Thinking Outside The EDM Box

In a post on Finnish music that went live last week we mentioned our desire to begin exploring areas of music beyond the scope of our Haulix staff. While we like to believe we know a lot about the inner-workings of the music business there is a veritable world of entertainment we know little about, including EDM. 

With this in mind, we have begun reaching out to clients and talent with expertise in various areas of the industry in hopes of sharing a more complete image of life in the modern music business. The latest artist to accept our offer is King Complex, a genre-defying talent who has been working to innovate the world of EDM over the last several years. We asked King to explain how he plans to build on the sound he has been refining up to this point, and thankfully for us he was happy to oblige our request. You can find his thoughts, as well as a taste of his music, below.

When I first really started getting into guitar and playing music around the age of 15 I was heavy into the blues. I was digging Derek and the Dominoes, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, etc. As a result of my influences I developed a very strict idea of what music is and how it’s brought to life. Shortly after I started getting deep into the guitar, something called dubstep showed up in the mainstream. People were buying systems for their cars and freaking out over a show where a guy stood behind a computer, I was far from amused. I went through the next four years very turned off from the idea of electronic music mostly due to misunderstandings and stubbornness. It wasn’t until I was about 19 that I changed my mind on the matter. 

I went to Bonnaroo 2013 with the intention of seeing Paul McCartney and a good handful of other bands. I left Bonnaroo 2013 trying to get my hands on every Pretty Lights record I could find. I spent a long time thinking electronic music was cheating because of all the technology that can be used to correct mistakes and take the human quality out of music. I thought the live shows were an excuse for some egotistic producer to press play and fake a performance for people to lose their minds over. I was in the dark, but now I have seen the (pretty) light.

That Pretty Lights show and most of the shows I’ve gone to since have been unlike any other show i’ve experienced or music i’ve heard. The realization that this was something fresh and original was what opened my eyes to what I really loved about all the music I listened to before and the music I will listen to in the future, it was innovative. The blues players I liked were the ones who brought new elements to the game. The rockers I liked were the ones that brought such a variety of influences to an old formula that it sounded completely new. Without the manipulation of sound and technology we wouldn’t have a good chunk of what’s considered The Beatles best work.

Unless you want to listen to rip-offs of your favorite records or just spin the classics forever, electronic music is the future. It’s the biggest avenue toward originality in music. The idea of using a chord change that’s never been heard before is somewhat absurd, but new sounds have unlimited possibilites. These producers aren’t cheaters, but masters of technology, and explorers of new soundscapes. We also have to keep in mind that this style of making music hasn’t been in the mainstream for very long, there is still a lot of evolution left for the world of electronic music. I think we’ll see a drastic change before too long as more musicians come around to the idea. People still use the old formulas to make good music, but great art comes only with innovation.

The other aspect I want to discuss is the live show/culture, which seems to get a bad rep from a lot of “hipster” bashers. Granted we live at a time where people do things simply to be seen doing them, but who’s to say the flower power movement wasn’t made up of people also looking to join the next cool thing? This is an environment where individuality is flaunted with ridiculous antics and clothing, drugs are heavily associated with the scene, and it scares the old people who claim this is a passing fad (similar to the mindset of many adults in the 60’s regarding the electric guitar and guitar bands). The point I’m trying to make is that this closely resembles the origins of rock n roll and the movement that followed. Perhaps this is the millennial’s rock n roll.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.