In the modern age of music we currently live in, your success as an electronic musician is no longer measured in record sales or the amount of sold out shows you can bring to the table. No in fact what seems to be the case is you are rated depending on how many YouTube views and SoundCloud followers you are able to sustain. There probably are positives and negatives to this, but there isn’t much we can change about the internet essentially running the music industry.
One of the positives, although some might call it a negative, is a slowly growing movement that has decided that genres are now irrelevant, that the tag of ‘being a hip hop track’ is now almost an insult. Personally I used to quite enjoy going through the different genre racks in record shops to see what was new in each area, but apparently that would mean I am insulting a load of musicians in today’s climate.
You may have noticed yourself if you are a SoundCloud user, that this new wave of producers who have been taking over our feeds have their track titles full of x’s and v’s and whatever other letter seems cool at the time. It even has spread to the ‘Genre’ section when labeling your uploads as people are now simply entering the genre as their own stage name.
In my head the genre of a track is decided by the characteristics and different interchangeable elements which exist within the composition itself. If a track for instance has an overwhelming collection of stereotypical Deep House characteristics, surely that would make it fair to label it as a Deep House track, or have I completely lost touch with my ‘Soul’?
In my opinion, electronic music by its very nature will be always be progressing and be highly experimental in the way it does so. This does not mean however that genres are now irrelevant. I feel they certainly hold less weight than they would of maybe 4/5 years ago, where there was a specific name for every new subgenre that would appear weekly. The world of production is currently going through a kind of utopian experiment, where all typical genre specific elements are safe to intertwine and repopulate naturally and this has birthed both some amazing combinations, and to be honest some terrible ones.
I feel that genres are still relevant, except now instead of being the complete dish ready-made, their typical characteristics now act as herbs and spices, with which producers are able to create entirely new blends and compositional ideas. This most certainly is the way forward, as long as the idea of genres doesn’t become labelled as backward thinking then it is a very healthy transition for electronic music to be undertaking.
In conclusion, I would suggest that genres are not gone, they have merely taken more of a background seat in modern electronic music, working more as influences than strict guidelines, and hopefully from this we can all move forward into a blah blah blah.
Words by Jay McDougall (@SleepYGee1)