My EDM Adventure
by Garrett Kamps | November 2, 2012
First of all, no one ever used to call it "EDM." We were prouder, and more creative. We had terms like "intelligent dance music," "happy hardcore," "drill 'n' bass," "glitch," "laptronica," "jungle," "big beat" and "electroclash." So there. Also, we had the good sense to wear comically oversized pants, preferably mismatched with a traffic-cone-orange sweatshirt that said "Liquid Sky" somewhere on it; we sure did like that alien dude, whatever he was supposed to signify. Like today's fans, we shared a fondness for neon and glow sticks, as well as a desperate need to hydrate. Unlike today's fans, since this was the age before cell phones, we got lost a lot trying to find raves.
Not that I was a trailblazer; far from it. I boarded the electronica train in the mid-'90s, right about the time MTV was playing videos by The Prodigy and Tricky. I did, however, work quickly, moving from the car-commercial sounds of The Chemical Brothers to the more cerebral stuff on labels like Warped and Thrill Jockey. I relocated from L.A. to N.Y.C. in '98, where a weekly techno night at a bar in the East Village expanded my horizons further, to minimal stuff from artists like Swayzak (many of whose brethren sadly never made it up in Rhapsody).
By the time I arrived in San Francisco in the early '00s, electronic music was everywhere and nowhere: It was punk in the hands of Kid606 and his Tigerbeat6 label; tribal-techno in whatever it was the Burning Man guys were doing; all up and down hip-hop, especially via the short-lived hyphy trend; and celebrating its more traditionalist roots in the form of the funky house sets of Miguel Migs. Compared to today, however, the music was so pervasive that it lacked a unifying identity. In recent years, of course, that has changed. Thanks to artists like Skrillex and Deadmau5, electronic music is a household sound again, not unlike it was 15 years ago, only this time bigger and maybe even better: Seeing Deadmau5 perform in a thunderstorm at Lollapalooza 2011 was a top-five concert-going moment for me, and probably always will be.
Which is to say that I still enjoy both the big and small tents of EDM, or whatever folks are calling it years from now. This Friday Mixtape is an attempt to reflect this broad genre's sprawling canvas, in roughly chronological order, per my personal experience with it. Please enjoy, and may we all try to forget about those pants.