Classical Pianist Sets Out to Prove That Skrillex Is Actually Music

Summer Swee-Singh and Miren Edelstein
Summer Swee-Singh and Miren Edelstein

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The 2012 Grammys confirmed that EDM had entered the mainstream, but Dave Grohl didn't really seem to be on board. A debate ensued. But if you ask Summer Shee-Singh Swee-Singh -- who's been playing the piano since she was 8 -- EDM is quite worthy. She's been putting together classical arrangements of genre stars like Skrillex and Daft Punk, and works to draw out the musical qualities beneath the production.

Swee-Singh is half Chinese and half Indian. She laughs often, and adds a "that's what she said" whenever possible. Blessed with perfect pitch, her arrangements usually feature piano and violin, and she also plays the flute.

She started performing for friends at the all-girls boarding school she attended in Claremont, California at age 12 14. She didn't get serious about covers until college, when she and fellow Cal students re-did Skrillex songs for Youtube. Three days after she posted the video, them man himself shared them with his fans. "My friend Sylvia texts me 'Skrillex posted it! He put it on his facebook!' and I just started screaming and ran out the door," she remembers.

Classical Pianist Sets Out to Prove That Skrillex Is Actually Music
Photo courtesy of Summer Swee-Singh

Soon she was invited backstage to meet Skrillex to talk about her music. "He told me that if I could come up with a thirty minute set of his songs he would let me open for him," she says, adding that she is waiting to see if the offer is still on the table.

In the meantime she continues to perform with violinist Miren Edelstein. Together they call themselves the Dubutantes. "We think it would be really great to pair up with a DJ or learn to DJ ourselves, and be able to play live sets where there is both an electronic component and an acoustic component."


She is also working on a symphony she hopes will be a stepping stone into the world of movie arrangements. "I realized not too long ago that I really want to grow up to be Hans Zimmer," she says. At Cal she was a legal studies major planning to go to law school. "I was one of those girls who watched Legally Blonde when I was young and thought, 'I am going to grow up to be Elle Woods.' Except, I never joined a sorority, or had a little fluffy pink pen, or a dog. So I turned out quite opposite."

She currently works as a financial recruiter, but plans to eventually devote herself to music. Until then she will continue to weigh in against the EDM haters. "Essentially it is all pitch," she says. "So if people are arguing that it isn't technically music, from a definition standpoint, they're wrong."

She hopes to share her music with anyone who will appreciate it, but doesn't think the debate will end any time soon. "People still have a ways to go appreciating new genres of music, whether it is electronic music or another genre," she says. But, "As long as you can find beauty in it and it brings you somewhere I believe it can be music."

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