Review :: EMC 2012 – Day 1
November 28th 2012
Sydney’s inaugural Electronic Music Conference is only half over, but I already find the gauge on my satisfaction metre approaching a full tank. With so many vital members of the national and international electronic music community participating, there’s never been a better time to sit in a chair and listen to people talk about stuff. Tiësto said loads of unintentionally hilarious things which I get to quote and you get to giggle at, but more importantly there have been some enlightening and thought-provoking things to come out of each panel.
Laidback Luke talked about the “magic” of spontaneously building a set by reading a crowd’s vibe. The rest of the panel (made up of Nina Las Vegas, Sam La More and Goodwill) agreed that that no matter how many Swedish House Mafia tracks you include, pre-planning or pre-mixing a set just isn’t going to be as rewarding for anyone involved. Luke put it succinctly when he said “it’s like saying that sex is just an up and down motion”.
The self-proclaimed “old school” DJs inGoodwill and Laidback Luke also touched on the opinion that mixing isn’t the most important thing about DJing. They both reminisced about having seen Danny Tenaglia perform many times, and that he somehow managed to take them on incredible 6 hour journeys despite being terrible at mixing. No matter whether you’re ‘fake’ or not though, it seems that one thing is clear – the expectations have been raised. The DJ’s role has changed, and a new generation of electronic music lovers brought in by the US’s ‘EDM’ boom want more than just a technically excellent DJ set – they also want a performance.
Comedy for the day was provided by the Bono-collaborating, stadium-filling Tiësto. Truly a man who proves that DJs are the new rock stars. From his thoughts on possible career moves (“I would like to become more of a fashion designer”), to his endearing modesty (“I’m a very natural-born DJ – I know how to rock a crowd”), a keynote with the man is a quote generator that almost destroyed the thumbs of many an excited Twitter fiend.
My pick of the bunch would have to be the following ‘lost in translation’ moment. Grant Smillie suggested that Tiësto had such a profound control over his audience at the Sydney Stereosonic show that he could’ve played ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and everyone would’ve gone nuts. Basically the big man didn’t really understand what Smillie was on about, so he did his best attempt at sincerely telling us that the nursery rhyme is “a very nice track”. Oh Tiësto. What a cutie.
Oh and a nice slice of awkwardness was served up by an unidentified EMC delegate during the keynote too. He evidently thought that when Smillie asked those in attendance if they had any questions for Tiësto, he actually meant “please relentlessly harass the keynote speaker for the intimate details of his exercise regime”. Not cool, guy.
On the topic of the current ‘EDM’ boom in the US, Gina Turner told us that this ‘trickle down’ effect that we’ve all been told will happen is indeed in motion right now. She gave the example of Provocateur nightclub in New York, “a bottle service type club that nobody can get into”. She said that while a couple of years ago they were booking acts like Tiësto and Calvin Harris, their clientele’s tastes have matured, and now it’s not uncommon to see people like Lee Foss and Jamie Jones gracing the booth. For all those who worry about the US flooding the market with cheese and ruining the scene, this is surely a sign of hope.
As for Australia’s scene, Gina was pleasantly surprised when DJing at a “typical Spring break, wet t-shirt contest venue” here recently. Expecting the worst, she valiantly plugged away and tried to educate the crowd. Despite all expectations, her biggest track was a Claude Von Stroke remix. “[The underground] is amazing” she said, “… people are just so much more aware.” Perhaps the scene is in better health than we might think.