To discuss the rise of electronic dance music, musician and critic Philip Sherburne was interviewed recently on the Sound Opinions podcast, which is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. It says something about the status of electronic dance music in the broader realm of pop music that an outside critic needs to be invited in to explain it. Even if, to the session’s point, musicians like David Guetta and Skrillex have brought electronic music to a wide pop audience, the circumstances of that rise are remote and specific enough to still push the knowledge threshold of everyday critics, even ones as experienced as DeRogatis and Kot (MP3).
I’d propose at least three more:
¶ One is simply time, what I think of as the “hip-hop cop factor”: at some point the kids whom cops found suspect because they listened to hip-hop eventually grew up to become cops themselves, thus diminishing a genre’s negative associations.
¶ Another is the rise of text messaging; as I experienced during a late-2008 rave in Tokyo, at a Richie Hawtin show, the constant contact provided by cellphones has radically altered that kind of concert-going experience, making it more internally clique-ish, less of a “let’s get lost” scene, than it had been 15 years go. This has made raves significantly more social, and helped them to be perceived as less unsafe.
¶ A third is the received understanding that producers are the music-makers; from Timbaland to the Neptunes to Dallas Austin to the Matrix, it’s widely understood, even if only at a casual level, that the majority of what it heard on the radio is, in fact, more the product of the people behind the mixing board than behind the microphone, and today’s generation of electronic dance producers benefit from the suggestion that they, in fact, are the true music stars.
More on the podcast, which aired June 8, at soundopinions.org.