Forget what the letters stand for a minute, forget what VICE said about all dance music being electronic and forget what your Skrillex hating mate says. Even forget every 16 year old spring breaker you have seen in the pulsating mosh pit of flesh tones and neon, screaming “’MURICA” or “BAUAUR FOR PRESIDENT!” and hear me out that this EDM thing isn’t quite as bad a thing as you may have thought.
This isn’t going to be an article panning the Americans bad taste and ignorance of dance music. What America has done for dance music, pre EDM, is immeasurable, Chicago house, New York Disco, Disco in general. In fact, America without you and the influences of the music you have made over the years, dance music would be nothing compared to what it is today. But it does have to be said that it was the American music industry that took what they saw to be dance music and rebranded it EDM therefore what it looked like on the surface, completely ruined the image of what the rest of the dance world have been trying to create for well over 20 years (albeit an MDMA fuelled, debauched one)
The likes of Guetta, Skrillex, Bauaur, Swedish House Mafia, Calvin Harris and the rest of the multi-million selling EDM crew seem to have successfully watered down the essence of dance music to a expensively packaged, superstar vocalist friendly, rap star guest appearance ready, Label fat cat enticingly, big hunk of cheese. Not a nice camembert or even a standard cheddar or even a dairylee triangle, but squirt after tasteless squirt of luminous plastic cheese foam straight into the mouth of the hungry salivating mouth of the public, cheese so processed and lacking of complexity and quality that even the laughing cow would take a step back to have a melancholy look at the state of the industry in which it resides.
But here is a question, didn’t you used to hate it when someone said “I love dance music, my favourite DJ is Alice DJ, oh and I really love that remix that the Wideboys did of that Freemasons track” (am I showing my age here… if not then good cos I could have gone further back than that… DJ Otzi anyone?) You did didn’t you. The reason for your hatred? because that’s not proper dance music now is it, that is the music of fools, of Magaluf loving, borderline gypsies that spend every weekend trying to suck their nearest town centre dry of Strongbow and cheap Pinot. Why should dance music as a whole be sullied by the actions of a DJ from the continent with no musical morals sampling the Macarena and slapping a 4×4 beat and “Can you feel it?” vocal over the top? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to distinguish between the vacuous hole of chav pleasing turgidity and the luscious waves and layers of Cosmic Disco or the slow building sparseness of Minimal Techno or the jagged rough cuts of Future Garage? To me… That is what EDM is.
EDM is a beautiful way of packaging a cross genre subset of dance music that I don’t want to listen to or be associated with. A handy moniker for the intelligent music lover that says “yeah you probably won’t like what you hear”. A government warning sticker to the cultured and true of mind stating “WARNING, MAY CONTAIN SHIT”. Now, I’m not saying that anyone should disregard a genre of music based on solely its genre, and I would encourage everyone to dip in and out of any scene once in a while even just to reconfirm that it isn’t generally for you. There is EDM music that I do like, I was just as excited about Skrillex when I accidentally got sucked into the vortex of dubstep from its inception all the way through to around about the SuperBad stage in which I realised that it was no longer an expression of grit and skanking but a way to give the ADHD children of this world a place to let off some steam. I still listen to the odd Trap/Juke crossover mix and find myself mindless nodding along.
What I am saying is that the term EDM is like one of those floating barriers that oil companies use to stop an oil leak spreading any further and causing incomprehensible and irreversible damage, leaving the rest of the ocean of amazing artistry and skill free of any detuned screaming or wobbly baseline infested contaminants. It’s like the kids playground in the middle of the park on a sunny day, while all the children go crazy on the undulating apparatus of swings, drops and spinning, sweating and crashing into each other, everyone else is enjoying basking in the glory of the music’s subtle undertones and the breeze of euphoria when a beautifully crafted drop finally does make its presence known.
I’m not trying to over intellectualise non EDM dance music, it is for all intents and purpose music to get off your face too, an escape from the humdrum existence that is life, worship at the church of hedonism. Philip Glass can sleep easy knowing that his compositions aren’t being compared alongside the works of Richie Hawtin, Joe Syntax or Julio Bashmore. But what is clear is that having this clear divide between the mainstream, corporate, supersize section of what this planet longs for and what the rest of us would like to be associated with is something to be encouraged. I ask you to welcome the hashtag of EDM into your life and with it you will be on the right track to the path of dance music enlightenment without the wonky off key distraction of the steroid filled/ Ritalin rejecting dark side of EDM.
So the next time someone asks you what music you like, you can reply “Well I really have a broad spectrum of tastes, mainly in the dance scene… minus the EDM of course” and hopefully anyone of any music knowledge at all will instantly un-attach you from the horn wielding butt nugget whose only mission in life is to tear them self into as many sweating testosterone filled pieces as possible at the mere hint of a detuned bass whistle or full filter opened super drop. To me, surely, that can only be a good thing, can’t it?