Friday, June 29, 2012

What's Happening to EDM? Deadmau5 Takes a Stand

With EDM blowing up in popularity, that paves the road to the future with endless possibilities. And as in life, the most crucial moments are when opportunities such as this one are presented. How that opportunity is responded to determines its future.
The youth of today is being polluted by Reality TV, the "Pseudo American Dream," and the lets get fucked up, fuck her, her friend and her friends sister, booty bouncin, party party party, meaningless, soulless, "fuck it" attitude. Is the opportunity at hand is being utilized for good? Is it being used to embrace the soul? Or is it being wasted to further the meaningless existence of human life?  The "fuck it" attitude is pouring over into all aspects of life, and in regards to EDM -- its ripping the heart out by polluting the electronic music databases with tasteless, unoriginal, tweaked, bells whistles and other annoying sounds that Diplo seems to be so fond of topped with senseless lyrics. Where's the originality? Where's the experimental, expressive, nature it began with? Where's the soul? What's happening to EDM?

There has been sudden influx of djs and producers sprouting up in bedrooms across the world as EDM gains the attention of today's youth. It's great that so many young people are out there experimenting with music production and finding ways to express themselves -- but what is being expressed is alarming. Aside from the poorly put together arrangements and tracks lacking any formula whatsoever, the more disappointing truth is what tracks are becoming so popular and why.

There are always a few that remain or that will continue to rise above, but they have become the minority. Its become a difficult task to find that truly beautiful track. It takes hours sifting through the sewage to find that gem. When its presented, the response is often disappointing. Why? It seems as if the most recent addition to the EDM crowds aka bandwagon fans, are becoming less interested in the soul and more interested in something that remixes some pop idol they're crazy about. According to Deadmau5, "David Guetta has two iPods and a mixer and he just plays tracks – like, 'Here's one with Akon, check it out!'," he says. Really dude? What the hell?

That's not to say that remixing can't be done tastefully. A few artists are truly gifted at remixing. They do it with respect for the artist their sampling. For instance, Avicii, really gets the blood flowing. When he remixed Pretty Lights' Finally Moving track, renamed Levels, it brought flavor back to the track which many of us hadn't listened to in quite some time. Truth be told, these bandwagon fans, don't even realize its a remix. They'll swear up and down that Avicii wrote that track. Its a common mistake and its comical, because their uneducated about that piece of music's history and its evolution.

Pretty Lights aka Derek Smith didn't write the words either -- he just sampled them on a track he made. Years after that production, Avicii remixed Derek's piece, the lyrics he sampled, and reinvented it in his own way. He did it beautifully, but then something terrible happened. Flo Rida steals it and in no time it hits the top of the charts on Itunes. Shortly after, its one of the seven songs they had on loop on every hip hop and pop radio station. Neither of the previous artists got a second of their tracks played on public radio. And as mentioned before, the process repeats itself, but this time its worse, bandwagon fans are mistakenly giving Flo Rida the credit for the hard work of two very talented people who I dare say aren't even known by them.

Bandwagon Fan 1: Have you heard that Flo Rida song, Finally Moving? Dude its so fresh and unlike anything I've ever heard before. That's my shit yo!

Bandwagon Fan 2: Yeah.... he adds that flo in the Flo Rida.

Guy Eavesdropping aka ME: Fucking idiots.
Deadmau5 aka Joel Zimmerman has had enough and is speaking his mind. He claims that he's constantly rejecting offers from pop acts. He made the following statement in an article of Rolling Stone Magazine:
All too often, there’s an influx of 'big names' that would get thrown around the label from time to time and of course, they fly off the table and out the fuckin door faster than they hit my desk," the producer wrote. "Do you want to do a track with big name X, remix huge pop act Y, etc. etc. No. I fucking don’t. I really REALLY don’t."
Deadmau5 went on to explain that while he has enjoyed working with the Foo Fighters, Cypress Hill and Flipside, he has no interest in creating music that will "have some fucking dipshit blab about lookin sexy, poppin bottles, 'dropping bass,' or ANYTHING club related."

A few months ago, in Miami for Ultra Fest, Madonna was privileged by having the opportunity to introduce previously mentioned up-incoming producer, Avicii. This moment was an opportunity to reach out to more people than Avicii probably ever could and she decides to shout, "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?"

In disgust, Deadmau5 responds,
"You're a role model to 100's of millions," Deadmau5 wrote. "EDM could use your positive influence, not 'molly' talk.[...]"You want to be 'hip' and 'cool' and 'funky grandma'?," says Zimmerman. "Fine. It's not my place to say you're irrelevant. If you're gonna come into my world, at least do it with a little more dignity. I understand she has millions more fans, and is way more successful than I'll ever be. But it's like talking about slavery at a fucking blues concert. It's inappropriate."
Madonna insisted that she does not "support drug use" and clarified that her comment was in fact a reference to the song "Have You Seen Molly" by Cedric Gervais," who she almost collaborated with on her new album, MDNA. (The album title is, of course, another nod to MDMA.) What a load of horseshit.

Bandwagon Fan 1: Where's the Molly? I totally have to be rolling my balls off for Skrillex!
Bandwagon Fan 2: OMG Skrill-blah-Skrill-BlahBlahBlah-SKRILLEX!!!!! I love Skrillex! Whahwhwahahwhwhaw! 
Bandwagon Fan 3: Fuck Skrillex, I just need more molly.

Deadmau5 is one of few that has made me proud because finally someone with some clout is standing up and attempting refocus our attention. Where's the dignity and respect for the music? No one can deny that illicit drugs are a part of the industry, but they're a part of every industry. It certainly is not what the music was about. The new kids on the block have no appreciation for the art and are all about listening to some clubtunes while getting blitzed out their mind to Skrillex. EDM was started to get people moving. That's why its called Electronic DANCE Music, not Electronic DRUG Music. Its unfortunate that these bandwagon scenesters have made Skrillex the face of Dubstep and are representing him poorly. I hear Skrillex and I want to dance like an idiot. He's an amazing artist and his reptiles growls, screams, and unique bass drops rattle every bone in the body. He deserves a lot of the credit for everything that's been happening in the past year. The man won three Grammy's in a category that didn't even exist in 2010.

What's to become of EDM is hard to know? Continuing in the direction its been going lately feels a lot like watching a love one with terminal cancer. It was full of life, and can return to that, but it will require a major change. If not the tumor will grow, spread, and what we once knew will no longer exist. Deadmau5 can't be the only one to stand up to make that happen. Although being on the cover of Rolling Stone is a good start.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Louis C.K. : America’s Unlikely Conscience.

Louis C.K.'s unique sense of humor consistently straddles and often crosses the line of offensive, vulgar, awfulness. Many of his jokes obviously fall in the "no-go zone", or were just "too soon" and are embarrassingly hilarious in an shameful way (better off laughed to alone to avoid judgement). He commonly jokes about the frustrations of being a parent, raising two daughters alone, and how exhausting it is.  However, he is brutally honest throughout, speaking his mind no matter how delicate or perverted the issue. He isn't afraid of admitting who he is and openly owns his tendencies to sit on his ass all day, eat ice cream, order pizza, jack-off, and finish on a cat's face.

Does he go too far? Would people would even listen through the obscenities to see Louie for who he really is? Would they get his message? Content of comedic material today often gets condemned as offensive or crude, and it often is. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but isn't the concept of comedy, to point out our habit of complicating things, poor choices, and embarrassing realities? To find the humor in ironic, moral and ethical situations life puts us in?

Aside from his poor choice in diet, and admitting that he would "totally have sex with animals" if no one had told him not to, there's a strict moral code that he believes in and it points out the awful realities that we have grown accustomed to. He brings to light how it is that we sophisticate and construct ourselves to meet these stressful social standards and complain about our complicated lives when we have it so easy. He poses question after question of asking how people can be so selfish. He delivers a powerful blow by gawking at the immorality of the American Dream while admitting that he's totally part of the problem.
“I drive an Infiniti. That’s really evil. There are people who just starve to death – that’s all they ever did. T Meanwhile I’m driving in my car [kicking back music blaring] having a great time, and I sleep like a baby. There’s people who are like, born and they go ‘Uh, I’m hungry’ then they just die, and that’s all they ever got to do.
It’s totally my fault, ’cause I could trade my Infiniti for a [less luxurious] car… and I’d get back like $20,000. And I could save hundreds of people from dying of starvation with that money. And everyday I don’t do it. Everyday I make them die with my car.
He seems to be one of few that own their way of life for what it really is. Rather than attempt to project this delusional identity of morality and righteousness; he says what so few are willing to admit. If that were true, we wouldn't act as if the world is ours for the taking. We say we are equals but greed and power prevail time and time again, while the rest fight for survival. We want to consider ourselves civilized, but we have missed the mark somehow. We should be grateful but we act as if we're entitled. Life is full of moral decisions, comprises, and contradictions. According to Louie, "Life is something we do not posses, but something we get to take part in."

Unexpectedly, people are laughing and apparently listening. Despite what he might say, its obvious that his daughters mean the world to him, and that he's a great dad, dedicated to raising them to be decent human beings. At first, it appeared he would be highly unlikable, and expected to be scolded by the media for, what appears to be, disrespect for the sensitive issues he commonly jokes about. The truth is, we live in a world where "fuck" is said every other line in PG-13 movies, sex sells, and reality TV shows are considered prime time television. What about that isn't a joke? Its laughable and awful. In the world of comedy, especially today, almost anything is game. Louie makes the sad, shameful truths of American life terribly hilarious in the way he presents them. That doesn't mean that he affirms them, in fact -- his jokes are aimed at how either ungrateful we are to keep doing what is so clearly wrong.

His sit-com premiered on FX in 2010, and from commercial break trailers out months before it aired attracted much attention to his name, Louis C.K.. Louie has been doing stand up for quite some time and until recent years has been only popular to the underground comic scene. Obviously his show effectively improved his career because as he traveled the country and for the first time, his shows were selling out and being moved to bigger venues. Just a few months prior, he performed fifteen minutes small clubs filled by drunks and local New Yorker fans. Louie has come a long way, from being a comic we were only comfortable laughing to alone, then processing the shame that followed, to making it to  Time magazine's list, "The 100 Most Influential People In The World"  nominated by career comic, Joan Rivers.

Yeah, so I borrowed a line from Atlantic Magazine and rephrased it as my title, so what. Here's me giving credit. I must say, Louie is blowing up, and I am thrilled.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Drugstore Cowboy

Gus Van Sant, a legend among directors, released Drugstore Cowboy as his second film. Much like his later films, Drugstore Cowboy is filmed from a perspective that is both unbiased and honest. He captures most qualities true of any drug addict. Matt Dillon, a largely underrated actor, proves worthy of stardom in this performance as leader of his posse of addicts. His character has found his niche -- something he is good at, something rare and daring that gave the others reason to turn to him for leadership, and in turn, feeding his obsessions. Dillon nailed this role and portrayed his character authentically in his best performance to date. 

The film debuted in 1989, long before the popular movies attributed to the lifestyle that comes attached to the life. Films like Blow (Depp), The Basketball Diaries (DiCaprio, Whalberg), Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream are more popular among people today, largely because of the A-list stars and the latter two for its humor and its counterpart: the tragedy and darkness that follow degradation of one's self worth, morals, and purpose which are ends that any addiction will lead.

Drugstore Cowboy, shows its fair share of that very darkness that is always attached with addiction; however stands apart from those previously mentioned. The predecessors to Drugstore Cowboy seem to either glorify, condemn, or start with one and finish with the other in an attempts to depict the lifestyle associated with drugs and addiction. This film does neither. 

Blow, a movie about a cocaine cowboy, played by Johnny Depp and a cast full of addicted characters, aims its focus on the trade, and how it is just as, if not more addicting than the drugs. Diego, George Jung's (Depp) partner and brother, betrayed him at his earliest opportunity acquire controlling power and more money. Due to greed, he never be content.

This characteristic was present in Matt Dillon's character as well. He never had his fill. Moments after one score, he's scheming the next regardless of what the last  one's prize. His drug addicted wife even tries to get his attention through a seductive pursuit  for a few seconds but he couldn't stop thinking about the next and the next. He could have had an endless supply of drugs and it would still never be enough. His obsession was not fulfilled by drugs but the relentless and endless pursuit, a continuous chase and challenge of the next thrill.

By - John Shmuck