Posted on January 16th, 2013
Filed under: General Noise — Karl Olson @ 9:21 PM

So apparently some one at Vice UK thinks America knows nothing about rave culture.

For starters, the first paragraph undermines the author’s whole premise as he concedes out of the gate that American invented rave culture, just that the US didn’t nurture it the way the rest of the world did. Taken at face value this is already a pretty screwed up statement in many ways. Yes, we had a number of seminal electronic artists spring from our cities (it wasn’t called Detroit Techno and Chicago House to be cute, it’s where the genres started.) Yes, outside of occasional flirtation with mainstream breakthroughs such the mid-90s hype around the Prodigy, the Chemical Brothers and the Crystal Method (oh, who were from Las Vegas, Nevada, and whose music seemed to be in every other film and video game for much of the late 90s, even in the US,) the US has tended toward a more underground position for electronic music and rave culture as a whole until really the past two years. Though, to be fair, a lot of other one and two hit wonders existed on the electronic music front like LaBouche, Technotronic and all the Miami Bass acts too through out the 90s, so it wasn’t a real anomaly, and it was all over ads and movies. However, there was a lot of give and take been the US and Europe, and you belittle the fact that folks like Juan Atkins loved acts Kraftwerk. Electronic music in general has been a global development, the US included, and the article does an awful job of capturing that. Beyond that, this doesn’t mean that just because a generation of Americans (that was largely born after the mentions acts had their moment of US radio play) is now getting to EDM (and yes, EDM – Salsa, Soca, Polka and many other genres are dance music, but they aren’t electronic, now are they?) that you get to basically insult a scene that as the author admits, created much of the basis the world now enjoys.

Essentially, to try say that previously the US was all “‘Euro-fag’-hating teenagers” before Skrillex is the most willfully dense nonsense I’ve heard since 20/20 screamed “Stop The Raves” about the US rave scene nearly two decades before this article was written (which should say something about the roots and scale of the US rave scene itself. It made TV news magazines regularly, and beyond that ecstasy and it’s ephedra-laden knock off cousin herbal ecstasy were part of panicked news reports too.) Every major city in the US could boast an active electronic music scene since the mid-90s at the very latest. Those nascent scenes were anything but small as massive multi-thousand person events existed from coast to coast from the mid-90s onward, and they weren’t just filled with import talent, as countless new US acts made their name in those scenes. Pendulum snagged their drummer, KJ Sawka, from Seattle. I recall reading articles in Mixmag UK (which by the way, was in almost bookstore magazine section in any major US city starting in the mid-90s, I bought it on the regular and made collages with the photos for art class) that lauded the Crystal Method for helping to make Big Beat a commercial genre in Europe. All the teens and twenty somethings who I chatted with on local area rave email lists and online bulletin boards back in the 1990s would probably be pretty miffed at the accusation that we didn’t care about rave culture and electronic music the way Europe did. In fact, I DJ’ed many of high school’s dances during the late 90s and early 00s, and even then, as much as they wanted to hear Britney Spears, they didn’t bat an eyelash at Daft Punk, The Prodigy, even Aphrodite and Cornelius. The one dance I went to at another school during high school, they’d literally hired a bunch of trance and breakbeat DJs. That was maybe a bit much at the time, but a lot of people loved it.

I mean, I could keep going on what all this guy gets wrong (how lots of old line electronic dance acts from the UK use live drums and instruments being a huge one, and how there are plenty of straight edge dance music acts being another,) but let’s end on the two tritest points in the article: the elitist little jab about UK politicians using Underworld in campaigns, and the last minute save by trying to bring kinship with your fellow man into it. On first point, it’s sign of just how stogy electronic music had perhaps become in Europe when political campaigns use it. It’s so mainstream and palatable that you can use it to back your brand. If that’s not a negative, then lets remember that Bank of America was using Aphex Twin’s “Boy/Girl Song” to flog loans in the US back 1998, and even Gap stores in every shopping mall in America included Air’s Moon Safari in the playlist, so again, we’ve had a similar acceptance of the music from a “using it to sell your brand/self”-thing. It’s a non-point. Meanwhile, if he really wants some kinship, don’t be a rude skeptic right as electronic music finally finds a wide embrace in the US roughly 2 decades after the Summer of Love in UK. Let the scene grow naturally, and embrace that fact global electronic music culture is finally mainstream in a global sense too, at least in most developed countries now.

TL;DR: I will not get off your front lawn. It was never yours only to begin with, and you need glasses so you can see all the variety and beauty that’s always been in front of you.

That was a nice vent.

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