my beef with electronic music

i’ve been playing music since i was 14 when i convinced my dad to rent me a shitty bass and shitty amp. i was hooked immediately. i was practicing for hours upon hours each day, working and saving money to buy more and more gear. then i started writing my own (shitty) songs. then me and some pals started forming bands, learning those songs, playing crappy shows. over time, we got to be decent musicians, our gear got better, our songs got better. by the time i was in my mid-20’s, i was making some decent melodic doom/death metal with some other great musicians.

some musicians came and went. recordings were made. tour vans were bought. maintenance on said vans was done. merchandise was made. tours were organized and executed. the profits from the merch allowed us to break even on the cost of touring (keep in mind we were sleeping on the floors and in the guest beds of some very generous folks—no 4-star hotels for death metal bands). i really enjoyed it. here’s a song by that old band of mine.

but there came a time when i had had enough. i was tired of busting my hump, making the most thoughtful, intelligent, skull-crushing death metal i could and bringing it to people when only a handful cared about it. this wasn’t a surprise, of course: any dimwit recognizes that there is an extremely limited market for my choice of extreme music. however, that’s not my complaint here. my complaint is that there is a limited market for live music in general. less and less people care about real musicians and the crafts of both playing an instrument and writing a good song. live music is a dinosaur on the verge of extinction—yet electronic music continues to grow and thrive.

there are some real, tangible reasons for this. i think the most obvious is the cost of live music vs electronic. live music often requires multiple musicians who all need paycheques, food, and lodging. gear is required for each person, studios are required to record in, and vans and trailers are required to tour. on the other hand, electronic music has less people involved to require paycheques, food, and lodging. less people means less gear so it can be toured in a much smaller, cheaper vehicle. it is usually recorded at home on a plain jane computer. so financially, electronic music is far more viable. i don’t hold that against it. it’s a financially smarter, more streamlined art form in that sense and i applaud that.

what i don’t applaud is the art itself. mindless, droning, repetitive 1/4 note bass drum beats with the occasional ‘drop’ where the bass drum stops and high pitch things go wee d-d-dee, d-d-dee, d-d-dee, faster and faster until that fucking bass drum comes back in and everyone loses their minds because they’re so fucking relieved, as if they believed that precious beat was actually gone for good, never to return. jesus fuck. it’s the same thing, over and over, and people eat it up.

most electronic music lacks any interesting melody, or melody at all. if there is a melody, it’s beaten to death because it’s only a few bars long and is repeated for the whole length of the 8-minute piece.

a lot of electronic shit samples other songs, which i have found can be done tastefully just for effect but this is not usually the case. usually the sample will be a few lines from or even the entire chorus of an already popular song, looped endlessly. what a fucking wank move, grabbing the hook from someone else’s hit, throwing it in your thing, and taking credit for this ‘new’ creation. even worse is taking all of the music and simply replacing the lyrics. for example, consider puff daddy’s ‘i’ll be missing you’, which is nothing more than a pathetic, lazy ripoff of the police’s ‘i’ll be watching you’.

that’s not a puff daddy song. that’s puff daddy mumbling over some music written and recorded by real musicians 20 years prior. FOAD, puff daddy, you motherfucking talentless hack.

continuing on: live performances are not performances at all. i have watched electronic ‘shows’ that consist solely of some fuckhead pressing ‘play’ on his laptop, which is hooked up the PA system, and then bouncing around on stage with their hands in the air, occasionally looking at the screen or mixer as if they’re actually playing or creating the music right then and there. how many years did it take them to learn how to drop in pre-programmed beats and hit play? probably not as many as it took me to learn to do sweep arpeggios cleanly.

marvin-at-the-summertime-ball-2013-1370791911-custom-0

this fucking one-arm-up thing is as nauseating and overdone as assholes giving the metal horns and saying “this rocks” — which is yet another typical loser move

as someone who has spent countless hours practicing both alone and with other musicians to hone our personal skills, and then working with each other to create music that is challenging and interesting yet also pleasing to listen to (to our ears, anyway), i am fucking offended that people would rather listen to neanderthal, predictable 1/4 note bass drum beats and ‘drops’; rip-offs of songs written and recorded by other people; non-live performances that could often be performed by any dickhead dressed like a hipster. i feel like a chef who makes great meals, watching people prefer to eat dog food.

it’s obvious that i have a lot of hate for any non-live instrument ‘music’ but there are exceptions. there are some innovators who are incredibly talented and make exciting, original shit, like bassnectar, beardyman, and die antwoord, to name a few. i am lucky enough to have seen all of them live and loved them. but in a genre that enshrines repetition, predictability, and musical fraud, these acts are rare gems. most are simply just the shits.

i realize, of course, that art is entirely subjective and regardless of my strong opinions, neither i or anyone else is ‘right’ when it comes to tastes. i guess i am just writing this entry in the hope that some other people with some musical background will one day see this and go, “i know, electronic music is the shits, and a real insult to hard-working musicians and artists!” maybe then i won’t feel so alone and outnumbered on this topic.

to follow, eventually: why i hate the every other music scene (metal, country, indie rock, hip hop, etc) for many of the same reasons i hate electronic music; the reasons i have given up on creating my own serious art and music; and my disappointment in the inescapable link between all live music and intoxicants; also, in non-music hatred, the witless devotion of partisan politics.

oh, joy. good times ahead indeed.

but wait, that reminds me, and i’d like to end this with something i actually do like.

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