Five EDM Producers Who Changed Styles
A musician walks a fine line between adapting to the ever-changing sounds of music and satisfying their fanbase. While an artist's dedicated fans clamor for similarly-sounding releases, it's understandable for an artist to want to branch out and experiment. However, branching out too far can alienate the listeners who contributed to his or her popularity in the first place. Various pressures from record labels, management, and the music industry at large can also influence an artist to change their sound.
EDM emerges as an interesting case study because of the way that the evolving dynamics and genres affect so many producers. Genres seemingly come and go overnight, and remaining relevant to electronic dance music fans is boding tough challenges. Charting a producer's stylistic changes puts their artistics decisions into perspective and reinforces their ability to remain important in the vast sea of EDM producers. To examine the ways artists change, we picked five producers who changed their styles completely.
A forerunner of electronic music, Tiesto did not get his start producing pop crossover hits like "Red Lights." While many think he began his career producing trance, the Dutch producer actually made hardcore/gabber songs under his aliases Da Joker and DJ Limited in the late '90s. In the early to mid 2000s, Tiesto led the trance movement with influential releases such as the In Search of Sunrise series and his hit single "Adiago For Strings." As the decade progressed, Tiesto gradually incorporated pop elements into his trance tracks, collaborating with vocalists like Tegan and Sara. His transition to his more radio-friendly sound mirrored the growth of EDM in America, setting him up as a purveyor for many new listeners of electronic music.
Many EDM fans associate Dutch duo Showtek with bigroom tracks like "Booyah" and "Bouncer." Despite their recent success to American listeners, Showtek originally began producing hardstyle tracks. The two brothers led the pack of many hardstyle producers in the mid '00s, creating the anthem for hardstyle music festival Defqon 1 in 2006 and putting out tracks such as "The Colour Of The Harder Style." Despite their international success, Americans unwillingness to support hardstyle prevented the two from reaching an emerging market. With collaborations with Hardwell and Tiesto in 2012 foreshadowing their transition to electro house, their single "Cannonball" with Justin Prime cemented their style change. Showtek has released bigroom chart-toppers ever since.
Before playing a pivotal role in kicking off the twerking movement, Diplo's music compared more closely to the trip-hop of RJD2 than the trap many now associate with him. In 2004 Diplo released the seminal Florida album, a collection of funky and thought-provoking tracks that would help shape the trip-hop genre as it began to reach new audiences. Pop singer M.I.A. took notice of Diplo, which led the two to collaborate on the hit single "Paper Planes." As the decade contiuned, Diplo began to produce for more and more pop stars and founded his own record label Mad Decent. He also created Major Lazer with Switch, a project which started out more reggae-focused than what it is today. Diplo's switch to harder sounds and trap music spawned from the success of "Express Yourself" and many subsequent releases.
While W&W may not have produced music as long as other entries on this list, their genre switch up caused a bit of a stir among trance fanatics. The Dutch duo started their career with producing uplifting trance music in 2007, leading to numerous releases on Armin van Buuren's record label Armada. Their success in trance resulted in their contribution to A State of Trance 550 with the anthem "Invasion." As electro house and big room began to alter the releases heard in electronic music, W&W switched gears completely. They released "Lift Off" in 2013, a trance/house hybrid (sometimes called "trouse") signaling a coming change in production style. With big releases "The Code" and "D# Fat" still maintaining slight trance inspirations, the two changed to house completely in late 2013. New releases such as "Waves" reinforce their now permanent dedication to big room house.
Controversial producer Borgore was once known for gritty dubstep (which he referred to as "gorestep.") With roots in heavy metal (he played drums in deathcore band Shabira), Borgore's early releases on other labels and his own label Buygore contributed to dubstep's massive popularity between 2011 and 2012. As the Israeli producer became more popular in America, his releases attracted the attention of bigger labels such as Dim Mak Records and Spinnin' Records. This expansion to bigger labels resulted in a more accessible output, with tracks like big room hit "Incredible" with Carnage and "Decisions" fusing his gorestep roots with vocals from pop singer Miley Cyrus. His later releases phased out the dubstep all together and now focus on the big room and trap styles dominating EDM today.