Nowadays, electro festivals are rising, from Electric Daisy Carnival to Holy Ship. The reason behind their instant rise remains vague, as vague as the music they mostly play in these festivals. As we all know, festivals like these play electronic music (duh, EDC.) Now, we turn on the radio and what do we mostly hear aside from Taylor Swift rattling about failed relationships and One Direction telling girls they’re beautiful? We hear songs that doesn’t even sound that they’re made of electric guitars, pianos, drums or whatever.
These songs, my friend, are what we call Electronic Dance Music, or simply, EDM. This is a branch of music genre that is sometimes shortened into ‘Electro’ or sometimes called as ‘Dance’. All Music (allmusic.com) calls this ‘Electronic’. This genre also has different branches. For the record EDM has the most sub-genres in music. We have Ambient, Breakbeat, Disco (the famous sub-genre of the 80’s to 90’s), Downtempo, Drum and Bass, Dub Fusion, Electro Music, Electroacoustic Music, Electronica, Electronic Rock, Hardcore, Hard Dance, Hi-NRG, House Music, Industrial Music, IDM, Jungle, Post-disco, Techno, Trance Music, UK Garage, and the Chiptune or Videogame Music. All people say that the Prototypes makes hard metal music when in fact they are under the sub-sub-genre progressive house under the sub-genre of house music under the genre of EDM. But I won’t discuss the importance of each sub-genre. I’ll just focus on the, say, famous EDM songs and their specific genres.
Disclaimer (better if you’re warned as early as now): I am neither a DJ nor a producer. I am just an avid listener and fan of EDM. Or probably you can say that I am a ‘nerd’ of EDM because I even study the structure of it, but haven’t put into practice…yet. Just wait for it. I’ll be there one day.
You turn on your radio and you hear Calvin Harris with Ellie Goulding. The intro’s a piano progressing to synth (yes) and the sounds evolve into some energetic beat that makes you wanna jump around your room. Next song is Robyn’s fast-paced song called Dancing On My Own. You still dance around your room. But have you ever listened carefully to the lyrics? It has a story. For I Need Your Love the girl is still looking for the love of her guy but at the same time she wants to move on. For Dancing On My Own the girl sees her lover with someone else and she is saying that ‘it hurts like hell.’ These EDM songs have stories. These sample songs talk about heartbreak. And they’re not just EDM, but electro house and synthpop, respectively. Like every Justin Bieber song (or Austin Mahone or Selena Gomez or whoever it is), these songs have stories.
Now you ask me ‘How about Skrillex? What the hell is the story behind his songs?’ I might not be his best friend or relative but this is my assumption (and probably every musician’s hypothesis): Skrillex might not have lyrics on his songs. Unlike other artists, he relays his story through the beats and arrangement of his songs. People say that his songs are trash but did you ever care what his history is and why and how come he followed dubstep? According to numerous interviews and documentations about him that I stumbled upon before he was bulimic and in state of depression. That explains some of the titles in his first and second dubstep EPs. Later on he mellowed down. Never forget: behind every persona, there is a normal human being with a heart, soul, and feelings. (Wisdom from Zedd everyone.)
When electronic music is party music for others, it is a therapy for others. EDM helped Skrillex out of his depression. Some people, like me, listen to EDM songs for escape. We don’t even do drugs.
And speaking of drugs, I don’t think it’s good to associate EDM to drugs. Probably some people prefer to partner EDM to their drugs like our butter to pancakes. But it does not follow. Not all people who listen to EDM are druggies and not all druggies listen to EDM. Not even all people who make EDM music are druggies.
DJs and Producers are two different things. Again, they are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. A DJ is a person who uses samples of recorded music to make techno, rap or dance music. These are the people who make remixes. These are the people you usually see in the clubs. A producer is a person who makes music (duh). These are the people who make the songs the DJs remixes. Geddit?
I have to define these 2 words because it doesn’t mean that if you’re a DJ you’re already a producer. That is the common misconception. Like, I read this newspaper article featuring a guy from a club and the paper said he’s a DJ/producer. I checked his Soundcloud and all I see are remixes. I opened Google and searched for songs made by him and ‘No results found.’ Pretty misleading.
Outro – The Politics of Music
During the recently concluded Video Music Awards, I could say that Pop music is still on the rise. Daft Punk, who just resurrected from their hibernation, and Calvin Harris lost it to One Direction. Zedd, an up and coming EDM artist who made it big with his debut album, Clarity, lost it to another Justin Bieber guy in the name of Austin Mahone (that’s what they said). EDM is still not that domineering. Pop is. Politically speaking, Pop is still democracy. EDM is the minority. If ever EDM prevails, we are not going back to the 80’s disco rage. We are not killing mosh pits, because EDM also has it. EDM is gradually rising, though. Little by little this genre is being recognized, and this genre is present in almost every song.
EDM is a beautiful genre. It doesn’t have any rules to abide. It doesn’t follow to any structure. It is the ‘rebellious’ genre in that way. No electronic song from different artists sound alike. Each artist has his or her own style. EDM is flexible in that way.