I met up with deadmau5 at a club in Ottawa during the 2012 JUNO Awards. I was tagging along as his guest, expecting a wild night of partying following a big televised performance where he closed out the award show. However, after 20 minutes in the club, I got a nudge on my shoulder and a “let’s get out of here.” He and I walked back to his hotel room, where we were joined by a handful of other buddies. We proceeded to spend the night watching YouTube videos, playing “Oh, have you seen this one?” until around 9 AM. Deadmau5 may be a world famous DJ and producer for most, but I’ll forever know him as the guy who introduced me to Average Homeboy.
The night ended after I discreetly changed his desktop background to a naked, older gentleman and headed out the door. I had a blast that evening, but it felt more like something I’d do with my buddies in high school than with one of the world’s most well-known electronic music icons. Stumbling out into the sunlight that morning, I wondered, when did a night out with a huge music star become cat videos and bromance? It was never clearer to me that the rockstar era was long over.
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Come on, remember the rockstar? Hair blowing in the wind, perfectly torn acid-washed jeans stretched taut across his bulge, covered in tattoos of snakes or large jungle cats. A single, perfectly balanced cigarette hanging from his lower lip as he shredded on guitar. Those guys knew how to party.
Courtesy Michael Dorausch’s Flickr
So what happened? Why have rock gods, with their veins all full of junk and feathered locks all full of hairspray, become a thing of the past? Simple: the computer geek has dethroned him, and electronic music has had a lot to do with it. Today it’s perfectly fine for a producer to proclaim his unending love for Diablo 3 over Twitter, but if a dude is rocking a mullet and acid-washed jeans while driving a red convertible, I’d suspect he’s a douche, a sex-offender, or both.
It’s really no secret that DJs are a bunch of nerds. They love to push buttons and turn knobs; they know software programs inside and out. That isn’t a dig at producers, either. What they create is utterly astonishing, because it’s being created using the same machine most of us just use to masturbate in-between sessions of Netflix. Instruments are laptops. Amps are software. Zac Efron isn’t the captain of the basketball team anymore, he’s a DJ. Look at Skrillex, one of the biggest names out there: he’s like the fantasy dreamed up by an 80s high school bully. Instead, he’s the kind of cultural icon that’s cool enough to get men and women of all ages to shave half their heads.
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In particular, EDM more than any other genre, belongs to the Internet. It’s chock-full of tweets, posts, memes, and artists who even troll audiences just for the lulz. Seriously, just look at Diplo’s Instagram; it’s 85% weird Internet content. EDM is as much a part of the Internet as cats and jokes about pizza.
In my experience, interacting with popular electronic music personalities, I’ve found that they are just regular people—that happen to spend an overwhelming amount of time alone with their laptops. I’ve talked to Herobust about underwear and gushed with Skrillex about memes. They’re nerds. But this is 2015, and that’s OK. After all, “nerd” is a term that’s now been co-signed by mainstream society.
Somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Nyan Cat, the rockstar died—and I’m fine with that. Music should be more about music, and if it means spending time on your computer rather than out being an oversized macho personality, great, because look what happened to Axl Rose.