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Deadmau5 Says 'All EDM DJS Are Button Pushers', Peter Kirn Sets Him Straight

Deadmau5Deadmau5 recently attacked push play DJs in Rolling Stone and got some pushback himself from artists like Swedish House Mafia. So he clarified his position in a blog post on Friday stating that "we all hit play" which, in Deadmau5 style, led to "another pr disaster."  Part of his argument is that it's about all one can do in live EDM shows, but Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music responded with a potent range of DJ's whose live shows are truly live.

Deadmau5 is an interesting character whose willingness to call it like he sees it has helped to polarize his following. In a recent interview for Rolling Stone's current issue featuring him on the cover, he stated:

"David Guetta has two iPods and a mixer and he just plays tracks – like, 'Here's one with Akon, check it out!'...Even Skrillex...isn't doing anything too technical. He has a laptop and a MIDI recorder, and he's just playing his shit...there’s still button-pushers getting paid half a million. And not to say I’m not a button-pusher. I’m just pushing a lot more buttons.”

This pushed some of Swedish House Mafia's buttons, perhaps because they've gotten some flack for what some say are performances built around push play, who spoke out:

"That's interesting that [Deadmau5] said that, because that's exactly what he does – but we don't...We've have four CD players, six hands, so we're going in and out all the time, otherwise we would be bored and take our fuckin' lives. I have never seen behind Deadmau5's booth, so I can't really say anything about it."


Given the uproar, how could Deadmau5 stay silent? In a Tumblr post on Friday, he dug into more of the details of his attack on push play. Here are some snippets:

"we all hit play. its no secret. when it comes to 'live' performance of EDM...that’s about the most it seems you can do anyway. It’s not about performance art, its not about talent either"

"I think given about 1 hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of ableton and music tech in general could DO what im doing at a deadmau5 concert."

"my 'skills' and other PRODUCERS skills shine where it needs to the goddamned studio, and on the fucking releases. thats what counts"

"because this whole big 'edm' is taking over fad, im not going to let it go thinking that people assume theres a guy on a laptop up there producing new original tracks on the fly. because none of the 'top dj's in the world' to my knowledge have. myself included."


On the one hand, it's great that Deadmau5 is lifting the veil and calling people out. But, as Peter Kirn points out, he apparently doesn't realize that many DJ's in EDM are improvising and experimenting with what happens in a live show:

"I saw Deadmau5 at SONAR...At that same festival, there was an abundance of live performance and improvisational DJing."

"Flying Lotus’ live set was vigorously imaginative. Daedelus was dynamic as always, slicing up sounds on his monome. The Native Instruments-sponsored Mostly Robot delivered, as promised, everything live: Jamie Lidell singing live, Mister Jimmy playing keyboards live, DJ Shiftee playing turntables live, Jeremy Ellis playing all the beats from his fingers live, Tim Exile mangling sounds in Reaktor live."

"Bigger festival acts, too, turned out live and improvisational productions, including Richie Hawtin’s heavily-parameterized Traktor set, which is a bit like being in a 747 cockpit when someone turns off the autopilot."

He's got a lot more to say and Deadmau5 gives him props for his insights. As Kirn says of Deadmau5, "he's up for a debate and discussion."

And that's certainly one of the appealing aspects of the Deadmau5 game. Rather than going silent or sending in the publicists after saying something others find inflammatory, he digs in and then moves on to the next event.

More from Dancing Astronaut:
Editorial: Dance music has gone mainstream, but it doesn’t have to sell out

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.