Earlier this week, Seth Troxler laid out a scathing critique of all things EDM and the current state of dance music. Today, Laidback Luke responds to Troxler, point by point.
“EDM is not a culture.”
It most definitely is a culture! It’s a poppy culture at first sight, but has actually been around for ages. The US always had a big underground rave scene with ravers wearing baggy clothes, backpacks and neon candy. They were doing their raver shuffle dance to trance, techno and electro house for over a decade. The EDM crowd is a young crowd; EDM is their introduction to the festivals, they fully believe and try and live the whole PLUR thing. To not call it a culture is a very narrow-minded view.
“Now people consider a ‘good event’ something that’s really packed with bodies and ‘energy:’ energy-packed-extreme!”
It absolutely is. It's about the rage. It's about the rave. Don't forget, we raved as kids too. For me it started with the UK rave sound in the early 90s, evolving into the harder dancey stuff from Germany to the Dutch Gabber, even. We've all been teenagers ready to rock the fuck out. When you become older, it's all of the sudden not cool anymore and then it seems you'll need to party like you're a sophisticated old person, tasting wine. I still like jumping, sweating and losing myself, to be honest. I'll do the relaxing when I'm not partying. Wait, wasn't it always about the party anyway? What happened to actually partying at a party and just having fun?
I think it would be good to recognize that the overground feeds the underground too. Danny Tenaglia once sent out an email to his fellow DJs at a time when a similar discussion was taking place. A lot of people were throwing shade at Tiësto for being too cheesy/pop, too accessible and too mainstream. This whole discussion about underground vs mainstream is really nothing new. Danny said something like: “Tiësto is the My First Sony of dance music, and it will get kids interested in dance music. Some of them will develop their musical tastes and appetites and I happen to be an acquired taste and I'm cool with that.”
To many at the time, Tiësto was their first experience. After that, some of them grow into the cooler or underground stuff. I've seen it happen over many generations.
“[Electric Daisy Carnival is] a stage in a parking lot, full of loads of kids with fucking suckers in their mouths and gas masks on, listening to horrible music.”
I would give EDC a bit more credit than that. What about the amazing stage performers? What about the carnival setup and the incredible stages? EDC is unique for that, not to mention one of the first to bring it to that level in the USA. That opens doors for all of us, mainstream and underground DJs alike. Seth said he wanted parties to just be about a dark room with only maybe a strobe? I think that's cool too, but what you need to realize is that when people buy an expensive festival ticket, they should get some spectacular stuff back for it. What a lot of cool and underground DJs don't realize is that we usually pay for our own pyro, CO2 and confetti ourselves. Some DJs invest $10-15,000 into that per show. Although I'm still not a fan of it—I love the actual art and history of DJing– it does look quite dull without it nowadays at festivals.
“Speaking of Avicii, Avicii is a cunt.”
I've known him since he was coming up as a kid. He was always very eager and very gifted as a young producer. He's a nice kid. He's worked hard for where he's at—to the bone actually. I've always had a good relationship with his manager and I'm honored I'm able to play his stage in Ibiza. I only wish that Tim would answer his email sometimes—we never talk anymore!
On Steve Aoki: “You are not a fucking DJ. You’re an overpaid, untalented, cake-throwing cunt.”
I love Steve and he's a good friend. He works his ass off to be able to do this. He came from money and really doesn't need to do this for the money. He was already throwing cakes before he got into DJing. Steve is a performer, he comes from performing in punk bands so the stage is what he knows! The rafts came after hurting some people in the crowd from stage-diving. Which also makes sense with his band background. Now I know it doesn't make instant sense seeing this in a DJ setting, but knowing his background will make you look a little less like an ignorant prick. Plus the crowd laps it up!
From a commenter: “I’d commend this article if I hadn't seen Seth Troxler do fuck all on stage for 90 mins and get paid like 20k for it at Life last year, putting in less effort than the horrendous EDM DJs he is slating.”
I actually love Seth. He's a great character and we actually get along on a personal level. I'm one of the guys who is responsible for making everyone's mixing fast, fast, fast. But mind you, my background comes from admiring guys like Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke, Frankie Bones and Bad Boy Bill cutting it up on stage—DJs with amazing skill. So I still see mixing fast as an amazing dynamic skill. To be honest, it's really easy to do less: To let a track play and relax behind the decks is relatively less hard than mixing fast and throwing in some original DJ skill. Yes, a guy like Seth gets paid a shit ton of money to play records too. So apart from a slower BPM and some throw-your-hands-up vocals, we might have more in common than we'd like to admit.
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