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Every single time I listen to EDM music, from house to trance, my dad declares, “That’s not music.” And every single time he says that, I wonder how people can consider EDM to not be real music. Trust me, I’ve tried to play DJ with those free downloads you can get on the Internet and by watching YouTube videos of people who think they can DJ, and it’s hard. Maybe it was because I was using free downloads and amateur YouTube videos, but it was hard, and it goes to show that not everyone can do it. EDM is not new, but its recent impact and following is huge.
Here’s a few things that I could see may affect people’s misunderstanding of EDM:
1. The teenagers who don’t know what EDM is and just see it as a reason to try illicit drugs and jump up and down. On October 12, 2013, I went to see Kaskade for the second time, the first being at Lollapalooza in 2012. I love seeing Kaskade live – the energy he gives off while performing just shows that he really wants to be there, that if he could, he would perform forever. However, I went into the concert knowing that I wanted to see him, but that it was all ages and I would have to deal with a lot of people who weren’t really there to see that energy in play. When the show started, my sister and I, 20 years old and 23 years old respectively, were both sober and found ourselves behind a group of 20 or so preteens. I kid you not these kids had not even hit puberty. At no point during Kaskade’s show were these kids paying attention to Kaskade. I witnessed them as they passed around a full bottle of Bacardi that had clearly been stolen from the venue bar, whip out a bag of Molly and wave it around to show everyone they were “cool enough” to take it, and make out with every person of the opposite sex in their group. They had NO IDEA who Kaskade even was; I know this because when the opening act started to perform, they all argued whether or not he was “Cascada” and had to whip out their smartphones to find a picture of Kaskade’s face. I get it – you’re fourteen years old and this music and atmosphere is the new trend, but maybe that’s why older generations can’t understand what EDM means to us. There’s so many people that are just jumping on the bandwagon and not understanding the true meaning of EDM. EDM is not just some fad that’s going in and out; EDM is to my generation what MTV was to my parent’s generation – it’s our passion.
2. There’s a lot of popular remixes. A lot of the reason that I first started listening to EDM was because I liked the remixes of the songs I already listened to. I liked that I was getting a way to listen to the same song, but still have it be different. I liked that it was bringing back older songs in a new way. A lot of people argue that DJs take music that isn’t theirs and just remix it. But how come we accept Flo Rida as an artist, but not DJs? When was the last time Flo Rida released a song that didn’t have some hint of someone else’s material in it? He’s “sampled” Etta James, Infinity Ink, Bingo Players, Dead or Alive, Eiffel 65, and so much more; he doesn’t even give credit where credit is due. When you buy a DJs remix on iTunes (I can only speak for legal practices of purchasing music), the “artist” listed is the artist that originally created the song. The best way to sum up why remixes are OK is with a quote from Kaskade (have we figured out that he’s my favorite EDM artist yet?): “Music is not disposable, people. We can twist it, sample it, mash it and experience it in endless ways. Open up.”
But here’s why I love EDM, why and how EDM is making an impact, and why you should jump on the bandwagon (for the right reasons):
1. Dance music has always been around; we’re just morphing it into our dance music. I remember when I was living in Texas (so keep in mind I’m like 7-10 years old), my mom and I would always listen to the “gay radio station” whenever we were in the car. That’s how I learned who Daft Punk was, who Basement Jaxx was, who Benny Benassi was, and who Who Da Funk was. I’ve been listening to EDM since I was seven years old and I embrace the way it’s changed. All music changes – our minds are only capable of deciphering so many different sounds so why not explore all those sounds?
2. Anyone can become a DJ… just like anyone can become a journalist. In the age of Internet, the line between professional journalism and amateur journalism has been blurred, but we still get to choose which source we like, which source we trust. Why can’t the same be said of music? Anyone can become a rockstar, a singer, a dancer – but we choose to only point out that anyone can be a DJ because it’s “so easy”? I’ve tried. It’s not easy… not that I ever wanted to be a touring DJ artist – I’ll stick to my dream of owning a restaurant. The only reason people are choosing to point out that anyone can be a DJ is because they want to find reasons to shut down the EDM movement. The only reason you hear about more up and coming DJs than other types of musicians is because they are more passionate about their music – because they want their music to be heard by everyone. And so what if it’s easier for a DJ to make it than other types of musicians – we still get to choose who we like, who we trust.
3. EDM is making a huge economic impact. As Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac CEO responsible for Electric Daisy Carnival, stated this past month, EDC Chicago brought in an estimated $26.1 million in to the Chicago area economy. I don’t know about you, but having money brought into our economy right now sounds pretty good. Big cities and states embrace the festivals: Chicago has Perry’s Stage at Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening Music Festival, Wavefront Music Festival, and North Coast Music Festival; Miami has Ultra Music Festival; Michigan has Electric Forest; New York has Electric Zoo; California originally had Electric Daisy Carnival, but it has since expanded nationally; Texas has plenty; Georgia has plenty. These massive festivals bring tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people together… and in the process, bring money to the local and state governments.
So, yes, EDM has seen a huge increase in popularity within the past couple of years, picking up a huge following. The thing that people who are anti-EDM don’t understand is that EDM is more than the commercialized market they see thrown in their face everyday – in advertisements, in political campaigns, etc. – it’s a movement that a lot of us are proud to be a part of. I love that for the past two hours I’ve been sitting at my desk listening to Kaskade, Calvin Harris, Krewella, Alesso, Nervo, and more without getting bored. I love that on my calendar I have listed four different concerts in Chicago that I know I won’t get to go to (because there’s a little thing called school and “poor college kid”) but that I still pretend I get to be a part of. I think the reason I most love EDM is because the artists love their fans – they’re most dedicated to their fans. Don’t get me wrong … I’ll always love Katy Perry … but I don’t think she’ll ever interact with her fans as much as EDM artists. I don’t see her playing hangman in the middle of the day on Twitter, putting up truth or dare videos on YouTube, or giving away free music just in the hopes that fans will spread the word in exchange.
Don’t judge the movement, join the movement. And if you still can’t agree with that – Nicki Minaj exists, so why can’t EDM?