American “Dance” vs. European “Electronic Music”:
I’m going to stick to traditional analogies and say that if these are like “apples and oranges” then the entire electronic music category is one big fucking fruit salad. Not to sound “anti-American” but we’re cocky when it comes to music and this is yet again another example of the uninformed thinking we invented techno. We did not. The British invented electronic music as we know it, so get over it. American “Dance” music should, in my opinion, be wiped from the face of the earth entirely. American “Dance”, and I am making a distinction between American and English, has primarily evolved from hip-hop and disco with some minor European influences. It’s the kind of thing that C&C Music Factory was doing in the 80’s, the kind of thing that Linda Ronstat was doing in the 80’s. It was our first baby step away from disco. It took disco lyrics, hip-hop beats, made it all steady and played it. American “Dance” today can be exemplified in tunes like Madonna’s “Music” and Pink’s “I’m coming up.” They have a steady beat, repetitive vocals and a general “club” feel. American clubs that is. This is another music attribute that American’s seem to think they’ve invented.
Now for the other side of the pond. European “electronic music” has so many sub categories that I unfortunately have to lump them together under the banner of “Techno.” There’s just as many types of Techno as there are types of Jazz, but rest assured that I do fully realize the importance of the different genres but for the sake of this argument, we really don’t need to pick them apart. “Techno” as a whole in Europe is taken as more of an art form. There seems to be perfection in the spinning of a record on a turntable. It’s music to not only be danced to, but also listened to and enjoyed. The “experience” is different. To often American’s see Techno music as Dance music and think that it should be automatically associated with “clubbing” or drinking or taking drugs. It’s almost as if we only got half the gossip. Use this metaphor: A young British kid is calling his American friend one day and trying to explain about this cool new music he’s heard. “It’s all played on records and it’s all made electronically,” he says. The American is intrigued. He’s heard things sort of like this coming out of clubs in his near by city. The British kid then proceeds to tell him about all the weird things that he saw at the club. “There’s people dressed up in weird costumes, drinking and whatnot,” he says. The British kid then runs out of time on his phone card and is disconnected. So, now the only view the American has of “Dance” music is that it has a beat and people get trashed in order to listen to it. The British kid never had time to tell him about the DJ who was playing, that not everyone was under the influence of something, about all the different songs the DJ played, that the music had a crescendo and that it was almost like listening to a classical composer. All of this is lost on the American audience.
American “Dance” music is based on an entirely different ideal, and I’ll mention this more in the “Fucking Oakenfold Fans” section of the essay.
To continue with the European music description, we’ll need to understand that this isn’t just music to our friends across the pond. The culture has so ingrained their way of life that it IS almost like classical music. Almost as if they’re in a renaissance and this is just the music of the times. There are DJs who play music with no catchy vocals, no bouncing bass beats and yet everyone still enjoys it and dances to it. The difference is that American “Dance” music has been created, marketed and sold to the MTV generation solely for profit. European music is created to be played, in a club, for the enjoyment of the listeners. 9 out of 10 times, the record that’s being played doesn’t have a label on it, the person who made that record isn’t getting boat loads of cash, or even famous. They made the record to be played, not to be sold to the highest bidder.
I’ve delicately decided not to go into a deep explanation of what European music sounds like. This is on purpose. The field is so diverse that I wouldn’t do it all justice and my descriptions would be solely based on what I enjoy listening to and why. And that wouldn’t be a fair explanation of the genres. For example, I’d probably elaborately describe Trance and Progressive music for it’s beautiful uplifting qualities but then I’d describe Drum & Base as “simple and full of beats” which it is, but isn’t really a fair assessment.
I should also mention that I’m lumping all of the MTV generation, 15 year old, Brittany Spear wannabe’s into one giant mass. The term “American public” doesn’t include American techno pioneers like Frankie Bones, Moby, Tony Devit and others. Nor does it include people who understand and more importantly accept that the “club scene” IS NOT about being drunk and “partying.” It does not include college age techno coinsures such as Chris and myself. If you enjoy techno music, and can understand the basics of it and can appreciate it’s subtleties, then congratulations, you’re not in the “idiot” category anymore. If you just finished watching TRL and are going to put on your Oakenfold CD’s, then fuck you.
Tomorrow I’ll rant a little more about specific music tracks, CD’s, they’re “staying power” and why the American radio feels the need to take the worst remixes of a particular song and play them over and over and over again on the radio until they’re no longer able to be listened to and enjoyed.