Arty performing at Ruby Skye on November 17. // Photo by Mark Portillo.
It’s official: Electronic Dance Music is mainstream. From the Grammy-nabbing, high-grossing wobble fests of Skrillex to the schizophrenic hip-hop hooks of Diplo to the surging house beats of David Guetta, EDM has expanded far beyond teenagers gnawing flashing binkys in a crumbling warehouse in an old shipyard.
The music industry, on a 10-year juice fast of plummeting record sales, is devouring the trend. Unlike traditional bands, which require a crew and multiple band members and instruments to put on a show, most EDM artists bring their laptops—and that’s it. It’s been reported by the New York Times that top DJs like Deadmou5 and Tiesto can pocket $1 million for a festival appearance and $10 million for a Las Vegas nightclub residency. Realizing these shows are like Cheesecake Factory entrees for their bottom line, promoters are churning out EDM festivals like a Twinkie industrial unit in the 1960s, from the migrating Electric Daisy Carnival to the Ultra Music Festival in Florida.
Some are comparing the EDM movement to the housing bubble or dot-com IPOs—a cheek-flapping rise followed by the inevitable dubstep drop. However, EDM represents a cultural shift, like rock ’n’ roll was for baby boomers, and promises to leave a permanent tattoo on young music lovers growing up with the stuff. Between the adolescent identity and subsequent nostalgia fans associate with it, and the low cost/high profit margins for artists and promoters, EDM is not going away anytime soon. And as much as it’s a boon to the music industry, the deep-seated passion of the artists and the fans are what has and will sustain this movement.
San Jose is getting in on the act, hosting the 7th annual Give Thanks concert at the newly renovated San Jose Civic Auditorium on Friday, November 23rd. The show features artists such as Showtec, Manufactured Superstars, Dirtyphonics, and up and coming Russian beat maker Arty. The latter, born Artyom Stolyarov, is a 23-year-old producer and DJ who has made a name for himself with a prolific body of work created in three short years. Endorsed by the likes of Skrillex and Paul van Dyk, and rocketing to No. 25 on the 2011 list of the Top 100 DJ’s by DJ Magazine, Arty already roams with the best of them.
Arty plays a signature classic house style that can be twirl-in-a-meadow euphoric or drag-you-onto-the-dance-floor-by-your-hair manic, and he loves his rising crescendos. Currently touring the world at a torrid pace (Netherlands, UK and South Korea in late October before his current North American tour), he somehow finds the time to record singles, host a radio show and have an active Twitter account.
Arty is no stranger to all-consuming work schedules, however. When he was just a budding EDM artist back in Russia, fresh off seven years of formal music schooling, Arty “spent 15 to 16 hours a day making music like nothing else existed.”
“Very few things have changed since that moment,” he says. “I just started to travel a lot, and all music-making happens usually on the road now. But still, it’s all about passion and beautiful melodies.”
He might be raking in a bit more dough and getting more praise, but it all goes back to his love for electronic music, having been weaned on EDM demigods Axwell (Swedish House Mafia), Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz. One thing that has changed for Arty as a result of his rising-star status is that instead of just listening to SHM on his ear buds, he gets to mix with the Nordic DJ himself. “My collaboration dream came true. We’re working with Axwell on a track together. It takes a lot of time, but I hope we finish it,” he said.
Some guys might get caught up in the glitz. Some guys might get burnt out. While no one is immune, it seems like Arty has a chance. He still claims to get a warm fuzzy feeling after a great show or finishing a new track. That feeling, along with the support of his close-knit family, is what can keep him grounded amid the strobe light flashes of success and challenge.
While the Civic Center and Arty’s team of managers and promoters are probably pretty stoked that, as an EDM artist, his shows are as cost and labor-efficient as that Hong Kong space-saver apartment on YouTube, Arty says he just wants to see as many people as possible have an amazing time. That’s what will keep them coming back for more, long after they age out of half-shaved heads and glow sticks.