“We shouldn’t be united:” Seth Troxler on EDM vs. the underground

Over the past year, house and techno figurehead (and champion chef) Seth Troxler has been a vocal opponent of dance music’s commercialisation, taking the battle from a hilarious editorial for Thump to an awkward confrontation with Avicii’s management at industry conference IMS. And with Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) returning to the Dutch capital earlier this month, drawing over 300,000 partygoers as well as the industry’s biggest players for its daytime conference program, Troxler was booked to expand on his manifesto in a keynote speech titled ‘Troxler Tells It How It Is’. Delivering a rousing battle cry for the spirit of the underground, he also took the opportunity to steer away from his previous divisive sentiments (and EDM-baiting).

“I know you’re all expecting me to freak out, to do something zany and say something controversial. But I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna push that agenda. I’m here to talk to you guys about the future. We all have a really good voice in dance music, and in spite of the influence of the commercial side, the undeniable force is still coming from underground culture.”

With the dominance of US giants Live Nation and SFX Entertainment moving towards a duopoly that will see the two players controlling a formidable slice of the world’s dance industry, Troxler warned of diversity in the scene being throttled.

“Currently, the only side of dance music that’s being pushed in the media is the commercialised European view, while the black, Latino and gay voices that inspired early US dance music are being ignored,” Troxler said. “Which perspectives are being excluded as the commercialisation rolls on? These are topics that need to be brought to the table and discussed…

“Who here will have the kind of balls to stand up for who we [the underground] really are, and to cherish those ideals? With the influx of wealth being poured into dance music, it’s easy to think all that glitters is gold, but will it really be such a cool place in the next ten to twenty years?”

There’s still no love lost between Troxler and the mainstream, though. “I feel like EDM and underground dance music shouldn’t necessarily be united, as we don’t share common goals or interests,” Troxler said in response to an audience question. “When I got into electronic music as a kid, the whole point was it existed outside the establishment and allowed us to be who we really are. To try and commercialise that…

“We are different cultures, and we should stay different cultures. The underground is stronger than ever, and it can never defeated… And after all the commercialisation of the past few years, I think people are really coming back to the idea of real truth in music, the deepness of that. That’s what will sustain it in the future.””

Catch one of Troxler’s “shamanic” sets when he plays Australia’s new Soaked Luxury Pool Party on 15 November, before hitting Victoria’s Strawberry Fields festival and dates in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. [Photo via ADE.]