Has deadmau5 identified a reason for dance music being stale?

Let’s get one thing clear here before the Twitter mob gets angry. Ears To The House loves dance music in all its various forms – but there’s no point in pretending things aren’t terribly fresh right now. A lot of the music around is pretty dull and unmemorable.

What’s going on here, then? This is a culture where the music traditionally changes a little bit each year – sometimes in a harder direction, sometimes more mellow. Is it the fact that 2022 has basically been a year of artists trying to re-establish themselves now that pandemic restrictions are largely history – and that innovation has suffered as a result?

We strongly suspect this is the case – but there are other factors too. But don’t take our word for it – Music Radar managed to obtain a rare interview with Joel Zimmerman, (also known as deadmau5, presumably taking time off from charging €237 a time for personalised messages) where he cited another reason why there just isn’t as much innovation in dance music anymore.

And it’s down to the technology…

“To be honest, I feel like we’ve kind of ceilinged on music software. There’s a lot more of the same that’s come out, like… oh hey, it’s a new reverb. Nothing’s really stood out.”

Explaining what he means, he says this…

“In the realm of DSP, I almost feel like we’ve hit it all. It’s just a lot of the same. And I’m just like, waiting for a lot of things to get overhauled and done a different way. I’m seeing some new DAWs come out, and stuff like that. The ones that I’m liking the most are the ones that have a lot of really cool protocol control inside of them.

Ableton’s been cool, just because it’s 18 years in development, it’s nice and stable and all that stuff. And it’s shell-ready. But it really lacks in protocol modularity. It’s just like, oh, here’s MIDI. Here’s an antiquated 60-year-old protocol you guys can still use… like what? Just have OSC! And they do, but you have to do it in Python or use Max for Live, and there’s no native OSC stuff. So actually, a lot of the time I’ve spent during the pandemic was developing a VST that will allow for the interchange of different protocols in and out of any DAW.”

He’s got a point, hasn’t he? In the past, new bits of hardware appeared almost every year – and although producers often had firm favourites, the new machines coming onto the market brought new sounds and new techniques with them. DAWs and software did the same for a while too – but what was the last big innovation in that world?

The next big new thing in this world cannot come soon enough. But fixing the propensity of many producers to follow the zeitgeist of this era by making dull Instagram friendly tech-house might be a harder nut to crack…

Ears To The House Team

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