Taking CNTRL: Richie Hawtin's set at New York's Webster Hall
Now that EDM has settled comfortably into America cultural landscape-- witness backing tracks to this week's top ten Hot 100 songs by PSY, Ke$ha, Alex Clare and others; BlackBerry TV commercials with ] Diplo; Swedish House Mafia selling out two nights at Madison Square Garden (sponsored by Absolute Vodka); Live Nation's EDM wing; Las Vegas' mayor giving Electric Daisy Carnival the key to the city; and much more -- Canada's minimal techno innovator Richie Hawtin and German DJ/producer Loco Dice are doing their part to make sure the genre's rise isn't just a flash in the pan.
Operating under the banner "CNTRL: Beyond EDM," Hawtin and Loco are seeking out the next generation of DJ/producers while exposing them to a broader historical context of the oeuvre's important electronic artists both with their music and by bringing the younger fans into direct contact with techno originators like Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson and expereienced house DJs like Josh Wink and Victor Calderone who appear with the duo on different tour stops.
"Entertain, inspire, and educate…in that order," is the purpose of the CNTRL tour, Hawtin said to Billboard.biz in an email. For the eduction aspect the tour, Hawtin and co. are arranging daytime seminars at local colleges before their performances later that night. In the lecture portion, Hawtin discusses the use of technology to facilitate creativity, Dice addresses the role of old school DJing with modern equipment, and Johannes Kramer (Hawtin's sound technician) emphasizes the importance of sound quality.
Through these lectures the team hopes to "reach out to the younger audience and ignite further interest in the genre and then allow each newcomer to take their own individual pathway deeper into the genre," expalins Hawtin. Dice adds, "Maybe we can encourage people to dig deeper into the rich history of house and techno."
(Unfortunately, some of the East Coast locations -- including New York -- were unable to host the discussion due to Hurricane Sandy.)
The lecture section coming to Drexel University including guests artist Josh Wink and manager of Ovum Recordings.
For Hawtin, Dice and others who began DJing a generation or more ago, the crossover of electronic music into the American mainstream is only too familiar: the rise of the dance music scene in the '90s was short-lived because, among other things, it failed to adapt to the times.This time around, however, producers like Hawtin and Dice want to avoid history repeating itself.
The EDM scene has already received a bit of backlash--even from within its own community. Deadmau5 recently wrote a blog post denouncing live performances at concerts for being pre-recorded (" United We Fail, We All Hit Play") which elicited criticism and discussion about jockeys who don't actually DJ during live performances as well as discussion on how "mainstream" the music is becoming and the genre's lack of musical diversity.
But it's the rise of electronic sounds in the American mainstream, combined with these very complaints about EDM, that encouraged Hawtin to set out on this tour. "This is just an opportunity when the door of acceptance is slightly ajar and we have the possibility to come in and help open the door wider, perhaps even wedging it open, in order to allow these newly inspired electronic music fans to delve in deeper and discover how rich and diverse the world of electronic music really is," Hawtin says.
Hawtin emphasized the distinction between electronic music, which fully encompasses the diversity of the genre, and electronic dance music which has become a term used to define what has become a very American phenomenon. Hawtin elaborates "the term 'EDM' is somewhat restricting and demonstrates that the current knowledge of electronic music in the States is focused solely on dance music that you hear in clubs and/or rave type festivals."
Getting Loco: Webster Hall rocked by Loco Dice's set.
At the CNTRL's Webster Hall show last Saturday night (Nov. 3)m Jarobin Guerra Gilbert said he's been a fan of electronic music years. "I don't listen to EDM, I listen to trance and techno." He, just like Hawtin, draws a clear distinction between EDM scenesters "who should step away from this music and open their minds" and fans like him "who are a bit older and more informed about the music's history." Despite his dislike of EDM music, he does agree that a tour such as CNTRL would not have been possible had the genre not re-entered mainstream consciousness.
For Bianca, a 22-year old who discovered electronic music only a couple years ago, hearing Richie Hawtin at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas was something of a revelation. "I'm always looking for music that opens up my mind. Hawtin's music was so different it really broadened my horizons," she said. And that's exacltly what the CNTRL tour aims to do.
For a complete list of the CNTRL tour's remaining dates, click here.