Is EDM Getting Its Own Reality Show?
Just as "reality television" is a term that can, theoretically at least, be applied to a broad spectrum of tacky programming, but seems content with its fixation on regional accents, industrial amounts of alcohol and night-vision camera captured naughtiness. Likewise, the term "EDM" ( that's electronic dance music geniuses) has become deeply entwined with huge brash synths and bass drops that Stenchman might consider a little crass - aka. music for killstreaks and furtive wanking whilst mum's out essentially.
Awkwardly cram the two together and you get the brainchild of Doron Ofir, the man once behind Jersey Shore who's founded www.edmcasting.com, in a bid to weed out some unsung stars of EDM, for the genre's very own reality show. Currently, the site looks jazzy in a Gio Goi t-shirt kind of way and contains little apart from a questionnaire, so we gave Doron a ring to see what was up.
Noisey: What does the term ‘EDM’ mean to you? Is EDM a catch-all term, or is it something we can look at more specifically, with specific aesthetic…
DORON: From a personal point of view, EDM – Electronic Dance Music – encompasses a massive umbrella of music all catering under the form of dance. Meaning music you dance to. it has been the soundtrack of my life. Completely. Electronic Dance Music has defined my life since I was fourteen years old.. I think that the umbrella is massive and I don’t think that it’s any one kind of music.
In the UK at least, EDM has taken on connotations of a very specific form of dance music – your Skrillex’s, your David Guetta’s – do you want to refute that with this new program?
My job is presenting an opportunity to someone who wouldn’t have been able to have been heard before or since…part of this is, ‘okay, well, where is your street cred? Do you spin in small venues? Do you create a following?’ In the United States – which is really all I can refer to – it’s so divided. So the New York City dance scene is completely different to the San Francisco dance scene. Yet they all fall under the same umbrella. With a show like this, I’m hoping to appeal to everyone, so that everyone has a chance to express themselves and what it is they love about electronic music. I think everyone is sort of afraid that it’s going to be sort of an iPod plug-in and it just isn’t.
Do you want people who play trance, people who play gabba,, people who play deep house?
If I find somebody who is the best at what they do in a small pocket of this country I want to be able to give them the opportunity to be seen. A show like this can actually educate audiences about what dance music actually is on a much larger scale, and that’s my goal. So if you’re somebody who’s doing fusion-mashups with real interesting electronic beats and it’s coming with a country perspective and you’re coming from somewhere out of Oklahoma, that should be listened to, that should be heard.
To some extent, doesn’t the internet allow this to happen? Do you want middle-American viewers to see a trance DJ in action?
Yeah, I would like everybody to stop what they’re doing – literally – and embrace the community that currently exists. Because it is so diverse, because it is so accepting. Because my understanding of dance music and what I grew up with and what shaped my life was a feeling of total and complete acceptance. So this backlash, with people saying I’m ruining the scene was really interesting to me because for me it was about acceptance and inclusivity. Not exclusivity.
Is doing this program a chance to give an insight into a world that’s offered you acceptance?
It’s allowing me to use two of my greatest strengths, which is to find what I love and provide an opportunity for others to potentially showcase what they do and what they love. That’s really what it comes down to it. Whether the people I personally think are the best move forward is irrelevant. It is allowing an influx of potential for a much wider opportunity for people who do this every day, whether it’s spinning in a garage in Alberquerque, New Mexico, or they’re literally owning in Oakland, California, it doesn’t matter because that DJ isn’t really being heard in other places. Isn’t that really what it comes down to? Hearing the music. Spreading the music.
You’ve mentioned that you don’t create the content, but can we know a little about the format of this show?
People say reality shows are fake. They aren’t fake. When I was tasked with the potential of getting this project from a TV point of view I was honoured. This was people coming from a similar point of view trying to create something great, trying to take things to the next level, and really trying to give the nod to something that has been influential over the last thirty years regardless of its demographics.
How does one make watching someone producing a track or practising a mix visually stimulating?
A show like this allows the process to unfold, to show the genius behind how this is created. How is this created visually? That’s not my job, that’s not what I do. But when I go and see a DJ set, you do see what they do. But from step one, it really is the responsibility of the casting to find something that you can hang a show on. Because if the talent does not come forth, doesn’t apply, then there’s nothing left to watch. If you don’t have any ingredients you can’t cook anything. So that’s why casting is really really important.
When you’re casting, are you willing to overlook someone who may not be as technically proficient as other candidates if they have the right kind of personality?
You can’t be on something and be nothing otherwise you’re a joke. And this isn’t a joke. I don’t think anyone involved in the project is looking to embarrass or humiliate a community that they’re hoping to cater to. Its counter-intuitive. We want the most talented with the best personality and the most vision that can become something bigger in the future for the next generation. It needs to be interesting to watch. A good story. When you look in a gallery, and you look at art, the art speaks for itself absolutely; but when you meet the personality behind it, it usually adds a greater depth and a little bit more of an understanding and it may allow somebody to view or listen or see things in a different way. It adds to the experience. I don’t think that Deadmau5s would be wearing that headdress if he didn’t think so either.
Where do you stand on those kind of gimmicks?
My personal taste is house music. I like a deeper beat, I like a soulful vibe, I like a specific vocal, I enjoy the uplifting nature of what I consider classic original house - that was the dancefloor that I was on. I would leave after nine hours of dancing drenched in soaking sweat. And had never felt happier or more elevated in my life. Other people have that with their favourite DJs. So, do I comment on someone elses’ DJs? No. Do I understand the music that exists? Absolutely. There are individual tracks by every major DJ that I love. Whether it is David Guetta or Markus Schulz or William Orbit, or Skrillex, they all are doing something – which is creating art. So to ask about gimmicks is interesting because you go to a club now and a lot of people just stand there staring at the DJ. They literally stand on the dancefloor and stare at the DJ for five and a half hours.
Drugs are part of the dance world – we can’t pretend that they’re not – how does an American network television program get around this?
The point of a show like this is the showcase the art and the music. It’s not about the indulgent experience of being a reveller. For me, the concept of being ‘alcohol-fuelled’ at a concert isn’t part of the process I wouldn’t think. I don’t know if you’re asking for a personal opinion on drug culture?
You can answer it like that if you like but I wasn’t going to push you on a personal level.
Let me be clear about it, I don’t think…I think it’s a really sad state of affairs if you need drugs to listen to music. Music should be a drug, and I think music is a drug. When you do listen to it it does change you. It does intensify, it does amplify, and your experience changes from, literally, an electro-chemical reaction.
If you don’t mind a foray into the world of Jersey Shore, how would you feel if your casting in this show gave us another Pauly D?
Pauly, as a cast member on Jersey Shore, was, in his heart, and in his dreams, he was a DJ. He was a DJ in a very small area – Long Island – and he had his own following of people that wanted to hear him spin his type of music. showcased what he was capable of doing, and he, as a very suave and savvy business person was able to live his dream of being a worldwide DJ. The truth is he’s selling out rooms, and the people that are leaving those rooms are all saying the same thing: that was the greatest night of my life. So who is to say that they are wrong and they don’t understand music. There’s a snobbery involved and I find it really odd because DJs have always had competition with each other but it’s the antithesis of what the scene should be.
There’s always someone with more Kassem Mosse 12”s than you. There’s also something very all-American about this brand of reality television that gives people the opportunity to transcend their world and become a star – is that something you feel proud of?
I do! I’m not wearing fairy wings and tapping people with a wand – I’m allowing them the opportunity to present the greatest version of themselves. I think everybody is afraid that it’s going to be like, ‘Oh, I have this sad story but I’m also a DJ in my bedroom and I would like the world to see that,’ and I don’t think that’s what this is. Yes, everyone’s got a story and yes we will hear it for surebut ultimately there’s a massive infrastructure involved and I’m not the only say-all or do-all I’m just the initial gatekeeper, my job is to get the information out there so that someone out there who has the dream and has the drive and the ability to actually take the next step and applies might actually be seen. And this is all without judgement. I’m not judging them.
Why do you think this project has provoked the discussion it has?
Because, ohmygod, it’s about time! I have wanted something like this for so long appear on a television set. I mean yeah, there are people who are strictly underground who don’t want to, I don’t know, sully the image, but those people won’t have to change because those underground things will remain underground. I don’t understand the outcry about this show being the end of the world or how it’s going to damage the industry, and if they’re afraid that somebody who they deem to be a poser or wannabe receives a modicum of success because of a television show, and people want to listen to this person and see them perform, the person making the commentary doesn’t have to go.
To end, it’s undeniable that a lot of this show will hinge on persona and personality – how pivotal is that to your understanding of EDM?
It’s the Leigh Bowery concept of celebratory revelling, of experiencing an alternate personality you can put forward in your nightlife: in the day you’re a secretary, at night you’re a club-goddess. There’s something to that and I think it’s a beautiful, colourful experience. I want the big bang to happen again. You’ll have everything it’s possible to experience. Inclusivity!
Follow Josh on Twitter @bain3z