I was recently asked about why and how I got into EDM and I decided my response might be helpful for people to learn more about me and why I’m passionate about EDM.
What EDM Means to Me: How I Grew Up Longing for and Eventually Joining the EDM Scene
- The Question: What does electronic music mean to you? Did it change your life, if so, when? Was there a moment of realization, an experience that made you realize this was for you?
What does electronic music mean to me? This is a loaded question because, in truth, electronic music means everything to me. It has been a central part of my life since I was a young child probably no older than ten or eleven years old and is my passion and favorite genre of music. So, let me tell you about my “EDM journey.”
Electronic dance music has always attracted and captivated me, my mind, and my soul. From the first instance I can remember, hanging out with the neighborhood kids on the block around age 10, one of my neighbors lent me the pop-dance group, Toy-Box’s first album Fantastic. Many people may know of their popular hits, “Tarzan & Jane,” “Best Friend” or “The Sailor Song.” Dubbed probably by many reviewers, as a knock-off Aqua (the group behind “Barbie Girl”), in 1999 they were a big deal in their home country of Denmark and had made a small name for themselves in the US.
I don’t know whether it was the cheesy positive lyrics, the upbeat synths and bass over a danceable BPM, or the light-hearted way the music was presented, but something in me felt good when I listened to it. Despite feeling that this music was “slightly embarrassing,” as most I knew only listened to rap or rock, I borrowed the CD from my neighbor and listened to the whole album learning almost all of it by heart.
A few years later, once I reached middle school, two other prominent events occurred that further cemented my love for electronic dance music. Although back then, it was mainly known as techno or trance.
The Adult Swim TV network had just been created and “TOM” the robot had a segment where he featured music he liked. It was one rebellious late night when I probably should’ve been sleeping, when 7th grade me watched as Adult Swim’s “TOM” introduced the first four music videos to Daft Punk’s second, and arguably most popular album Discovery.
This likely is what got me into anime as well, but first and foremost, it was the futuristic, almost psychedelic music that accompanied these anime music videos that changed my life.
The filtered vocals, disco-reminiscent sounds, updated as an upbeat dance number in “One More Time” were so much for my young brain to even process.
All I could think was “What is this masterpiece of music and how can I hear more of it?!”
The synthesized air-guitars of “Aerodynamic” sounded just as entrancing and amazing to me and from there it was no looking back.
I got lucky one day around 2003 while flipping channels and had to stop on MTV. They were having a “dance music” hour and played DJ Sammy’s “Heaven” and iiO’s “Rapture.” I still have both songs in my music library and listen to them seventeen years later.
It was also around that time that I was introduced to a nerdy video game called Dance Dance Revolution. I had always liked to dance, even though I majorly sucked at it, and when I heard the techno, J-pop, and upbeat euro-dance music flow out of those arcade speakers, it became my life for the next decade. I eventually bought all the versions of the game and competed in tournaments for it as well. Once I got to college, the game’s popularity had fizzled out.
I hadn’t forgotten about EDM though. Lamentably, throughout the early 2000s there wasn’t much EDM to hear, at least not American-based. Everyone knew about Daft Punk, Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” (the sports stadium chant “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” song), and generic dance like Cascada, but I found myself particularly interested in House and Trance music.
I began to download DJ Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren songs. Over time, I tried looking up every EDM artist I ever came across in a video game, movie, or any other media I consumed.
This led me to discover house legend Kaskade. I was hooked when I heard his smooth, sultry big-room remix of David Morales and Tamra Keenan’s “Here I Am” in The Devil Wears Prada. Sometime around 2005, I strolled into a Best Buy and browsed the Electronic music aisle, randomly deciding to buy BT’s “Emotional Technology” and Norwegian duo Röyksopp’s “The Understanding.”
From that moment on I was a true fan of EDM. The more eclectic, the better. I’ve always taken pride in having a diverse music library. In those days, I loved trance, techno/euro-rave music, Eurodance, Garage house, and ambient tracks. My love for EDM further expounded as the scene finally started to pick up in America. Slowly in the mid-2000s onward I began to hear more and more EDM being played in the US, and more American EDM acts emerged.
Some hipster friends of mine introduced me to dubstep, and while I enjoyed it for a year or two, it was future house and now currently bass house, G-house, and tech House that began to become my focus. I started mixing a bit, put some mixes on Soundcloud, attended DJ concerts, and have now been to both of the major EDM festivals in Georgia three years in a row.
It is the energy of the music, the oneness of the rave, the absolute expression of letting go and just dancing like there is no tomorrow that I like the most. For decades it was rhythmic body swaying and spastic dance moves that sometimes looked comical, but as the scene evolved, so did the dances.
Now new EDM fans are transfixed by the shufflers, the popping-and-locking and various different ways people will dance to EDM. However, the classic two-step, or side to side step in time with the music remains something both old and new fans alike enjoy, and personally that I love. All of these reasons and elements help explain how EDM changed my life.