How The Biggest EDM Fans Are Contributing To Their Own Demise [Opinion]
There is certainly enough gripe in the community over the Great Mainstream EDM Awakening of 2012, and I see plenty of people identifying the problem, but not many can analytically diagnose how we can draw shade over the cursed limelight. I could just say put the PLUR back in PLUR, but there is more to it than that. The fact is, this situation is not unique. In the last thirty years, punk rock and hip-hop both ascended to mainstream notoriety, then crashed and burned. We would be foolish not to observe and learn from their practices in the belief that there is still something worth saving in EDM. In hindsight of other music genres, the acid eroding the foundation of originality in all music cultures is the act of posing. Let’s take a look at what posing is, how it affected punk rock, and what EDM can do to circumvent music cultures’ natural inclination to breed trendy twats.
When I was in highschool, I hated dance music. Techno and jungle were all the rage, and I just didn’t get it. My friends and I were punks or as punk as a 16-year-old kid that relied on his mom to drive him to the mall in her Volvo station wagon could be. We were constantly beat up by the jocks and rednecks. On the weekends, we sat in basements mixing different liquors from our parents’ cabinets and bitched about the parties we weren’t invited to. In retrospect, my past narrates a desolate existence, however, I wouldn’t change a thing. The social struggles of my youth germinated the perspective and humility that validate the objective observation and cultural critique that is relevant to this argument.
As the first day of freshman year came to a close (the year was 2000), I was sitting on the bus waiting to make the exodus from the carnivorous feeding cage that was my high school, and a girl sat next to me. This was certainly a rare occurrence, and I was caught off-guard. She had long, straight, blood-orange-dyed hair. Her JNCO jeans were wider at the legs than mine were at the waist, and she wore a tight fitting cami that matched the pale tone of her skin. Anyone could tell she avoided sunlight like a hipster avoids the gluten-ridden bread aisle at Whole Foods. It was clear by her appearance that she didn’t aim to fit in with the majority of kids at school. We shared that sentiment, and on that day, the punk boy and raver girl were in harmony. She extended her kandi-covered arm and introduced herself: “I’m Bethany.”
We were complete opposites. My closet consisted entirely of black t-shirts and jeans like I was an emo Doug Funnie, and she looked for any excuse to rinse out the rainbow and drip it into the cracks of her attire. She talked about the “beans” she scored for the night; I pretended to know what she was talking about. It seemed odd to party on a weekday, but that was her prerogative. The only thing we shared was a deep-seeded passion for the music that birthed our respective counter-cultures, and under that context, we were the same. We subscribed to an ethos that alienated ourselves from everyone around us, and it felt right, but we didn’t do it consciously. Our alienation wasn't premeditated but merely a result of who we were.
She invited me to a warehouse that night to see some DJs, but I never went. Despite my reservation, she genuinely wanted me to join her. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but the dance community's generosity towards outsiders was one I never forgot. This all-embracing practice was not reciprocated in the punk rock community, and I grew to admire the quality as I converted to the bass culture in college.
EDM capitalizes on the acknowledgement that diversity and the melding of minds contribute to the advancement of an artistic society. In fact, it defines artistic societies. Regardless, there are always inverse challenges to good intentions, and EDM is at the crossroads of managing its volatile future.
This is the result of punk becoming a trend. Sorry about that.
Absolute inclusion’s greatest threat is the culture’s widespread popularity. Popularity mutates what is pure into an innately decaying trend, which is an attempt by the insecure to validate their worth against those that they desire as peers.
About the time I met Bethany, punk rock was getting Avril Lavigne'd and Good Charlotte'd. It got watered down, sugarcoated for the masses, and ultimately rotted out the culture I held so dear. It became a trend. Sound familiar?
Trendiness is the epitome of conformity, which is in direct contention with creativity - the lifeblood of all great cultural movements. In the punk scene, we called the sheep posers, and the EDM versions are running rampant across the dance floor. It’s not just the bros and basics that came to get fucked up, laid, and will leave in a few years when another music genre becomes popular. It’s the people that are in EDM for the long haul and are still contributing to the fad.
As a result of the kandi generation, there is a push back by people close to the industry to stand out against the mainstage minions. The general audience wears bright colors, so the trendy wear all black. The party is a vibrant social gathering, so the trendy complain about social-anxiety. Festivals are for the masses, so the trendy go to the “real” parties outside the festival.
It is a transparent and immature attempt at avant-garde rebellion that isn’t rebellious at all. It’s prescribed, formulaic and lacks legitimate motivation. Even the full-time employees of the EDM industry have cliqued together in order to stand out from the mainstage festival ravers, and in doing so, exposed an insecurity for the need to be accepted in the next micro-trend. It is quite literally the practice of segregating oneself from a mainstream trend by following another trend.
Posing is a mindset and can’t be attributed to exterior features, however recently they have adopted a stylistic uniform: The Jack Ü/Skrillex-look for guys (black long-sleeve shirt, dark ankle cuff pants and the occasional man bun) and the Mija-look for girls (pastel hair, septum piercings and boyish monochromatic clothing). Prayer hands, gang-like group photos, and pizza worshiping
are also symptoms of EDM scenester-itis (Spoiler: Pizza was just as good 50 years ago as it is today. The fact that you're loud about it now isn’t revolutionary). This style will certainly change, as trends come and go, and doesn’t qualify one as a poser, however, reflect on your relationship with the attire. What is the motivation to call it your own? Are you prepared to marry it, or are you just having a fling?
The next step is for the trend to affect the music. The over-saturation of bedroom producers provides the perfect storm for stylistic conformity to numb the fiery yearning of curiosity and exploration.
Look at the deep trap-house hybrid wave that blew up after JAUZ put out “Feel The Volume.” Undoubtedly, it is a great track, but how many tracks in the last year sound exactly like it? Mind you, JAUZ used to be a dubstep producer, but he tried something different, and it worked. That was creative. That was original.
Immediately following the success of “Feel The Volume,” how many producers ditched 140bpm for 125bpm? An embarrassing amount for how few tracks were actually able to reproduce what JAUZ accomplished.
Rebelling against a prevalent culture is natural, but bandwagon rebellion killed punk, and EDM faces the same threat. Next time you consider buying that satanic, pizza-eating kitty t-shirt (and I still can’t believe EDM was actually able to make satanism lame as fuck), consider this: Am I buying this because I like it, or because my friends will like it? We must acknowledge that history doesn’t intrinsically repeat itself. Humans make history repeat itself. Wise up to the mistakes of your trend-following ancestors because it is futile to scorch another artform.
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