The Growth of EDM in America
I’ve been thinking about writing this article for a really long time, but for some reason never got fully around to it. Anyway, entering 2012, it became clear that electronic dance music is now absolutely inescapable. It has infiltrated American culture in ways that haven’t even become clear yet. Ten years ago, you would have called me crazy if I told you that electronic dance music would one day become the most popular genre of music in America. Yet, here we are, living in a world where EDM is by far the largest, fasting moving, and most influential genre. Turn on any pop radio station, and what I am saying becomes immediately apparent. I mean we literally have dubstep breakdowns in everything from Britney Spears to Jay-Z. In the future keep your eyes on Billboard’s Top 100 song chart, and you’ll begin to notice that those songs are produced by dance producers, not pop/hiphop producers. Check the list right now: you’ve got Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling”, that was co-produced by Avicii, who’s track it is also originally sampled from, and David Guetta ft. Nicki Minja’s “Turn Me On,” all in the top 5. Is that enough proof?
But how did this all happen? How did the genre of music that Americans swore to shun, suddenly become the fastest growing? Probably the same way that soccer is starting to finally pick up steam here in the states; I mean you now have REGULAR Fox playing major English Premier League matches! But that’s besides the point I’m trying to make. EDM’s growth is attributed to the fact that Americans are finally beginning to realize that other countries actually exist…
More and more Americans are growing up in families that vacation abroad. More and more American students are studying abroad during their college years, and most importantly, the Internet has completely broken down the walls that once existed between cultures. I can now instantly access the most popular music of Romania, France, Russia, Brazil, and anywhere else that I desire. EDM literally spread like a plague once major acts began touring on our soil, and it wasn’t long before American producers started making it big themselves, not only on our own shores, but abroad as well.
In order to breakdown this process, I’ve decided to tell the stories of three different 22 year olds, each with a completely different background, but each equally immersed in the world of EDM. First we’ll talk to Jess, a 22 year old from Scranton, PA. We’ll next move on to Briana, a 22 year old who was born on American soil, but spent most of her life living in London, England, before returning to America for University. Lastly, I will detail my own path to EDM. So let’s begin:
My discovery of EDM began when I studied abroad in Barcelona. Previously, I mindlessly listened to what ever was popular on the radio. But without even realizing it, I began to be immersed in EDM as songs such as Edward Maya’s “Stereo Love and Stromae’s “Alors on Danse” began acquiring radio plays here at home.
The energy of the Barcelona clubs was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Beach clubs such as Shoko and Opium invited violinists to play over the music, and incorporated painted dancers on stilts, and Cirque de Soleil style ribbon dancers. The Barcelona club experience literally made EDM come alive.
After returning from Europe, I continued to go to EDM concerts such as the Identity Festival this summer in Boston, Massachusetts, where I was able to see artists such as Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Chuckie, Avicii, and Rusko, all in one day. There were literally thousands of young, college aged kids at the festival, and it was unbelievable. Shortly after that I was invited into a music group on Facebook called Musical Freedom, and I was once again captivated by the crazy, EDM scene. New music is posted daily on the Freedom page allowing me to update my iTunes on an hourly basis. The group is like a family and everyone is always excited to see another artist. But we don’t just limit ourselves to just the Philadelphia area, we’ll go anywhere!!!
EDM shows have a completely different feel in comparison to any other genre’s concerts. I have never felt this as deeply as when I took a thirteen hour roadtrip to see Bassnectar in Nashville, Tennessee. Even though Nashville has never hosted an EDM show like this before, ten thousand Bassheads still flocked to the Bridgestone Arena. After the show, my friends and I met people from all over the country: Mississippi to Chicago, Texas to Florida, and everything in between. The experience was otherworldly, and you really have to experience it first hand to understand what dance music is all about.
Overall, what has really drawn me to EDM is the variety and fast-paced nature of the genre. I have seen artists such as Kaskade in different venues from Boston to Las Vegas, and each set is completely different. The excitement of seeing a different set each time makes me crave the next show that much more.
Some of my favorite artists include Bassnectar, Hardwell, Axwell, Chuckie, Skrillex, Kaskade, Above and Beyond, Pretty Lights, Deadmau5, and Calvin Harris just to name a few. Each artist brings his or her own creativity and style that makes the genre that much more energy filled, and fast paced. What can I say, it’s a rush!
Growing up, I always had an eclectic taste in music. I listened to literally everything: classic rock, reggae, and even metal. I moved to London when I was 13, and immediately started getting into EDM, due to its widespread appeal in Europe/the UK. David Guetta, Benny Benassi, and Tiesto were my first real experiences with the genre, and my love for it has grown exponentially since then.
Now back in the US, I work as a promoter for a Philadelphia based company called House of Hearts. We throw glow parties all around the greater Philadelphia area including: Center City, Manayunk, and Wester Chester. Our House of Hearts DJs, Dan Fisher (LoveCityDJs) and John Vandenbraak (DJ Johnny V), spin an assortment of EDM music that has created a huge following for these events. We team up with other promotion companies and help promote for big DJs like Axwell and Hardwell when they play shows in Philadelphia.
There is just something about the EDM scene that has captured me and won’t let go, and the different sub-genres share a connection with my varying moods and emotions. But for me, EDM is not just about the music; it’s an experience, one that is almost indescribable. The amazing people that I have met by attending shows and by promoting is unbelievable. Going to shows becomes almost addicting; I can’t get enough of the music, lights, atmosphere and people. Each producer provides a unique and energy filled experience, so much that it’s difficult not to become completely immersed in EDM.
There are so many amazing artists out there, and it’s pretty much impossible to name a favorite. I have gotten really into Bassnectar’s music and even travelled all the way to Nashville, Tennessee to see him play over New Years. Calvin Harris, Rusko, Skrillex, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Angello, Kaskade, Steve Aoki, and Pretty Lights are some of my favorites, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The EDM scene is growing at a rapid pace as more and more people begin to find out just how amazing this music really is. It makes me so happy to be a part of the movement.
If you’re in the Philly area check out our House of Hearts glow party tomorrow, February 11th at The Note in West Chester!
Looking back, my life has been a windy road of different tastes and styles. I grew up listening to Metallica, and later Linkin Park, and even to this day, Linkin Park remains one of my favorite bands. They’ve always been several steps ahead in terms of their style, and I loved their energy back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The combination of hard rock and rap, was just inspiring.
When I was nine, my parents bought me my first drum set, and that furthered my interest in everything rock. By the time high school rolled around, I was really into the hardcore/screamo scene, listening to bands like Blessthefall, August Burns Red, and The Devil Wears Prada. But then again when I hit college, my music tastes changed, and I began listening to a lot of country music. To this day, I am still a huge listener of country music, but I have become equally immersed in electronic dance music.
I spent my sophomore year of college studying abroad in London, and there, got my first real taste of dance music scene. At the time, unless you were in Vegas, this type of club atmosphere just didn’t exist in the states. I was hitting up some of the craziest clubs in the world including Fabric, Ministry of Sound, Club Up in Amsterdam, and various clubs in the Oberkampf and Bastille regions of Paris.
The club scene had an energy unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Each artist brought with them a completely different feeling, and every set was like a roller-coaster ride. I feel like in other genre’s, artists tend to do what is safe. I mean, not to hate on rap, but I feel like there’s very little differentiation, and the same can be said with late 2000’s rock. There are so many dance producers out there that everyone sort of has to attempt at something crazy to get noticed.
Anyway, I came back to America completely sucked into the genre, but it was still just before the EDM explosion. My friends thought I was crazy listening to all sorts of odd dubstep and progressive house. Honestly, I always did my own thing, and I didn’t care what the crowd was doing, but I knew that EDM was going to take off. And what do you know, just a few years later dubstep is the biggest movement in music, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the entire globe sprouted two mau5 ears. I’m all about music evolution. That’s why I liked Linkin Park so much, and that’s why I love dance music so much; it’s always evolving, while other genre’s stand still for way too long.
At first, I found it very difficult to get involved EDM here in America, and therefore began keeping different music blogs. I wasn’t writing for any one else; it was really just a way for me to discover, explore, and archive the music I love. But as I got more and more into dance music, my blogs became more and more focused solely upon the genre. And that’s how The Top Sound got started last spring. It began as an all genre music blog, and now has grown, and evolved into a full-fledged EDM powerhouse.
It’s difficult to pick one artist or sub genre as a favorite. I guess I’m mostly into house, progressive house, and dubstep, but I’ve really gotten into trance in recent days. I’m a huge fan of Armin Van Buuren, Example, Excision, Kaskade, Inna, Tiesto, Chase & Status, Benga, Skream, Knife Party, Skrillex, Zedd, Moguai, and Wolfgang Gartner to name a few. But you know what, I will say it… Deadmau5 is my favorite producer. His music is in constant evolution, and no one puts on a live show like him.
My favorite part of it all is just getting to be a part of the movement. If I can help an artist acquire some recognition, I’m happy. If I can help just one person discover some new music, I’m happy. If there’s no one else in the entire world reading this thing, it doesn’t matter, I’m still happy.