The world of music is a strange crossover of creative soul and fulfilling a large variety of different requirements such as financial well-being and so on.
As electronic music grew from a basement in the suburbs of Chicago to a worldwide phenomenon, reshaping the dance culture and industry, it became the breeding ground of many controversies and debates. If you're reading this article you probably know a lot about it, even if you were living under a rock on Mars in the last 30 years. The screams of fanboys and the angry mumbling of deep-heads can be heard from other galaxies as well, I suppose.
listening to the repetitive sound of Satan There's a lot of talk on the commercial vs. underground topic. Non-music people or if you will it put that way, common people refer to the underground as a dangerous place where the kids your parents warned you about meet to do drugs and other socially "unacceptable" and "dangerous" things while *listening to the repetitive sound of Satan*. On the other hand there is the commercial bunch, who in the eyes of the "underground" are some Regular John's and Janes listening to something that is barely music with a lot of booze in their system, while having absolutely no idea of what's going on. This type of categorization and generalization might seem to be a way to transform subjective taste into general and objective truth. Or is it?
Since I didn't want to pour more fuel on the fire heated by the lack of experience and insight, I've interviewed four artists on the topic. These four interviews became the core of three articles that should give you a deeper understanding of this weird musical phenomenon. In the first interview LifeLike drew a very clear line between McDonald's music that is "calibrated" to be successful and music that is a piece of art. KarlSav agreed with Lifelike and his categorization of McDonald's and art driven music. KarlSav added age as an important, pointing at a thing that I've described as "incompatible knowledge" in one of my recent articles. At this point there was too much of an agreement so I had to find someone who had a slightly different view.
A "Put your hands up" sample in a DJ set lead me to Marten Hørger. Besides the fact that he is a super friendly guy, here's what you have to know about him: He started his career at the age of 15, and although he wasn't allowed to be in the club legally, he still managed to secure a residency at 'Douala', one of South Germany's most famous underground techno club. Marten first gained international attention when German Elektro originator Westbam labeled him 'the new wonder kid of bass music'. Since then, he's donned the hat of both DJ and producer, releasing a crate-load of music to critical acclaim. His first ever solo release 'LGFU' earned him two international Breakspoll Awards for Best Single and Producer of the year.
1. What does underground and mainstream mean to you? Do you categorize music like that?
I usually categorize between music I like and music I don't like. The terms „Underground" and "Mainstream" are very subjective to me. If a track was produced for a very small "underground" scene... but suddenly becomes very popular. Does that mean that the producer is suddenly mainstream?
2. What do you think of calling mainstream electronic music, mostly BigRoom house in this case, the McDonald's of music?
Well... I totally respect people who do what they love and believe in. If you happen to really love commercial Big Room House then that's fine for me. I can't blame someone for trying to live his personal dream just because it's not to my personal taste. It's a completely different thing with people that do a thing just because they think it will make them popular or help them make some quick money. I feel like the audience will always recognize if something's fake.
3. In your tracks you use samples like "Put your hands up" and "Make some noise". Many who consider themselves "underground" say that things like these are to showy. What would you say to them?
I guess you mean the samples that I use in my DJ Sets. In my opinion Music is supposed to make people feel good. And that's totally how I understand my Job. I deliver escapism and fun to people. I'm ready to use all the tools I have to do a good Job. On the other side of the hand it's very important to me to do this in style and dignity. As a DJ you should always Educate AND Entertain... never just one of them.
4. Is it possible that the members of the "underground" scene are only making up this anti-commercial hype to treat their hunger for success and to come up with an explanation?
No, I don't think so. But there will always be weirdoes who ruin it for everyone.
5. Do you think that differences can be made between music that can actually educate or expand imagination and music that only serves for entertainment?
There's definitely music that is made to be listened to on headphones while you're having a glas of whine (or whatever) rather than being played to 10.000 drunk kids. And there's the opposite of that. Ideally you want tracks that do both they are rare thou.
6. If music can educate, do you think that generic commercial music (David Guetta, Afrojack, Steve Aoki) can have a negative impact on the overall image of music?
I'm not a big Fan of Guetta & co... but trust me, there is a lot worse music out there. Everyone needs to stop hating on EDM and use their time to create something awesome. In fact I even think that (in some cases) EDM is a "gateway drug" for kids to get into the good stuff.
7. What does music means for you? Is it just something that we should enjoy, or is it more than that?
My music is supposed to be enjoyed I guess. Not sure what it should mean to you, but it certainly means the world to me.
8. Do you distinguish between being successful as an artist and being financially successful?
Those two things don't always mean the same thing. There are other things that I could do with my life if money would be there only thing I'm after. But I really believe that if you follow your heart and do what you love then the money will come to you automatically.
9. What does the future holds for Marten Horger? Do you have any big releases in sight, and what would be the ultimate prize for you as a musician?
The last year was super wild. I played close to 100 gigs in 2014. So 2015 is going to be a lot more about the studio for me. It's time to stay home a bit more and make some new music. There are a few tracks and remixes on the horizon that I'm super proud of. Can't wait to show everyone.
EDM is a getaway drug for people to electronic music. When Marten and Carl Cox say the same thing, even if they really mean BigRoom House, must be right at least to a certain degree. People need more and more music. The trick here is that the exponential development of technology and the free flow and accessibility of information made music to evolve so rapidly that even the most hardcore early adopters are getting stuck here and there along the tracks. When it comes to the average music consumer, it's getting even worse, since people like what they know. So while the number of producers is growing and they are pushing forward at full throttle to stand out, the average consumer gets left behind, and there will be a huge void between Britney Spears's "Toxic" and Gesaffelstein's "Hellifornia".
even the most hardcore early adopters are getting stuck How do you fill that huge void? You create something that is plain and simple, and sounds pretty much the same regardless of artist and tune, while it has some elements to play out the card of past experiences. This is how you get "Animals". "I'm not a big Fan of Guetta & co... but trust me, there is a lot worse music out there", sais HØrger. This is where it is safe to state that Lifelike, KarlSal, JesSouls and HØrger are saying the same thing. Even HØrger admits that generic bigroom house is not exactly the tip of the iceberg in terms of creativity and originality, but it never meant to be that way. You might have a very strong position as a music head, but if you had to choose between a BigMac or a Haggis when hungry, what would you choose? Experimental electro or dub techno are superior in all aspects compared to "commercial" electronic music, artistically speaking, but for some it might be just as weird or even disgusting as sheep offlas. I would definitely go for a BigMac. What would you choose?
And what about the money? A larger audience means a larger sum of money. Maybe there's one thing why so many music heads hate the "Guetta & co" which is the fact that they don't bother to add a bit of creativity to their craft, It's the same damn Hamburger over and over again.
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