Nobody can deny the importance and growth of EDM in the international music scene throughout the years. This lead 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 so many years, and still for a large number of people, EDM is considered a mess of noises, meant only for millennials with mediocre taste in music.
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. Though a music fan might be able to name about a dozen genres of music they enjoy, any well-listened electronic dance music fan will be able to name a dozen micro-genres of a brand of EDM even when they might not even enjoy it.
Along those ideas, if we were to ask someone (far from the dance music scene) about EDM festivals, chances are they would described 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 “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 devout from any substance and truths. 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 lead 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.
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 glanced at DJ gear, they will know and better understand that being a DJ is complicated. Yes, it’s easier now with the technology to learn and acquire the skills faster, but even the simplest DJ techniques take great timing and skill to master.
Top 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 could be controlled 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 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 mixes the channels together.
This is in simple terms what the DJ equipment is composed 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 another 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 pressing a button and working the crowd. It is a complex, and quite fun, process with endless possibilities.
Producers like Paul Van Dyke, Giusseppe 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 disk 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 digitized 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 with it live for the audience.
Producers on the other hand are the sound nerds, the engineers who come up with sounds, 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 completely new, or as complex as literally engineering the sounds from scratch, like 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 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, considered the world’s first synthesizer, was patented in 1897 in America.
A deeper dive into the history of music and electronic sounds is a sure proof that EDM has existed for such a long time and should not be linked with Millennials in that regard even when it’s popularity has increased tremendously with the new millennium in the USA, Europe and Australia.
EDM Is Not Drug Culture
One of the strongest connections with EDM culture is the dug 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 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 drug 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% have consumed MDMA. Overall, drug use at EDM festivals is remarkably similar to all other genres of music festival.
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 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, and while virtually all tiers of Electric Forest camping have an upcharge, 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 a beacon of acceptance for people of all ages, colors and races. EDM’s biggest unifying factor is 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.