EDM: Electronic Dance Music.
Sub-Genres: Trap, Progressive House, Deep House, Dubstep, Drum N Bass, Complextro, Trance, Dutch House
Types of People It Attracts: People wearing furry unicorn hoods, ‘artistic’ people with lots of tattoos and piercings, people who wear beanies because they haven’t showered, and….me?

My friend, James, played at Beta this weekend, and since I am always up for new experiences to blog about, I was really eager to go. Not exactly the scene I would find myself in every Friday night, but it was an incredibly enlightening experience; my perceptions of EDM have been completely altered.

I first walked into the place and wondered how many of these people were on drugs (of which someone then had to explain to me how to tell which people were on drugs or not, because I really wouldn’t know). But, the more I learned about the music and the scene, the more intrigued I became. Apparently EDM is much more complicated than it appears. Of course, before becoming an expert in any subject, I had to first learn the lingo: beat matching, CDJs, synthesizers, Soundcloud. And, once I could talk the talk, it gave way for me to join in the conversation. I learned that, in order to prepare for a show, James went to a music store to practice working on the system, and that one of his responsibilities is to read the venue, and the crowd. He not only has to pay attention to the music currently playing, but also has to make sure his transitions between songs are smooth. Like any form of art, so much more goes into it than the final product reveals (because, of course, the goal is to make it look smooth, seamless, and easy).

I appreciated the experience the music is able to give the listener; I can certainly see why people are attracted to it. James’ music, in particular, is very uplifting; the sounds are very happy, as a dj, watching him jam and move to his music is jovial, and the people around are generally in a good mood, which puts me in a good mood (Unlike some of the biker bars I have been to, no one got kicked out for fighting). The way you dance to EDM is kind of just walking around, bobbing your head back and forth to the beat, a move available to anyone (I thoroughly appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to worry about someone trying to grind on me because it’s not really a grinding environment). There was a lot to look at: James himself, the people, the fog machine, the go-go dancers, the VJing (another new term I learned). Or, if I didn’t want to look at anything, I could just close my eyes and feel the music (and by feel the music, I mean feel my nose hairs and lungs and all my fat cells vibrating from the Dubstep the opener played).

Music completely enhances our experience of the world. If you know me, I am always wrapped up in music. I use music to pump me up on my way to school, to re-set my mood on my way home. I listen to music when I am working, studying, writing, “just resting my eyes” to help me focus. When I am sad, I use music to jump start my grieving process, and am often known to start a dance party by myself in the kitchen. I jam to my playlists when I am on the stair climber at the gym. My favorite part of church is the music: singing, and being consumed by the lyrics, the sounds, the collective vibes, watching the worship leader having the time of his life up on stage.

Like anything in life, I didn’t realize what an important role music played in my life until it was absent. I remember being about Day 8 in Paris, and feeling just very off. As we finished our tour of the opera house, we walked onto the street, and a guitarist was sitting on the steps, playing “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. I remember standing outside, consumed by the sounds and the visual beauty of the golden opera house, and feeling a sense of euphoria come over me; what was missing in my life was the sound of music.

Kind of like how “that peach smells that reminds you of your grandma’s house”, or “that cheesy smell that reminds you of Iowa”, or “that cologne reminds you of that guy”, our brains tie sensory experiences to memories. Some songs, I listen to on repeat for one straight week, and others, I hold so sacred that I skip them when they come on my iPod shuffle, because I want the memories associated with them to maintain vivid and lucid, and not overdone. So many memories I have are associated with music. Whenever I hear “New York, New York”, I think about starting that kick line with the bachelor party in Las Vegas, and laughing until our abs hurt (and getting dropped on my head by the swing dancer who obviously couldn’t swing dance). Whenever I hear Alan Jackson’s “When Daddy Let Me Drive”, I think about Cheyenne Frontier Days, and my sister dislocating her knee on the bleachers (we always add in an “Ow Ow Ow” sound effect). When “Come Sail Away” comes on the oldies radio, I am brought back to my sophomore year of high school (and, in my head, I am singing “Come Sail Away”/Spot, Spot/”Come Sail Away”/Spot/”Come Sail Away with Meeee”/5,6,7,land/breathe). Music provides us another dimension of experience. As an artist, a musician, a song writer, a singer, a DJ, what a grand opportunity you have to give those experiences to your listeners.

My perceptions of EDM have completely changed. Would I go to Beta every Friday night? Probably not. Am I going to download some James Egbert? Probably, because listening to his music is going to remind me of some really great memories that I can re-visit anytime the tracks are played on my iPod shuffle.

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