There is no denying that throughout history, music has had an integral influence on society. While it pushes boundaries, rallies its supporters, and opens minds to new ways of thinking, it also has caused serious backlashes. Sometimes, people who are afraid of or do not understand change can be ignorant to new sounds and strong followings.
Electronic dance music is a genre that has been developing and rising for years, coming from underground warehouses and growing to sell out places like Madison Square Garden and even the infamous Radio City Music Hall. Although it has come from humble and underground beginnings, it is becoming more mainstream all over the world, especially in America. It also has, unfortunately, been the target of many negative opinions and stereotypes, being perceived as a culture of drug addicts and crazed freaks.
Let it be known right now; EDM is for people who are looking for music when words cannot be found. It is for people who can appreciate the rise and fall of a beat, understand the camaraderie of a crowd gathered to enjoy a show, and to express themselves without judgment.
I have heard many people who have never been to an EDM concert or music festival call them “raves“, and yet discuss the rampant drugs and alcohol. I will not deny or excuse those who do drugs. However, the emphasis should not be on them, it should be on the music. Kaskade, perhaps one of the biggest advocates for a sober EDM community, put it eloquently when he said in his blog post ‘No One Knows Who We Are’:
“Back when warehouses were being broken into, fire codes were ignored, dodgy generators were powering a massive sound system and restrooms were non-existent. This was a time that safety probably wasn’t exactly job one. Things were smaller then, though. There weren’t tens of thousands of people looking to gather in one place, not like now. This scene has grown, and in response to the people it serves, it has grown up.”
The reality is drugs are out there no matter the place or people. Take a trip to any NYC club and you’ll find plenty of sober individuals who are looking to dance and have a good time. Walk a block or two in the wrong direction, and you’ll likely find an addict laying in the streets begging for money. Don’t blame the music, the club promoters, or the artists.
Another issue we hear is that electronic music is not “real” music. The basis of house music is a 4×4 percussive beat, typically paired with elements like hi-hats and basslines. Then notes – yes, electronic ones but real musical notes nonetheless – are added. There is a myriad of musical styles and components that can be infused into a song. DJs Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, before they became two thirds of the popular Swedish House Mafia, made a song called “Umbrella.” This tech house track features a synth lead and Spanish guitar. Is this not an instrument? Today, many artists in the industry ranging from R&B’s Usher to alternative rock’s Florence + the Machine have sampled popular house songs, collaborated with DJs, and have included fundamentals like dubstep into their songs. Those who think they dislike EDM because their notion of dubstep is that it sounds like “two robots fighting” need to listen up. Perhaps you prefer the darker sounds of Dirty Dutch, the harmonic trance resonances, or drumbeats of electro, but regardless of your taste, there are many sub genres that express various feelings and sounds, each unique and each equally worthy of a listen.
To add insult to injury, I find that people’s initial impression of a DJ is someone who puts on an already produced track and merely presses some magical remix button. They render them “talentless.” This is not the case, which anyone who has done anything as basic as playing the recorder in 3rd grade would know. Besides the considerations of rudimentary music principles like tonality and tempo, I beg of you to try synchronizing four turntables and seamlessly segue from song to song for three hours straight. The German DJ Thomas Gold, for example, has been working and honing his skills since childhood. He incorporates live musicians into his performance and does not use a laptop during his set.
So while there are those who doubt the validity of EDM, it is still rapidly gaining popularity and becoming mainstream. You cannot turn on the radio without hearing a clip, a sample, or a full-out electronic dance music track. Festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival are adding cities to become national tours, and attendance in the hundred of thousands is exponentially growing each year.
EDM is simply the newest target in the media’s quest for an answer to the unfortunate things that happen in this world. The Who and Led Zepplin were blamed for creating a revolutionary attitude with their listeners. Rap was blamed for violence and the degradation of women. EDM is under attack and taking the blame for drug use. I know that for me and for many others, the music alone is my high.
–Marisa Bianco for EDMNYC
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