People ask me why I always have a bone to pick with EDM. It’s not the music that’s the problem, it’s the attitude of a lot of the artists.
This morning one of them wrote about how “living a life of art, devoid of rules & answering to absolutely no one is sublime”. Sure, but your ability to live like that is largely owed to the Live Nations/ClearChannels/SFXs that elevated you to this level. Not because your “movement” rose up from the underground by itself. For years and years the US scene showed no signs of evolution whatsoever. (A scene cannot survive on a handful of Avalons and Twilos alone - for those old enough to remember)
For a community that supposedly cares about dance music so much, I don’t see them looking into the future, when all the stock is being dumped and the investors stop having interest in this music/lifestyle/branding opportunity, thus leaving everyone (including the underground) in the dust. So just as every trend got eradicated by the next one, all dance music is in danger of vanishing. And that doesn’t mean going “underground”. It means getting buried. If you want examples, there are many: Hair metal, Grunge, Nu-Metal, boy bands, the list is endless.
I have nothing against going for the big bucks, or great branding opportunities, we all do this on one scale or another since music is a business. But it’s hypocritical to project that the mass appeal EDM has is purely based on “organic”and “grass-roots” efforts. And on top of that, the EDM community is shocked when events such as the tragic deaths of people at festivals cause such large-scale media outrage. When things like that happen to publicly traded companies it reflects directly on their stock, hence the outrage. So it’s the stock market vs. whoever wants to go up against it. And we all know how that turns out.
You gotta walk the walk if you talk the talk, so I pretty much lived up all the crap I’ve been ranting about, for better or for worse. After living the dream too much with chaotic gigs, general decadence, and spreading the Techno word anyway possible I’m starting to think that I’m back on form.
There’s no partying in the studio, so all the psyche-bashing is out the window for now. I finally made an original track for Stefano Noferini’s Deeperfect, another one for my friend Roel Salemink’s compilation οn the mighty Bush label, and a couple of remixes for modern Techno rebels Renesanz and Inlab.
So a tumultuous season is behind me, and I am happy it included stints with Carl Cox & Umek, a visit to the West Coast of the U.S. and a healthy injection of kick-ass Techno into a stagnant and saturated Greek scene, reeking of bubblegum “celebrities” and Deep House weenies.
This is my actual ticket stub from the infamous Sasha & Digweed Delta Heavy Tour in 2002. As you can see from the very cool pink arrow, international conglomerates were already making money from electronic music in the U.S. while most of the country’s scene still relied on half-empty venues and back rooms of bigger clubs to host international DJs. Meanwhile, the locals were “spinning Top 40, House and Breaks”. (For those of you who were clubbing in the U.S. back then, that phrase should sound very familiar.)
So it’s nothing new that large-scale corporations are a huge part of this industry today. As much as the U.S. lacked in so-called dance music culture, it apparently made up for in business savvy. Good or bad? That’s not my call to make.
It’s just funny to hear the EDM spokespeople of today boast about how they are now taking over the entire music business after “living underground” and “nurturing the scene since ‘88”, when the reality is that the largest work for this “takeover” was done by colossal entertainment firms.
What is it about being young that makes artists compose their best music?
I read some things about the neuroscience behind all that, and from my understanding, after a certain age our brain remains wired to our past influences etc. and it can’t really change much.
So, if that’s the case, does it mean that our creativity reaches its peak at our early twenties? Do we just re-hash our old self after that?
Also, is that the reason why the a lot of older artists can’t make the music they used to? Is it merely a physical progression?
Could I be quiet about the Daft Punk hype? No I couldn’t.
They make some great points: "Technology has made music accessible, but when everyone can make magic, it’s like there’s no more magic”.
And some of the songs on “Random Access Memories” are indeed magical.
However, have we crossed over to the complete opposite side where we are now considering what is essentially a funk album as the saviour of Dance Music?
OK, time for me to get emotional. Carl Cox was the first DJ I ever opened up for. That party also marked my first proper gig as a professional DJ, so it was a pretty lucky break, if you ask me :)
Over the years, I played with Carl once or twice again, I can’t really remember. And of course, I have done quite a few things with lord Umek who is the nicest guy in the business. So this past weekend, more than 10 years after the first time I shared the stage with Carl Cox, we played in my hometown of Athens, with a lineup that summed up a lot about what we know about Techno and Tech House these days: Carl Cox, Umek, and Ramon Tapia. And it was a fucking blast. It was fun.
Today I listened to a whole album. It wasn’t a planned “aural experience”, I just had my iPod with me while walking around, and on my way back home I realized that I had listened to the whole thing.
It’s been a while since I’ve done that, and it’s been a while since artists of any genre made an album that you can actually sit through and enjoy. (This one wasn’t some classic album from yesteryear, it was very recent and nothing groundbreaking, genre-wise.)
In our short-attention-span, singles-driven market, does a full album even matter?
After almost a year, I have decided to relaunch my Sabotage label. The reason I had paused it all this time was that I wasn’t really feeling the whole direction that the sound was evolving towards.
On one hand, I wanted Sabotage to reflect the style that I play, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to release tracks that sounded exactly the same. Also, quality was a great issue and I did not want to put anything out that would not satisfy my loyal Saboteurs 100%.
Here’s a pictorial of how we made the “Traffic Dreams” video! Thanks to everyone for putting up with me :)
Click HERE to watch the full video.