Kaskade, Seth Troxler, Chuck D and more get honest at IMS Engage
Last Wednesday, a swell of industry execs, agents, journalists, and artists descended upon the W hotel for the third annual IMS Engage. As the partner event to the world-renowned International Music Summit, IMS Engage serves as a meeting of the minds for the North American dance music market.
More than your typical industry gathering, IMS Engage provides a platform for some of the music industry’s most vocal constituents. This year, for instance, featured the ever-candid Seth Troxler in conversation with Chuck D, as well as Kaskade with Stuart Price, and Pete Tong with the legendary Quincy Jones.
As predicted, Troxler and Chuck D’s panel proved the most lively of the afternoon. Seth set the tone of the conversation from the start, expressing his discontent with the current structure of the industry: “the people who dominate the music industry are very different than the people creating the records.”
While much of the panel was wrapped up in Chuck D’s long-winded rhetoric — including the motivational gem, “be better than the drug of choice” — the conversation came to a boiling point with just ten minutes left. Touching on the subject of ‘EDM vs Underground’ — Seth’s favorite talking point — Troxler was quick to make a distinction:
“Underground electronic music is art — fundamentally it’s based on contemporary art, culture, dance, and real music. If you look at EDM, how many of those cultural standpoints are the same?”
While Seth’s criticisms often get written off as inflammatory or ostentatious, his words bore an honest, underlying concern for the scene he’s helped foster. The sentiment was expressed best in one of his more poignant analogies:
“Underground culture has been pumping this balloon for over 30 years.. and now people are coming in, and not bringing it.. and how close are they to popping our balloon in all these different markets — that is the conversation I always try to make aware.”
Prior to Chuck D and Seth Troxler’s panel, Kaskade and Stuart Price held the floor for one of the evening’s more enlightening talks. As a three-time Grammy-winning producer, Price proved the perfect counterpart to pick Kaskade’s brain as the two touched on everything from songwriting, to Coachella, to genre labels.
At the outset of the talk, Kaskade gave an in-depth account of his history with dance music. “When I first got into this, it was the Chicago Pioneers,” he said. “I was going to a weekly party that Frankie Knuckles was throwing.” That in turn led him to discover artists like Mark Farina and Derrick Carter — the origins of his current day Redux endeavor. Looking back on his entire career, Kaskade appeared almost wistful for an instant: “I’ve spent the better part of the the last 10-15 years in nightclubs,” he said.
When it came time for the audience to ask questions, one member brought up Kaskade’s new track “Never Sleep Alone,” relating it to the current ‘future house’ trend. Kaskade was was quick to respond:
“I don’t like the phrase ‘future house’ because house is the future. We’ve been living in the future since 1982.”
The quote easily exemplifies what IMS Engage represents best: honesty. In an open forum, not hindered behind the veil of PR or social media, IMS Engage offers the opportunity for artists, managers, and record execs to speak their minds with a receptive (and powerful) audience at hand.