The most recent instance comes from the candid thoughts of Seth Troxler, who is as outspoken as he is talented. In a personally written piece for Thump entitled “Dance Festivals are The Best and Worst Places in The World“, Troxler is an open book outlining why he thinks “EDM festivals spoon feed us bullshit”, “EDM DJs are the worst people ever”, “EDM is not about music”, “dance festivals [are] nothing like clubbing”, the “fine line between freedom and idiocy”, and other related points.
Seth Troxler’s scorching criticism of EDM highlights how it has tipped the scales away from quality and driving focus towards quantity. For Troxler, “EDM plays host to a profound delusion about what electronic music and dance culture are. It’s ridiculous music, made by ridiculous, un-credible people…We’re trying to move on and be a real force of culture and conversation – a wider genre recognized as having real cultural depth – but EDM is wiping that slate. For being taken seriously in a musical sense, that’s frustrating.”
He calls out Avicii for having “instant stardom syndrome”, and Steve Aoki for being an “overpaid, untalented, cake-throwing, performing monkey.” He also addresses how festivals differ from the patient vibes of club culture, and that it’s “breeding a generation of impatient, annoying festival kids” who “have grown up with no first hand experience of original club culture”.
Compared to Troxler’s vitriol, Laidback Luke’s response tasted like Swiss cotton candy: somewhat neutral and sugar coated. He comes to the defense of EDM by stating, “The EDM crowd is a young crowd; EDM is their introduction to the festivals, they fully believe and try and live the whole PLUR thing. To not call it a culture is a very narrow-minded view.” For Luke, “this whole discussion about underground vs mainstream is really nothing new” and references Tiesto’s rise to stardom in the late 90s/early 2000s. He draws an indirect parallel between how Tiesto opened the door for many who eventually refined their taste over time and how EDM is doing the same thing today.
Luke goes on to defend his hard working pal Aoki by offering a little background behind his cake throwing antics. He ends with the notion that “we might have more in common than we’d like to admit” by citing an anonymous comment directed towards Troxler’s statement: “I’d commend this article if I hadn’t seen Seth Troxler do fuck all on stage for 90 mins and get paid like 20k for it at Life last year, putting in less effort than the horrendous EDM DJs he is slating.”
If you were 5 feet and grew 2 feet overnight, wouldn’t your body need time to adjust to such a drastic change? During that adjustment process, wouldn’t you sustain some injuries as you try to find your equilibrium? That’s precisely the growing pains we are experiencing right now. The heightened popularity of electronic music has brought an influx of consumers that want MORE and NOW. This new market is attracting corporations with no roots in the music and an endgame of profit. Artists are abandoning their roots to get their chance at “crossing over”. And, those who identify themselves with the underground are shaking their heads wondering “what the f&%#k happened to the music and our scene?”
Yes, it’s turned into a verbal war on the internet and a financial bloodbath behind the scenes. Underground Vs. Mainstream; Elitist Vs. Newb; Raver Vs. Rager; Industry Vs. Culture; Deadmau5 Vs. Everyone… But, just like adjusting to a growth spurt or Seth’s criticism eliciting an opposing response from Luke, balance will manifest, and it’s already happening. For every X amount of artists that abandon their roots, a guy like Kaskade goes back to his. For every X amount of big room tracks that dominate the Beatport charts, groups like Dusky break up the monotony. For every festival mainstage act that caters to the impatient, there are side stages featuring those who care more about crafting a journey through their music for people who aren’t constantly searching for the next drop or begging for cake in their face. And, a part of the new generation raging at the mainstages will eventually grow tired of the “in your face” and will venture out to the smaller stages at festivals or local clubs in search of a more substantive sound.
The scales are gradually stabilizing. It’s just going to take a little more time. So, lets do our part to shift the focus back to the music and its ability to bring people of all backgrounds together. Go support artists who aren’t afraid to push their creative boundaries. Continue to enjoy the spectacle of festivals, but show your support for local clubs and grass roots organizations working hard to cultivate a quality night instead of raping your wallet. Support the festivals that make an extra effort to provide you with diversity in their lineup. Most importantly, lets support the culture and each other by acknowledging both sides of the argument and encouraging constructive discussion and movement.
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