Here’s What 10 Old (School) DJs Think About “EDM”

Quick, what are the three dirtiest words in electronic music? “Pre-mixed set”? Nah. “Pregnant female DJ”? Try again. The correct answer is: “E.D.M.” These days, it seems like every other interview with an esteemed DJ comes with a hearty serving of hang-wringing over the sorry state of commercial dance music in America. Who can blame them? EDM has come to be associated formulaic music, crass (and mass) culture, and mainstream appeal—everything that electronic music culture purported to be against. Even EDM DJs don’t want to be EDM DJs anymore. With that in mind, here’s a collection of the most delicious EDM shit-talking we could find by old-school DJs willing to speak their mind.

  1. Carl Cox

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“I don’t think it’s ‘underground vs overground,’ I just think it’s pop culture versus people who actually love the music. Some of these people have no clue why they are standing in front of these DJs in the first place. I can’t be part of that system.”

2. DJ Koze

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“In America this kind of computerized rock music that they love is totally uninteresting to me. It has no magic and is made for people that are not into this kind of music.”

3. Aphex Twin

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“It doesn’t feel related to anything I’m doing. This guy Skrillex, I’ve only heard about his tracks, because my kids played them. It sounds like he has a good grasp of technology. I think it’s pretty poppy, isn’t it? It’s too poppy for me.”

4. Bassnectar

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“When it comes to most of the EDM DJs out there I don’t have any respect or interest in what they’re doing. They look like phonies to me. It’s been hard to watch something so special to me be diluted and heisted and turned into this kind of shameless, cheap, fake carnival. To that degree I hate EDM. I worry it’s depleting the authenticity of DJ culture… but you can’t really hate on 30,000 people having the time of their lives.”

5. Ricardo Villalobos

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“I can’t condemn EDM or cheesy pop music if the people democratically decided that’s what they want. It belongs to them. People who have the same interests do not go to war and kill each other. It’s hard to kill someone when you share similar values.”

6. John Digweed

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“If I ended up on the main stage, people are going to want something more familiar and I can’t deliver that. I’d rather be where the crowd wants to hear what I want to play. It just wouldn’t work for me to follow an EDM DJ, I don’t have that energy in my music even if i’m playing my fastest, most energetic track.”

7. Annie Mac

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“It’s quite formulaic; people know that if they hit that formula, then they’ll get on the radio or the gig. Whereas in the UK, it’s a lot easier to be a little more original if you want to be. I’m not saying that EDM is awful, but if you want to be a bit more far-fetched in terms of your creative endeavors, you can do that and be celebrated on a mainstream platform.”

8. Fatboy Slim

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“It’s fine as entry level stuff, but make no mistake: EDM will crash and burn. It’s based on a pyramid scheme of making money and as soon it stops making money the whole house of cards will fall down. We want there to be something left when this bubble bursts.”

9. Reid Speed

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“Dance music as an underground culture used to be a safe haven for those who didn’t fit into the mainstream to have a refuge for our weirdness. Now, most of it is populated by the kids we once sought to escape from.”

10. DJ Harvey

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“You get the so-called ‘erectile deficiency music scene’—people arriving in spaceships or with fireworks to try and enhance the visual aspect of the whole thing. I can’t understand how you can play a record and backflip into the crowd.”

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