By Ashwini Rajpoot:
As rock takes a backseat in the Indian music scene and becomes a thing of tomorrow, Electronic Dance Music twirls in, drawing fan-base like a magnet. Music transgresses all boundaries but when this music caters to the universal human desire to be free and dance like there is no tomorrow, it ceases to be a few notes strung together and becomes a language. A language that every music enthusiast in the country seems to be speaking at the moment. So, let us explore the groovy world of Electronic Dance Music that has made the country go gaga.
What is it?
It is basically music produced for ‘dance-based environments’ and is coordinated and arranged by a Disco Jockey. It can be divided into two broad categories namely Dance (Techno, House, Dubstep, Drum, Bass) and Trance (Progressive, Psychill, Psygressive, Full-on). Fighting the established hierarchy in music it charmed its way from the fringes of the music industry to being officially recognised by the critics by virtue of its sprawling fan-base. It has grown enough to have its own segment in the American Music Awards, with the award being given away for the favourite electronic dance music.
How did it come to India?
The Indian electronic dance music scene began taking shape in the early 90s with help from the Goa trance, then known as electronic body music. It acquired mass popularity after Nikhil Chinapa collaborated with Percept in 2007 to create India’s very first Electronic Dance Music Festival at Candolim beach in Goa known internationally as ‘The Sunburn Festival.’ Currently in its 7th year, it is pegged as Asia’s biggest music dance fest. While artists like Benassi, Booka Shade and Yousef are invited to play, the audience pours in enthusiastically from different parts of the world. It gave the young inquisitive Indians a taste of something they’d never experienced before. Something that was totally alien and yet personal because it required their contribution and participation. Various Indian artists have made a mark on the EDM music scene- B.L.O.T., Jalebee Cartel, Reggae Rajahs, Sky Rabbit, Midival Punditz, BLaNK.
Will it survive?
Even though the Indian masses as well as artists accepted EDM with open arms, problems still lurk in the society that plagues its survival. Firstly, EDM festivals have traditionally (and mistakenly) been associated with an over indulgence in sex, drugs and alcohol which subjects it to misinformed criticism by the society. Secondly, DJ-ing is still not considered a ‘real job’ which has prevented the youth from exploring their knack for music. Myths associated with the profession paint it as a non-lucrative career with a short stage life. Thirdly, the government makes it hard for the enthusiasts to hold these festivals as long procedures await the receipt of a license.
Now, whether the society would change itself to accommodate the craze or the musical establishment will try to cater Indian sensibilities and demographics, remains to be seen. But the enthusiasm with which these fests are organised all over the country clearly declare that EDM is here to stay. In words of DJ Armin Van Buuren ‘no longer just a hype, it’s a cultural phenomenon.’