No talent is required to perform electronic dance music

Let’s just cut the shit for a minute and say it: electronic dance music is the stupidest music on the planet. It even has a fittingly dumb name, EDM, which makes me cringe every time I see it. More so than the acronym, though, the reason it sucks is because the amount of talent required to perform it is precisely none.

Case in point: Paris Hilton recently made her DJ debut in Brazil. She can’t give a competent on-screen blowjob—Christ, you just put it in your mouth and spin your head around like Linda Blair—but she sure can throw down Gotye remixes and Avicii tracks to big crowds. Hilton even pushed a few buttons and it looked like she knew what she was doing. The best part about the whole spectacle was how it showed that trotting out some attractive and vapid idiot with no qualifications to DJ, other than that they have a following, isn’t exclusively a Vancouver thing. (Hi, Mayor Gregor Robertson. I loved your set!)

At about the same time, one of the genre’s biggest stars, deadmau5, came forward and said what we’ve suspected all along: DJing is fucking easy and all the knob-turning that goes on at a “live” EDM show is a sham. The refreshingly candid man behind the mouse mask claims that if you’re remotely tech-savvy you could learn how to do his show in about an hour. It’s just pressing play and that’s all there is to it.

Surely this means the current dance-music craze is done. I mean, Paris is on the gravy train and deadmau5 said that all these $100-a-ticket arena shows are Milli Vanilli with excessive strobes. No, of course not. See, the fans of this stupid fucking music are fucking stupid too. They’re still lining up to slap down their hard-earned money from their dead-end jobs so they have somewhere to pop a couple pills and dance like no one is watching on a Saturday night.

Some will be quick to point out that producing dance music takes a lot of talent, as there’s no magic “make awesome dance track” button that you can push and then you’re done. However, if that’s the case, why does every damn song sound exactly the same? House, electro, dubstep, moombahton, and any other genres that are created this week and fall under the catchall term EDM aren’t something to get pretentious about. It’s dumb music to get fucked up to and nothing more. A four-on-the-floor beat with a sample of me furiously wanking it would make your typical E-tard lose their shit on the dance floor. Granted, I’m a screamer.

“What about my mixing?” you retort. I hate to break it to you but no one cares about that pretentious shit except chin-stroking nerds. Then there’s the ever-popular “Selecting the right track at the right time takes skill.” Because, clearly, scrolling through iTunes and finding a song that a room full of people tweaking on bath salts will enjoy requires a PhD in curatorial studies. I’ve seen a fucking jukebox rock a crowd better than 95 percent of the DJs out there. So no rolling your eyes at me the next time I request that song Rihanna did with Calvin Harris. It’s a party starter! That boring minimal-techno shit you fell in love with in Berlin won’t fly over here, you self-important Fleshlights.

As tempting as it may be, let’s not fault Paris, deadmau5, Avicii, Steve Aoki, or even Skrillex. Ripping off clueless rubes is smart business. And at least they’re giving them what they want: obnoxious party music in a dark room where they can get messed up. In a perfect con, the mark walks away not knowing they’ve been taken. I’m not falling for it, though. For $100 you should always demand more than mere knob-twiddling. Read into that statement however you like.

Comments (537) Add New Comment
Gman
Gerald Dishon Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about electronic dance music of any stripe; I'm a classically trained blues-rock/jazz bass player who spent some time as a church organist many moons ago. I also DJed at a radio station for the better part of a year, which is still what I instinctively think of when someone says "DJ."

Having said that, I am painfully aware that there are some really bad DJ's out there who pretty much just play whatever and let the Mac do all the work, resulting in a crap set. I would expect that those of you who care spend as much time planning your sets as I would choosing pieces for an organ recital or a band gig, and that it shows to those who know the genre.

Having said THAT, however, it is hard coming from a background where an individual or group must reinterpret works from scratch, as it were, to view mixing prerecorded works of other musicians as being the same thing. To some extent, every genre except free jazz (meh) begins with some pre-existing framework, but not to the degree to which DJs do. While I disagree with the overall point of the author, I have myself sometimes been inclined to view, and have known many other traditional musicians who have viewed, DJing as the bastard child of musical performance. I make an effort to avoid this view, but the mass of second- and third-rate performers, and the overwhelming number of idiots with poor taste, make it difficult at times.

If you are still reading this, I trust that you will try to extend my musical traditions the same open-mindedness that I attempt to extend yours, and that we can both agree that there is a very large spectrum encompassed by both 'good music' and 'bad music.' It is our purpose as musicians to constantly work toward the former, and eschew the latter vigoriously.
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Peepee
So now Internet trolls get to write editorials. Now lets all give him the attention he so craves.
His new pen name should be "the terminal virgin"
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Sum Twit
I'd like to sit the author down with some production software and see what they can come up with ... pretty sure it would be awesome considering just how little talent is required.
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Bob Jorgen
It would seem that no talent is required either to write for the Georgia Straight. I don't know who the fuck in their right mind, except perhaps Michael Mann and Paris Hilton herself would call her a "superstar DJ". By that same standard, we could call Mr Mann a "superstar journalist". Why you ask? Because it seems Michael here put in the same amount of effort into writing this as Paris into her DJ knob-twiddling, as obviously the results of both are steaming piles of crap. It's obvious too that Michael is just using Paris as an excuse to vent his personal dislike of electronica. All right, we get it. Now why don't you and Paris both get real jobs instead of sucking real bad at doing something you pretend to be good at.

If this quality of journalism is all it takes to be a columnist here, then no wonder the Straight is given away for free. I suppose the homeless would always need a source of toilet paper. Considering the shit that's on it already fresh off the press, I think that's all it is good for.
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Phil Western
Hmm... Michael Mann probably doesn't like my music but I'm pretty sure it's better than his writing.
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NoTalentIsRequiredToWriteForTheStraight
Vancouver is overflowing with extremely talented producers and DJ's (hint you won't find them on Granville) so the writer of this "article" has either never left his mom's basement over is simply trolling (my bet is on the latter).

I can't speak for everybody but the reason I like these events is because I can close my eyes, dance and get lost in the music.

I've been to hundreds of rock concerts in my life but recently its been almost all underground EDM shows, and the reason is because I just enjoy myself more.

The last indie-rock show I went to I was shocked that the entire audience was just standing there, staring, chin-scratching and doing their best to look bored.

No thanks, too cool for me. I'll take the inclusiveness and vibe of an underground EDM show anyday..
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Knas
such a garbage, subjective and stereotypical article
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99jimmies
Thanks for your opinion. Next time you should try writing an article on something you know more about. Perhaps you should learn more about the award winning Deadmau5 and why people spend money on his shows.

Now in my opinion, this article is just bad and goes against straight's credit. Seriously, it is ignorant. I don't know where to begin, I give up and you should to.
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Uncanny
He can't spin a turntable but he can sure as hell push buttons!!! Holy Shit!
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Maverick S'jet
Music changes every 20 years. it did in 1990. it did in 1970 and it did in 1950. So guess what, its hear to stay for another couple decades cuz EDM is the future of music! you mad? too bad!
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Uncanny
Who gives a crap whether Michael Mann likes or dislikes EDM?...
As long as you do....that's all that matters.
People aren't going to stop listening or dancing because of this column. Why so sensitive?
Can't wait for his next....let's see, 'how modern jazz music is a hoax and all you need to do is figure out how to blow wind through a reed, throw a piano down a flight of stairs and you'll get invited to Van Jazz Festival'.
THEN the jungle drums will start to pound!!!!
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Pls
Michel pls
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David Byrne
We've all heard this argument a million times, but here's a question that i'd love Michael Mann to answer right here. (Although there's a chance this piece was only aimed to goad the dance community.)

What makes band A so different from band B?

Lets talk formula. Is Rock & Roll not the most recycled art form of all time? Wussup pysch rock bro. Hate to tell ya, dance music will continue long after pop's endorsement has expired. The only new things to happen in music in 30 years all derived from disco. And it was basically the same group of people bitching about disco back then. Your dad? Those early disco artists were also the first to experiment with mc's on their tracks, making way for hip hop. Those no talent bastards.
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d-bag
Michael Mann, you are probably a white, middle aged homophobe and never got invited to many parties when you were younger. You never got into the good clubs, girls never liked you and you listen to classic rock exclusively and jerk off to Led Zeppelin. I got something for you - electronic music could care less about you and your shitty job as a writer.
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SMH
LOTS OF LOGIC THERE, YOU TOOL.
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mmmmmm
Dude, this article is so disrespectful to every dj who has spent years crafting their work, live djing and production. Shame on you, because you have no idea what your talking about and how hard this industry can be! Stick to tumblr mate!
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Karl Diab
This guy is to journalism is as Paris Hilton is to DJing.
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Hipsterdar
**The hipsterdar has detected an obscene amount of hipster bullshit in this post.**

This is a public service announcement. The hipsterdar has detected very high levels of hipster in this post. You should expect a completely ignorant view on anythign that this post contains, and should not take any of it seriously.
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experimentaldog
I'm a bit confused. Michael Mann's articles read like their written by a teenage bully. I urge the Straight to do better. Or, is this proof that it takes no talent and skill to write for The Straight? I'm sure there are plenty of young out-of-work musicologists in this city that would jump on the opportunity to write for this spot. This sort of journalism reminds me of the fictional SugarApe magazine in BBC's Nathan Barley. Drowning out the Dan Ashcrofts of Vancouver in the rise of the idiots.

If you want to rant about something, make sure you have the evidence to back your opinion instead of generalizing. It amazes me how they've hired someone who can't critically think through a criticism.

I won't bother commenting on what was said in this article, because there is no point. Why even debate an argument that is one-sided, self-fullfilling, biased banter. It offers no option for discourse.

Plus,I find it hard to take music criticism seriously when the author has made no effort to lay out their arguments in actual terms of music theory, history and discourse. I'm talking about the ins and outs older and newer musics like EDM.
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Paris Hilton sucks
Glitch Mob. your Argument is Invalid.
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