11 September 2012
It's not the tools, it's what you do with them
A while back there was a quote from Dave Grohl going around, about real music being made with guitars and not computers - it was something he talked about on the last Foo Fighters tour and he repeated the comment in several interviews. It was clearly something he felt strongly about, and he saw rock music as being more "real" or legitimate than electronic music.
It's an interesting point, and looking at a lot of purveyors of electronic music popular at the moment, one that may at first appearance have some merit. There's a lot of electronic music around that isn't doing anything new, and that lacks any emotion or passion - which as you may know is something I think should exist in all music.
But if you look further, there's a lot of rock bands who play without any passion for what they do, who aren't doing anything that hasn't been done, often repeatedly, before. So I think to isolate electronic music and start pointing fingers at the musicians making the music, is to do a disservice to the many electronic artists making good music, pushing boundaries, and imbuing their music with energy and emotion.
Electronic music implies that anything made electronically - with computers, or synthesised sounds - all falls into the same genre. But is it that simple? Hip hop can be made electronically, as can trance music. To say that the musicians making hip hop and trance are basically creating the same thing, in the same manner, simplifies the process of using technology to create music - it's like saying two people using digital cameras will create the same photo and that photo will have no merit because it wasn't made with film. It's not the tools that are important, it's the person wielding them.
There's always been artists out there prepared to make music just because they see it as a ticket to get famous, or get laid, or get rich, without any real desire to make music that connects beyond a superficial level. Those artists tend to have a very short musical lifespan, the archetypical "one-hit wonders". I don't think it's any more prevalent in electronic music than it is in any other form. Electronic music may merely be showing a more focussed effect, because it's a relatively new form compared to rock music.
There are plenty of electronic artists out there who would consider that they make "real" music, who spend the time to craft their music, give everything to their live performances, and would probably see little distinction between what they do and what a band with more traditional instruments may be doing - it's the attitude and passion you bring to your music that matters, not how you make it.
So what do you think? Should electronic music be treated differently? What "electronic" artists do you think stand out?