Besides tons of hate mail (our favorite told us to " ... go eat a bag of dicks") and some support (Moby's former manager noted we were there when that real punk rocker went electronic in the early 1990s), lots of folks noted Grohl has uttered similar comments in the past as part of his spin for the Foo Fighters' latest album, Wasting Light, which he has said was recorded with all-analog equipment (but which went digital post-production). Sure, that was his spiel, but the timing was pointed. It was the most "electronic" Grammy Awards ever.
Feeling the heat, Grohl today issued a clarification of his comments, made during his acceptance speech for Best Rock Album at last weekend's awards:
Now, what kind of self-respecting rocker would clarify a speech he claimed to have made from the heart?
Anyway, Grohl says:
I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5.....I love music. Electronic or acoustic, it doesn't matter to me.
He claims that his words weren't aimed at the most dance-music-oriented Grammy show (Deadmau5, Katy Perry, Chris Brown and David Guetta all performed as part of uptempo numbers) in a generation, but rather at the "great advances in digital recording technology" that results in "a lot of music that sounds perfect, but lacks personality."
He goes on to say that "unfortunately, some of these great advances have taken the focus off of the actual craft of performance."
But then he pointedly adds:
I try really fucking hard so that I don't have to rely on anything but my hands and my heart to play a song. I do the best that I possibly can within my limitations, and accept that it sounds like me. Because that's what I think is most important. It should be real, right? Everybody wants something real.
I don't know how to do what Skrillex does (though I fucking love it) but I do know that the reason he is so loved is because he sounds like Skrillex, and that's badass.
Maybe he really is railing against robotic digital perfection and not the new kids who create it, but Grohl still sounds like an anti-EDM Luddite to us, no matter how hard tries to focus his attention on the "human element."
Electronic dance music actually often tries hard not to sound human. In the homophobic backlash to disco in the late 1970s, some critics railed against dance music as "robotic." It all sounds too familiar. In many ways, being robotic is the point. While the genre, like most in pop, comes from soulful black music, it has a long history of reaching outside the boundaries of acoustic humanity.
The Jonzun Crew hit that tone in 1983 with "Space is The Place," and techno pioneer Juan Atkins and Richard "3070" Davis used robotic vocal effects to praise outer space in "Clear" the very same year. In the mid-1990s LTJ Bukem returned to space with Logical Progression, perfecting a drum 'n' bass sound that has found its way into the bass lines of artists such as Skrillex.
There wasn't a guitar or garage-based microphone in any of those recordings. So what? They brought us forward. EDM and DJ culture long have presented a new aspect of performance that includes sampling and live remixing. It's not hitting the right chord at the right time. It's pushing the right button at the right time. But it's still about surfing the sound waves and feeding a crowd. The only difference is that the crowd feeds the artist too.