We got some sound advice, wit and wisdom from some of the world’s top DJs. Today’s question:
“How much of an artist’s importance and relevance comes from their ability to sense what’s going to happen next before the rest of the population? Is that a fair question?”
Dimitri From Paris
Riding a trend ahead of others can bring fast success, but constantly hopping from one to the other can quickly make an artist uninteresting.
Bigger is not necessarily better (for everyone), and the same goes with newer. I believe an artist’s success achieves more longevity when, rather than following, he’s creating, leading or even ignoring trends. By nature, trends come and go, and an artist should stay afloat within those fluctuations by being unique and relevant. An ability to see those early can, however, allow artists to slightly adjust in order to always find the suitable spot for their art.
Personally, rather than following trends, I’ll try to find which facet matches what I’ve always been doing. This can be an entry point for general audiences to delve deeper into my universe. I’d rather be the last artisan doing what he does best, rather than constantly trying to stick to whatever the trends require, whether it’s ahead or not.
I just like to keep it fresh. That’s my focus. If the artist’s focus is to create sounds and vibes with an artistic flair that hasn’t been done before, then you’ve got a pretty big chance of having “predicted” the next sound because you made it. That’s how I’ve always approached music, and I can’t see that ever changing.
It’s fair to say that knowing the trends of dance music and applying them into your own productions can be very beneficial. At the same time, I think it’s important to stay true to your own sound, taking influence from the trends instead of blatantly following them. The best position is to be the one creating the trends; this only happens by an artist finding true inspiration and creating something so new and fresh that it inspires the entire community.
I hold the view that an artist’s importance and relevance comes from being honest in the work they are presenting to the public at any given time. Playing the guessing game of: “What’s going to happen next,” “What’s the next big thing,” “Is this relevant?” is basing your work on shaky ground. When the wind changes, you get blown away. Fashionable things come and go in a cyclical nature. Therefore, in some sense, there is no need to chase them. Working in this way is external.
Coming from a place of true expression, and how you feel in that given moment, will always make for a more deeply rooted piece. It is coming from within. “Falseness” and “realness” can be heard and seen in equal proportions, but the music will always have the last say, regardless. By taking this approach, I feel it is how works of art then go on to become timeless, and in turn are constantly relevant and important to the listener/viewer.
We still study the work of many dead artists (within all of the arts). Would this be the case if they had worried about trying to stay relevant at the time of creation, or trying to guess what was going to happen next? I feel by taking the latter approach, you are always relevant and important to yourself. All that other “stuff” just gets in the way of being creative.
I always follow my senses and direction when it comes to making and selecting music for the future. Every week, I create new music that is made for the future—to be released and played for an audience. In that way, I stay ahead of time.
You would say so, yes. Looking at the (hard) dance music industry, there are always some artists who come up with things that evolve into new trends. But are the trendsetting artists also the most relevant artists? In our opinion, the combination of trendsetters and followers (who bring their own creativity to the scene) are the most relevant artists!
The amount of relevance and importance that is produced from an artist’s ability to foreshadow trends in music and culture vary from artist to artist, in my opinion. Sometimes, an artist’s ability to do that is literally a big reason their followers stay so interested in their brand. Then you also have artists who have the ability to completely just be themselves, and they set trends without meaning to do so.
I feel like with today’s technology, and music-lovers having the ability to constantly receive so many new ideas, you really have to find your voice and your brand message, and stand firm to it. With so many different ideas, music styles, brand messages and cultural influences in music today, I strongly believe if you’re 100 percent yourself without directly trying to follow or even foresee trends, your brand will naturally carry the authenticity that makes it somewhat “trendy” in its own individualism.
With that being said, everybody likes different trends, music types and artists for different reasons. Some people like music because it’s simply cool, and all their friends may also like the same music. Some people view music as a job, a commodity, because they’re part of the industry side of things and have to examine it in whatever way it applies to them and their function. Some people use music as an escape, as something close to their heart, that they rely on the certain feeling produced by it to help them cope with good times or bad times.
The music industry, and what becomes or remains popular, can be examined from a million different viewpoints. As a creator, I keep my music and brand close to my heart and depend on my own authenticity to speak through it—it’s what I live for. It’s what I am meant to do with my life. I simply love and value it too much to look at it or express it any other way.
Is this a fair question? Absolutely, it is. Without people being able to see ahead of the curve, we wouldn’t be advancing and evolving so quickly as musicians or consumers. Being able to set your own standard or start your own movement is the beautiful part of the power of music, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
A lot of times, fans forget that their favorite artist that they adore, admire or even put on pedestals, those artists started out their humble beginnings as individuals… as people… as human beings. And they kind of get caught in a way of thinking that we are more than just humans, that we’re almost godlike. But that’s really not the case; we’re just people that are fortunate enough to do what we love, and our passion is appreciated for the art that it is. People seem to think that we might see something more about what’s going to happen next apart from the rest of the world, but that is really not the case. Although some of us might be more hypersensitive than others to certain movements or conditions to what’s going on in a place or around the world, we’re just traveling off the “seat of our pants” to what’s going to happen next, like everyone else. We’re just artists; we do what we love, and we hope that people get in tune to what we’re doing and love it as much as we love doing it! So we don’t really know if that’s a fair question, but maybe one that needed to be asked nonetheless.