Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Duke Dumont x Gorgon City ft. NAATIONS – Real Life

It’s terrible bio time again! “One part vocals, one part machines – NAATIONS consists of just that. A strong nod to an island grit and verses that delve into the human condition … Nicky Night Time (Van She) & Nat Dunn’s musical chemistry was apparent from their first meeting and continued into a mutual muse relationship that is now NAATIONS.”


[Video][Website]
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Katherine St Asaph: First things first: “Nicky Night Time” sounds like the Foodfight! version of Johnny Jewel. Also: Having Duke Dumont and Gorgon City and (sigh) NAATIONS all iterate on a ’90s pop-house track is kind of like having a corpse reanimated, then reanimated again, then reanimated again, until it’s bruised and ragged from constantly rising up from the dead (they do it all the time). In an odd way, that helps — “I wanna love you in real life” is supposed to mean taking someone out of the pressure-cooker of the club, the bleary surreality of the wee hours, into a cleaner, slower morning, to stay. (The video, which claims it’s supposed to mean “#SELFIE,” I disregard on grounds of its being ass.) But it’s exactly the hook to cut through the Internet and the thicket of critical context: to real life, to immediacy, to a sound that, despite years of misuse and overuse, still yearns.
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Maxwell Cavaseno: I’m glad to see that 21st century pop-house is entirely indistinguishable at this point from nostalgic run-throughs of classic UK pop-house, with only bubbling “jacking”-style basslines and maybe mixdown technology to tell them apart. “Real Life” is a song we’ve no doubt come to love because we’ve heard it a million times, and what once was an aspirational joy now feels like a tasteful return to what makes sense.
[4]

Alfred Soto: Four years ago, Gorgon City’s pop house sounded fresh. But Australian duo NAATIONS only get to belt the incoherent chorus (how else would you love someone?) in the old-school manner as the track’s ending. 
[6]

Eleanor Graham: Not to be that “each British house chart hit is a slightly less fun version of the last” person, but I truly feel like I’m being trolled.
[3]

Claire Biddles: When does rave piano x soulful house vocals x hands-in-the-air drops NOT sound good?
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: YAAAAAAAAY for more early-’90s-throwback piano-soaked house jams! We already knew that both Duke Dumont and Gorgon City have a flair for this kinda thing, so it makes plenty of sense that this would be superb, and this collaboration presses all of my “musical pleasure center” buttons. NAATIONS’s Nat Dunn does a fine job in the featured role of “house diva,” and the bridge gives me Rozalla flashbacks. *hits dance floor, waves hands in air*
[10]

Kat Stevens: Snips out my favourite bits of “LFO” by LFO and sellotapes them on to the pages of a solid piano house fanzine.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Nice beat, made up of simple stabbing bass, a polite sunken dip of piano chords and overcast editing over punchy drums. And NAATIONS’ Nat Dunn does pretty well with the simple house lyrics she’s been stuck with.
[7]

Crystal Leww: A lot going on in the artists credit line, but let’s try to break it down: Duke Dumont and Gorgon City both got big in the wave of pop-house popular in the UK in ’13-’14. Duke Dumont is famous on TSJ for starting the #justice4kellileigh movement. Gorgon City are two bros from the UK and better at crediting their vocalists. NAATIONS are a new Australian duo, half production, half vocal work. The politics behind this still suck — five white people making and profiting from music built on a history of mostly anonymized or poorly credited Black artists. It only makes sense that this all comes together in the BBC Live Lounge video with Black backing vocalists singing the hell out of this and Dumont slightly off rhythm.
[4]

Tara Hillegeist: The irony of a bubbling hook built around a singer begging she only wants to love someone “in real life” coming from a producer like Duke Dumont whose career he built on a foundation of refusing to credit the real black girls whose voices he sampled and whose careers he thus screwed over: not lost on me. No amount of hook-line-sinker craft hides the yanking dismay felt when you observe NAATIONS’ credited presence on this track and realize: ah, now that her body isn’t inconveniently black, he doesn’t mind encouraging her to own her own voice at all. 
[4]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Terre Thaemlitz put it best: “The House Nation likes to pretend clubs are an oasis from suffering, but suffering is in here with us.” It’s a statement that was meant to shed light on the genre’s roots in the anguish of minority groups, and how that reality has been erased and lost in contemporary (discussion of) house music. “Real Life” is surely something Thaemlitz would consider “shitty, high energy vocal house,” but I find myself drawn to its lyrics and the notion that the dancefloor is real life. It’s something that ties into my fondness for dance music that’s very explicit about the lives of those dancing. But all this went down the drain when I saw the music video, as the song turns out to be a commentary on our generation’s attachment to social media and need for validation. It paints Duke Dumont as highly cynical and the sort of dude who probably thinks he’s doing the world a favor by providing it some Real House Music. The song’s decent — I particularly enjoy the smooth inclusion of the breakbeat — but if you’re making house music that sneers at people, I want nothing to do with you.
[3]

William John: “I only wanna love you in real life” is not only an awkward, ungainly phrase when uttered aloud, but also a patent unreality for most young daters — and based on the false premise that there’s any meaningful distinction between the online and offline anymore. As someone in a relationship of now almost 18 months thanks to Grindr (who’d’ve thought), I’d posit that it’s advantageous to the wary single to be able to scope out someone’s political and personal views on social media before opting into anything romantic. But these are subjects worthy of discussion with friends in a pub, perhaps; not so much over the top of a humdrum Ibiza-geared rave-up.
[3]

Stephen Eisermann: Please, no more! We get it! Social media = bad, real life = good. Not even the most engaging of productions or beats can make this message any more palatable. Plus, there is a strong sense of irony in a lyric that condemns technology played against a (very generic, very boring) electronic beat.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: Of all the possible philosophical standpoints on what is “real life”, the one Duke Dumont and “Real Life”‘s mean-spirited video hint towards is glumly predictable. Real life as morning after, as talk of a world beyond flashing lights suggests, is less prosaic, but it’s both sides together that make things interesting: the privileging of the physical alongside the denigrating of it. It is at once what is needed and never enough, forming a double-pronged attack of emotional longing. Whatever is real, that’s what’s palpable.
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