Ben Sisario from the New York Times interviewed D.J. and producer Richie Hawtin, about EDM reaching the mainstream, its current hold on today’s digitalized generation of youth, and the progression from the subtle, underground electronic music of twenty years ago to the version is considered to be some of the most popular music today. Hawtin went on a national tour around college campuses, a place where EDM is experiencing surging popularity, discussing the history of the genre. The tour was called “CNTRL: Beyond E.D.M.”
Richie Hawtin is an old-school D.J., and he himself says, “I can’t make a song that everybody jumps around and sings. But I do feel that what I do is something worth making, worth having people listen to.” He represents the older style of electronic music that has been around for decades, unbeknownst to the lovers of disco, punk, hip-hop and other genres that have commanded the popular music segment.
Today, D.J.s and producers such as David Guetta, Tiesto, Kaskade, and Swedish House Mafia are among the most prestigious and well paid musicians in the business. The relationship between these musicians and their audiences is unprecedented in the music industry; the techies and the craftsmen behind the music are now the ones doing the artistic expression. Hawtin expresses his criticism of this, saying, “They [D.J.s] are very connected to their fans digitally. But except for punching their hands in the air when they’re playing, they’re not connected physically.” Hawtin explains that since this is the first generation of young people who do not remember the world before cell phones and the internet, “These are electronic technology-based kids, and they want a soundtrack for their generation.”
Ben Sisario is an Arts Beat reporter for the New York Times who primarily focuses on contemporary and popular music trends.