There are few things in my life that I take true pride and ownership of. If you were to ask somebody who I was, summed up in five things, they would say (hopefully): family, swimming, photography, clothes and music. Recently, one of things has been taking a lot of heat: my music scene.
I have been heavily involved in the “EDM” scene since early high school, before “EDM” was actually popular; each genre actually had its own scene and following, it wasn’t just lumped into one misunderstood umbrella-term. This was back when house music wasn’t bastardized into repetitive pop-synths, the same old same old “four on the floor” 128 bmp bass line and when listeners weren’t obsessed with THE DROP. There was variety, culture and creativity.
I’m not here to be all hipster and grumble about “the good ol’ days.” It is disappointing to see legends like DJ Shadow being kicked off stage for not playing top 40 tunes, or even new guys like Kill Paris for not playing what he called mainstream music. Sure, it stinks to see the art of actual DJing fall to electronic sets and pre-recordings. What’s more disconcerting is a threat that every genre in the EDM umbrella faces: near extermination due largely to drugs.
Ever since the dance music emerged from the underground, there’s been a stigma of large-scale drug use, mostly with ecstasy. Some of you may know it better as E, or the ever-so-popular Molly. Annoyingly, some smaller time DJs and even hip-hop artists are writing music that sounds like advertisements for lil’ Ms. Molly. That’s never been what dance is about, but whenever people ask me what music I listen to and I respond with some dance genre, the follow up question is almost always “Do you do drugs?” It’s incredibly insulting and ignorant.
The recent deaths at Electric Zoo festival have lead to larger resentment and artists speaking out.
Deadmau5 has yelled at Madonna over Twitter when she praised the use of E at shows. Kaskade called out UMass for cancelling all EDM shows indefinitely. Mat Zo pleads to the fans to stop feeding the media push back. I tend to agree with him. Will.i.am said EDM should now be called “Look-At-The-DJ-And-Get-Drunk-Music.” I hate agreeing with him, but he’s right.
Mainstream EDM and many of its offshoots are being broken down from within by people who go to concerts to get drunk or high and fly up on cloud 9 at the expense of others.
There is hope, though. Rock music was practically born with drug culture embedded in its veins. Rock-n-roll was met with large-scale resistance from an entire generation before it, and somehow it has not only survived, but flourished. I can only hope that the world of EDM takes a turn for the better and saves itself from a premature demise; there’s too much potential that has yet to be realized and too many memories that have yet to be made.