Get Turned Up To Death.
May 18, 2014 3:30 PM   Subscribe

 
Including a nod to Lil Jon's new single. GET TURNED UP TO DEATH!

See also: Dubstep (Key & Peele) and What exactly are three DJs doing on stage at Coachella (summary: not a lot)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:42 PM on May 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


my favorite part about this was realizing how anxious i was for the bass to drop. this is grade A comedy. and does anyone else think that Andy Samberg is quite a ringer for David Guetta in this video?

if you want to see some great DJing from one of the three guys in FLT's video above: laidback luke is actually great on the decks. yes, even if they're really CDJs

and here's a different Vine version of what DJs really do. :)
posted by raihan_ at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2014


Yeah on some level it's kinda not fair, because the answer to 'What does Avicii do?" is "He spent 3 weeks in the studio producing that song, so that when he's on stage, all he has to do is push a button."
posted by empath at 3:47 PM on May 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Similarly...
posted by weston at 3:55 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I still think this is a sneaky ad for red bull.
posted by Catblack at 3:58 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like DJs best when you can't see them.

Same goes for musicians, mostly (myself included).
posted by sonascope at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


was upgraded from silver to gold lulz with the "KEEP YOUR EYES SHUT"
posted by emptythought at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2014 [35 favorites]


Yeah on some level it's kinda not fair, because the answer to 'What does Avicii do?" is "He spent 3 weeks in the studio producing that song, so that when he's on stage, all he has to do is push a button."

In fairness, there are different attitudes a DJ can take towards this. Caribou, Nicolas Jaar, and The Field have all incorporated live instrumentation into their shows. Girl Talk and DJ Shadow are both very definitely not just pushing buttons at their live shows. Seeing RJ-D2 use three turntables at once at a live show was a-mazing. In contrast, I believe that Deadmau5 once acknowledged that he can basically just pump out a track with Max MSP (alas! can't find the source) and you have that guy mentioned previously on MetaFilter who rocks Vegas for oodles of money while not knowing what 'bars' are.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:01 PM on May 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I feel really old. What do it mean?
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:06 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of Richard Pryor's Black Death skit.
posted by xingcat at 4:09 PM on May 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I believe that Deadmau5 once acknowledged that he can basically just pump out a track with Max MSP

I've watched him work on his live stream. He spends a lot of time on his tracks. It took him a few days to come up with The Veldt, including some random guy sending him the vocal while he was working on it. It only takes him an hour or two to knock out a hook, but once he's got it, he spends hours twiddling knobs like everyone else does.
posted by empath at 4:11 PM on May 18, 2014


I am really old. What do it mean? DMS
posted by hexatron at 4:23 PM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah on some level it's kinda not fair...

while her dj'ing seems to be more of the push the button type, one of my favorite things to watch on days when i'm stressed out is grimes on kexp doing her original stuff. it's just so comforting to watch it all come together.
posted by nadawi at 4:26 PM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel really old. What do it mean?

I think it's a bit of a remix of some of James Brown's cape act.
posted by klarck at 4:27 PM on May 18, 2014


Curiously, my cat came running in when the bass dropped. True story.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 PM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Like an unfunny version of that awesome Hot Chip video.
posted by dobbs at 4:33 PM on May 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


my favorite part about this was realizing how anxious i was for the bass to drop

It was my favorite part too and I'm not really a dubstep fan.

Reminds me of Richard Pryor's Black Death skit.

There truly is nothing new under the sun.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:45 PM on May 18, 2014


My kid could drop that (bass).
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the hardest drops ever, https://soundcloud.com/bestdropsever.
posted by ben242 at 4:57 PM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I wasn't sure if that was the bass dropping. I, too, may be old.
posted by maryr at 5:19 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Whatever. I saw Autechre live at the 930 club, and they turned off all of the lights, hunched over their laptops with penlights and unleashed sonic hell. It was... OK, it was kind of boring live, actually.

hrmm not the point I wanted to make.
posted by xmutex at 5:33 PM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Someone recently saw my messy tangle of boxes, wires and synths and asked if I "produce." I was confused for a second, then said no, no I don't. Can I say this is part of what's wrong with a lot of the EDM scene. You're a musician, call yourself one. Pretty much the only live electronic acts I'm into these days are the ones who get up there with a pile of hardware gear and actually sweat and create what you're hearing live. I don't buy that you can't make intricate layered music with a few boxes of gear and some synths, because I've seen it done and it's instantly gratifying when it happens. If you're doing interesting things with vinyl that's fine too. Just don't get up there and press a button to play an MP3 and act like you're the return of Christ.

And then, yeah - the anticipation and the bass drop is our modern equivalent of the grunge overuse of the soft-LOUD-soft dynamic. It's stupid and predictable, and dumb mind-hooky in the same way Zynga games are. When SNL is mocking you for being a cliche, it's officially time to move on. But of course it sells and the kids love it, so what do I know.

I'd say "get off my lawn," but then some of the best electronic dance music is being produced today - Todd Terje, Andy Stott, Disclosure, Factory Floor, etc. etc.
posted by naju at 5:45 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


In response to

raihan_: and here's a different Vine version yt of what DJs really do

and

sonascope: I like DJs best when you can't see them.

I've been wondering, what can DJs really do for a stage show? People pay big bucks to see the big names, and they're basically guys (and ladies) whose DJ business cards could read expert knob twiddlers. The Chemical Brothers were a blast back in 1999 (shaky audience video) or 2001, when they were a headlining act at Coachella, and they had a huge stage full of gear, and they frantically ran around, apparently making something happen. As a maker of electronic music, there are only so many things you can do live, and sample boxes like the monome or MPC, and they only look good up close.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:46 PM on May 18, 2014


I'm a big fan of Autechre and saw them live on the Confeld tour. All the subtlety and detail of their recorded work stayed home. Yes, boring.
posted by davebush at 5:52 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't buy that you can't make intricate layered music with a few boxes of gear and some synths, because I've seen it done and it's instantly gratifying when it happens.

90% of what makes a good 'big-room' dance record good is the engineering and mix down, and that's not something you can do live. It's easy to do live dance music, but it'll never sound as good as a finely tuned track produced by a producer at the top of their game. A friend of mine is on week two of mastering is newest single, because the first two mixes weren't quite right -- and that's just basically just eqing and adjusting volume levels of the various parts -- the song writing part of it has been done for a while now. You would be amazed at how invested these guys can get in the sound of a kick drum.

And really, it makes a difference. If you're a Dj, you can tell a big record in seconds, just from the way the kick and bass sounds.

Throwing a melody on an arpeggiator and hitting play on an 808 may be good enough for a live show at a small bar somewhere, but if you're playing real dance music at a big club, the production needs to be top notch. You can feel the energy leave the room if it's not good enough.
posted by empath at 5:54 PM on May 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well then I'm not into the "real dance music", big club scene I guess. Actually just don't want to hear someone pressing play on a perfectly EQ'd pre-recorded track without anything else going on. I'd rather the kick drum sound is not perfect but the person is doing something creative, new and exciting you can't already hear on their record.
posted by naju at 6:01 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been wondering, what can DJs really do for a stage show?

FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK, SON

I can play this game for days.
posted by phaedon at 6:01 PM on May 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'd rather the kick drum sound is not perfect but the person is doing something creative, new and exciting you can't already hear on their record.

In most cases, they are playing songs you've never heard before. I'd say that 60-70% of the songs played by top djs are unreleased. They trade them between each other for months before they ever come out for sale. People don't go there to hear the songs on their records -- they go their to hear the songs that are going to be on their records next year, or that might not ever come out. And on a sound system much louder than their car stereo. Keep in mind that the money they make on record sales is pretty minuscule to what they make for playing live, so they don't have much incentive to actually release all their music, except as promotion for their live sets.
posted by empath at 6:09 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


This Kink Boiler Room set is an excellent example of what an electronic music musician can do with a live show in a smaller room. That kind of thing requires a certain degree of patience from the audience and a more intimate atmosphere or it doesn't really work. In a big room with a good sound system even an slightly downsampled MP3 can suck the energy out of the dance floor.

The big DJ shows I liked the best from well-known producers featured people just doing a workmanlike job at DJing. Not just playing their own hits but really working at curating and mixing tracks. More than that is, in my opinion at least, not required.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:18 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


even an slightly downsampled MP3 can suck the energy out of the dance floor

Why don't they just use .wav files, then?
posted by thelonius at 6:35 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The point of a live show is not to sound as good as the album, it's to be part of a live performance.

If I cared about sound quality above all else, I'd just stay home.
posted by VTX at 6:39 PM on May 18, 2014


If I cared about sound quality above all else, I'd just stay home.

Well here is the thing. Different people enjoy different things and that's okay. But the people that enjoy these shows are not interested in live performance.
posted by empath at 6:45 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


They're interested in... getting fucked up and having a good time, probably!
posted by naju at 6:53 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of SebastiAn's Threnody, which has a 7 minute build up. Here's what it's like at a concert.
posted by hellojed at 6:54 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel really old.

They threw in the fingerboarding reference for your demographic, man.
posted by carsonb at 7:07 PM on May 18, 2014


phaedon: "I've been wondering, what can DJs really do for a stage show?

FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK, SON
"

Well, turntablism while super awesome and impressive to watch is not really en vogue right now as far as I can tell. I think a lot of what it is to be a DJ today is more about reading a room and playing the right songs to fit the mood of the crowd, as well as mixing songs seamlessly into each other and making your set flow naturally.

Live performances by dance artists like [who the video in the OP is referencing] Avicii are understandably different, since the setlist is usually predetermined. Some artists, like Daft Punk for example, perform live with the various "instruments" and samples on their songs loaded into a sampler or MIDI controller and actually do put the songs back together for you live. But yes, there are certainly some who do just drag out a laptop and occasionally adjust the levels. I think at that point you're actually paying to see a big sound system.
posted by capricorn at 7:52 PM on May 18, 2014


Whenever I saw Mouse on Mars live, I loved to watch how much they were tweaking and controlling on the spot.

Also, Brandt Brauer Frick is an extreme example, since they often eschew sequencing completely.
posted by umbĂș at 7:57 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


90% of live EDM shows is about being immersed in an energetic crowd who are just as enthusiastic about the music as you are + the enormous sound systems they have. DJ worship is silly but it's more of a "you produce great shit!" rather than "you are performing your electronic instruments well!" Well, that and the drugs.

This undercurrent of "bands that actually play their instruments are better!" is nonsense. Live traditional musicians have played the piece so many times that there is no more skill left by the time they're actually touring. With a few exceptions, they're on autopilot. So it's basically the same thing -- you go to see these shows because you want to physically see the band, but also because you're immersed in that environment. It's not like you can really tell how well they're playing their instruments from the audience anyway.
posted by spiderskull at 8:04 PM on May 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


Black Devil Disco Club stands out for me as being electronic musician(s?) who sound better live than on the recordings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLRO-UvvBqk
posted by I-baLL at 8:23 PM on May 18, 2014


Yeah I think there's a pretty fundamental misunderstanding about what a good DJ does here.

You see this happen with more inexperienced DJs pretty frequently, when they have to open for a headliner, and they completely shoot their wad by playing their favorite uptempo tracks - the people who are just showing up can't suddenly match the vibe in the room and everyone is unhappy. I was just at a show where this happened, and sure enough the headliner hopped on and dutifully started from scratch, because it's ultimately a collaboration between the crowd and the DJ.

They're there to facilitate the party, and create a safe space where people feel welcome and comfortable enough to go crazy, dance with friends, dance with strangers, and maybe do some judgment-free people watching. And as an added bonus, you get to hear records that you've never heard before, and possibly some you'll never hear again.

Often this means that it's not entirely relevant what the DJ is "actually doing," some of the best shows are when they're at crowd level behind a folding table, or tucked away in a booth in the corner. The show isn't about them in the same way as traditional rock performances, it's about the people around you
posted by taromsn at 8:23 PM on May 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


a lot of the "lol they don't do anything"/"people who don't do much suck" stuff sounds like a dogwhistley callback to the whole "lol electronic music no real instruments" sort of train of thought.

As a lifelong fan of a lot of styles of electronic music, i finally came to the conclusion that all that really matters is what came out of the speakers. I'd rather hear a tightly mixed, awesome set that someone just pre-made at home in ableton or whatever and is just noodling around with filters and effects over here and there than a derpy vinyl or live set by someone who doesn't really know what they're doing or isn't all that good at it.

If i go see a DJ set by someone, it's usually because i respect what they produce but even more that i want to hear what they'll play me that i haven't heard before. A really tight clever mix is just icing on the cake at that point.

The only people who piss me off or disappoint me are people who not only just press play, but don't even press play on a tight mix. Grimes was honestly one of the most pathetic shows i've seen in this category. I've also been blown away by people who just set down a laptop and push play and dance around though. Both in the quality of their premixed set, and the cuts they were playing.

I mean totally live stuff is cool, and a small few like simian mobile disco are amazing at it(their live stuff is so well mixed/EQ'd that it sounds like it could be on a CD. and they're jamming out on a giant modular synth and stuff). But in the end, it's what comes out of the speakers that matters.

It's like having food at an event that's catered, but it was cooked at the companies central kitchen and quickly trucked in, vs it being teppanyaki style cooked right in front of everyone at the place. If it's hot and it's really tasty/artfully plated/etc then they're both good and can both be pretty impressive. Playing or elaborately djing live is an entirely separate but related skill, and is something that can and should be kinda ranked and reflected on as such.

I guess it depends if you're in it for the music, for the music and the show, or for the show. Or somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, because it's like the kinsey scale or something.
posted by emptythought at 8:25 PM on May 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I saw RJ-D2 last summer and he did seem to be doing a lot up there to create the music live. It's not at all the kind of thing that I'd normally enjoy but it was fun seeing once (and I had free tickets).
posted by octothorpe at 8:32 PM on May 18, 2014


I've also been blown away by people who just set down a laptop and push play and dance around though

At a major club I promoted for about ten years ago, the headliners had their records lost by the airline. They put on a mix cd, hit play and drank whiskey on stage while talking to people and dancing. Nobody really cared.
posted by empath at 8:52 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


You see this happen with more inexperienced DJs pretty frequently, when they have to open for a headliner, and they completely shoot their wad by playing their favorite uptempo tracks

Yeah, I was definitely guilty of that the first time I opened for someone really big. But, to be fair, it was sold out and rammed full of people fifteen minutes into my set. It's kinda hard not to play big records when you have a crowd of three thousand screaming people on ecstasy in front of you.
posted by empath at 8:55 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Ecstasy"
That explains it.
posted by cccorlew at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2014


Spoons and a washboard
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:09 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still tend to privilege live performance, but I'm pleased to say that I no longer feel threatened by dance music culture and actually think it's pretty cool that young people are vibing on instrumental music and even dorking out over timbre, dynamics and other formal stuff.

So you'll hear a lot less LOL knob-twiddlers from me these days.

But it seems like a lot of the snarking in the youtube comments isn't coming from the usual out-of-touch rockists (or jazz snobs, or folkies) like me, but from hip-hop djs and others who feel their skills are being devalued by overpaid entertainers pretending to be maestros. Nice to feel some solidarity with music fans outside my own little tribe.
posted by ducky l'orange at 9:35 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


One time I went to a book signing and the author didn't even bother to pretend to be writing their novel, they were just handing out copies from a big stack of obviously pre-printed books and scribbling a few lines on the front page of each copy for show. Like, I can read pre-written words at home, why did I even bother coming if you're not going to actually do any authoring.
posted by Pyry at 9:38 PM on May 18, 2014 [27 favorites]


Sure I think I get it, but I'm not crazy for wanting something more out of the electronic shows I go to. There's even a name for this sort of thing - Live PA sets (live performing artist):

Generally Live PA artists use a central sequencer which triggers and controls sound generating devices like synthesizers, drum machines, samplers. The resulting audio outputs of these devices are then mixed and modified with effects using a mixing console. Interconnected drum machines and synthesizers allow the electronic Live PA artist to effectively orchestrate a single-person concert. Hand-played keyboards, hand-triggered audio samples, live vocals, and other live instruments can augment the performance as well. Some artists like Brian Transeau and Jamie Lidell utilize hardware and software tools custom-designed for live expression and improvisation.
By arranging, muting, and cueing pre-composed basic musical data (notes, loops, patterns, and sequences), the Live PA artist has the freedom to manipulate major elements of the performance and alter a song's progression in real-time.
Many Live PA artists try to combine the qualities of both traditional bands and dancefloor DJs, taking the live music element from bands, and the buildup and progression from song to song of DJs, as well as the sheer volume of music controlled by a single person (of a DJ as opposed to a band). By allowing the sequencer to handle the playing of basic musical data (as defined above), the Live PA artist can focus on controlling what is most important to the listener: the actual musical quality of what is emanating from the speakers.


Ultimately it's fine if you want to go out and have a good time dancing, with the music portion being part of the vibe or even a secondary concern. All good. But I think more and more there's a certain segment of people into electronic music as music, as process, and a lot of the electronic artists I'm crazy about put a little something more into the set than just pressing play. Those are the shows that are really memorable for me. I don't think it's rockist to want to have that experience.
posted by naju at 9:40 PM on May 18, 2014


One more thing -- I guarantee you that people who claim that it's just knob twiddling or that producing is not real musicianship have never done it. It's downright arrogant how they presume to know what it involves when they generally have no idea how difficult or technical it is. I find playing physical instruments (piano and guitar in my case) is way way easier than producing solid sounding tracks. In the former case, you follow a set routine, practice practice practice, and you do covers or learn new songs to expand your abilities (with the help of an expert if you have the means).

This is not the case with production. Gaining an intuition on the rhythmic flow and the manipulation of energy in an EDM piece is really god damned difficult. Sure you can hammer out a few bars, even maybe lay 'em out in a 3-minute long song. But there's so many tiny minuscule details that have a tremendous impact on the sound. For instance, the length of each bassline note plays such an important role in the "bounciness" of the track -- even a 200ms change affects its character. There's headroom issues, EQing is an art, transitions are tricky to get right, pacing is a delicate balance, sidechaining requires discretion, etc etc etc.
posted by spiderskull at 9:42 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Spoons and a washboard

Two bits
posted by shakespeherian at 9:43 PM on May 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Came expecting great bass. Left disappointed.
posted by Gronk at 9:46 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


SPOILER








1:55
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:58 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I found myself extremely disappointed that the bass in fact dropped. It was a perfect opportunity to cause inordinate amounts of audience frustration and instead it was wasted on a really dumb closing joke.
posted by darksasami at 10:08 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ever since I learned about the existence of Max/MSP, I've wanted to put together some sort of Raspberry Pi-driven soundsystem that procedurally generated a dance track (or, to get really ambitious, a set of dance tracks), with accompanying visuals, from a set of basic building blocks, based on the noise of the crowd, movement patterns in the room, temperature, hell, pretty much anything that can be picked up by a sensor array. I really like the idea of a set that's truly unique to the night that it was played, not simply because it will never be played the same way again but also because it arose in concert with the night itself, with the night and the music informing each other in a sort of feedback loop to create a totally singular experience.

Shame that, while I have the tech chops to make it happen, I have no idea where to even START on the music side. I guess everyone should have one enormous, disgustingly ambitious dream project though.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:11 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Live traditional musicians have played the piece so many times that there is no more skill left by the time they're actually touring.

Erm, well no, actually that is the skill right there. Getting to the point where you're doing the physical part by muscle memory then allows you to spend more time on the musicality of what you are doing. When a musician can get past the physicality of their performance they can transcend the music, and hit that zone where something remarkable happens.
posted by awfurby at 10:30 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Live traditional musicians have played the piece so many times that there is no more skill left by the time they're actually touring.

Hahahah!!! Do you even know what "skill" is?

Let's break it down so even you can understand it. When it comes to "touring" musicians, I take it you mean rock bands or kids who have some mediocre facility on their instrument and can easily play the shitty songs they've laboured over for years but don't even know what middle "C" is nor could they pick it out on a music staff, or even write their music on paper if their life depended on it. Now, if by "traditional" you mean musicians who have been trained in the classical tradition, then it doesn't matter how many times they play Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart or Boulez; skill is the ultimate factor which keeps them performing at the top of their game. Skill is what we work for decades to achieve. Technique is the means of artistic expression. Without technique we are musical cavemen. Musicians without technique are fine for the masses but they won't last for centuries.

I heard "The XX" play a concert a couple years ago, after they released their first album. The opening act was Warpaint. I was so happy to hear Warpaint at that time, having never heard them before. They all played instruments, they rocked, and they had good songs.

Then XX came to the stage. There was a light show, and the guy and the girl dicked around with guitars, playing at the level of a 5 year old rock band class at a community music school. Childish melodies, simplistic harmony, and a guy in the background tapping on a drum machine connected to a MacBook. Even with the computer equipment, he had awful time compared to Warpaint playing live instruments. * And no, I don't mean "AN awful time"... I mean "awful time" as in awful rhythm as in, an awful sense of musical time rendering the concert an uneven mass of crappy rhythm. Even a simple blues progression was beyond XX, whereas in Warpaint I could hear at least a loose connection to blues rock and a sense of harmonic progression and pacing.

Interestingly, Warpaint has already been ruined by overproduction, judging by their 2nd album. It's such a shame that rocking young bands are quickly overtaken by the music business juggernaut and a seeming requirement to provide anthemic disco-rock for aging millennials.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:12 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"aging millennials"

(brain explodes like in the OP video)

(that's just a weird phrase, is all. :))
posted by raihan_ at 11:22 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


(that's just a weird phrase, is all. :))

Trust me I know, but it's reality. On the 7 train the other night, some young bearded white kid with a knitted cap and an untuned guitar belted out indie ballads with an ear-piercingly nasal vocal tone while a car full of regular working-class New Yorkers rolled their eyes. I told him "Wrong borough, kid!" as I stumbled off the train. Really, stick to Brooklyn or at the very least, Long Island City.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:28 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Beatles invented the massively extended, rhythmically accelerating V-I 'bass drop' in 1965, although they had been performing a shorter but more delirium-inducing version of it for several years previously.
posted by colie at 12:44 AM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Still waiting for the sub-bass to drop.
posted by speicus at 2:01 AM on May 19, 2014


One time I went to a book signing and the author didn't even bother to pretend to be writing their novel

More like going to an author reading and have the author play a tape. In that case, I suspect most fans would be a bit unhappy, even if the sound quality was great.
posted by effbot at 2:28 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It would seem that in this thread 'DJ' can mean all things to all people. I suppose that puts them on the same level as 'guitarist', which can mean anything.

Technology has allowed skills outside those of the vinyl curator - turntablist spectrum to be developed, but seldom have I seen anyone who can use technology to actually rock a party better rather than disappear up their own cul de sac. The same applies to turntablism IME. There has always been a blurred line between 'live' performance and 'DJing', but now there are so many variants that it might be time for some new descriptive terms.

Judging by the all night party down the road from me on Saturday night, the age old combination of DJ and MC is still rocking parties like it did in Jamaica forty years ago, the bass still drops and the crowd still goes wild.

Here is the obligatory link to Atom TM.

I can't imagine wanting to see a (big name) DJ just playing their own tunes, no matter how well produced they may be. But again this is an incarnation of the age old dub plate phenomenon. When I see a DJ I expect them to be reacting to the crowd in front of them, not some preordained, pre-recorded, static selection.
posted by asok at 2:44 AM on May 19, 2014




darksasami: "I found myself extremely disappointed that the bass in fact dropped. It was a perfect opportunity to cause inordinate amounts of audience frustration and instead it was wasted on a really dumb closing joke."

Skrillex fans ask: Where's the drop?
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:08 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've been laughing at the low-skill job of "live musician/DJ" for a long time. Not because I think it's stupid, mind you. I'm totally jealous. In the 90s, I went and started a punk band (which is kind of similar; musical instrument talent not required!) when I should've started an EDM/rap band. I would totally be Diplo by now.
posted by fungible at 5:54 AM on May 19, 2014


Trust me I know, but it's reality. On the 7 train the other night, some young bearded white kid with a knitted cap and an untuned guitar belted out indie ballads with an ear-piercingly nasal vocal tone while a car full of regular working-class New Yorkers rolled their eyes. I told him "Wrong borough, kid!" as I stumbled off the train. Really, stick to Brooklyn or at the very least, Long Island City.

I know plenty of hipster types who, having been priced out of pretty much all of Brooklyn short of East New York at this point, have set their sights on Queens (or, in some cases, Washington Heights). Part of the life cycle of the city, is all.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:30 AM on May 19, 2014


Is this what is going on in the clubs? I'm so out of the club scene. *sigh*
posted by stormpooper at 7:27 AM on May 19, 2014


I can't imagine wanting to see a (big name) DJ just playing their own tunes, no matter how well produced they may be.

Very few of them do. Usually in a two hour set, they'll play two or three of their own songs, a couple of current 'anthems' and the rest will be more obscure/unreleased tracks. Check any soundcloud page for a popular dj's soundcloud mix and you'll see comments all over it asking for track ids.
posted by empath at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the 90s, I went and started a punk band (which is kind of similar; musical instrument talent not required!) when I should've started an EDM/rap band

It was too early. "Ugly Kid Joe" was still on the charts.
posted by thelonius at 7:33 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


So when Mr Corgan was fiddling with his cords and putting things into other things recently you all mocked but really he was just getting down with the kids yawl (I guess he forgot the drop though which makes it all moot mute moooOooOooottttttt wooowww yaaaggdigggg WHAAA WHHAA)
posted by h00py at 7:47 AM on May 19, 2014


Ah, so much to say, but I probably shouldn't. Thanks for posting it, empath. I was in the studio with an EDM producer when it aired and we missed it. We were even playing real instruments.
posted by The World Famous at 8:04 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Skrillex will be asked about the drop for a long time.

http://versashop.bigcartel.com/product/grandpa-skrillex-tell-us-about-the-drop-t-shirt
posted by 4midori at 9:39 AM on May 19, 2014


Live traditional musicians have played the piece so many times that there is no more skill left by the time they're actually touring.

This is so wrong as to not even be wrong. It's turned the wrong corner into total nonsense.

There's a lot of skill to being an electronic musician. Not just anybody can do it, and those who can do it very well are exceptionally rare. Just like traditional music. However, the live music tradition and the electronic music dance party tradition are two different things. EDM audiences don't have the same expectations as live music audiences. But there are people such as Onyx Ashanti trying to bridge that gap. The first time I saw him play, it was at a small gallery dance party. I couldn't figure out who was making the music until I saw him dancing right next to me, creating all of the music live on wearable equipment he had designed and built himself. Truly amazing stuff.

The OP video short was by far the funniest thing on SNL this weekend. But the musical guest St. Vincent absolutely killed.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:05 AM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


ReeMonster: "Hahahah!!! Do you even know what "skill" is?"

vibrotronica: "This is so wrong as to not even be wrong. It's turned the wrong corner into total nonsense. "

Heh, okay, so my phrasing could use work. I don't believe we're disagreeing here. With many songs in rock or rock-like bands (I'm thinking drums, two guitars, bass, vocals with verse-chorus-verse style writing), there is a massive time investment in building up the skill to play the instruments, and a significant amount of energy and art involved in writing it.

My point is, though, that by the 50th play of the song, they're on autopilot. They've played it so many times that it barely registers as mentally active. That's because of the skill they've built up. When on autopilot, though, they're not adding more to the piece. The audience expects a reasonable facsimile, and bands deliver. Are there exceptions? Yes, plenty. The same goes for EDM -- most big-name EDM guys aren't really doing much on stage or they're on autopilot as well. But then there's, say, Araabmusik.

All I'm saying is the write-off of EDM because it's simple "knob-twiddling" is silly because you could make the same argument for live rock music.
posted by spiderskull at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Anyone crapping on EDM/knob-twiddling/etc. should watch that Araabmusik video link spiderskull posted above. The man is absolutely insane.
posted by kuanes at 12:42 PM on May 19, 2014


Didn't the prototype for this come from the 1980s with Chris Lowe famous for hiding behind his trademark hat and keyboards, something like the anti-Elton John?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:42 PM on May 19, 2014


My point is, though, that by the 50th play of the song, they're on autopilot.

Uh. No we're not.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:58 PM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought this video was gong to be fishing bloopers.
posted by 4ster at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


lumpenprole: "My point is, though, that by the 50th play of the song, they're on autopilot.

Uh. No we're not.
"

I was only speaking from my own admittedly limited experience -- I apologize if I insulted any fellow musicians. I really didn't mean to put you down. I was trying to steer my argument at bands that phone it in, but my statements were (incorrectly) too general. You're all right in that there is skill to playing live. But there is also tremendous skill involved in producing electronic music, and I'm personally frustrated by this silly hierarchy of "real musicians," especially when they haven't tried it themselves, and are speaking from assumptions shaped by caricatures of EDM artists.
posted by spiderskull at 10:34 PM on May 19, 2014


Even a simple blues progression was beyond XX, whereas in Warpaint I could hear at least a loose connection to blues rock and a sense of harmonic progression and pacing.

I don't even like The xx but it's extremely hilarious to me that someone would stand there in the crowd straining to hear a blues chord progression, and upon not finding one, become irritated.
posted by Alterity at 11:33 PM on May 19, 2014


'Blues progression' is a bit of a red herring, but still, pretty much all pop/rock/EDM does still use either 'common practice' traditional harmony and cadence, or blues/folk structures, or derivatives of them such as the 'Aeolian Shuttle' type of song (think 'All Along the Watchtower' - most EDM that I hear seems to be built on non-cadencing repeating phrases like Dylan's very influential track).

If you want to go outside of these, like perhaps The xx feel like attempting (I haven't heard them), then unless you grow your music from within these conventions the danger is that you are going to sound like you are 'noodling' pointlessly and amateurishly - which maybe is what the poster was getting at.

Listeners will always demand well managed build-ups of tension and release that communicate the song's intent - which is kind of the point of this thread, what with 'the drop' concept being so prevalent these days. However this has always been the case in musical structures and you could make the case that much EDM shows its ultimate lack of imagination by resorting to such a predictable and obvious trick, so frequently.
posted by colie at 2:23 AM on May 20, 2014


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