Do’s and Dont’s to help popularize electronic music
Electronic music, to this very day, still seems to get a lot less respect than those crazy kids playing indie-rock and such. So I’ve taken it upon myself to solve all the problems in a clear, easy fashion.
What follows is a simple list of do’s and don’ts that will lead to the inevitable resurgence of the genres:
- Avoid the use of the phrase “down on my knees.” If you must use it, do not follow it with “begging you please.”
- No naming your band after classic synthpop songs or lyrics. Obscure ones, however, are acceptable. So if you’re a Kraftwerk fan, naming your band “Pocket Calculator” is right out, but “Der Telefon Anruf” is fine. If you’re a dM fan, only “Ice Machine” is left.
- It’s okay to wear something other than black in your stage shows. Since many electronic-music artists are doughy white guys, things like tight pants and fishnet shirts should probably be avoided.
- Do not write coy songs about S&M. “Master and Servant” came out 20 years ago. We’re all jaded and world-weary now and we really know what it’s about, so it’s not really edgy anymore unless you can act bored.
- Syncopation is nothing to be afraid of.
- If you do “darker” stuff, please, please for the love of god stop singing about replicants. Even Bill Leeb has given up on that.
- Just because your lyrics are in german, that doesn’t give you a pass if they’re crappy. If you’re singing in a language other than your native one, get a pronunciation and grammar coach. If you don’t, come up with a good alibi, like “oh, I just make words up because I like the sound” or “it’s Burroughs-style cut and paste”, which will make you sound artsy.
- When a music magazine asks you who your influences are, start vague and obscure, and leave the dM and kraftwerk references to seem like an afterthought. “I’m heavily influenced by some of Ussachevsky’s early works, Stockhausen obviously..oh and I suppose Kraftwerk, too.” This will gain you respect from useless press wankers forever. If you can fit Gang Of Four in there someplace, indie kids will worship you blindly.
- Do not compare a lover/business associate/music exec to an animal, unless you can be specific. For example, replace “You’re like an animal in bed, girl” with “You’re like an ocelot/badger/alpaca in bed, girl.”
- Political songs should be similarly specific. Don’t sing about something as broad as the lack of human rights, sing about unfair tarrifs on bolivian coffee imports. Don’t sing about the oppression of the working man, sing about collective bargaining agreements.
- Additionally, don’t sing about the plight of the poor. You’ve got $10,000 worth of electronics in front of you – if you really cared about the poor you’d sell it all and feed the Calcutta slums for a month.
- It’s okay to use a hi-hat from equipment other than the 909.
- If anyone asks, the reason you’ve adopted the sound of the 80’s is because of postmodern irony. Do NOT admit to actually liking it. The same is true for vintage gear. You bought the Moog because of the inherently unstable tuning and the hilariously dated graphic design, not because you like the sound. If you own a 303, it’s because it’s overused and kitschy and you want to be ahead of the curve for the inevitable acid revival.
- Go to GoodWill and buy a bunch of toys that make goofy noises and maybe a cheap old casio keyboard. Leave them scattered about your studio, and keep a soldering iron handy. You never have to actually do anything with them, but it will give you immense cred when the photographers from FutureMusic stop by.
- Keep your website up-to-date and filled with the most obscure trivia possible. Keep a blog detailing the time you spilled grape soda on your intellivision when you were 12, and how the resulting sizzling noise inspired you to program a new snare sound 25 years later. All your external links should be to high-end hardware manufacturers(doesn’t matter if you don’t own any of their product) and experimental audio instituions like IRCAM. Do not link to other bands.
- Videos should either be campy or inscrutable. No more videos of the bandmembers all wearing dark sunglasses while driving across a blasted apocalyptic landscape.
- If you wear a band t-shirt onstage, it should be for a rock band local to your hometown. Do not wear anything in-genre. (Awful metal bands with awesome names/logoes are preferred).
- Sell weird merch at your shows. Sell black t-shirts of course, because they’ll pay for your gas money, but keep a small assortment of things like oversized foam hands, travel mugs, BBQ aprons, cufflinks, etc handy. Nobody will ever buy them, but nobody will ever forget that you were selling them either.
- If anyone asks what genre of music you play, be as long-winded as possible. It’s not “synthpop” it’s “Synthetic melodic dance-pop.” Futurepop should be “Industrial-influenced futuristic vocal trance.” Try to sound pompous, maybe work the word “progressive” in there someplace (but not “prog”). Do not try to sound scary or aggressive, because nobody who knows how to use an oscilliscope will ever be able to pull it off. Do not claim to be inventing your own genre, because music critics will get annoyed that they didn’t say it about you first and will give you poor reviews out of spite. Do claim to be bringing new influences into whatever genre you are in, and make sure they’re as odd as possible. It doesn’t matter if you actually are, but a quote of you saying you’re trying to blend electronica with mongolian folk singing will look awesome as a magazine-interview subtitle.