EDM DJs Address Cliches, Hate, High Fees and Bubble Talk

Tommie-sunshineEDM's big so the love is getting some hate. But are there good reasons for antagonism towards this incredibly popular form of music? Three DJs, Armin van Buren, Hardwell and Tommie Sunshine, recently shared their responses to concerns about drugs, money, hate and bubbles. Together they remind us that EDM is also about community and perspectives that often connect back to the youth of many parents of EDM fans. And Tommie Sunshine, seen in this post's thumbnail, makes a strong case that the bigger picture is positive and that we're at the beginning of a boom not a bubble.

I'm not sure if inthemix planned this group of articles as a related series but we're at the point where representatives of EDM will probably have to address the same issues over and over as long as the media writes about EDM. It remains to be seen whether it will go the way of hip hop, perpetually working under a question mark in the larger culture, or rock music, for which all sins are forgiven and monetization by Muzak is old news.

For EDM, as opposed to electronic music as a whole, the latter appears most likely. Until then, people have issues.

They're All High On Molly!

One of the biggest assumptions regarding EDM is that everyone's high on Molly aka ecstasy aka MDMA (though a lot of it isn't actually MDMA). The consciousness of ecstasy, also known as the "love drug" or "hug drug" back in the day, can be most equated to LSD consciousness long associated with the culture of the 60s.

Now I can understand your concern. Looking back, we see a bunch of kids and freaks on drugs. But looking forward we can see that most of those people went on to make lots of money, found companies like Apple and generally join in the capitalist spree that marks our "ever closer to environmental destruction despite all the conscious chatter" world.

Given the mainstreaming of EDM, that may well be their script too.

Until then, DJs like Armin van Buren will step forward with statements like, "I’ve never used drugs in my life."

But the more important point is that:

"You don’t need drugs to have an amazing time, you really don’t."

Which is true. But kids will be kids. EDM is associated with widespread drug use and that's been part of its appeal to young people for a long time. And outsiders of earlier generations, like Madonna, have been more than happy to get in on the action.

So no progress on that propaganda front as of yet.

Those DJs Make Way Too Much Money!

They are caking. No one question's that.

But like Hardwell says:

"People always say ‘DJs are the new pop stars’…but when Rihanna, Jay-Z or Lady Gaga is selling out an arena and get a ridiculous amount of money, everyone is handling that ok."

Honestly, I wonder if this is more of a topic of discussion inside EDM and the larger world of DJs and electronic music.

At least in America, if you have money, you can get away with so much that such complaints don't really matter.

EDM Hate and Bubble Talk

Hate from outside is just fine. You can't be loved on a massive scale without generating hate. Michael Jackson almost transcended that but his demons undermined his final days.

However a lot of EDM hate is coming from what is sometimes called the "underground," people who feel EDM destroys the true value of their dance and music communities.

This is separate from talk of EDM being a bubble but Tommie Sunshine ties them together along with addressing other cliches.

I don't even want to try to sum up his argument. It covers quite a bit of ground from an insider who can clearly move between camps.

But, from his vantage point, Tommie Sunshine says we're nowhere near the end, we're actually still in the early stages of EDM growth and and he "want[s] everyone to come to the party."

And here's a point that's so good I'll close with that:

"One of the main points that I would love this piece to make is that you have these kids who are as open-minded as possible, at a time when the country is at its most conservative. The best art is made in times of political and social chaos. You want to talk about political and social chaos? Our government shut down for over two weeks. Boom, you’ve got it. It’s here. Of course kids want to find something that takes them on a journey out of everyday life."

Of course.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Yeah, what if the Clash, Minutemen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Public Enemy, Marvin Gaye and other artists who addressed political and social issues decided to “take a journey out of everyday life” instead of addressing society’s problems head-on and helping to affect change in their worl? Musical escapism is fine in small doses but we’re losing meaningful commentary. Somebody needs to vocalize (literally and figuratively) “what’s going on.”

  2. Very few can listen to EDM without being on drugs. All great music has it’s place, but how can you feel any ounce of pride as an artist when the majority of your fans have to dumb themselves down with chemicals that eat away at their brain just to listen to your music. EDM is a catalyst of death without giving a lesson to learn from. I think people often forget that computers have no soul and neither do the sounds they create. And where are the dancers in this scene? The people dancing at EDM shows are just butt humping zombies hoping to score with a coked-out, MDMA-filled, mindless equal. Not a talented person in the whole arena. The musicality of the majority of EDM is so low, musicians that play instruments (sad that we have to make a distinction) are shamed to even be put in the same field as these money making monsters. Escaping your reality to better yourself involves dynamics, evokes emotions, inspires. EDM is cheapening your high.

  3. Those are all stereotypes you just noted. Electronic music is more a lovely union between math and music that allows for limitless possibilities. And saying that very few can listen to the music without being on drugs? What is your reasoning for this? Do you have any concrete proof? I’d agree that there is a good chunk of festival goers that do drugs, but normal listening? No way. And the dancing: not everyone has slick moves. these are just regular young people, NOT professionals. I went to a Swedish House Mafia concert, and managed to get through the whole 4 hour event without any drugs. That isn’t saying no one else used, but there is drug use at any concert with younger fans. People listen to this music every day, and don’t necessarily get high.

  4. The proof is in the continuing deaths at these shows that go un-mourned. The “artists” that have come to expect a death or few at each stop of the tour and just roll to the next city. MUSIC IS MATH already having limitless possibilities, always has been. Electricity is an aid that has, in this scene, replaced the core component of creating great music…talent. When the power goes out, what are the EDM kids gonna do? The answer will be tragic.
    And If you’re going to call it dance music….someone in an arena of thousands should probably be able to dance, or at least want to learn how to dance. Dance music fans put effort into learning how to dance to the music they love. EDM fans put effort into getting better drugs. And whats the point if you’re gonna get so fucked up, out of your mind, and not able to even remember to drink water. There’s a reason no (instrument)musicians are concert-goers to EDM shows. Same reason no actors watch reality TV. DUMB MEDIA CREATES DUMB ASSES. It’s almost a better IQ test than an IQ test. Would you go to an EDM show for hours if there were only 15 people there? I doubt it. The music is not what keeps you there…the kids on drugs are the entertainers.

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