Bending what’s Trending: Modern Music in the Making
Part One: EDM: Everyone’s Doing it Man | By Alyssa Porter
Where Do You Stand?
In the last few years there has been a tremendous ascension to the once underground Electronic music scene. The underground is the internet. We’re all investigating the societal impact of the rising E.D.M. scene on the today’s generation; this series hopes to offer insight on modern music from a different perspective. Where We Stand’s “Bending What’s Trending” will shock you back to the future! Part One: E.D.M., comically introduces the three part series and a deeper, comprehensive knowledge of electronic music and the culture surrounding it. Everyone wants to be heard…Everyone wants to be seen. We are following the oldest trends in the newest ways…Everybody’s Doing it Man!
“Electronic music has been around for DECADES. It’s morphed and evolved in the most amazing + surreal ways. Let’s take it to the future!!!…Just image what we’ll be listening to in 50 years” – Opiuo.
Long ago, at festivals far, far away, Rock and Roll swept the nation. Fast forward to 2013, and it’s now the era when E.D.M. (Electronic Dance Music) conquered the scene. The controversial genre was unofficially dubbed the “new religion” by several Twitter users in response to this year’s ultimate trendy activity, Festival Season. Imagine Rock and Electronic music as entities all their own. Similar to Rock slithering into or out of Blues and Jazz, today’s Pop and Rap producers are forced to incorporate the new, addictive styles of Electronica into their music. Britney Spears’ – “Freakshow” is the epitome of Pop music combined with “wobbly bass” to please the burning desire for WOMP from listeners. Despite the “Dark Side” commonly associated with Rock and Roll and EDM, a.k.a. drugs, other trends are rising within the booming culture. The trendy E.D.M. culture might be a passing fad, but the fundamental elements of Electronica conceived in the past paved the way for the recent explosion.
After 1965, the year Robert Moog developed the first commercially available synthesizer, music began to steadily stray away from conventional instrumentation pushing the limit of traditionally accepted genres. New classifications of music began to emerge that were increasingly more dominated by the skill and technique of the studio producers rather than the instruments and musicians that originally led the sound. The majority of electronic music adopted the general classification known as “Electronica,” referring to a broad range of genres including down-tempo and ambient styles as well as dub and trip-hop .. Emerging 90’s artists, now legends, Aphex Twins, The Crystal Method, Daft Punk, and The Prodigy introduced an assortment of ultramodern musical styles that influenced what we hear today.
With the evolution of technology, original Electronica morphed into EDM and its massive web of sub genres and sub cultures. Because of the infinite angles and approaches to categorizing modern electronic music, new “sub genres” are constantly tagged on SoundCloud, news blogs, and online radio stations. Inspiring creativity and spawning new musicians, development of sub-genres can be a way to get noticed or heard and start a trendy new genre . Anyone can buy programs targeted for easily creating EDM at a music store. Musicians are sarcastically yet seriously defining their identity, taking the opportunity to separate themselves from simply EDM. Countless existing genres are interconnected in this massive web and ranging from Dub-Step, Neuro-Hop and Glitch-Hop to the not-so-serious, like Clown-Step. Not all genres labeled under the EDM umbrella are intended for dancing purposes only.
Artists like Opiuo, Koan-Sound, and Tipper use multiple genre styles in one track making their music genre-less. Tipper has a cleverly named one of his songs Tip-Hop. Their styles incorporate real elements of music inspired by Jazz with a Break beat flow, and a mess of beautifully placed synths that flow through genres quickly and effortlessly. Koan-Sound’s new album features a song solely on piano showing their diversity and true skill with music, something that most artists do not show on an album. Skrillex is one producer who, although may create obnoxious and addictive noises, busted out a classical style track to end an album. Kill The Noise, another up and comer, opened his recent album with choir singing his name in Gregorian chant. There is much more going on now than just “dub-step” and “womp.” Users of platforms like SoundCloud, BandCamp, MixCloud and the like give artists the option to put their mixes or albums up for free or let fans decide how to much they want to pay via PayPal. “Starving Artists” still exist. Free Downloads “#FreeDL.” are decreasing the numerical and emotional value of music, yet simultaneously increasing audience attention and therefore sparking their deeper interest in a broad range of music. This dramatic increase in interest has not only directly influenced mainstream music, but tightened the gap between pop music and true electronic music, as well as created a dissonant misunderstanding of the fundamental differences of the true artists versus stage performers, or DJs.
A wise man named Demetri Martin once said, “”Easy way to make someone sound less powerful, just put DJ in front of their name…D.J. Abraham Lincoln…” Still fuzzy to some, is the bold line between what defines a D.J. and a Music Producer. Solo music producers are the modern equivalent to Classical composers. Producers past and present have made music from scratch and D.J.’s mix or mash it together. Producers are the music behind Pop idols, referencing again to Britney. D.J. popularity is on the rise because, let’s face it, people want to hear a set of familiar songs updated for now. Everybody’s doing it. Everybody wants to be a D.J. The bar is rising for D.J.s and competition is fierce. When the market is over saturated, how do you stand out? Girl Talk, for example, shows his talent and has made his name by mashing music live whereas many DJ’s are reprimanded for using pre-recorded sets. Sliding by on a theme, catchy phrase, misspelled or numbered name isn’t enough to get by. Up and coming D.J.s who follow the mask trend are increasingly being accused of copying Dedmau5 and Daft Punk, though this may not be the case. The trend is simply over-done and has carried over to the crowds. Scratch D.J.’s aren’t extinct but simply can’t compete on the festival circuit. According to many respected producers, scratching is considered a lost art. Silent Disco events are a raging trend at music festivals where two DJ’s battle for your attention through a wireless headset ‘til the early A.M. Word of mouth says scratch DJ’s have made appearances at Silent Disco. Some artists have pushed Silent Disco to another level and performed a live silent disco, like your local producer Intermixture has done at Camp Bisco and with InkahootZ.
The inherit value of music is no longer held by number of records sold, but by the number in attendance of the performance. Music festivals, especially those headlining EDM artists, are sprouting exponentially. Venues once beloved with sold out shows are closing in cities nearby. Singular shows are on a downward slope as festivals are on the rise. EDM shows have multiple performers making it like a mini- festival. Do you ever wonder how these A-List producers/DJ’s make so much money even when some fans think they are entitled to merchandise and tickets? Love it or hate it, this new culture has taken over. Diverse people from all over the U.S. caravan cross-country to “festival hop” whether to listen, perform, or volunteer. It is the showcase of the latest music trends and the ultimate exhibit of who is attending electronic shows. At festivals and venues alike, crowds can range from ten people just having a good time to thousands waving glow sticks in the air and getting into trouble. Whether a Band, Solo Artist, or DJ is playing, people are there to enjoy the music, bedazzled by spectacular lights, and meet new people at these extravagant parties. Naturally, the stereotypical characters can’t be escaped.
The Fashion Police are out of a job with the new craze and have possibly gone extinct. Fashion crimes turned trends include but are not limited to: Tu tu’s worn by non- ballerinas, mixing and match colors and patterns, furry yeti-boots and fishnet stockings, and occasionally someone will wear nothing but body paint. Followers of the “Raver” trend are abundant, rather recipients of the obnoxious contagion. Brightly colored wigs, glowsticks, glitter, and anything that seemingly belongs at an over the top gay-pride festival could be worn by a male or female with the “Rave Virus.” There are others not dressed in border-line drag. Some things never change; Men continue to show their fashion sense through hat wear. This age-old trend is bending to the future with the creation and persuasion of custom decorated and hand painted hats. To make each hat unique to the head of whom it sits on, various pins are carefully displayed along the bill, expressing identity and hiding the fact that a shower has not been in this man’s recent past. Hula hooping is one of the fastest rising trends for fans. Taking a small amount of skill and time to learn, this “art form” easily spawned a freakish cult-like movement. “Hoopers” have multiplied at an alarming rate and insist on stealing attention and whacking the innocent passersby. Theme costumes are pre-planned and packed along with supplies to make your own Totem, a representation of you to be seen in festival photo albums. Hiding behind these costumes, are (maybe) regular, average citizens. Beyond these norms, actual normal figures appear on the scene: High school students, parents, and even grandparents have been spotted at festivals and shows dancing and having a good time just being themselves! That is the least popular trend, but the most important.
“Camp Bisco was definitely crazy with the whole range of diverse music styles and people but not outrageously different than music festivals in the 1970’s. There are many similarities between the people then and now and I am not referring to drug use! It’s the free spirits, the vibes, the clothes (or lack thereof), the hair, just the overall attraction and enjoyment of music and what it offers to the senses. The type of music has changed and I can’t say that if my son had not been an artist who began producing this new type of music that I would have become a fan. I grew up when bands like Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pink Floyd were active and touring so it’s hard to compare that music to this new alternative style. If my son had not been on stage at Camp Bisco, I don’t think I would have chosen to go there but I am glad that I did. It was a positive experience for me overall and a great way to experience alittle deja vu!” – Donna S. (Charleston, SC.)
Curious? Catch an upcoming electronic show in Charleston and apply your knowledge. Continue your education! Stay tuned for Part 2: out-RAGE-ous!
We’d like to thank, all artists mentioned in this article, as well as Camp Bisco, Opiuo, The Polish Ambassador, and Donna Wadsworth for their inspiration and wise words.
Photo Credit: Michelle Toburen, Marc Fennessy, and Alyssa Porter.