I wrote a little piece this week about the national rise of electronic dance music (or, ugh, "EDM") --as locally evidenced by such large-scale events>"/>
I wrote a little piece this week about the national rise of electronic dance music (or, ugh, "EDM")--as locally evidenced by such large-scale events as this weekend's Paradiso Festival and Skrillex's headlining slot at this summer's Bumbershoot--and what if anything it might mean for Seattle's own electronic music scene and musicians. One thing we talked about is that even if you don't like the current crop of big-room rave stars like Skrillex, Deadmau5, or Avicii, there's at least one redeeming quality to them: they expose new people to electronic music.
Everyone's got to start somewhere, and most people reasonably enough get into new genres via their most visible and mainstream acts. During America's last electronic boom, in the '90s, I was pretty much into every crossover "big beat" artist that got play on MTV or The End's electronic show: Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, etc. Those acts largely still hold up for me, but they also led me to explore deeper an further afield in electronic music, just as Skrillex can lead legions of his fans to Aphex Twin (but can't make them drink without complaining that there's no "drops"). So I asked the local electronic artists I interviewed what mainstream artists were there first exposures to electronic music--not all their answers made it into the piece, so we're sharing them here.
Sean Horton, director Decibel Festival:
"Nine Inch Nails' "Pretty Hate Machine" bridged the gap between rock and electronic music for me back in the 8th grade. That was the album that got me seeking out other electronic music. From there, I discovered Orbital, who opened the door to Detroit Techno, which at the time was going through a major renaissance with the Plus 8 label parties that featured Richie Hawtin/Plastikman. Being able to experience those early Detroit warehouse parties is what inspired me to begin collecting records, DJing, producing music, producing events and eventually festivals. Thanks again Trent!"
Ill Cosby, bass music producer and Car Crash Set label boss (who's soon to depart Seattle for the East Coast, sniff):
"I'm absolutely a product of the last big breakthrough of electronic music into the mainstream during the late '90s. Before 'Busy Child' was in every other movie trailer, I saw the Crystal Method at a hotel banquet room on the outskirts of my suburban territory (they were filling dates between larger cities). Seeing them lean over keyboards and perilously tilt them toward the audience was probably the most impressionable thing with regards to music I saw as a teenager. It made me want to buy more keyboards so I could tilt them myself. I couldn't have had more of a mainstream introduction to electronic music than that."
Rafael Anton Irisarri, aka Ghostly International artist The Sight Below:
"For me it was "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode in 1990. That album Violator was just incredible--back then it was different though--something as commercial/pop as that album had some incredible production going on, not just trying to be the flavor of the month, and to be fair, it was a highly critically-acclaimed album, so maybe it is not the best example. But I do remember listening to it on the radio as a young, impressionable kid and going bonkers over the shuffle beat sequence. Funny thing is that I wasn't aware until a few years later that it was electronic music - so by the time I heard "Charlie" by The Prodigy (talking about another amazing track by a very mainstream/commercially successful/"big" act) and then did the deeper digging and studying, I finally realized I had been listening to electronic music from a much younger age all along. Funny how all that worked out!"
Scot Porter, aka electronic artist Vox Mod:
"I think my music upbringing was shaped largely from movie soundtracks. Orbital were my alpha and omega, and they appeared in many soundtracks. I'm sure the catalyst was "Halcyon + On + On"--it's lush, invoking movement, but also displaying a powerful depth of tone and rhythm that captivated my imagination. I HAD to find out what they were about. The argument of whether or not they are mainstream though is beyond me."