Photo: Mizeyesis by timefrozen.com
Don’t get me wrong, I revere our Cro-Magnon ancestors. They made tools out of rocks, they drew animals on cave walls, and they survived what could be called pretty tough times without things like bottle service and plumbing. Nonetheless it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly we as a culture can revert to reptilian brain-mode, even in the midst of this global tech-utopia we’ve created. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our beautiful, climactic, and at times exasperating world of dance music.
Now before I kind of go off a little I just want to throw out a little disclaimer. Jake and I love the dance music community. We have been a part of it for a while now, and we have been appreciating and creating dance music since we were kids. Now we get to collaborate with amazing artists and play shows for fantastic, energetic, open-minded people. Most importantly, we get to write music and people listen and dance to it. We are citizens of the dance music world. I’m writing this because when you’re a proper citizen and you see something that could be improved, you speak up about it.
Everyone knows that the popular dance music scene is dominated by caucasian males, and you don’t have to look further than the DJMag Top 100 become re-acquainted with this fact. Scroll down and filter for “gender” and “ethnicity” and you will end up somewhere between ;? and 0_o. Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE most of those guys. They are an inspiration to Jake and I and we listen to their music and remix their tracks every day. But for the purposes of this experiment you’ll notice that the amount of light-skinned maleness is rather overwhelming. Hardwell: white dude! Tiesto: white dude! Nicky Romero: white dude! Even under their fantastic helmets Deadmau5 and Daft Punk: wait for it…WHITE DUDES.
Nevertheless, I’m glad that Nervo is in the top 20, and Krewella is in the top 50. But it’s not until you get down to number 87 that the cultural shit starts to hit the fan. Tenashar is a lightning rod for the subject of women in the dance music world largely due to her, ahem, marketing style. Look, she is perpetuating a stereotype that has existed since the bad old days, and people love to debate how much of her success is due to talent and how much of it is due to the way she markets her body. I don’t know the percentage breakdown on that, but I also don’t know the talent vs. marketing percentage breakdown for Hardwell or any other male producer. I do know that NO ONE gets a free ride in this industry. Every single person you see making moves in the dance music world has to hustle and work their ass off on a variety of fronts to get somewhere. Tenashar travels the world djing and producing music. She models, she does interviews, she promotes, she probably works out a little. She has the #1 most downloaded podcast on ITunes! That’s an AUDIO podcast, if you follow me. Honestly, I prefer this girl’s attitude, but that doesn’t make Tenashar wrong. We just have all kinds of people in the scene, and that’s a good thing.
Do Androids Dance on Women in EDM
Krewella. I’ve seen Facebook posts by producers I know and love that were dripping molten lava when Krewella started to get big. Statements like: “I can’t wait until they are disproved” and “I’m going to one of their shows just to heckle them; they aren’t legit DJ’s” even “Rainman is the actual producer”. Just get out your wooden club, go hit them over the head and drag them back to your cave bro! Anyone who thinks like this has problems! Unless you spun, produced, sang, and promoted yourself in Chicago for 5 years before you got any traction then don’t pop off about people and circumstances that you don’t fully understand. Listen to their tracks. It’s obvious that they are great at what they do. It takes hard work, talent, and great marketing to get where they are. Krewella has every right to market themselves in any way that gives them an edge; just like Deadmau5 and Daft Punk and Skrillex and Avicii. Take a look at Jahan’s twitter pic from the iHeart Radio Music Festival. She’s wearing a tank top reading “f@c% what people think” and ripped leggings. Her comment: “proud to say I had the least expensive outfit on the iHeart Radio carpet.” There’s a philosophy and a principle behind the way Krewella markets themselves. As soon as Arclite gets our hands on some proper Krewella vocal stems believe me, we will be starting our remix that day.
The problem goes deeper than all that though. I’m afraid that for the most part fans and artists look at the dance scene and don’t even see the lack of diversity. Look at the tech house scene, the drum and bass scene, look at the frigging happy hardcore scene if you want. You will see a disturbing amount of homogeneity. Jake and I were on the road to Ziontific last year to play late night sets with Mizeyesis and we were showing each other tracks and laughing and talking about the scene when she said: “It is a great time to be a male producer.”
Mizeyesis is a great example of what most fans and artists need to understand about the scene. She is an immense talent and personality who is extremely organized, versatile, and very well marketed. I’m entertained and informed by her music, her style, her sense of social responsibility in media, and her humor. Watching Mizeyesis live is one of the ways we learned to mix as Arclite. She has her eyes open, and she stands among the thousands of important women in the scene. Kathryn Frazier (Biz 3 Publicity) is one of the main reasons that there is a Skrillex in the world right now, and that you know who he is. She is an immense success in the music world and has been successful since long before dance music was the juggernaut that it is now. Stiletto is a fantastic producer/dj who frequently posts videos of her creative process. Great marketing aside, her level of production in and of itself is exceptional.
None of these women need me to champion their work, but I am because I feel like there is a void in the EDM world that we need to fill. Let’s go out and listen to new shit, go seek out new bands, musicians, producers, and dj’s. Go to Soundcloud and share new mixes by people you’ve just discovered. Download the Musaic app and make a mixtape with your friends. Enrich the scene by showing us all some new, unique artist that you found. Like any community, ours thrives on diversity and fades when it becomes too uniform. People are always predicting the EDM apocalypse and wondering if and when it’s all going to fade away. We believe that if you let your ears go find new music so that the scene is always manifold and evolving it doesn’t ever have to wither. That’s because we can cultivate something that always feels new and exciting. It’s when everything in dance music starts to sound and look the same that it loses it’s edge. It’s never been easier to experience musical diversity, so go get it! Our caveman ancestors developed survival centers in our brains for a good reason. But we should probably move toward the frontal cortex to make new playlists, decide which shows to see, and shape the direction of the dance music world.
Facebook Twitter Soundcloud Instagram Website
PS-in the process of writing these I usually come across a few web gems that I will include here. This one is about some primitive brain biases we all have, and how to transcend them in order to lead a more fulfilling life. Awesomeness.
10 “Caveman Thinking” Biases That Could Hold You Back