The Evolution and DeEvolution of EDM Artists
Artists are always evolving and devolving. It’s the natural cycle of life for an artist. In the beginning it’s easy to be creative and experiment when you are at the cusp of a new style or genre and the expectations are lower. Over time if success is achieved the pressure to keep cranking out successful releases (notice I didn’t say hits or mainstream) rises exponentially. That creates a situation where an artist can get caught up in their own self created bubble where once they have a track hit, the expectation is to continue releasing content to appeal to the majority. This scenario will ultimately leave people who were fans from the beginning clamoring for the days when they were the openers playing small clubs and side stages at festivals.
I have been playing an “EDM” format for the better part of the last 10 years or so and have seen the evolution of the scene and sound as it grew from a club sound to a festival sound as well as the rise of the “superstar DJ”. You would be hard pressed to find anyone under 20 that doesn’t have a friend who isn’t a “DJ” these days. Besides my house sets, the sets I would play for the more European crowd was a combination of early electro, progressive house, retro remixes and early proto-EDM tunes. In the 2006-ish on era, I was playing all the early deadmau5, Guetta, Fedde Le Grand, Bob Sinclar, Axwell, Afrojack, Chuckie, Kaskade, Calvin Harris and so on The house scene wasn’t having any of it, and the rave scene wasn’t having any of it, and the mixed format DJs weren’t touching most of it. Fast forward to 2014 where you can hear any of these artists newer tracks on the radio, on jukeboxes in bars and in pretty much any DJs sets from small clubs to major festivals and raves.
There are plenty of people who count themselves among the scene “elite” who go up to DJs asking for tracks that they heard fifteen minutes ago on Hardwell’s radio show without so much as an ID yet and pride themselves for stumping the DJ. To me, good music doesn’t have an expiration date. Brand new doesn’t make it better, and more often then not, the newer tracks lose relevance much faster then older tracks. Sure, tracks get dated and played out and maybe get moved to the “oldie but goody” playlist, but lately I have been hearing more people complaining and wishing that the artists they hear at festivals would sound more like, well, themselves.
It has become nearly impossible to tell the difference between artists like W&W, Showtek, DVBBS, Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike and Martin Garrix. Between DVBBS and teen EDM sensation Martin Garrix, they single handedly turned turned 1 out of every 1 release into a flurry of ping pong ball leads and Tsunami style keys for the better part of 6 months. Spinnin’ Records pretty much has a lock on anything with THAT sound, and THAT drop, by THOSE artists. You know, pretty much the “Beatport Top 100” sound everyone loves to poke jabs at. The problem is they all end up playing THOSE records that they made, at the same festivals and it ends up sounding like the same DJ over and over and over, and over. And then because of the popularity of said tracks, other DJ’s who could be playing a plethora of other records, get aught up in the hype and end up playing THOSE records as well. Plenty of MEME’s have popped up with major headliners crouched down with he words “ARE YOU PLAYING ANIMALS OR AM I?” or whatever was hot that week on it. Most likely, they both played “Animals”.
So what’s next? Plenty of people from deadmau5 on down have predicted the future of EDM and the eventual bubble bursting. Nothing that burns this hot this fast can sustain itself at the level it is currently. I don’t think the whole EDM culture is on life support yet. I have seen a massive transition from festival bangers to more deeper house, or as I like to call it EDeepM. If you look at the top 10 of a lot of these big DJs you will see deep house cropping up in them. Especially from people like Oliver Heldens and Tchami. The airwaves and satellite around the globe are currently populated with massive amounts of house vibes from Disclosure, Duke Dumont, Route 94, Kiesza, EDX and more. Is that the future? It’s one possibility even though that sound has been around for decades. Sounds mutate, evolve, go underground, hibernate but they rarely completely disappear.
Enjoy what you love, not all music is meant to be a classic. Music is something that should make you feel, and if it does that it really doesn’t matter if it’s hot or not.
You can read my recent post on my new summertime faves HERE.