If you’ve been paying attention to Twitter today, there’s a good chance you caught wind of a lengthy rant from Mat Zo. The first logical thought anyone would have at this juncture would be to lay the relevant Tweets out in a row, point at what happened, and say something to the effect of “look, he called out Tiesto!” For anyone wondering, that’s exactly what this article won’t be.
Instead, it’s worthwhile to point out the why of the matter, rather than simply the what. DJs say controversial stuff on Twitter all the god damn time. They interact with each other regularly, and sometimes even air each other’s dirty laundry. It’s pretty much the nature of the beast. In the wake of this, people love to revel in articles that summarize these rants because quite frankly it makes for great entertainment. That’s why it’s important we understand the context, especially when we’re being told something we need to hear. Treating it like entertainment undercuts the value of that information in the first place, and serves only to continue the vicious clickbait cycle that surrounds dance music.
So what did he say?
Rather than layout out the entire tirade, we’ll focus in on one, simple thesis:
Electronic music has rotten teeth that need to be pulled
— мат zф (@Mat_Zo) May 29, 2015
That’s all that really matters here. Not that he called out a slew of big-name artists (which incidentally is the most unimportant aspect of all this), or that he exposed the rotten underbelly of the industry we’re all a part of. Just about anyone’s first reaction to reading through the rest of the Tweets is the same: “Mat Zo is acting like a crazy person.” The thing is though, is he might be the sanest person in the room right now.
We’re so attached to the perfect, shiny vision of dance music composed of festivals, booze, late nights at clubs, and pumping our fists at every drop, that it’s easy to forget that it’s still an industry. There’s nothing wrong with that inherently; people still need to make a living. Many DJs are in this because they want to make money from doing what they love. But like every industry, there’s a lot we don’t see. In fact, we as fans only catch a glimpse of the very tip of the iceberg. People choose to focus on the whole “Mat Zo called out Tiesto on Twitter” angle because it’s a rare peek inside a door most of us don’t even know how to open.
No, it’s not crazy. It’s just music.
So why do we jump to conclusions about an artist being off their rocker following a protracted rant on social media? Because quite frankly, the manufactured version of EDM is so pervasive, that when someone actually speaks honestly about it, be it Zo, deadmau5, or someone else, it’s a gigantic break from what we’re sold on a regular basis. Honesty is a break from the norm, and in many ways that shocks people.
The “EDM” narrative is one dependent on the idea that everything is awesome: DJs all love each other, and every producer is happily working away in the studio to bring us the music we love. That’s the dream really. At the same time, it’s important to remember that it’s not all sunshine and unicorns. Any DJ can pay their way into the industry and onto a festival lineup with enough money. An entire label can lay claim to a single genre of music. For better or worse, ghost producing is common practice for a lot of big-name artists. In order for these things to improve, we need to acknowledge the problem in the first place, and if it takes a series of tweets from a DJ to catalyze this change, so be it.
Simply put, we love electronic music. It’s a culture that brings together the misfits and the outcasts, all into a place of love and acceptance united by one thing: The music. But it’s not perfect. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but if this movement is to survive with the best artists succeeding in the right way, we need to recognize this. Our industry has its own host of problems, and honesty in the face of this shouldn’t be treated like reality show entertainment. While the news cycle treats it like just another DJ Twitter rant, let the one thing you take away from this be one simple truth: The message matters.
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