Chromeo’s Dave 1 explores the religion of dance music
This week, THUMP commissioned a series of essays exploring the parallels between dance music culture and spiritual practice. Dave 1 from Chromeo is the first artist to elaborate on the powers that threaten dance music culture and the main differences between religion and dogma.
In his essay, the Canadian producer tells THUMP that for him, dance music has always served a similar function as relgion — that is, to bring people together. He alludes to David Mancuso’s legendary disco loft parties in Manhattan and underground raves in California, and the sense of community music fans could walk away from those parties with. According to Dave 1, “dance music has always been a vehicle that binds people together.”
While that communal experience may be a cornerstone of both religion and dance music culture, Dave 1 warns in his essay that there is another parallel we often overlook: the tendency of both to turn into totalitarian dogma.
“When you only have one style of music—or even worse, the same song played everywhere—infiltrating the public’s consciousness, that becomes the only accepted definition of what music is,” he writes. “As dance music becomes ever more mainstream, I think this threat has also loomed larger over it.”
Dave 1 recalls his recent experiences travelling to large festivals with his brother, A-Trak, where he has increasingly noticed stark similarities between headliners’ sets. “A lot of people play the same set over and over again,” he says in his essay. According to Dave 1, this is precisely how dance music can become “dogmatic and totalitarian,” a quality that goes against the very function of DJing. That function, says Dave 1, is “to play stuff that’s unexpected and take the audience in new directions.”
He uses this SNL ‘Davvincii’ skit as an example that applies to many other top DJs.
“When you’ve got these guys spreading the exact same gospel worldwide, the music gets devalued. The whole scene becomes a caricature. Dance music is reduced to one idiot standing behind unplugged CDJs jumping around and waiting for the drop,” he writes. “That’s where the religion of dance music becomes totalitarian — when you have to obey, or find somewhere else to party. When you lose the diversity, and the art of DJing turns into this monolithic, unidirectional kind of thing, all you’re left with is dogma.”
You can read the entire essay on THUMP here.