Pete Tong deplores EDM’s lack of artistic legacy

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The DJ blames Hollywood's ignorance and the genre's lack of underdog status

Pete Tong has questioned EDM’s “artistic legacy”, asking “Where is our Saturday Night Fever?”

The veteran DJ wrote an opinion piece for Billboard, in which he deplores the lack of “cinematic reflections of our culture”, despite the genre’s domination of radio and the charts, particularly in the US.

“It frustrates me that we haven’t made an impression in film and TV the way that genres like rock, hip-hop and R&B have,” wrote Tong. “There’s no shortage of award-winning documentaries or films scored by electronic producers — so where is the cinematic reflection of our culture? Where is our Spike Lee or John Singleton?”

He continued to pick out some reasons why EDM has not been documented on the big screen like other genres, citing new movie We Are Your Friends, which stars Zac Braff as an upcoming DJ, and an in-the-works HBO series centred around dance music as “steps in the right direction”, but saying, ultimately, “the majority of the decision-makers in Hollywood probably come from a generation that dismisses EDM as a fad, and DJs today may not have the same sort of underdog appeal seen in, say, 8 Mile.”

Tong also blamed a lack of context around dance music in America for the attitudes towards EDM, writing: “We’ve been hindered by a troubling lack of context, history and narrative. In my native United Kingdom, the rise of dance music in the ’90s was a cultural milestone akin to punk rock in the late ’70s. But many in the United States believe it all began with the current boom in Las Vegas. They don’t know about legendary DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Derrick May, or classic New York venues like Twilo and Paradise Garage, or that the first Electric Daisy Carnival took place in 1992.”