Before you can even delve into this topic, you have to ask the question, what is EDM? Technically it's classified as "electronic dance music", but what artists classify themselves as EDM? How we do define such a subjective phrase? I'll tell you exactly how: We don't.
Every single individual music listener will define and categorize music using their own individual times. In my opinion, EDM is now classified as the explosive genre of popular dance music that has made massive waves in the US over the past three years with elaborate festivals, 30-city tours, and high profile club events. But for the past eight months, I've been asking myself over and over "Why now?" Why is dance music just now "catching on" in a popular mainstream sense now? Of course there are the music elitists in music blog comments sections that brag how they were "listening to this BEFORE it was cool." Now, that's all fine and dandy, but one can't deny this absolute dance-based epidemic happening in America. I think this exposure is healthy for a genre that I've been supporting for years, but with popularity also comes publicity and press. And dance music is having a hard time in the press these days, but I'm here to beg the question "who is to blame?"
My first dance music show was Armin van Buuren back in 2006 or 2007 at Pacha NYC. I literally had no clue what I was walking into as I entered a room with flashing lights, blaring air horns, and booming bass heavy tunes. From that initial moment, it became an ethereal experience I'll never forget. This first trip sparked a serious interest in my friends and I as we continued going every-single-weekend without fail. My crew didn't need drugs to enhance the experience, it was solely about the music: the culture, dancing, and pure enjoyment. Somewhere with the explosion of EDM on a mainstream American level, this small sub-culture changed and morphed into its own drug-fueled craze.
With the recent losses at Electric Zoo and at Zedd's show in Boston, we need to mourn the senseless losses and do what we can as individuals to change this epidemic. It's time we as a population take a look inside ourselves and realize the root cause of the problem. This EDM culture has prompted party-goers to take molly (a powder, pure form of MDMA), but the majority of attendees aren't even sure that what they're taking is "pure." Ingesting a pill that you're unsure of it's contents is a first sign of ignorance.
Yet for some reason over the past few days, many began to blame the music amkers themselves for this toxic enviroment at shows, when all they're trying to do is put the most into their craft. Is it fair to blame up-and-coming or established artists for striving for financial success with Top 10 Beatport hits? Hell no.
Instead of blaming the music and the artists, how about we take a look at the lack of moderation, knowledge, and understanding when it comes to ingesting something that we call "Molly."
In the wake of these recent Electric Zoo events, everyone is looking to point the blame in some direction: the music, the promoters, the artists themselves, and the party-goers as well. When making these judgements, be sure not to be hypocritical. I consider myself a person of moderation, yet I would be lying if I told you all that I didn't dabble in some party favors in the past. But the difference remains in the fact that EDM which stands for (electronic dance music) is meant to make people dance. That's what the acronym directly spells out. It was meant to open up a scene of self-expression, fun, and enjoyment solely based on the many sub genres of house music.
But somewhere along the line, the introduction of the "EDM" sub-culture marked a turn for the worse in several ways. And before you read my next few sentences, I do consider myself a slight music elitist, so excuse your preconceived notions about my opinion. I've been listening for years, run a successful blog that covers the music, and attend a good amount of shows with friends who are both artists and DJ's. Somewhere along this jagged EDM line, we displaced our love for the music, and put a tolerance for a drug-related culture in it's way.
The main issue stems from the actual party-goers in my opinion. As EDM culture catapulted into mainstream life, party-goers began associating themselves with the sub-culture rather than the music itself. What do I mean? At one recent festival I overheard a party-goer mentioning to her friend that she "had no clue" who was playing, but it didn't matter because she was there solely to "rave and pop molly." Did Hardwell, Tiesto, or Steve Aoki force you to take these drugs? Did their music inspire you to take drugs, or as a party-goer do you think that MDMA (?) will enhance the overall experience?
Some might add that the input of artists such as Skrillex, deadmau5, and others are directly related to drug usage because of their musical implications, but I beg to differ. Hip-hop fans listen to misogynistic, violent, and drug-related lyrics on a daily basis, but do we see the same results at a SummerJam type concert? And clearly every person is an individual, but when EDM became mainstream, it engulfed and built a sub-culture with it's on subconscious tendencies. As avid music listeners and festival fans, we need to ask the question, are drugs something necessary to enhance the overall experience? I've seen countless DJ's sober and have probably had better times vibing directly to the music rather than any other additions or aesthetic attractions.
All in all, the music brought us together. Don't let it tear us apart.