Nobody can deny EDM’s importance and growth in the international music scene over the years.This led to a massive number of die-hard fans spanning every corner of the world. But the growth of electronic dance music also brought a number of critics and attackers. For many years, and still to a large number of people, EDM was regarded as a cacophony of noises fit only for millennials with mediocre musical taste.
Silly misconceptions about EDM are: EDM is noisy music for millennials, DJs and producers are the same thing, DJs are not musicians; they just press play. EDM is all about drugs, and without them, you can’t enjoy the music.
For those of us who know, however, electronic music is a magnificent musical spectrum of sound with a very rich history. It also includes more diversity than “regular” music itself. A music fan may be able to name a dozen genres of music they enjoy, but any well-listened electronic dance music fan will be able to name a dozen micro-genres of a brand of EDM, even if they do not enjoy it.
Along those lines, if we were to ask someone (far from the dance music scene) about EDM festivals, chances are they would describe debauchery, drug-fueled raves filled with pill-poppers and drug sniffers. It is still a part of the global conversation that drug culture and EDM culture are one and the same. These same individuals will compare DJs to the “regular musicians” of the world and label them as “button pushers” with no musical talent whatsoever.
Of course, all of the above are just silly talk, devoid of any substance or truth. Below, we discuss some of EDM’s biggest myths and misconceptions to discover the real truth that lies beneath.
EDM Is Not A Single Genre
The term “EDM” means “electronic dance music.” Literally speaking, EDM refers to music that is created primarily from electronic sounds. “It is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres (rather than a single one) made largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by DJs.
Various EDM genres have evolved over the last 40 years, for example; house, techno, trance, dance-pop, etc. Stylistic variation within an established EDM genre led to the emergence of what is called a subgenre. Hybridization, where elements of two or more genres are combined, can lead to the emergence of an entirely new genre of EDM. So, in general, EDM is a umbrella holding a multitude of genres together. Combining all electronic music genres and subgenres and labelling it all as EDM is just ignorant. In essence, electronic music is as wide and varied as non-electronic music.
If you’re interested to hear some examples, check out these 20 incredibly memorable festival sets everyone should listen to.
DJs Don’t Just Press Play
When some people ridicule EDM culture and DJs, they use this misconception, obviously out of ignorance or just to be negative and put down the genre.
When someone spends a meaningful amount of time trying to understand electronic music, the art of DJing, or simply glances at DJ gear, they will know and better understand that being a DJ is complicated. Yes, it’s easier now with technology to learn and acquire the skills faster, but even the simplest DJ techniques require great timing and skill to master.
To become a DJ, you’ll have to master using at least a basic DJ controller. The most basic version has at least four channels for music, with each channel being controllable through its high, mid, and low-frequency sounds. The controller also gives the DJ the option to control the tempo of each track and adjust it at will (which is a must to correctly beat match), cue points can be picked and played whenever, and faders control the relative volume of each channel. DJs must also control a mixer, which is the piece of equipment with a large selection of knobs and faders that mix the channels together.
In a nutshell, this is what DJ equipment is made of.But it’s not only that, DJs should also understand the music keys, how the correct tracks work together, and what is not possible to mix together. Everything in the anatomy of a track comes into play.
On the other hand, top DJs these days play with CDJs, mixers, MIDI controllers, and even Ableton Live – all at once, and in front of thousands of fans. They’re using new equipment and their unique controllers and options to make their live shows as unique and interesting as possible. It is now not just a matter of pressing a button and working the crowd. It is a complex, and quite fun, process with endless possibilities.
Producers like Paul Van Dyke, Giuseppe Ottaviani, and Bassnectar come to mind. They play their sets on keyboards, unreleased controllers, and laptops.
DJs And Producers Are Not The Same
Back in the day, DJs, or disc jockeys, were the individuals who spun vinyl records using two turntables connected to a mixer. In today’s world, most professional DJs spin on at least two CDJs, which are essentially digitised versions of old-school turntables. The CDJs are linked to a mixer, giving additional control over the sound. DJs will mix, chop, scratch, layer, sample, cue, beat match, and pitch match multiple audio files at will. Essentially, DJs are live remixers. They take the original tracks and play them live for the audience.
Producers, on the other hand, are the sound nerds, the engineers who come up with sounds and vocals and compose the tracks that DJs play. In today’s modern world, and as we mentioned, with the ease of learning and advancing in the DJ field, DJs are required to produce their own music if they are to earn a good living from the music and get the chance to become famous, enjoying a full career out of it.
Producing can be as simple as chopping samples and twisting them into something entirely new, or as complex as literally engineering sounds from scratch, as demonstrated by the incredible works of technologist and music pioneer BT.Producers use software like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, or even FL Studios to compose and create their tracks.
EDM Is Not Millennial Music
Electronic music is not even close to being new. In the late 1960s, bands such as Silver Apples created electronic music intended for dancing. But electronic music goes even further back. Audio pioneers have been using purely electronic sounds to create experimental music since the 1800s, or even earlier. The Clavecin Électrique is the earliest electronic instrument, an electric keyboard, created in France in 1759. On the other hand, the Telharmonium is considered the world’s first synthesiser and was patented in 1897 in America.
A deeper dive into the history of music and electronic sounds is sure proof that EDM has existed for such a long time and should not be linked with Millennials in that regard, even though its popularity has increased tremendously in the new millennium in the USA, Europe, and Australia.
In fact, you’ll be surprised to discover what was the first electronic music instrument ever! Take a look at our article here.
EDM Is Not Drug Culture
One of the strongest connections with EDM culture is the drug culture. It can be quite easy to link both cultures together, especially since EDM culture evolved from the earlier rave culture, which included a multitude of club drugs: molly, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine, LSD… you name it.
In reality, the talk of drug use within the music festival scene is an undertone. Nobody’s expected to partake in narcotics and drugs to enjoy the music. It is in no way necessary or even expected. In fact, drug use at electronic music festivals is remarkably similar to other music genres, with alcohol and marijuana being the majority of drugs consumed.
According to a study done by TickPick, including over a thousand festival attendees, over 75% consumed alcohol, and over 38% consumed marijuana at festivals, while only 13% consumed MDMA. Overall, drug use at EDM festivals is remarkably similar to all other genres of music festivals.
If we were to look closely at the characteristics of festival-goers, we’d notice that drugs are really not important. There is a large subculture of fans and attendees who do not partake in illicit narcotics or drugs and attend festivals fully sober. A growing number of festival-sponsored groups are created specifically for those looking to party sober. You can easily spot these people on forums and on the different social media platforms. Electric Forest, for example, has Camp Traction, whose “primary purpose is to provide an empowering home base for those who would like to participate in a clean and sober experience.” Camp Traction is unaffiliated with any organized recovery group. While virtually all tiers of Electric Forest camping have an up-charge, Camp Traction costs absolutely nothing.
Ask people why they love EDM and the electronic music scene, and they will never mention drugs. Not because they’re afraid of anything, but because EDM culture’s strong suit is the importance of love and acceptance. In a world that is becoming more radical and more hostile, music festivals and electronic dance music are beacons of acceptance for people of all ages, colors, and races. EDM’s biggest unifying factors are people’s love for the music and love for the community.
If you remove the unimportant stigma of drug use, you’ll notice that EDM culture provides the strongest feelings of belonging that many will ever experience. Just try to become part of any group that has to do with EDM and you’ll feel this right away.