups for the compilations. We should also mention the GYBO forum that was a place for mashups and bootleggers. And we all talked shit about so many things in the forum and we shared our tunes and this is where we met and started our gang.
One of the saddest things in my whole life is that I still haven’t met Phil Retrospector, who lives in Ireland, in person.
I always thought you guys were from Iceland because of how Iceland-heavy APC and MOARRR is.
I was in Iceland in 2010—and I have a lot of friends in Iceland. I’ve played shows in Reykjavik and we put together am Iceland vs. Hungary mixtape for a cultural program.
What’s cool about Iceland is that they have the strength, and the balls, to be passionate and do what they do in music. And they have a passion, I think, that lacks elsewhere in the world.
What is your opinion on the current music blogging scene? Do you think blogs have lost their sense of legitimacy because there are so many now?
I knew you would ask me this. And off the top of my head I would say, “Yes, it’s so bad.”
But it’s not true. Actually, I love evolution. And this is the driving force of our culture and human nature. And I hate when DJs complain about if you don’t play vinyl then you’re not a real DJ. I remember those DJs begging to be respected as artists. They were begging the world to see turntables as legitimate. They forget where they come from.
Same with music blogging. When I think about myself, I think of myself as a DJ. I do my blog as a DJ set. I play to the people, and I post to the people. But instead of seeing the people, I see the numbers and the technology today is helping us.
It’s incredible to me to see how much the world has changed. I learned everything myself; Photoshop, Ableton, but not everyone is like me. Today, we have so many opportunities; SoundCloud, Tumblr—technology today is really helping us. The tech is going through an inflation.
So yes, things have lost value. It was a big thing to have a music studio and now, it’s on your iPad. Same with blogging. It was a possibility for a few at first, and now its not.
But I’m not going to be a super cool wannabe and say that music blogging is outdated. People have the right, and they do it. If you are good, people will follow you, if you are bad, people will not follow you. There are so many music blogs out there, and there is nothing wrong with that. Every platform is bringing you options. If there was a universal system for blogging and promotional music on the internet, simple things.
YouTube is not for audio. It was meant to be a video sharing site. I understand why they put it there, but still. Today, we have so much possibility and I really love them all.
Music sharing sites—I really love all these because every new project and sharing site is bringing new things in. I think right now, everybody is a blogger. If you have a Facebook account, you are a blogger, and it’s cool—if you’re good. If you have good taste and make good choices.
I, myself, never go off of any hype. I think I create hypes, but I don’t follow any hypes. When someone is ahead of the game and influential, they actually do something good. And I really like the possibilities.
MOARRR is like a Tumblr. It is a community. We have collected so many followers and they stay. People love what we are doing, and they join in. For example, with Jukely, I really like this thing because five years ago, this was impossible! We were dreaming about possibilities like this.
People, wake up, and use these things for your own good will. When music bloggers start to complain about it—they miss the point. You have to talk to the audience, you have to be interesting. If you are bad DJ, nobody will like you. If you are a good DJ, everyone will love you. Nobody said it would be easy or cool.
I’m not into all those big trends. I will not post a dubstep, EDM, or trap song JUST because its new or simply because its trap. I’m one of the tastemakers, and one of the ones who are leading the blog scene. If this was the case, my blog will be the same as every other 20,000 music blogs. I will not post a new Daft Punk simply because it’s new—everyone else will be posting it. I will post something new from Japan or somewhere else because it’s GOOD. And I will keep the promise that I bring something new. This is why the industry follows me.
What’s your advice to people who are really passionate about writing for music and for blogging, if they really wanted to pursue it?
As a blogger or journalist or writer, it’s really… my philosophy is minimalistic. Maybe because I love to talk and not to write. But when I write on my blog, I keep it extremely short. I don’t like it when big blogs tell you what you are to think about this and that. And they write, how many pages, about one song.
I would rather post the song and let the audience decide. I’m talking to grownups, not kids. I’m not posting anything that’s bad. Everything that I post is personally recommended and liked by me… there’s a reason I post them.
People trust in my opinion, I don’t have to tell them. I’ll give them the links, the band page, and they can decide. I receive about 200 new songs every day, maybe more, and I check everything. I have about 40 seconds for everything. If someone is able to catch my attention in that time, I will post it.
I talk less in my sets. My advice would be be yourself and have a style. Know your music. Know the music history. I’m very lucky because I had a mentor, Farkas “Shulcz” Tibor, one of the first DJs of Hungary, and I would never be a DJ without him. I am so happy and thankful to him because I learned about all music from him. Everything from the ’30s, ’40s, to New Orleans jazz, into Elvis, all the way to the ’70s, and how it turned punk.
I understand music, and I can put it somewhere on the map. I know it’s hard in America because electronic music wasn’t there for so long… but it was. And nobody listened. It was there for you…
And you have this EDM thing because so many kids started to take E at the same time. It’s a generational thing, that’s EDM. EDM is like what happy hardcore was in the ’90s. Scooter, and all that awful sound, thats what EDM is now. It will go away in two or three years. They will get tired of taking ecstasy, and the music will calm down, and that’s when good things will happen in America.
Know the heroes of Chicago house. Learn things about Detroit. American artists created electronic music, and they’re not known in America! It’s so weird, but now things are getting back to the way it should be, and that’s so cool. Music blogs and the internet has a huge responsibility to educate people and show the history of music.
What do you think the best city for dance music in the world is?
Whoa. Whoa whoa. Right now? [pauses for about a minute]
I can’t answer this. If I have to say only one, I would say New York. I know, I know, but I have a view from a distance. I see a lot of things. I’m connected with musicians, and bands and labels from all over, and I love the sound coming out of New York.
Eli Escobar is one of my biggest heroes over there. Best DJs I’ve heard in so long. I’ve heard so much good music coming from New York.
But if I can give you the hotspots, I would say amazing music is coming from Lisbon (Discotexas has created something so great, Buraka Som Sistema, same), Australia, so many good bands are coming from Australia, I don’t know whats in the air there, but it’s so good. They are the new Scandinavia. I would say Mexico City also. The underground music scene is really strong and vibrant.