Monday, April 23, 2012

Why is EDM a social movement?

A social movement is defined as a large informal grouping of individuals that advocate their ideologies and identities as a way to enact social change. The EDM movement has developed a strong and unique collective identity and culture that promotes a very specific type of social behavior and change. The shared values, styles, behaviors, language, and traditions that makes the EDM movement unique all promote a particular lifestyle that rests on the foundations of peace, love, unity, and respect for all people. Because of the great emphasis on these values rather than a developed ideology the EDM movement is perfectly classified by the new social movement’s theory which states that there is a greater emphasis in new social movements on group/collective identity, value, and lifestyles rather than developed ideologies.

There are several EDM cultural traditions and behaviors that stand out as unique and very interesting.

1. Trading of/Wearing of "Kandi":

"Kandi" are bracelets made of different types of colorful beads that say various words. Kandi is often worn by people in attendence at EDM events and often the words refer back to various EDM related activities or beliefs. The trading of Kandi is an EDM tradition dating back to the late 80's and early 90s. The general idea is that when someone impresses you with their talent during some type of light show (poi, gloves, glowsticking, flowlights, hula-hooping) you give them a piece of your Kandi. Kandi can also be traded for reasons such as someone doing something nice for you or a new friend you meet in the crowd. The most interesting aspect of the Kandi tradition is the way in which it is traded. The person giving the Kandi will first make a peace sign with their index and middle fingers. The person recieving the Kandi will copy this hand gesture and place the tips of their middle and index fingers on the person giving the Kandi. The person giving the Kandi will then make half of a heart with their four fingers and thumb. The person recieving with again copy. The two people will then interlace their fingers like they are holing hands. At this point the person giving the Kandi slides the bracelet up over the intertwined hands and onto the other person's wrist. These three hand gestures represent peace, love, and unity, three of the aspects of PLUR.

2. The giving of and trading of "light shows"

There are many different forms of light shows. There is Poi, an ancient Chinese art in which two glowing balls are placed at the ends of two long peices of cloth sort of like tube socks and swung around in patterns in the air. Glowsticking has arguably been around in the rave scene the longest and uses simple glowsticks you can find just about anywhere. Flowlights are lights that slowly morph from one color to the next and are swung around in the air on string. Gloving, the type of light show I know the most about is done with white or black gloves with white tips that have a different LED light in each finger tip.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An electronic community

As I am sure is the case in many towns there is a social network of those involved in the buisness of entertainment in Tallahassee. Local DJ's and producers make up a critical part of this network. Tallahassee has been home to several DJ's who have started here playing in college bars and clubs and have made electronic music into their livelihoods. I was able to speak with DJ Crespo (Daniel Crespo) who started his musical career in Tallahassee and now has a residency at Club Mansion in Miami.

Interview with DJ Crespo

Me: "When did you first start making your own music?"

Crespo: "When I was a Sophmore here at FSU. I'd been listening to EDM for a long time before that since I grew up in Miami where it's just always been huge but I didn't buy my own equipment until around that time."

Me: "What first inspired or encouraged you to become a DJ?"

Crespo: "In high school I fell in love with the EDM scene, I wanted the life that the DJ's in Miami led. I wanted to be able to make a living doing something I knew I would always love. When I moved to Tallahassee a few connections within the club scene encouraged me to begin making my own music promising me if I got good I could play at their clubs. I saw the opportunity and I grabbed it."

Me: "How would you respond to those that say you make your living off of kids that just like to do drugs? Or that the only people who listen to your music are those that use MDMA?"

Crespo: "I make my living off of my personal form of art. People could say that about just about anything. Saying the only people who enjoy EDM are those that use MDMA is like saying the only people that like Bob Marley are those who smoke weed. You just cant make such big generalizations like that. Yes, EDM has been more strongly associated with drug use than most musical genres but only because most people think that you have to be on drugs to enjoy it since it can be so different from every other kind of music."

Me: "As a DJ who has a substantial fan base what message do you try and convey with your music?"

Crespo: "I really try and push party responsibly. I'm all for a wild party night but a lot of these kids these days need to learn how to party in moderation

Me: Do you believe that popular DJ's and Producers, and therefore EDM, have the power to change people's attitudes and enact social change?

Crespo: Of course. Anyone and anything who is as popular as someone like Tiesto can sway public behavior and opinion anyway they want. Just like politics.

Online Survey

About a week ago I created an online survey through PsychData about EDM that can be viewed at the link below:

 Most people who took the survey were exposed to EDM 2-4 years ago. The most common favorite genres were Trance and House music. All who took the survey had attended an event specifically promoted as an EDM event. All except 1 or 2 out of 45 who took the survey had been to an electronic music festival. These included Ultra Music Festival, Sunset Music festival, Electronic Daisy Carnival, Nocturnal Music festival, and Spring Weekend. Common responses about the overal attitude of the other people at the EDM events they had attended included: "easy going and eager to have a good time" "very accepting, general great vibe, feels like everyone was on the same page" "overall very nice and fun" "friendly and wonderful" "chill" 30 out of 45 people responded that they had at some point experimented with Extasy and or MDMA. The number one value associated with EDM by survey participants was equality. The number two was unity with others, number three was drug use and number four was love. 75% of survey takers responded they had a favorite DJ/Producer. Common responses when asked what values they believed DJ's and producers promote included: "peace and unity" "Raging" "money being spent" "love" "love for music" "good vibes" "freedom of expression" "respect and friendliness with everyone" All survey respondents answered that yes, they believe DJ's and producers have the power to effect social change.

Tally EDM

In Tallahassee Florida the EDM music scene has tripled in popularity in the past year. We have had huge names such as Avicii, Skrillex, Tiesto, Steve Angello, Bassnectar, Steve Aoki, and many more come and perform. Because of this huge rise in the popularity of EDM a group of FSU students has decided to create a school affliated club called "Tally EDM." This group sets up a table every Wednesday in the FSU Student Union where they sell EDM themed T-shirts, tickets to upcoming EDM events, and provide the opportunity for people to talk to someone and find out what EDM is really all about. As I myself am part of this group last Wednesday I decided to join the table for a few hours and ask those who stopped by what EDM meant to them. Some of the responses I recieved inspired me to share them with the world.

FSU student: "The Avicii show at the beginning of this school year was the first EDM event I had ever been too. It was the first time I had ever felt truly comfortable while being out at a club. I have stuggled with self esteem issues as well as social akwardness my whole life. A friend from my home town who came to visit convinced me to go even though I hardly ever went out because I always felt like everyone was judging my appearance and behavior. I had the time of my life. I saw a lot of people doing drugs but thats not even what I remember about the show, what I remember is how for the first time I felt like I was in a room of people who were willing to get to know me not based on what I loudenoked like but who I was."

Another student on drug use at EDM events: "Only people who don't know anything about EDM or have never been to a show before go to do drugs. Sure I've done my fair share of experimenting but I would happily go to a show stone cold sober and be fine with it. I don't need extasy to have a good time and I think a lot of people would be surprised at the number of people who feel the same way as me. I think a lot of people associate EDM with drug use because the people who are on drugs at a show are always the people that make themselves the most visible, always posing for pictures, getting light shows and generally being obnoxious. The people that are there for the music aren't usually going to be the ones in the front row going crazy, they're the ones at the back of the room recording on their iphones. I don't believe EDM is protrayed fairly. People get messed up at rap concerts but no one says oh rap is all about drugs."

When I asked people if they thought EDM had the power to enact social change many answered yes.... FSU student: "EDM has the power to do anything it wants. Anything that has millions of fans has the power to change the world." FSU student: "EDM is already changing the aspectations of behavior when you go out. Now that most of the big nights to go out in town have an EDM theme they are attracting a more diverse crowd....all different types of people are getting together like greeks and funky edm people. Its kinda like now everyone expects you to be nice to everyone when you go out because thats just the way it is with EDM."

FSU student: "It already is. Look at all the EDM themed events we've had this year to raise money for good causes. A few months ago Tally EDM had House Music Builds Homes(a night at Club Rehab where all bar proceeds as well as cover charges went to Habitat for Humanity), and Tally EDM participated in Dance Marathon (participants dance for 24 hours to raise money for children with cancer). People's love of music can be harnessed to accomplish all kinds of things." So EDM does have the power, and it's using it.

Ultra Music Festival 2012

- Carl Cox

Electronic Dance Music is infectious. End of story. You can feel it in your bones. You cant help but move to it. The beat creeps into your subconscious and later in the shower you'll find yourself making laser noises.

Walking toward Bayfront Park in Miami FL on March 23rd I was a woman on a mission. Already arriving to the festival about two hours late I felt like my feet were on fire as I was swept along by the crowd outside the gates. Being my second Ultra I did things a little differently this year. Before leaving town I prepared about 150 surveys to hand out to various people during the three day festival.

The questions were as follows:
1. Is this your first time attending a music festival?
2. Who is your favorite DJ?
3. What is your favorite EDM genre?
4. Are you planning on hanging out with molly and/or lucy while you are here?
5. What do you believe EDM represents?
6. What has EDM taught you (if any anything)?

In many cases the results were disappointing with responses like "DO ACID" or "Roll face" (a slang term for being on MDMA).

Others stuck out as inspiring:

"EDM has taught me that everyone just wants to feel accepted and the greatest kindness you can do in this world is to make others feel they belong to something, something that has the power to hold them up when they feel sad."

"I plan on hanging out with my friends, I don't care about drugs I care about experiencing something that's all about being happy."

"I get all the high I need from the crowd."

While I clearly still have a lot of people to discredit in my mission to prove that the overall mantra of the EDM movement is not peace, love, unity, respect....and drugs there were moments during Ultra Music Festival that inspired me even more to show the world how powerful EDM can be. During an after party on the Saturday of Ultra weekend I was lucky enough to speak with DJ R3hab about how thinks EDM is perceived by the majority of people as well as his opinions on the power of EDM.

Me: "What do you think the majority of people percieve EDM to be about? Drugs or something deeper?"

R3hab:  "A lot of people mistakenly assume that these genres of music that comprise EDM are all about getting fu*ked up and partying until the sun rises. This happens a lot but what music scene isn't associated with partying? Every musical genre from rock n' roll to hip-hop encourages people to party. EDM is the only musical movement that promotes more than just partying. Those who realize this are often pretty involved in the scene and know that a lot of the big name DJ's don't even party themselves."

Me: "What do you mean a lot of the big name DJ's don't party?"

R3hab: "You would be surprised. Kaskade doesn't drink and has never smoked dope in his life. Deadmau5 is the same. A lot of DJ's also take a strong stand against drug use, specifically molly (MDMA). Its something that has been associated with EDM for a long time, way before this resurgence in popularity so its going to take a while to change the reputation but for a lot of DJ's its (changing opinions) just as important as making music.

Talk about a confidence boost in the claims of my project.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Electronic dance music has taken the youth of today by storm. Its hypnotic beats have not only crept into all genres of popular music but they have led to the creation of an entirely new subculture. EDM's insane popularity has created a social movement with tremendous potential to affect social change. World famous DJ's and producers have massive followings of sometimes millions of people. This gives the EDM movement an invaluable way in which to promote a new way of life to mass amounts of people. The mantra of the EDM movement is embodied in the acronym PLUR. PLUR stands for peace, love, unity, and respect. These values are what the EDM movement encourages people to live their lives by.

If you've ever been to an EDM event, whether it be a single headliner one night show at a nightclub or a three day music festival, you have experienced PLUR and the power it has to dictate an atmosphere. I have attended many a show and three music festivals (Ultra Music Festival, Bonnarroo Music and Arts Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival). Never once have I seen any type of physical altercation between two people, and rarely have I witnessed verbal conflict. How is it that at a gathering of thousands upon thousands of people there are no fights? Many close minded people will argue that this is due to the influence of drugs such as Extacy, MDMA, and pshycadelics. In some cases this is certaintly true. However it cannot be argued that this is the sole reason for this exeptional behavioral pattern. There are many musical and non-musical events at which drug use of all kinds is popular. Have you ever gone to a rock or hip-hop concert where everyone gets along?

While it is true that a side effect of the use of MDMA and similar drugs is an increased chance that you will treat everyone like your long lost family member it is much more than drug use that inspires the true embracers of the EDM movement to embrace PLUR. In my research of the EDM movement I have focused on two major questions; what does EDM promote and how does it promote it and what potential does EDM have to envoke social change. I want to prove to the world that the values that EDM promote has the power to change the world by using those most infuential in the scene (DJ's, producers, recording artists) to promote positive values and behaviors. I want to prove that this power to be influential does not come from teenagers enticed by drug use or the party atmosphere but from the love of music, art and the acceptance of all different types of people.