EDM vs the Beat Scene: A Fun, Illustrated Guide

Categories: DJ culture
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Jena Ardell


By Jena Ardell

Dance music is all the rage these days. That time you thought giant robots were battling at your recent family reunion? Nope, that was just your 12-year-old niece listening to dubstep.  But not all electronic dance music was created equal. There's EDM, which, you aging out-of-touch rockist, stands for electronic dance music. Nowadays often associated with giant clubs and festivals full of pacifier-toting ravers who wear electrical tape on their boobs, it's not always the most contemplative or adventurous music. That's more the domain of L.A.'s beat scene, which happens in smaller clubs before folks who wouldn't want you to call them hipsters. Confused? Peep our illustrated guide, below.-->

Jena Ardell
Flying Lotus
EDM: With relentless builds and drops fused into a sonically aggressive foundation of beats and beeps that play like a soundtrack to intergalactic warfare, some critics have labeled mainstream EDM a cheap thrill. It is thrilling though. Especially in a live show context when one is fist-pumping along with thousands of other fans and soaking in the vibrations of deep bass whomp that one can't help but feel in their core. Acts like Swedish House Mafia and Avicii whip up the same frenzy with a more pop-oriented sound based on huge hooks, singalong lyrics and samples from other artists in and beyond the genre. Herd mentality, perhaps. Group ecstatic experience, quite often.

The Beat Scene: The beat scene cultivates experimental soundscapes more focused on expertly and unusually arranged syncopated beats and samples that are often rooted in hip hop. The sound is typically subtler and less in your face than that of EDM, (think art school vs frat house), although big bass beats play a major role in the output of this art for artists salon-style community of producers.

Scene God EDM: Skrillex

The Beat Scene: Flying Lotus

Love or hate him, (we kinda love him), Skrillex shifted the electro game by bringing dubstep to the masses, and was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in the process. He leads the youth brigade of ultra-loud DJ/producers including Zedd, Knife Party and Tommy Trash. Flying Lotus is a beat scene hero on the power of lush, sophisticated compositions that engage brains without blowing ear drums.

Scene Nexus EDM: Avalon/Palladium

The Beat Scene: Low End Theory With residents including Daddy Kev, FlyLo, Gaslamp Killer, Nobody and D-Styles, Wednesday nights at Low End are a weekly ritual that beat scene devotees speak of with religious conviction. Club nights Control and Avaland at the Avalon feature EDM up-and-comers who often graduate to gigs at the higher capacity Hollywood Palladium after they blow up.

Below: But, what do they wear?

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