The 9 Scandals and Shitshows that Shook Electronic Music in 2015


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The 9 Scandals and Shitshows that Shook Electronic Music in 2015

We're all about the music, but a good ol fashioned publicity disaster sure helps us keep busy in the time between rave seshs.
December 17, 2015, 4:35pm

Sure, we're all about the music around here, but a good ol fashioned shitshow sure helps keep us busy in the time between rave sessions. With electronic music more and more in the public eye, 2015 was rife with lawsuits, beefs, scandals, and disasters. Below, we compiled a list of the nine happenings that added a whole lotta color to this lil scene of ours in 2015. These public spectacles might be seen as how we as a society work through some of the more pressing political and cultural issues of the day, and boy, do we have some issues.


If you haven't, bee sure to check out the rest of THUMP's 2015 retrospective, including top tracks, albums, mixes, and club swag.

9. Deadmau5

Photo from Deadmau5's Facebook page.

Perennial favorite deadmau5 has an honorary place on this list, staking his claim at the top of the pile with a quick-draw Twitter finger and binders of legal paperwork. From a cease-and-desist filed against Deadmau5 the Musical, to a multi-million dollar lawsuit against his previous label Play Records, and the end of an ongoing trademark dispute with Disney, Joel Zimmerman's public spectacle throws a larger shadow than his musical output. And that's not even to mention his near-weekly Twitter beefs with everyone from Skrillex and Madonna to our very own features editor. ––Gigen Mammoser

8. We Are Your Friends Tanks at the Box Office

Photo from We Are Your Friends Facebook page.

Despite starring B-lister Zac Efron, having a soundtrack that includes AlunaGeorge, Carnage, and Justice, and containing some very teachable moments about male friendships (namely, that you shouldn't name one of your pals "Squirrel"), Max Joseph's EDM epic We Are Your Friends failed to attract audiences in spectacular fashion. In fact, with opening weekend sales grossing just over half of its $6 million budget, Catfish creator Joseph's debut film was the fourth worst wide-release movie to ever debut (according to Box Office Mojo). ––Max Mertens

7. Ibiza's Water Shortage

Photo credit: Ibiza Tourism Facebook

As we reported this year, there's something in the water in Ibiza. Salt. Hydration on the White Isle flows from two main sources: an extensive network of underground lakes, and three public desalination plants that filter out salt to create fresh water. But the millions of tourists who flock to the island each year are putting a huge strain on its ecosystem, depleting its water supply while generating lots of sewage and waste.

To make things even worse, Ibiza is also in the middle of a drought, and the situation has gotten so dire that in September 2015, the Balearic government instituted an emergency drought law, limiting the amount that can be drawn from the underground lakes.


The problem is a catch-22: the island is sustained by clubbing, but clubbing is destroying the island. It remains to be seen how the government and residents will solve this mess, but one thing is for sure: they have to figure it out soon. —Michelle Lhooq

6. 500 Arrests at LA Festivals on Halloween Weekend

You gotta imagine what was running through Officer Lombardo's head when he realized that, after years of safeguarding the streets from hardened criminals, his lofty ambitions of "protecting and serving" had devolved to handcuffing crying, tutu-clad teenage girls en masse for being drunk on the walk-up to a festival.

In a premeditated intervention, law enforcement staked out both HARD Day of the Dead and Escape: Psycho Circus on Halloween weekend and arrested 500 youths, mostly for public intoxication and carrying/being under the influence of controlled substances. In another display of saddening ineptitude, LA's "Rave Task Force" proved once again that they need to figure out what their priorities are. ––Jemayel Khawaja

5. Tomorrowworld Was Waterworld, without Kevin Costner

Photo via Facebook.

Woodstock '69 was thrown together by a bunch of patchouli stinkin' hippies before or Uber even existed, and still may have been more civilized than what went down this year at TomorrowWorld outside of Atlanta, GA. Following a tremendous rainstorm that turned the Chattahoochee Hills grounds into a disgusting pit of mud and human refuse, the festival's organizers decided it would be best to limit transportation service to and from the event grounds, stranding tens of thousands of soggy ravers on the come down.

As we reported from the scene, many of those stuck at the festival spent the night passed out on the ground, sleeping on cardboard pizza boxes, or trekking through mud for miles on a dark single lane road in attempts to access shuttles and Ubers that weren't allowed to pull up to the festival's gate. For most, things did not improve from there. The festival cancelled Sunday to non-campers, who formed the majority of attendees, and TomorrowWorld went down as one of the biggest bummers of 2015. –– David Garber

4. The Ghost Producer Witch Hunt

Photo via MK's Facebook.

A specter is haunting electronic music. It wears a snap-back and owns a cracked copy of Sylenth. Like hip-hop, EDM was rocked this year with a series of allegations about ghost producing. Though there was no evidence as cut and dry as the demo tapes of Quentin Miller rapping Drake hooks over basement beats, there was enough of an outcry to bring the issue to light again and again. Granted, much of the noise was stemming from a certain prolific Twitter user and occasional DJ named Mat Zo.

When an image started circulating on social media of a list of DJs and their ghost producers, the furor hit a fever pitch. Everyone from 808 enthusiast Carnage to EDM wunderkind Martin Garrix got caught in the mud-slinging. Though, after numerous exposés, editorials, and rebuttals from people on all sides of the industry it's not any clearer who, if anyone, is at fault. –– Gigen Mammoser

3. When Soundcloud Stopped Being Fun

Years from now, when the current wave of "SoundCloud DJs" is old and withered, they'll tell their grandchildren of a time when streaming was free and music was an open canvas upon which to share, for that time has now passed.

Berlin-based streaming platform SoundCloud has been at the center of dance music listening, both above and underground, for almost a decade. In 2015, their long-rumored plans to monetize began to kick in, and what followed was mass takedowns and bans. DJs and outlets had their entire catalogues removed as the company's algorithm trawled the platform for samples that could warrant a copyright notice in an attempt to pander to labels. Some artists even got taken down for sampling themselves. The worst part is that everybody complained about it, but nobody did anything about it, so "Check my SoundCloud, bruh" has now just become "…Actually, don't worry about it." –– Jemayel Khawaja

2. SFX's Downward Spiral

Photo via SFX.

In 2012, SFX represented Robert Sillerman's dream: an EDM company that would show the world how the dance music explosion could be monetized into big bucks. For a while, it seemed like Sillerman would be able to pull off his grand plan, but by the end of 2015, it was clear that the SFX dream was an illusion, as stock prices plummeted from $13 per share when the company went public in October 2013, to a dismal $0.32 per share at the time of this writing.

Today, the company is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy,and Sillerman's plans to privatize the company have failed—not once, but three times in the past year. In September, SFX shareholders filed a class action lawsuit against Sillerman for "failing to disclose that he did not have any financing in place at the time he made his proposal [to privatize]."


The company has also struggled with PR disasters and slow ticket sales. News that Beatport had frozen payments to independent labels caused widespread outrage across the industry in August; poor weather and transportation planning at TomorrowWorld resulted in the festival having to offer refunds to pissed-off fans; and California's One Tribe festival was cancelled in September due to slow ticket sales.

But change may be on the horizon. This week, James Barton, the head of electronic dance music at Live Nation, joined the company in a "senior position." There's no doubt that investors hope the veteran music executive, who founded the pioneering UK nightclub Cream in 1992, will turns things around. Only time will tell if Barton will be the fix-all for the floundering company—or if this is yet another fantasy. — Michelle Lhooq

1. The Fall of Ten Walls

Photo via Ten Walls/ THUMP

Here lies the career of one Marijus Adomaitis, once better known as Ten Walls. The Lithuanian producer was well on the up after his track "Walking With Elephants" became an underground hit last year. Then, in what can only be described as the overshare of the century, he took to Facebook and unleashed a hate-filled, homophobic diatribe in which he referred to homosexuals as "people of a different breed" who need to be "fixed." (Later, he also scored points with the scene's female community

Within days, Ten Walls was dropped by several festivals he was scheduled to play, his booking agent, and the dance community in general. After his half-assed "apology" was widely panned, he did the right thing and just fucked off for a while. That is, until this month, when Ten Walls released the track "Shining" with transgendered artist Alex Radford through Lithuanian LGBT media outlet LGL. The track is so terrible that it might be more offensive than the initial rant, and if he thought that futile attempt at a publicity stunt would compensate for the seething disrespect he showed towards a community that is at the heart of dance music culture, he was very wrong, again. ––Jemayel Khawaja