This article originally appeared on thump, in 2016
This weekend just gone an EDM DJ called KSHMR played a festival in Canada and at some stage during his set the sound cut out. KSHMR, poor KSHMR, poor, sweet, vowel-less KSHMR didn't realise this had happened. So enraptured by the music that was presumably continuing to play through his headphones, KSHMR had no idea that everybody in his audience had stopped dancing, and he carried on mixing silently into the night. Watch:
Our narrator, who we imagine is called Trent or Leif or something, puts it best: "That moment when the power goes out and the DJ doesn't know, he's just smashing it up there."
The phrase "dance like nobody's watching" is normally taken to be an inspirational line. A plea to live this life with reckless abandon, a bliss that can only be found once you've decided that the opinions of others are meaningless compared to the convictions of your own spirit. Well, that's sort of what KSHMR is proving in this video, right? Without fully realising it, he's DJing like nobody's listening. Because they're not. They can't hear a thing. He's the only person enjoying it. All around him the world is falling apart. Bros are tearing their vests off and swinging them round their heads; gurning ravers, baffled by the sudden silence, are craning their heads into the booth; a squad of well-oiled Raptors fans from Toronto are chanting "let's go Raptors, let's go Raptors." The festival is a scene of chaos and confusion, a site of music-less pandemonium experienced by everyone except for, yep, KSHMR.
KSHMR is somewhere else. For all KSHMR knows, everyone is still bouncing up and down like hugely excited ping-pong balls at his set. In KSHMR's ears, whichever inspirational, vaguely pan-racial banger he was dropping before the sound cut out is still playing. As far as KSHMR can tell he is still smashing it up there. And isn't there something beautiful about that?
KSHMR, the sweet, earnest, honest, inspirational, that KHSHMR, the DJ you've never heard of who inexplicably has 2 billion Youtube plays on all his songs KSHMR, has chosen the red pill. Watching him there, jamming out, we are forced to ask what is really preferable. Unplugging the headphones? Understanding the reality of what is going on around us? Or do we do as KSHMR does and keep jamming out? Some people might say, "face reality. ASAP." They'd say that nothing could ever been gained from keeping up the pretence that you think the crowd are still dancing. Now, normally I'd agree, but in this case, there's something strangely, oddly inspiring about KSHMR's obliviousness. He's fucking jamming out. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks. He's jamming out. Earlier he was speaking into the microphone.
Next time the world becomes too much, put on your headphones and DJ to nobody. They might shout that you're embarrassing, question why you have "no idea", they might even shout "let's go Raptors". Only you won't hear, for you are KSHMR, DJing to nobody. Nobody but yourself.