2014 Recap, The Year Of The Gecko
We started 2014 with animals and tsunamis, and ended it hiding away with geckos. House is all over mainstream radio and the Oliver Heldens aka Future House aka most recent records on Spinnin’ have taken over the charts. Actually, I would venture to say that Netherlands based Spinnin’ records accounts for half if not more of the biggest EDM hits in the past year if you look at the Beatport charts (which also made the statement that dubstep was dead).
At a time where everyone from the president to celebrities to girls in Lego sets are DJs the conversation over what’s real in 2015 is a big one. Towards the end of 2014, I played gigs where I used a controller and laptop, a controller and timecode vinyl, and for New Years at Hot Mass straight up classic vinyl. Unless you’re straight up playing a mix set and/or pretending to DJ it’s hard to not be a real DJ. Paris Hilton and celebrity DJ’s aside, being a DJ is about music selection and mixing. All this hating over excessive knob twisting and fist pumping is silly. With the rise in popularity of EDM and festivals, the need to have more presence has led to situations where as much if not more time is spent working the equipment and performing as actual time mixing music. But who doesn’t like free cake? Or a Diplo and Skrillex collaboration? Or a deadmau5 Twitter rant?
As EDM’s popularity rose this year to epic heights, so did the amounts of money being made by the top EDM DJ’s and that has created some hating between the mainstream and underground and plenty of opinion pieces (which I won’t rehash). The most recent came from old school trance artist BT dishing out a “what is wrong with EDM and electronic music in America,” piece which touched on a lot of points people already knew topped off with a bit of soapbox attention seeking now that he has a new project being released that doesn’t fit into any of the popular genres. If you’re one of those people that think EDM isn’t real music then you’re missing the point. Yes it is almost childishly easy to make certain styles of electronic music but the process is not what the fans love about it, it’s that feeling they get when they’re listening to it. And those feelings are real.
Another thing that is very real, is that Future House and “deep house” are aiming to take over in 2015. Why did I use quotes you ask? Because there is a big difference between deep house and “deep house”. Deep house has been around since the beginning of the genre but gained it’s own traction in the 90’s with artists like Kerri Chandler, Masters At Work, Tony Humphries, Frankie Knuckles, Dennis Ferrer and newer artists like Detroit Swindle, Black Coffee and Osunlaude.. Deep house is a much more soulful and underground vibe of house music. Once you add the quotes is where you get into music from artists like Disclosure, Low Steppa, Gorgon City, Duke Dumont, EDX, Tchami and Oliver Heldens. It’s an incarnation of house that is more easily digestible to the masses because it has catchy elements, usually has some soulful vocal part and is on the lower BPM side lumping it into the deep house category when in reality it IS house, but not deep house. You can thank Beatport for most of the common genre tagging mixups. In general “deep house” dominated the airwaves, clubs and festivals around the world. With songs like “Disclosures “Latch,” Kiesza’s “Hideaway,” Clean Bandit “Rather Be,” and Duke Dumont “I Got U,” and Oliver Heldens “Gecko” it was certainly an interesting year for house music however you want to categorize it. Even big name EDM artists like Laidback Luke, Sander Van Doorn and Steve Aoki are having a go at deeper sounds. Even Maya Jane Coles lent out her track “What They Say” to Nicki Minaj. Should we get into Tropical House? Make sure to keep an eye out for Kygo.
Speaking of Frankie Knuckles, 2014 was also the year that we lost the Godfather of House Music. I met Frankie in 1991 at a party for FFRR Records and he was the nicest and most genuine person I had met in the industry. I was fortunate to have been able to see him frequently at Sound Factory in NYC when I was living there. When he passed, people from around the world mourned and condolences came in from house and electronic music legends to newbies, disco divas to current hip hop and R&B artists. I actually compiled many of them into a picture HERE.
Now onto the banner year of Twitter trolling. It was an active year for EDM Twitter feuds and of course the king of all trolling deadmau5 did not disappoint. His feuds with Redfoo of LMFAO were expert level claiming Redfoo was “Pandering to The Stupid Masses Perpetuating Stupidity” and when Krewella’s Jahan Yousaf stated “Deadmau5 Saved Me From Going Into Porn” in a Billboard article the mau5 did not disappoint with the stingers like this one “so @krewella you can take your 1920’s smear ‘sex card’ campaign and shove it up your fuckin ass.” Tchami accused Oliver Heldens of biting his sound. The Chainsmokers versus Mat Zo, Laidback Luke, Carnage, Porter Robinson, Knife Party and countless others over “#selfie” and the idea of selling out. Other Twitter shots and beef came from the sandboxes of Wolfgang Gartner, 3Lau, David Guetta, and will.i.am.
Skrillex stated in a recent speech during a show in Canada “In 2015, let’s carry over this positivity. Let’s spread it and make it bigger and better, and more soulful, and more real than it ever has been before…This music is for everybody – it’s for the outcasts, it’s for the cool people, it’s for the fat kids, it’s for the skinny kids, it’s for the gay kids, the straight kids.” One thing that is prevalent now is while the world dishes out chaos and heaping helpings of this person versus that person and a seeming non stop war on culture misappropriation, the music is there to bring everyone together.