This weekend I decided to embrace my midlife crisis completely and went to VELD Fest, Canada’s largest EDM festival (or so they claim). Having listened to “EDM” (Electronic Dance Music for those in the know – noise, disco, whatthefuckisthis for those who aren’t) for the past 25 years, it’s just nice to see that the rest of the world has finally caught on, even if most of it these days is formulaic, watered-down, and repetitive. Such is the genre known as dance music. If it has a repetitive beat that hooks you, you’re in.
Back in the days when disco was dying and electronic music was moving away from Tangerine Dream and melding with the remnants of disco to become Kraftwerk, my one friend and I would sneak downtown and go hang at gigantic gay dance parties. From there, I moved on to gay clubs, where US House beats were mixed and melded with synth pop and Prince. When deejays used vinyl and turntables to mix. I even deejayed myself for a spell. Mixing in those days was not easy, but at least I got to use that high-school math for good instead of evil. We had to count and feel the beats – we didn’t have a computer to tell us the timing of .mp3s. And if I may continue along the curmudgeon line, the greatest invention before I left my days of deejaying behind was this brand-new $3000 CD player that allowed you to manipulate the speed of the laser so you could slow down and speed up tracks just like you could do with turntables. (And $3000 in 1992 money is about $25,000 in today’s).
I left the days of spinning tunes (yet another regret) and just went to the dancefloor, going out every Friday with the girls, doing our thing, only wanting to dance.
And then I had a kid.
Maybe I wasn’t dancing so much, but when you’re driving along with a kid in the car, you tend to search out tunes that don’t have offensive or suggestive lyrics. Many parents use one of those insipid kids music CDs, which are a different kind of formulaic and repetitive. I swore from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I would never play that craptacular music for my kid. Sure, we’d sing nursery rhymes and the like, but never listen to any of those Disney churned-out-pacifiers-for-the-car CDs. Ever. Check my house. I don’t own one.
When I was pregnant, my son listened to a gamut of music in Utero, from Elgar and Stravinsky to Miles Davis, Billie Holliday, Brubeck, Coltraine, Bowie (lots of Bowie)…we went to Nine Inch Nails concerts and saw the Sisters of Mercy live. So in the car, I tried to listen to as much of the same as I could.
One day when I was driving home from work to go pick him up, a song came on the radio that blew my freaking mind. “I’m Not Alone” by Calvin Harris. I nearly crashed the car. I wondered who this bloke was that was dropping this incredible track. It HAD to be a hit (and it was nearly five years later on this side of the pond). And then I heard that pretty song “I Remember” by Kaskade and deadmau5. I checked out all of these artists, and found that their songs were sophisticated and yet very child-friendly. And my son went nuts for it. I think my son could recognize deadmau5 before he could recognize Ronald McDonald.
So what does this have to do with writing, you ask? I mean, sure it’s interesting this trip down memory lane and editorial about why EDM is good for kids (instrumentals mostly, so mostly no offensive lyrics, good beat, kids like to run around and dance to it), but this is a blog about writing.
You may recall that I got brave enough to post the at-least-it’s-not-as-bad-as-50-Shades piece of fanfic here. And I’m working on two other pieces at the moment. I also posted a short story to LitReactor here. What these pieces have in common is deadmau5. I worked on all of these first drafts while listening to his music. And not just the albums. Much of the later pieces I wrote while listening to his Soundcloud demos. It’s as if he were my muse in a way. Something about the rawness of the unpolished demo, but still the tracks sounding pretty well finished. Something new. Tracks that brought out words from the recesses of my mind.
So back to this past Saturday night. Deadmau5 was the headliner. It was raining, there was thunder and lightning, and most promoters or performers would have told him to stay off the stage. But deadmau5 risked his life for us, and opened the show with a piece that he had started to work on months prior, a piece that helped me find the meat and potatoes for the second piece I’m working on. Fuelling me as it did in the middle of the night in front of my glowing laptop, I ran to a spot in the rainy field and raged for the next eleven minutes and thirty seconds.
(Funny enough, I’ve been having a bit of difficulty tightening up and rounding out that piece. After raging in the field, my mind woke up and I’ve been able to push forward. So thanks again, Joel.)
The show continued, and he played several songs from the Soundcloud demos that had inspired and pushed me to finish my written words. It was possibly one of the best nights of my life. And even though his equipment failed in the rain, and it seemed as if everything else just got worse for him, including the crowd turning on him, I felt like deadmau5 played a show just for me, choosing the songs that motivated me as a way of saying “here you go. Be inspired. And don’t be afraid to fail.”
See – you can have your midlife crisis and put it to practical use at the same time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to tighten up. Might as well since I can’t move my legs at the moment…