Paul Mac says infamous 1995 ARIAs speech was a “fuck you” to Australian music industry

"I just felt that the music industry here just did not understand what you needed to do to nurture dance music to make it reach a wider amount of people"

Paul Mac of electronic duo Itch-E and Scratch-E has discussed how what he saw as a lack of industry support for dance music in Australia prompted his infamous acceptance speech at the 1995 ARIA Awards.

During the ceremony, Mac – along with bandmate Andy Rantzen – won the inaugural Best Dance Release category for Itch-E and Scratch-E’s 1994 single ‘Sweetness And Light’. It beat out Quench, Boxcar, Renegade Funktrain, The Rockmelons and Single Gun Theory.

Accepting the award, Mac thanked DJs, public radio stations, ravers and – controversially – ecstasy dealers. Though the latter mention was censored in the broadcast, it nevertheless caused a media stir, even prompting the National Drug Offensive, one of the sponsors of that year’s ARIA Awards, to withdraw their support.

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As The Music points out, Mac recently appeared on the podcast A Journey Through Aussie Pop to discuss his lengthy career. At one point, Mac is asked how frustrating it was to witness local dance music not being properly appreciated in the mid-’90s.

“That is kind of at the base of what that ARIAs speech was about. I just felt that the music industry here just did not understand what you needed to do to nurture dance music to make it reach a wider amount of people. They just did not get it,” Mac explained.

“So, that speech was a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to them because it was like, ‘Come on, this is amazing that this whole flourishing subculture built on an ideology and an enthusiasm of real love,’ and it’s like, it just needed a helping hand to get there.”

Despite the controversy, Mac has been steadfast in his convictions, calling it “the best career move I ever made” when speaking to The Guardian in 2014. “I got in so much trouble for that, but I don’t care. I’m still proud of it. I meant every word, and I still do.”

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Since then, Mac has continued to lead a successful career. That’s included linking up with Silverchair‘s Daniel Johns to form The Dissociatives, with the duo releasing their sole, self-titled album in 2004.

The producer and DJ has released four solo albums – 2001’s ‘3000 Feet High’, 2005’s ‘Panic Room’, 2015’s ‘Holiday From Me’ and 2019’s ‘Mesmerism’ – and worked as part of the duo Stereogamous alongside Jonny Seymour.

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