“The mainstream has to incorporate it to be relevant;” Ultra Music’s founder speaks on dance music’s success
While countless electronic music zealots have rejected the idea of the genre seeping into the consciousness of mainstream music fans, Ultra Music‘s Patrick Moxey recently spoke in defense of its explosive popularity. In an interview with Billboard, the imprint’s founder and president discussed Ultra’s newest talents and why he sees the genre moving forward.
Touching on the over-saturation of dance music, Moxey commented on what he believes newer artists need to succeed: “Right now, there’s almost a white noise of dance music. Everyone is making it — anyone with a laptop can make it. There’s no barrier to entry like there used to be, like paying $1,000 to go into a studio. The challenge is going to be reinvention, and reinvention requires musicality. That’s why I think the DJ culture peaked in 2013, and now we’ve moved to electronic artists, where you’ve got to be a real artist, from your live show to playing instruments. There’s no room for somebody to get up and just play a couple of records anymore.”
With artists like Calvin Harris, Kaskade, and deadmau5 serving as Ultra’s biggest stars that put the imprint on the map, the label has grown in size and scope since its inception in 1995. Largely considered a purveyor of the tropical house sound, Kygo marks one of the label’s newest names, and his inclusion into the Ultra Music family has left Moxey wondering what this might mean for music’s future. “It’s exciting. I remember when Britney Spears did a dubstep bridge — that was a moment where dubstep went overground. I felt the same when I heard Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” with the tropical flavors. The mainstream has to incorporate it to be relevant.”
The direction of electronic music has largely strayed from full length artist albums, although Ultra Music’s discography is laced with critically-acclaimed projects. But according to Moxey, perhaps focusing their attention on singles as opposed to albums might not be such a bad thing after all. “At first there was a certain amount of skepticism to working singles-driven dance acts — it was like, “Well, where’s the album?” — but to some extent dance music is the closest thing to the 1950s, where you have the excitement of people buying singles. You can have a huge dance single every week — why not be the best at that?”