Many people who have been reading my columns so far have posed the question, “Why EDM?” Admittedly, I have come to expect the condescending looks I get when I explain my love for the electronic dance music genre. Especially when I was a young girl, people were continually confused as to why I am interested in the genre, how I got started and how I know so much about it.
I have to say this with a bit of bitterness, but I have also been assumed to be one of those drugged-out valley girl “raver” types in the context of an ignorant musical perspective. Sometimes when you say you like EDM as a female, people are very quick to label you as an airhead who wants to experience the “rave life” and has had a little bit of a rebellious streak.
This is usually the moment when I interject and begin to exhibit my hold on the rhetoric of not only the EDM world but also of the music industry. People then become very confused. Most individuals, if they have any knowledge of EDM, have never seen a girl able to spout out a detailed narrative of the history, construction, meaning and culture behind electronic dance music.
But I am not and have never been a DJ. So at that point I am assumed just a fan. I have come to understand that labeling me into a singular vision of what an EDM fan is has become an easy task for those who don’t understand my passion and vision for my future in the music industry.
As a brief history of my own discovery and journey through EDM, I have to start at my freshman year of high school. I have somehow always known that the music industry was what I wanted to go into. I was a singer and guitar player but had come to realize that my musical vision was more expansive than a singular narrative of one individual. I wanted to discover people and music and then use my talents and knowledge of the industry to present that to the world.
My discovery of EDM happened in a way that was relatively abrupt and impressive. I was walking out of school one day and ran into the boy I liked. Yes, I know it’s terribly cliché, but he asked me in passing if I was going to the Avicii concert. I stupidly realized I had no idea what an “Avicii” was, if it was a band or a person or a robot.
I ran home to look up who Avicii was so next time this boy and I talked I wouldn’t look so uncultured. Keeping in mind that Avicii wasn’t so disastrously mainstream six years ago, I searched every musical platform to find out what and who he was.
What I found was surprising in many ways. There is something about EDM that is inherently primal, hopeful, angsty and beautiful all at the same time. After listening to a few Avicii tracks such as “Levels” and “Street Dancer,” I realized I had discovered something totally magnificent and unheard of in my sheltered mind. As a musician, I was floored. I continually searched more and more artists that came up when I frantically googled “EDM artists” to see who else could give me that strange feeling of elation and anticipation.
So after my initial period of complete assimilation into the EDM music world, it became quite difficult to expand my knowledge of the holistic experience of EDM. For a few years, I was too young to go to festivals like EDC or Ultra, and in Arizona, the very few EDM artists that performed were always at clubs and other 21-plus venues. So I patiently waited, gathering more and more information about the world I wanted to completely immerse myself in.
I started to understand, alongside my general growth in the knowledge of the music industry, just how revolutionary this genre was. It didn’t just appeal to me on a fan level, but as someone who wanted to work in the industry someday, I recognized the potential for continual evolution that electronic music has.
When I finally attended my first EDC the summer after I turned 18, I was absolutely addicted. Not only was I finally able to explore the musical world that so fashioned me into discovering the industry from a new perspective, but I came to know and understand the very particular culture that presents itself in the EDM world. I learned all about the compassion and friendship that “ravers” and festival goers have for each other. I remember distinctly my parents being terrified of me going. Afterward, all I could say was how shocked I was at how nice the people were.
In the world of EDM, besides the music and technicalities, there is a paradigm of social progressiveness that has really never been seen before in any other cultural group. I was immersed in an environment where no one cared about my parents’ money, what high school I went to or my SAT score. No one cared about my sexual identity or my racial background. People just wanted to share this full body musical experience with me.
So nowadays when people ask my why I love EDM, I tell them this story. In my hopeful future career in the music industry, I will be able to continue to pursue my passion for the genre that continues to amaze me.
Madison Cisiewski is a sophomore majoring in music industry. Her column, “Electric Industry,” ran every other Monday.