Hip-hop rivalries have existed since the dawn of vinyl-scratching. Pop’s biggest icons have always had to deal with younger upstarts snapping at their heels. The punk scene has virtually encouraged aggression and confrontation between bands. But EDM has built its foundations on the idea of uniting people from all walks of life through the power of its hedonistic and escapist sound.
However, the crop of artists responsible for EDM’s current renaissance doesn’t appear to have received the memo. Indeed, it seems like barely a day goes by without another superstar DJ mouthing off about one of his fellow knob-twiddlers. London duo Simian Mobile Disco are the latest to vent their spleen, having expressed their frustrations earlier this week at the way the likes of Steve Aoki are appealing to the ‘lowest common denominator,’ referencing his habit of crowd surfing and throwing cakes in people’s faces in particular.
They’re certainly not the only act to comment about the egotistical nature of the scene. Canadian producer Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, appears to have elected himself as EDM’s unofficial troublemaker, regularly posting stream-of-consciousness rants on his Tumblr blog or Twitter against everything from Madonna’s ‘Molly’ shout-out at the Ultra Music Festival (“seriously, i giveth not a f***ing single F*** for slating on Madonna for reaching an entirely NEW level of idiocy”), to Paris Hilton destroying the art of Djing (“As I was saying…it’s over”).
But it was Deadmau5’s brutally honest interview in Rolling Stone last month which appears to have opened up a whole new can of worms. Criticising the ‘just press play’ approach of some DJs, he went onto name David Guetta (“has two iPods and a mixer and he just plays tracks – like, ‘Here’s one with Akon, check it out!’”) and Skrillex (“isn’t doing anything too technical. He has a laptop and a MIDI recorder, and he’s just playing his s**t.”) as two of the biggest culprits, as well as virtually dismissing the entire genre as ‘formulaic.’
Inevitably, his no-holds-barred opinions have created an avalanche of bitching in return. Sebastian Ingrosso, one-third of the soon-to-be-defunct supergroup Swedish House Mafia, replied: “That’s interesting that [Deadmau5] said that, because that’s exactly what he does.” Acid house pioneer A Guy Called Gerald was much more forthright (“The only button you and people like you are interested in pushing is a nuke for the Palestinians”), as was former The Shamen frontman Mr. C (“Now you run along & carry on button pushing to play your cheesy pre organized s*** to children in fluffy boots & stop bothering us adults with all your uninformed opinions & lies”).
Add to that James Blake’s criticisms of ‘frat-boy’ dubstep, Armin Van Buuren’s sly dig at the mainstream approach of Avicii and the constant ‘sell-out’ accusations aimed towards any act who dares to venture anywhere near the Top 40, and the EDM scene seems content to revel in a disharmony that’s completely at odds with its core message.