Some interesting reflection coming from A-Trak yesterday, as he went to Facebook to discuss the current state of EDM. In the post, he talks about how the scene has almost become a parody of itself, but how it's popularity has potentially spurred fans into discovering new music and opened their minds to new genres.
Here is the post:
EDM is still alive and kicking. There’s been chatter for a while now that the bubble might burst any minute, but don’t be fooled, the business is still very healthy. Ride around Hollywood, every billboard shows a DJ. Festival attendance is enormous. And every 14 year old kid knows how to sidechain a compressor. But it’s also easy to see that the genre has reached an almost comical level of self-aggrandizement, with soaring emotional ballads and an overdose of cheese that many have likened to Hair Metal. (For the record, I like Hair Metal.) What’s interesting is the sort of babushka dolls that come with the term EDM: for the press it denotes all electronic music; but for insiders it’s only the maximal big-room caricatural stuff. Sometimes, however, an initial wave of flashy music can knock down the doors and more interesting music can come after. That’s where I feel we are now. From the producers’ standpoint, a lot of us just feel like simply making music, any kind of music, whatever genre it might be. Rather than dictating an entire style, EDM can now broaden itself to little characteristics in the sonics within an otherwise genre-less song. Avicii really did us all a favor by making a (successful) country record. Thanks Tim! If I feel like putting out a polka song tomorrow, I can. I might. And from the audience’s standpoint, after that initial gateway drug of hands-in-the-air anthems, I’m seeing more and more kids get interested in good, nuanced, forward-thinking music. It’s super encouraging. And even from the DJs’ standpoint, over the last 2 or 3 years we all felt a certain pressure to play more bigroom beatport hits, whereas now it feels like the genres are opening up again. There is more freedom in the selection. Maybe it’s finally going back to #RealDJing. What do you guys think? Are we entering this post-EDM chapter?
I agree with much of what A-Trak is saying here, and I think his positive outlook on this modern era of music is refreshing, especially when most people are just sitting there hating. But I do feel that "post-EDM" is a bit of vague term. Electronic dance music has been around for 30 years and isn't going anywhere... at least anytime soon.
A better phrase for this period might be "post-commercial", as those fans fist pumping at festivals to bangers are now gravitating to the more subtle sounds of more traditional house, techno, chillout/downtempo, drum & bass, and darker trance.
I think as much as the "genres are opening up again", listeners are also becoming more discerning as they begin to learn what a good house or techno set really is.
I'll close on a tired but true cliche, a good DJ will take you on "a musical journey". And if a house DJ thinks a classic country song belongs in that trip, he or she will make it work.