Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Globalization of French Electro

by Sofya Gladysheva

The globalization of electronic music is closely linked to the globalization and commercialization of raves. The rave scene started in the 1980’s in the UK and Germany by catching the momentum of the disco culture’s affinity for dance and hedonism.The parties were very underground and held in warehouses. Slowly they gained a popular following and more massive events like Love Parade emerged.

Raves in 1980:

Raves Today (Electric Daisy Carnival 2010):

Historical context played a large role in facilitating the spread of electronic music. The genre provided escapism in dance, and thus a way of coping when living under the fear of nuclear war at any moment. It was a liberating outlet separate of authority and even reality. The technological sound and the lack of lyrics made it relatable to everyone because it was "technology, not humanity, that was expressing itself."(Bunz, 401).

As they became more popular raves became commercialized, eventually reaching the status they have today. Nowadays, they are large scale productions with impressive light displays and stages. They are a hotspot for marketers trying to reach a specific niche of their target audience. Wolfgang Sterneck, an attendee and critical analyst of the Love Parade, foresaw its commercialization from the very start, compelling him to write a book called Cybertribe-Visionen. In an interview he covers some of the main points. “Along with the growing importance of the Love Parade grew the interest of corporations such as music, drink, clothing, and cigarette industries, who sponsored the Love Parade—that is, co-opted and used for profit the spirit of the Love Parade through their products and advertising”(St. John). Another example is the fashion industry trying to bring in profit by establishing a dress code associated with the rave scene. Thus, electronic music becomes just another business venture.

Rave Clothes:

In France, Daft Punk is a ground breaking duo of DJ's whose music has been used in all areas of business. In 2007, Louis Vuitton featured the two robots in their show for Paris Fashion Week. In America, Director Joseph Kosinski scored his entire movie Tron with a custom Daft Punk set. Most recently, Adidas used Daft Punk in their star wars themed ads that aired last year.

Durbin, Jonathan. "Human After All." PAPERMAG. 2011

Link for Adidas ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Zd_khk6zXo

Daft Punk and their manager Pedro Willaims put French DJ's on the map, inspiring future artists like Justice and David Guetta to also infiltrate the global scene. Consequentially, the French government sees electronic music as a money making export, to no surprise since France has been exporting culture for decades. In 2001, the French government sponsored a poolside party in Miami Beach that highlighted French DJ’s (Hemlock). They have also backed a school exclusively for teaching disk jockeys called Ecole des DJ's. It is the first of its kind among Europe and America (Miller).

In conclusion, the globalization of French electronic music has shifted the tides. The export of American music is nothing new, and it was easy with large machines like Hollywood to facilitate that spread. However, now French music is entering the American scene, showing that despite popular belief, it is in fact a two way street. Globalization has legitimized electronic music in a way it never intended to develop. It has become a commodity and a resource. The genre has truly lost the anti-authoritative, anti-establishment sentiment that birthed it. It has grown from a counter-culture to simply a culture that hip industries can now tap into.

Written Citations:
Bunz, Mercedes. “Subject: 12” As Medium Techno:From Youth Culture to cultural Constitution.” Read Me! Filtered by Nettime ASCII Culture and the Revenge of the Knowledge. Autonomedia: Netherlands, 06 Oct. 1998: 400-402

Hemlock, Doreen. "France Takes The Lead In E-music Globalization." France Takes The Lead In E-music Globalization-Sun Sentinel. Sun Sentinel, 09 Apr. 2001. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

Miller, John W. “French Jam: A School in Lyon Puts Formal Spin on DJ's Role --- State Backs the Art of Scratching; An 'F' If You Can't Define Funk”

St John, Graham. “Party, Love and Profit: The Rhythms of the Love Parade (Interview with Wolfgang Sterneck).” Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, Vol 2, No 1 (2011).

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