I’m calling it. Well, I’ve been calling it. Probably close to 4 years now.
Mark my words, EDM will soon go the way of Disco. And thus is the cyclical nature of the music beast.
Don’t worry, it’s normal. Death and rebirth – A absolute truth in the foundation of all things.
Like Rock n’ Roll, what was once an underground phenomenon emerged into the mainstream becoming Pop, fell subject to assimilation from just about every Top40 act not associated with the movement at all, and sold out – as everything/everyone often does.
There’s a rainstorm coming; A cleansing of the pop culture landscape, if you will. And the first few drops have already begun to fall.
Let me paint you a timeline of how these events have already started to unfold:
- September 3, 2013 – A lengthy article entitled, Finding Molly: Drugs, dancing, and death is published on the dangers of MDMA or “Molly” and the behind-the-scenes goings on of the EDM Festival world. It goes viral.
This was a eye-opening read to me, to hear the unabashed perspective of someone who witnessed full-on the shadiness of the MDMA/Molly scene and its connection with the EDM culture: Molly could be any drug and you’d have no way of knowing, easy to sneak, smuggle, and deal; risk of overdose always imminent, venues and security in cahoots with the promoters receiving cuts as incentives for their silence:
The agents win because their shows have…inflated attendance numbers, due to the false attendance reporting. This allows them to command higher guarantees. The promoters win because they collect…a percentage of the Molly sold in the venue. The extra money they get allows them to buy better talent in the future and boost their profit margins. The security wins because any “non-promoter-approved” Molly dealer is thrown out and/or arrested, so they keep appearances…The drug dealers win because their product is sold in a monopolized environment, free of competition, where they are free to set the price. The venue wins because they can…feign ignorance. The artists win because they’re playing to packed houses full of young people losing their minds and dancing on drugs.
Of course I was aware of that this all was potentially happening but to hear it confirmed in such grave detail put a shock to my system. We oftentimes forget of how prevalent death is within EDM culture, which is naturally connected to the MDMA/Molly culture. How long must one go through the ritual to suddenly grow tired of it and reconsider the mere temporary escape it has to offer?
- April 16, 2014 – Tim Hirsch publishes an article on EDM.com entitled, Why It’s EDM’s Fault Outkast Flopped [at Coachella] and gets a shout out from Bob Lefsetz.
I did a little writeup myself on this one. Hirsch basically explains the obvious: Our senses have been practically blow to smithereens by light shows, pyrotechnics, drugs, and big beats we can practically reach out and touch that lyrical Hip-hop just doesn’t have the same appeal it once used to; It doesn’t fufill the need anymore! The audience feels bored and expects to be taken on a mind-altering experience, expects the 3 sense assault. By now we expect:
stratospheric production values, insane light shows, and flawless control of crowd energy: in summary, an opportunity to lose your fucking mind. You can plop down hundreds of dollars without knowing a single artist and still know you’re going to have a blast. The needle has slowly shifted away from “music,” towards “party”.
The artists on the bill used to determine the success of a festival. Now no one cares. A festival like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra; They have a reputation of a good time. It doesn’t matter who’s playing anymore. Your face will get melted off no matter what so you buy tickets and go – for the experience.
- June 2, 2014 – The lovingly-termed ‘Grandfather of ecstasy’, Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin dies.
Developing a new synthesis method for MDMA in 1976, this was the man who devoted his life to scientific research solely within the psychedelic realm. The former Dow Chemical employee, “synthesized and self-tested hundreds of psychoactive chemicals, including MDMA”. Shulgin made the exploration and scientific documentation of psychedelics his life’s work. Based on the article linked above and a 20 minute interview I watched (also included in the link), Shulgin seemed respectable, brave, and intelligent man. Not a scientist-turned-hippie trying to get high, but rather a curious individual privileged enough to have studied MDMA, LSD, and amphetamines (along with several other drugs) up close having himself serve as guinea pig to subjectively document their effects. Shulgin even admitted that once he was done studying a drug, he never went back to it. Meaning, he was not a recreational user. When asked how many times he had used MDMA in this lifetime Shulgin responded:
Not that many…Once I find the activity of a drug, [I] go on to something else. So I’ve pretty much avoided…repeated experiments once I know the activity.
MDMA has always been a huge part of club/dance culture, reaching its first high point (pun not intended) during the 80s and has made a huge comeback within the past few years with the rise of EDM in the mainstream, accompanied by a barrage of festivals promising mind-blowing assaults of the ears, eyes, and senses. We can interpret Shulgin’s death as a real-life metaphor, signaling the beginning of the end of EDM and its surrounding drug culture. To his fanbase and community, he is considered very much a genius of incredible stature and an irreplaceable mind in the field of psychedelic science.
- June 13, 2014 – Deadmau5 announces EDM is dying and denounces music festivals and assures his involvement in them has come to an end…Not counting his own independent production for his solo tour, of course.
Deadmau5 is notoriously known for being outspoken and brazen. Some might even say honest to a fault. I think Joel Zimmerman calls ’em like he sees ’em. In his exclusive interview with the London Evening Standard, he spats at his disdain for what these huge EDM festivals have become, similarly in the same vein as what Tim Hirsch described:
It’s another thing I can’t fuckin’ stand, you know? Festivals are being branded bigger than the acts, which is totally backwards in my head. It’s ’cause of those acts that you’re a festival! Who wins? The promoter. The guy who’s throwing this festival that’s branded bigger than you, that you think you’re awesome for headlining. It’s a shame, so that’s why I’m pulling out.
According to Stereogum, Deadmau5 has also, “developed contempt for the build-drop model he helped pioneer and is moving away from the genre”. If EDM isn’t on its way to the grave, there is most definitely a transformation underway. But who’s to say that’s not death in disguise? We must follow the breadcrumbs to see where it all leads.
Like anything else, EDM has become an enormous money-making business; A cash cow for drug dealers, promoters, even electronic gear and software companies: Digital turntables, DJ and music production software, speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, keyboards, samplers, etc. Think of all the kids who aspire to be like Girl Talk, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Zedd, Steve Aoki, Calvin Harris, Avicii. You get the picture.
To those questioning my somewhat eager writing tone, I suppose I don’t have anything against EDM personally. It just never struck me much to begin with. And I’m not a fan of sheep; Blind followers who are the first to volunteer themselves to be consumed by the tendrils of assimilation without a shred of resistance or questioning. I’ll be glad when it goes.
On Molly-fueled, music-filled journeys to the Promised Land of unauthentic bliss, with eyes wide and pupils dilated, fans writhe and shout to the 4-on-the-floor stomp of electric static, rhythmically moving to the buildup and beat drop, to the minor key to be reused (albeit, with a different timbre) at their own forgotten funerals. Whether of the mind, body, or of the Self is no object. A death will occur – Perhaps fully permanent, with no phoenix tears shed to resurrect the mere possibility of its return.
So stomp upon the fresh earth of the almost filled grave and the mirror that lay atop it. Stick the largest shard in the soil as a makeshift headstone and in blood you will see the words painted:
EDM Lived Here