02 May Out of Nowhere: The EDM Story
When talking to the press, I’m often asked how Electronic Dance Music (EDM) sprang up out of nowhere?! These guys. These journalists who make their Santa Claus sparkly eyes, enthusiastic and curious as to how EDM could just pop onto the music scene, *poof* and then dominate festivals, nightclubs, arenas, charts and even be given our own category at the Grammys. Out of nowhere. From nothingness. Just a little push from GaGa, a pinch of cheeky mainstream from the Swedish House Mafia, a hint of Bangerang from Skrillex and voila! A new musical superpower was born.
I’m tempted to bring out my power point presentation kit to show them that EDM has been growing, changing, molding, and molting for well over four decades now. Thassrite! Forty years plus change and some of the founders are grandparents and members of the AARP. Came out of nowhere? New to the scene? Please.
Kraftwerk just celebrated a retrospective at the MoMA in NYC. The show sold out in record time, celebrating their work from 1974 – 2003. Super Grandfather/Godfather of Electronic Everything Brian Eno pushed David Bowie, Talking Heads and Devo to release some of their best work – electronically based – in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Who can forget or would even want to forget “I Feel Love” and its repetitive, electronic infectious baseline that has served as EDM’s Jimi Hendrix moment? Thatdrop in that song has made more people lose their minds on a dance floor than any other song, ever. And if “I Feel Love” was a mama, she could have kids in college by now.
Even more recently, before EDM had been decided on as our name, “Electronica” was simmering at the turn of the millennium, with Fat Boy Slim, Prodigy, The Dust Brothers (before they changed their name to the Chemical Brothers) and Daft Punk threatening to break into the mainstream. All this while flannel shirts were still being worn as a Grunge statement, and Kurt Cobain’s death was news.
Put simply, EDM is not the new kid on the block. It is not a trend and it is not burning hot and fast. We’ve been lurking and making back alley pushes to help music as a whole for ages. So while our real estate has changed, we’ve been here taking notes and calling shots since before some of our biggest fans were born. EDM can no longer be dismissed because this slow building beast has borne some of the most creatively savvy and long-lasting players in the musical industry.
EDM did not just come out of nowhere. This scene is strong because it has been a super slow burn. There are turf wars and discussions about downfalls. We don’t all play well together, but we all have the right to play. And from where I sit, there is no end in sight for opportunities to grow. EDM cut it’s teeth on the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and turned the millennium with the rest of the musical world. It’s not the Synthpop, Breakbeat, Techno, House, D’n’B, Jungle, Acid or Intelligent Dance Music of the past. It’s the continuing of the legacy that has been decades in the making.