Book Explores Rise of Electronic Dance Music

By Roberts, Randall | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), May 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Book Explores Rise of Electronic Dance Music


Roberts, Randall, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


From its humble American beginnings as house music in Chicago, techno in Detroit and rave music in England, the genre now known as electronic dance music has become a billion-dollar business. Superstar DJs earn tens of millions of dollars annually; corporations such as Live Nation have EDM departments run by first- generation ravers gone mainstream. In America, festivals such as the Electric Daisy Carnival, Hard and Coachella, all born in Southern California, draw hundreds of thousands to annual events. How did this cultural transformation occur? Writer Michaelangelo Matos explores this question in "The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America (Dey Street: 448., $25.99). A comprehensive history of a movement, rave culture, that sprouted in Southern California after its rise in England, the book traces 40- plus year history of EDM in America.

Q:Why did rave culture first take hold in Southern California?

A: Southern California is expat central. That's where all the Londoners go, and a lot of them started up the scene. I know there were American DJs playing that music, but turning it into rave culture per se is a very different thing. And that's what the Brits brought, not just to Southern California but Northern California as well.

Q:The Northern California connection, you write, played a part in electronic dance music's evolution. How did rave culture harness Silicon Valley technology?

A: The scene got bigger as the Internet grew. They go hand in hand. Both are moving ahead in the United States at the same time. That core group of people that are passionate about it are online. In 1992 when the Hyperreal list-servs (which provided news of upcoming raves) began, that's obviously a cradle of Southern California thing too, because Brian Behlendorf (who created them) is a Los Angeles native. That's his work. The Internet is the Internet because of him. The fact that it's a raver doing it isn't a coincidence at all.

Q:You write about the importance of French house duo Daft Punk's appearance at Coachella in 2006 (in terms of making dance music popular again) and note that the event's reputation was built not on press reviews at the time but through the fledgling site YouTube.

A: The fact that the Daft Punk surge occurred is huge. …

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