While we as fans may think the initial boom of everything electronic has zoomed past us seven to eight years ago, 2017 has proved to not only be a controversial year in global politics, but one in which multiple mediums are blurring their lines; crossing the divide in which things like music, politics, and everything we knew as sanctimonious, are currently being demolished by both our own means, and the means of others. Although these changes in our lives (without naming specific presidents, musical artists, and other controversial figures) are proving themselves to be both terrifying and exciting, there exists a very clear cultural power vacuum that not even our own president can inhabit. This cultural power vacuum (similar to the sort of terminology associated with the world of politics) may seem empty for the time being, but figuratively represents something bigger than all of us.
Do you remember the years of 2008 to 2010 in music? Even if you don’t remember exact dates, these were the formative years in what most of us either rejoiced or reviled with the term: “EDM.” Many will tell you this rebranding of American Rave Culture not only took America and the world by storm (in which that storm has not yet settled), but it managed to drive the industry in two directions: one in which the American mainstream and larger companies wanted to consolidate rave culture for a more palpable and homogeneous audience that brings these genres to the mainstream, and one that wanted to retain the creative control over their work and continue the growth of their cultural platform without the semantics of a mainstream crowd. It’s a double-edged sword for most: many artists in the industry wish to hit the mainstream like their forefathers who founded the boom, but don’t wish to fall into the trap of the mainstream audience that have the chance of compromising their creative journey and message.
For the sake of argument, please do not misunderstand me: of course there are more than two factions in the industry at this time. Nothing is as clear as black and white, but for the sake of backstory and archivism, this is the most succinct way to sum up a history that has not been written. What does the state of the industry have to do with the state of our global consciousness, namingly, this “power vacuum?”
We are currently reaching a tipping point, as it has been almost nine to ten years since this boom occurred. As any history major can tell you, a decline is almost inevitable after a surge of increased popularity and revenue, and this progression of sorts has became worrying to the intellectuals and the artists of the industry. While we are in no danger of losing the output level of our music, and the rate of new artists are flooding the gates at record rate, there has been ultimately no progression in the “rhetoric” since during, and before this boom of EDM up until this point.
For example, while consistency has always been a trademark in the Arizona scene, no written history yet exists for an ultimately important part of our culture. This schism detailed above also clashes with the mainstream, who almost wishes to reject the former ideals of raving and even documenting these older experiences due to the non-mainstream-friendly ideals of drug abuse, partying, and informal gatherings.
Not to mention that the mainstream has also decidedly nominated genres such as house, dubstep, and more progressive genres as “acceptable,” yet smaller sub-genres are still working hard to make an impact due to this industry’s favor. In turn, this schism has blustered the original unity of the “rave culture” sentiment, just as much as it has blown up in the face of mainstream record executives. Those who once encouraged growth of the budding industry, but refused to accept the past of where it came from, as well as important artists from sub-genres that are shaping the industry, or have already made their mark.
The result of these ideals clashing are not the direct result of this cultural power vacuum, and I want to make it very clear that while this piece may seem to favor a non-mainstream rhetoric, claiming one side would be just as much poison to the movement as the poisons I am pointing out. In order to destroy this absence of cultural progression, we as fans, as well as artists, need to feel responsible for what we have created. The boom of the electronic music industry was not simply the magic “waving-of-a-wand” from music executives, it didn’t happen in just one word or step that a singular artist had chosen: this movement was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of artists, admirers, and fighters alike who not only wanted to share the love of their craft with those on the outside, but to remind everyone why we do this, and why we won’t cease even after the familiar passage of time takes its course.
We love the parties, we love the extracurriculars, and most importantly, we love the music; but just like the music we fostered up to this point into something great, we must continue to show care for this great beast of a genre we have created, and open all avenues. These styles of music are not just for the downtrodden, for the kids who can afford the V.I.P. packages, and not just for everyone who knows their way around sound-equipment; this “boom” is not just about the music, but an expression of whether we have the power to give it a sense of permanence. Yet, where is the permanence without the intellectual expression? This pieces serves as a plea not just for everyone who even enjoys the occasional drop in a very poppy piece, but is most importantly a plea for you: the same “you” that felt just as affected by the music before all this took place years ago, and the same “you” that is reading this piece today.
I will end this piece in informing you that this is not a state of panic, but a simple “state of the union.”. Those who say there is nothing wrong with this industry are dead wrong, but those who say there are nothing right are the exact sort of poison. The problems don’t lie within the music or image, but the lack of leash we do not possess on this “beast,” and the continuing intellectual negligence that has the potential to spearhead the death of the electronic boom.
The world is going under massive changes even upon the publication of this piece, and if I had to leave you with a few thoughts, I sincerely hope that you, the artist will still make music that is true to your heart, that you, the music executive will be open-minded to the industry’s constant changes; that you, the old-school raver will support your new-age counterparts even if they don’t mirror the exact image of what brought you up from the past, and lastly, you, the fan, who keeps the music alive with your listening sessions at 3 A.M. in your bedroom, understands the implications of carrying a culture on our backs, and is more than willing to fight to keep the work we have tirelessly crafted out of love, alive.