Breaking the Habit – A Cure for Martin Garrix Syndrome

I don’t enjoy speaking on negative issues or drawing attention to people that I don’t think deserve it, but I feel like now is the right time to voice my opinion. I’ve seen a dramatic shift in pretty much every aspect of electronic music over the past few years and I want to do what I can to change that.

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I was at Moonrise last weekend and although I had an amazing time, I couldn’t help but notice something. There were 4 stages playing at once and every stage sounded exactly the same. I couldn’t tell the difference from one DJ to the next. (Aside from Bassnectar, Kaskade, Infected Mushroom, and a few others of course…) This is something I take very personally as someone who writes about the distinguishing qualities of artists in my spare time.

 

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I heard three different DJs drop Savage’s “Swing” in one day. At one point, I wanted to relax and listen to something chill after raging my face off at Brillz, but much to my dismay as I walked to each stage, my headache grew as 808s and “sick” drops were the only thing to be found. Now I know this isn’t every festival.

But especially when I go to shows in Manhattan, for a large majority of the time, I’m having to guess who’s playing. And this sucks. I’ve heard arguments that all music is formulaic. That even Beethoven is formulaic. First of all, whoever compared Martin Garrix to Beethoven needs a f***ing history lesson. Comparing some 19 year old who paints notes on a piano roll is nowhere near the same level as someone who can play multiple instruments and write entire orchestras. This is like saying a kid playing guitar hero is on the same level as Eddie Van Halen. Also, I saw a site complain that “Musicians today are held to a higher standard.” Well yeah, I mean look at all the tools at their disposal. Beethoven didn’t have the technology to pair an electric guitar with a didgeridoo, not that you should just to be original. I’m just saying your options are pretty wide open… Hasn’t everyone had enough?

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And I don’t blame Martin Garrix. He’s just doing what any kid his age would love to do, but at the same time why are we rewarding unoriginal works? Let’s move away from that and focus on the real shit. The real deal feels. That stuff when you hear it, you say “Ahh this definitely is without a doubt (insert original artist here)”. Stuff that you look back on and think to yourself…

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Here’s some guy’s who are doing that and doing it well.

1. Griz

I think it’s impossible not to get down to a DJ with a Saxophone. I mean just look at the success Big Gigantic is enjoying. Live instrumentation is breathing “new” (old) life back into the live show, when every DJ and their dog has an impressive light and laser show.

2. Bixel Boys

These guys are doing EDM right and finding new ways to keep that formula everyone loves to dance to interesting. I caught them at Webster Hall earlier this year and it might have been my favorite show at the venue. A close second being these guys…

Read our Bixel Boys interview here

3. The M Machine

These guys have been laying low for a little while now, but they still remain my absolute favorite producers. This is a track that shows their versatility and is one of the most original trap tracks I’ve heard…

4. Matoma

This guy I accidentally stumbled across a couple of days ago looking for an original Biggie remix. I think I found what I was looking for…

5. What So Not

I mean, it’s a Flume side project with Emoh.

Watch our video interview with Flume

6. Branx

Bringing some future funk with heavy bass, it’s got some Griz-vibes mixed with house beats. Good stuff.

7. Sailors

I might have a bias because I myself am a sailor, but the groove in this is undeniable and it’s bringing the dance back to dance music.

I have a bad habit of getting long winded on posts, but no formulaic list of who’s doing good things with computers and music would be complete without this guy…

8. Porter Robinson

The new direction Porter Robinson has taken in his album, Worlds, comes as no surprise to anyone. He has always taken a stance against things he believes is destroying the culture of electronic music.

There of course was the time he called out The Chainsmokers for their horrid appearance on American Idol.

 

Divinity (Feat. Amy Milan)

My favorite track on the album is the hard-hitting, yet gentle buzzing of the song “Divinity”. Every pulsing beat spirals out rainbows of 8-bit synths, lulling you into an hypnotic trance you can’t help but bump your head to as the tracks surrounds every inch of your body. All you can do is let go. The song transports you to every moment you ever experienced that rush of euphoria from the stage lights burning bright and your hands pulled up in the air by a subconscious force, that oneness you feel with the thousands of people around you as you all share one of those “perfect” moments. It has some resonance of M83’s “Midnight City”, that dense atmosphere of sound, but unlike M83, Porter perfectly captures the emotion of the God moment everyone feels at those magical shows.

In conclusion, there is so much good out there right now. The sounds are as diverse as the people who make them. EDM is like a giant theme park filled with every kind of ride imaginable. So why are we getting back in line for the same damn tilt-a-whirl ride over and over again just because it’s at the front of the park and the line is short? What do you guys think? Am I just getting old and missing the point? Do you think Martin Garrix is doing an alright job? Am I just a bully for picking on him when I could pick on others like Danny Avila or David Guetta instead? (David Guetta got picked on too much last week for his deal at Tomorrowland so he gets a break this week…)

Post your comments below and tell me how you feel

Ben Morris

Ben Morris

Ben is a Midshipman in the United States Navy. Sometimes he disappears for months at a time, but when he's back, he's hitting shows in NYC and writing stellar reviews for Only The Beat.
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