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The Dance Music Debates You’re Supposed to Care About and Why They Don’t Actually Matter At All

You know everything you're meant to think and care about? Don't bother. But read this first to see why you don't need to bother, obviously.

by Josh Baines
08 October 2015, 2:18am

Caring about things is pretty tiring, isn't it? Like actually having to formulate an opinion on things, constantly ensuring you've got a take — it's exhausting. Honestly, after a long hard day of sitting at work trying to care about Jeremy Corbyn and the future of the shipbuilding industry and rail privatisation and Mary Berry and climate change and Tom Jones live webcasts and banter and Brendan Rodgers and Greek economics and the price of plastic bags, I'm just about ready to collapse into a heap of not giving a fuck about anything other than finding an OK stream of the first series of Nighty Night and stuffing my increasingly fat face with biscuits.

I don't have the energy to care these days. I'm getting old: I ache where I once felt pleasure, I spend most of my Sunday eyeing up the slacks in the Observer supplements, and I'd quite like to book myself onto a walking holiday round the Pennines. The thing is, I have to care. I have to keep abreast of the topical — or at least be seen to be doing so. I have to surf the unceasing zeitgeist every single day. It's fucked my knees up, but there you go.

Read more: I got old and got into Swedish House Mafia — why don't you do the same?

Writing about a specialist area means focusing on specialized arguments and ideas that mean a lot to the people involved but significantly less than fuck all to anyone and everyone else in the world. So you find yourself burrowed down in super specific rabbit holes, occasionally coming up for air. And then, one day, you realize that you can liberate yourself from this process of continually worrying about formulating an immediate, perfect opinion on something that, truthfully, you don't really care about.

Here's a bunch of dance related arguments that you don't actually have to care about. Honestly, you don't.

The argument: Vinyl/MP3/CDs are better/more authentic than CDs/MP3/Vinyl!

Photo via Achi Raz

Why you're meant to care: There's a misguided notion that underpins pretty much all of dance music and that notion is that authenticity a) exists and b) means anything. So people get het up about what DJs use to play out because apparently it's worth commenting on what DJs use to play out.

Why you don't have to: There is literally nothing interesting to say on the subject. You can play on a fucking kazoo for all it matters. If you, or anyone you know, actually gives a toss about what Todd Terry or Todd Edwards or Todd Terje uses when they DJ then have a very long, hard word with them or yourself. People who have strong opinions on the matter probably care about restaurants serving people food on unconventional alternatives to plates and regularly retweet @GetInTheSea, and are likely to wear olive green t-shirts and brown trainers.

The argument: EDM is for children!

Photo via Mixtribe

Why you're meant to care: EDM — a term that really doesn't mean very much at all in 2015 but still has some kind of antithetical cultural cache and is often thought of as some kind of brain-rotting harbinger of doom that's going to destroy the Real Proper Grown Up dance music that the rest of us like, and damn an entire generation of Adderall-addled frat boys and sorority sisters to a life of mindless fist-pumping and glowstick-goo swallowing, a process of dumbing down which will, surely destroy dance music forever because it's completely impossible that the two can exist at the same time — is bad, mate. Really bad.

Why you don't need to: Are you one of those Americanophiles that occasionally litter central London on specific Sundays, draped head to toe in NFL gear? Do you watch SNL? Do you have opinions on Conan O'Brien? Do you tweet about Little Debbie Cakes and republican debates? No? Good. Thank fuck for that. You don't have to worry about EDM either. It's something — like chickenpox or cold press juices or Barry Manilow — that can just exist without you needing to think about it any point in your life. Relax. Inhale. Relax. Exhale. Relax.

The argument: You need to hear everything on an amazing sound system to really get it!

Photo via Circuito Fora do Eixo

Why you're mean to care: Boring blokes the world round will tell you that if a club doesn't have an amazing sound system then it isn't worth going to and you may as well be listening to music through a clock radio 15 feet under water.

Why you don't need to: You know what, mate? Fuck sound quality. Fuck it. I'm happy to hear a tinny mp3 played through a potato if the tune's good, mate. 'Cos that's me: I just love good tunes, mate. Me and the tunes, we've good a good thing going, mate. They're good to me and I'm good to them, mate. Call me a hippy if you want, mate, but it's true, mate. Seriously, mate. Most clubs sound like shit but you can still have fun in them because, y'know, they're nightclubs, not branches of Richer Sounds. Mate.

The argument: The underground/mainstream is better than the mainstream/underground!

Photo via Petr Dosek

Why you're meant to care: It is, allegedly, of vital importance that you either FIERCELY fight for the rights of the nominal underground and simultaneously ABHOR the dreaded prospect of the commercially successful — Yuck, Disclosure! Ughhh, Avicii! — or wholeheartedly embrace everything big, brash, poppy and popular and contort your face into an odd inverse-sneer at those try-hards who wank into the inner sleeves of Perlon 12"s and refuse to go to enter any club that'd have them as a member.

Why you don't need to: It is 2015. Nothing matters. At all. Especially not liking Bassnectar when you're supposed to like Barnt.

The argument: Dance music is better than ever/dance music is dead!

Photo via R4VI


Why you're meant to care:
At any moment in history you must, apparently, be totally sure at all times that everything is either amazingly amazing or horrifically shit.

Why you don't need to: The idea that any period in time is objectively better or worse for any artform than any other period of time is, like believing that eating your five a day has any real bearing on your health, a total fucking fallacy. It's a narrative we construct to make ourselves feel a sense of unearned and unnecessary superiority for the purpose of...nope. There is no purpose. Good and bad records are released every year. Good and bad DJs play clubs every year. There are no golden ages of nadirs. Nothing really changes. Nothing gets hugely better. Nothing gets hugely worse. Be happy with the stagnant pond we all find ourselves treading water in. Wade through the duckweed and the algae with as much pleasure as you can muster. Subsume yourself in the calm of becoming uncaring.

It's lovely down here. Honestly. Join me.

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