Electronic Dance Music Re-Envisioned

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Lauren Dougherty

“Kandi” is the accessory of choice among the EDM community

Davis Walker, Staff Writer

Over the past few years, EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, has taken the musical world by storm. EDM is a general term, and encompasses a multitude of genres, whether it be house, trance, dubstep, drumstep or trap.  Originally derived from disco music, EDM features electronic instruments such as synthesizers or drum machines to create songs. Nowadays, many producers have access to everything they need to make and perform music via a computer. Software such as Ableton Live includes synthesizers, sequencing, sampling, effects, recording and even live mixing features for performances.

EDM made its premature debut in the U.S. in the 1980’s and 1990’s, just as raves were becoming a popular subculture. At the time, so-called ravers were branded as drug-abusing party animals, and raves were held in abandoned warehouses or other secretive locations. People who organized raves were subject to prison time and fines, and event information was usually spread by word of mouth or other untraceable means.

Because of how rave culture formed, many people are skeptical of the EDM scene. Many critics don’t like the culture because of its association with MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Ecstasy is an amphetamine that keeps users up and provides them with a false sense of well being and happiness. Ecstasy often refers to MDMA mixed with other drugs in pill form, making it all the more dangerous. The reason this drug is popular among raves is because the energetic effects last several hours, keeping ravers up and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. What these people don’t realize is that they don’t know what they are putting into their bodies, and that MDMA possibly alters pathways in the brain. This, in theory, could lead to an inability to be happy without use of MDMA.

Many people in the industry are against the use of MDMA. One of the most famous DJs in the world, Deadmau5 (real name Joel Zimmerman), rampantly opposes the drug. After Madonna made an MDMA reference at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Zimmerman posted to his blog, stating “I am at the very least morally obligated not to blatantly inflict or advocate anything that’s detrimental to society, others health, etc … We’ve taken EDM so far in the past decade, so goddamned far. It really hurts me to see rampant advocation of extreme bullshit lifestyles.”

This is the 21st century, and EDM has come a long way from sketchy underground raves. Today, raves have been rebranded as “concerts” and “festivals” that are perfectly normal and legal. Festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas have tons of headliners performing sets over multiple days on different stages. There are countless other festivals around the country and around the world, and some of the most famous ones are Outside Lands, Electric Forest, Snowglobe, Bonnaroo, Ultra Music Festival, Coachella and Tomorrowland in Europe. Some of these events attract massive crowds, with over 300,000 people in attendance. Not all of these are solely EDM events, but this just shows the extent to which EDM has been integrated into the mainstream music scene.

Music isn’t the only form of entertainment at these festivals, though. DJ’s spend millions on their visual effects, and the lights, lasers, smoke, foam and visual displays are as much a part of the event as the music itself. At some festivals there are even rides, like ferris wheels or tea cups adorned with thousands of colorful lights. As if that’s not enough, there are often various dancers with elaborate costumes roaming the venue and interacting with fans.

EDM isn’t just another type of music, it’s an entire culture. Electronic Dance Music producers and fans live by one acronym: P.L.U.R. This stands for Peace Love Unity and Respect. This mantra is apparent at any EDM event, and it is easy to tell how friendly and pacifistic the crowd is. Acceptance is key here, especially considering the furry boots, “kandi,” banana suits and various other outfits donned by EDM fans.

Being in the crowd of one of these events is truly a unique experience, and isn’t really comparable to concerts of other genres. The venues are usually general admission, so thousands of people are packed onto the floor with no specified spots. Everyone’s movements are synchronized, and it’s easy to feel one with the crowd. It’s like a unified sea of people, all mesmerized by the pumping bass, soothing vocals and unique sound of synthesizers.

“The music itself is infectious, you can’t help but dance and be happy,” senior Lauren Dougherty said. “It’s an escape from the real world, a place where you can enter into a fairytale, find awesome people, pretty lights and colors, amazing music and a community that’s based on love.”

EDM isn’t just another phase, it’s here to stay, and Miramonte students are all for it. It is not uncommon to see a group of Miramonte students chilling and making new friends at a Bay Area concert.

“Going to raves gives you the chance to be whoever you want,” Dougherty said. “You can get lost in the music and crowds. All the people who go to raves are so nice and unique; they each have their own story and are always happy to tell it to you.”