The Rise of the Artist

At the suggestion of a drunk friend, I have decided to make a documentary about electronic music. It’s gaining real popularity and it’s a topic that I find myself diving into constantly. But the idea of writing interviews and monologues; talking to various interested/qualified individuals over the course of months or even years seems like a dauntingly boring task. And one which, I truthfully fear, will fizzle and never come to fruition.

Therefore, with the mindset of the researcher, I will be committing this blog to my findings and speculations. But I have no intention of limiting the scope to my own eyes. I encourage any/all readers to challenge my assertions, to enlighten my short-sightedness, and to formulate their own opinions based on my findings. I have no point to prove, merely many stories to tell. The first of these seems naturally appropriate: Skrillex

He’s tours the world, he’s won three Grammys, and many see him as the sole pioneer of Dubstep to “mainstream” America. He’s become a household name, of sorts. And just like any wunderkind, heaps and heaps of hate, flak, and inexhaustible trolling have been sent his way. This is normal, though quite astounding. Read through the comments section of any YouTube video about Skrillex and you’ll find four or five degrading remarks on the first page alone. It’s a little bit sad and certainly a waste of time.

Taken from Skrillex’s twitter

There are only so many ways to spin a sentiment. The arguments against Skrillex primarily fall into one of these categories:

1. He’s not a real musician

2. Anyone can do what he does

3. He’s a sellout

4. His style is ugly/ridiculous

These are not sparse. They are so prevalent, in fact, that it all jumbles into babble – like a lunatic raving about the end of the world. There’s too much shouting, so no one’s listening. But the constant flow of hate towards this EDM champion actually proves a larger point. He’s doing something right!

So, to address these points:

1. (He’s not a real musician) That’s what they thought about rock n roll. They thought it was strange, demonic noise. He doesn’t strum a guitar, but he’s a rock star! His music is loud, energetic, and POWERFUL. He’s draws in massive crowds and blows their fucking faces off. Skrillex is keeping his head outside of the box, for the sake of his art. Watch this video, and you’ll see that he’s a humble, hardworking artist. He spends all of his time manipulating sounds in a way that he understands and excels at. Many who feel that his art is not music claim that all electronic music is lifeless, vacuous. Understandably, Dubstep requires a certain palette to appreciate, but music holds no power if the listener won’t surrender themselves. Yes, an artist can arrange and compose wondrous things; a poet can pour their soul into lyrics, but the listener must accept what’s being presented before it can resonate.

[Additionally, the reason any song seems to “emote” is because of the change in dynamics, that is to say, the change in the levels and presence of each of the instruments. Computers make the emulation of this capable with imperceptible replication.]

Creating music is just like creating anything else. At some level, you are using resources provided by someone else. An architect draws up the plans of a building, but he doesn’t pour the cement, he doesn’t craft the wood or nails, nor spread the mortar. Using a computer to make music shows hunger for more than what one man can do with his fingers. A conductor would not be disgraced because he does not play all of the instruments himself; in fact, quite the contrary. The ultimate say comes from him; and therefore, he is responsible for what is happening on every level.

2. (Anyone can do what he does). Then do it! You don’t think plenty of people would want to tour the world, seeing everything there is to offer, as a professional entertainer? Yes, it’s taxing – but it also sounds like the one of the most rewarding experiences. Skrillex flourishes by being himself, and no one else would be a better Skrillex. A local DJ friend recently lamented “every kid with a macbook and a Traktor has become a ‘professional DJ.” They see what he’s got and they want it.

3. (He’s a sellout). In case you haven’t yet watched the video above, he talks about how he’s not trying to make money. He’s not trying to sell anything, really. He’s on the ride of his life doing what he loves and simply wants to keep that train-a-rollin’. That said, of course someone is making money off of what he’s doing, both directly and indirectly. But who would want a silly thing like money when you’ve got the life he leads? I earnestly think he’d be doing the same thing he is now if it meant he were still only playing local clubs for drinks. The kid wants to party, and he does it well.

4. (His style is ugly/ridiculous) Of course it is. Lady GaGa, Rihanna, Madonna, Moby, Daft Punk, Nikki Minaj, Coolio, Snooki, Carrot Top, Katy Perry, Dennis Rodman, Russel Brand, Kat Williams, Larry the Cable Guy. All of these people have a certain level of outlandish/unique style – they are instantly distinguishable from everybody else because of how they look. That’s brand marketing 101 people, and Skrillex is no fool. He wants people to hear his music, he wants people to know his name, and he wants to leave behind a legacy in a world where everyone’s only got a 30 second window. Again, I assert: he is himself.

More importantly, why would that even matter? I don’t care what he looks like, I like the juicy morsels that comes out of that black-framed noggin of his.

So what? Why should anyone care about Skrillex?

Skrillex is more than a DJ/Producer, he is a harbinger of the future. Without individuals who are constanly pushing the envelope; who stretch the imagination and blur the lines between reality and fantasy; who live to love and spread their message, we are doomed to rot in comfortable complacence. He is a symbol of the rise of the artist. We don’t want money and we don’t want power. We want love, community, and some FUCKING BASS!

Who’s with me?

- W

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Ear Noms: Adventure Club

This is gonna get stuck in your head. You’ll forget about it, it’ll rattle around and fuck shit up! Adventure Club in one of the premiere names in Dubstep this year; every track they release is just “dripping in gold.” Below is a link to their Facebook where you can download a healthy chunk of their music for FREE just for liking them. And honestly, who wouldn’t? Put this on to become Mechagodzilla and rearrange some Japanese infrastructure.

- W

Adventure Club’s Facebook

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Live Simply

 

Tracklist

Memory House Old Haunts (LTR Remix)
Olafur Arnalds Near Light
Mornings Vermont
The Sea and Cake Harps
ODEZA iPlayYouListen
Lord Huron Time To Run
Company of Thieves Never Come Back
Grizzly Bear On a Neck, On a Spit
DIIV Geist
St. Vincent Paris Is Burning
Company of Thieves Look Both Ways
ODESZA How Did I Get Here
Yume 2GETHR
Cally D This Little World
Mr FijiWiji Winter
LTR Live Simply

Bright, floaty synths and groovy, janglin’ drum beats run rampant through this playlist. This was designed to match the transition of fall to winter, and the cyclical nature of Mother Earth. At times, the sonic themes are warm and full; at others, brittle and hopeless. The coming shortened days and frigid nights are not easy to bare; may this take you one hour closer to spring. Put this on to warm your cockles.

W

Download Link 


 


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Live, Phresh, Bibio

For avid fans of Bibio; this requires a bit of patience as he takes his time to form disparate sounds into percussive oddities. Musically, this is right on point with what I expect from a live Bibio performance, though the visual aspect in entirely lacking. Perhaps I’m just spoiled from having seen Pretty Lights recently. After listening to his records, one might wonder how he could achieve a deeper abstraction. He doesn’t disappoint. Give this

a full listen; you’ll be glad you did. Put this to know what computers know, on mushrooms.

- W

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Olafur Arnolds Live on KEXP

Icelandic metal drummer turned neo-classical virtuoso, Olafur Arnalds offers a refreshing perspective to both acoustic and electronic worlds. In a similar tonal vein as Sigur Ros, his music requires an ear for subtlety; be pateint and let it take over your thoughts. I’ve included a link to sites where he’s posted low res downloads of his music (14 songs in all) for free, including some of the pieces featured in this performance . Personally, I’m looking out for his discography on vinyl. Put this on to endure winter’s embrace.

- W

Found Songs

Living Room Songs

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The Clock On the Wall Has Been Stuck at 3 for Days and Days

With a newfound understanding of the true meaning of theses lyrics, I find myself in awe and amazement. What I had once believed was a mildly sentimental song about hanging on a shaky relationship, now transforms into a beautifully crippling heartwrench. “She said ‘It’s cold outside,” and she hands me a raincoat. She’s always worried about things like that.” I sit misty-eyed in front of my computer, replaying each of the lines in my head and everything resonates. Put this on to appreciate the magic that can only be achieved through song.

W

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Get The Funk Up!

Here’s  some goodies you can take with you. A ten song playlist filled with spectacular electronic grooves. Some are uplifting and motivational, others are heartwrenchingly beautiful. They’re all worth a listen. Put this on while exploring jungles, perhaps concrete jungles.

W

Tracklist:

1. Fracx – For The World

2. Deep Focus – The Truth

3. Ramses B – Lone Wanderer

4. Yume – There There

5. Foxes – Youth (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)

6. Ollie Macfarlane – True

7. Mr FijiWiji – Apathy ft. CoMa

8. Krewella – Alive (MitiS Remix)

9. MitiS – In My Eyes

10. MitiS – Live Long

Download via Mediafire

For more bass heavy playlists, click here or here
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The Civil Wars cover MJ’s Billie Jean

 

With a sound reminiscent of the ghostly fallen who died on home soil, The Civil Wars stand out amongst the drone of so many acoustic songwriters. You may know them from the Hunger Games soundtrack, with Taylor Swift providing the lead vocals on “Safe & Sound”. They’ve got a three song live set posted at LaundroMatinee, with a link to download the audio for free. Amongst that set is a fan favorite, Billie Jean originally by Michael Jackson. This song has been covered countless times, and somehow this version doesn’t feel stale. Put this on for slow dancing with spirits.

- W

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Listen Both Ways

This one’s for Kelsey (and probably any other fans of Florence & The Machine, Of Monsters & Men, The Hush Sound, anything indie/folk/soul/big band/pop really).

Click To Download Full Album “Running From A Gamble”

 

The Chicago based quartet is really growing on me, and it hasn’t taken long. Their energy and life pops without coming across as overbearing or annoying, as many female-fronted electrifolk acts have the tendency to do. Fronted by vocalist/founding member Genevieve Schatz, she is urgent and powerful in her message; all the while, maintaining an attractively creepy tone with eccentric syllable pronunciation. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that for 4 minutes in a coffee shop, my life turns into a musical episode of a sitcom and this will be what everyone is belting. Put this on to help discover the wonders of caffeine.

- W

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Watercolor paintings that make up a scrapbook

Full and focused, in an empty/confused sort of way. It’s supremely chill. Put this on while rinsing the ink out of your brain wrinkles.

- W

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