WHEN THIS year’s Grammy nominations were announced in January, the media were scratching their heads over some “unknown” 23-year-old dance producer/ DJ named Skrillex earning five nominations, including one for Best New Artist. They wondered aloud: Are DJs musicians?
This is not a new argument. Look at the adversity that rap and hip-hop faced when they grew beyond the underground into the mainstream. Now they’re the most dominant voices in popular music. Rejection of new musical ideas goes back through the eras: Stravinsky’s The Riteof Spring caused riots in the aisles at its premiere.
These days, people tend to equate musical “success” with record sales. DJs create an experience, an event; although Skrillex, Tiësto, and deadmau5 draw hundreds of thousands of fans to their live performances, they’ll never compete with Katy Perry on the charts. But they are influential, and music is an evolving art form. It’s inspiring to witness artists at the forefront of electronic music finally getting the recognition that they deserve. “The coolest part about the Grammy nominations is that it proves something real is happening culturally,” Skrillex says in our cover interview. “And even though the mainstream is trying to latch onto it, they don’t even know what to really latch onto yet.”