Now That Dubstep Is Dead, I'm Turning Into an EDM Fan

Robert DeLong at the Westword Music Showcase.EXPAND
Robert DeLong at the Westword Music Showcase.
Aaron Thackeray

I think I may be an EDM fan. That’s a hard sentence to write, because for as long as I can remember, it’s a genre that I’ve actively railed against. I’ve ignored it, avoided it, gone so far as to trash-talk it and judge its fans. But as I look at my Spotify activity for the last few months, the uncomfortable evidence is there: Jamie XX, Thug Entrancer, Robert DeLong, Flume, Flying Lotus. As I begin to accept my newfound fandom of this wide-ranging genre of EDM/electronica, I have to ask why my perspective has shifted. The answer is as loud as the new Chainsmokers single blasting from my laptop: Dubstep is finally dead.

Dubstep, which has dominated the electronic scene in recent years, is the bane of my musical existence. Its wubs and drops and “melodies” that sound like the video-game soundtrack of your nightmares are as far from my musical tastes as can be. I am a pretty open-minded music fan, but the scratches and bass feel like a sick, twisted audio attack on my eardrums. I wasn’t having it, and I wasn’t having anything to do with anything remotely related to it, which meant years of avoiding DJs and synths and dance parties. I hid out in dive bars where punks played proper power chords, and filled my iPhone with as much acoustic indie as it could hold.

Worse than the music, though, was the fans. In hindsight, these people are all probably lovely and are as passionate as I am about music; they just happened to be worshipping Skrillex while I was praying at the altar of Sufjan Stevens. In my mind, however, dubstep fans are the people I absolutely hated in college. The bros blasting Bassnectar while taking bong rips on the roof of their dilapidated house. The girls wandering through the streets, rolling hard, on their way back from some stupid DJ set at the local theater. I despised them and their love of excess, all in the name of sounds that I refused to call music. They could keep their giant house parties and the drug-fueled Red Rocks show. I was happy sipping PBR in a basement house show watching an eighteen-year-old play mediocre, derivative garage rock.

But something has changed since those days. Maybe it’s no longer being surrounded by my neon-clad wasted peers, or because electronic underground has grown and dubstep has faded, but I find myself enjoying music I would before dismiss without consideration. Sure, I had always been a fan of electronic pop, (LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and Cut Copy come to mind). So when electronic music moved away from the drop and toward textures, better instrumentation and creative samples, I couldn’t help but listen. This music had depth; it contained a semblance of a soul. House shows were suddenly filled with kids experimenting with looping and synths, and I was there, listening with intrigue.

Fast-forward to today, when I’m writing this while the new, brilliant Jamie XX album In Colour is playing from my speakers. I love this album. At times it's quiet and contemplative; at others it makes me want to dance like crazy. It’s been my go-to writing album for weeks, and I can’t wait to see how it translates live. It’s the same with local kid Bollywood Life, with xxyyxx, with Black Moth Super Rainbow. A few weeks after a friend and I saw Flume together, he texted me that he had ended up at Beta after, dancing to some deep house. I found myself jealous.

Goodbye, dubstep. I don’t miss you. Please don’t come back. Leave me here — as the mind-blowing new Chainsmokers song states — “smoking a little weed on the couch in the back room” and listening to some much better electronic music. 


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