The EDM Dictionary: VIP Mix (n.)

Definition

A VIP mix is a special edit or remix of a song made to be played as part of a DJ set. VIP stands for “Very Important Person,” meaning it has been designed for DJs to use, not for fans to listen to at home.* Because of their nature, VIP mixes are usually not officially released for mass distribution online, and copies of these songs therefore may be only available as bootleg recordings. However, some VIP mixes do see official or semi-official releases. For instance, Valentino Khan gave away his VIP mix of Deep Down Low” on SoundCloud “to celebrate the love [fans] have shown” for the song.

Explanation

VIP mixes are first and foremost a special treat for fans who come out to a live show. Plus, like any remix, they add new life to a song whose original mix may have gone stale.

*Source: Skrillex and Valentino Khan, OWSLA Radio, Episode 3, discussing the VIP mix of “Deep Down Low”. Skrillex: “This is the VIP mix, though. What does VIP mean?” Valentino Kahn: “That means Very Important Person.” Skrillex: “That means only DJs used to only be able to play this record. It’s a little bit different. It’s for the live ****. But he decided to put this out after the video dropped.”

The EDM Dictionary: Artist Album (n.)

Definition

The phrase “artist album” refers to an LP showcasing original work by an artist or group. This term is used to differentiate in cases where the artist has released albums that do not primarily feature their own work, such as compilation albums that include multiple artists on one record.

Description

While in other genres the phrase artist album would be redundant, in the dance music world it is useful because many producers (i.e. artists) are are also DJs who build their reputations by playing other people‘s music. DJs sometimes gain notoriety by releasing compilation albums that they have curated and mixed, which are credited under their name, even if the album does not feature any music produced by the DJ. (Just as editors are credited for compiling anthologies regardless of whether the editor’s written work appears within the book’s pages, compilation albums are credited to the person or people who curated and/or mixed the collection.)

Example

Consider for example the the Anjunabeats Volumes series of compilation albums, which showcase the work of artists on the Anjunabeats label. The albums are compiled and mixed by Above & Beyond, who therefore receive credit for the album, even though the albums typically only feature a handful of songs contributed by the group. Above & Beyond have released several artist albums, including Tri-State, Group Therapyand We Are All We Need.

The EDM Dictionary: Big Room (n. or adj.)

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Big room music is made to fill large venues like clubs, arenas, and festivals while bringing in a lot of revenue.

Definition

Big room is a commercial style of EDM made for big clubs, festivals, and arenas. Like pop music, it is designed for mass appeal in order to generate large profits for the artist. Because of this, big room music is frequently criticized for being uninspired and less creatively challenging.

Related terms include mainstream and mainstageEDM is often used as a synonym for the highly commercialized big room sound, although EDM also refers to the broad spectrum of dance music including underground and less-commercial genres.

Explanation

The typical big room EDM song has a strong four-to-the-floor beat using a heavy kick and snare, a simplistic structure, vocals (with lyrics about dancing, partying, drinking, drugs, or love), several large buildups and big drops. Big room songs often rely on a very simple melody (such as Martin Garrix‘s “Animals” or Avicii’sLevels“).

The term “big room” comes from dance clubs, where the most accessible or popular music is usually played in the biggest room of the club in order to fit in the most people. Some clubs offer multiple rooms with other DJs playing at the same time to accomodate customers with different musical tastes. The music in these smaller side rooms is likely to be less commercial and more underground, experimental, or genre-specific.

Big room artists include Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Avicii, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, and many of the most famous DJs and producers in the EDM scene.

The EDM Dictionary: Bootleg (n. or adj.)

Definition

bootleg is an unofficial or unauthorized production – usually a remix or a mashup of another artist’s work.

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Some artists, like Myon and Shane 54, specialize in creating bootleg mashups.

Explanation

Technically, any remix or mashup made without official legal permission from the artist whose work is sampled is a bootleg. Not all bootlegs will be labeled as such, though, because it’s pretty easy to figure out if a song is a legitimate release: If a song is available on music services like iTunes or Spotify, or otherwise available to buy, it’s almost certainly authorized. If a remix is only available as a free download, for example through an artist’s Soundcloud page or website, it’s probably not authorized. (This is because the original artist or their label could sue the remixer for damages if the remixer were trying to make money off of their work.) DJs big or small can still play bootlegs live – after all, mixing together other people’s work is the core of the DJ’s job description – so bootlegs will often make appearances in live settings as a special treat for the audience.

Some bootleg remixes are actually rejected remixes that had been commissioned by the original artist. Artists will frequently ask other producers to remix a song of theirs, to be released alongside the original mix on a single. When the commissioning artist is not happy with the remix, though, he or she can choose not to officially release it. Often, these rejected remixes will never see any release at all, but sometimes the remixer will release the song for free, just to get it out into the world. In other cases, the remixer may end up turning the remix into an original production of their own – as was the case with Above & Beyond‘s “Sticky Fingers.”

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The EDM Dictionary: Dub Mix (n.)

Definition

In dance music, a dub or dub mix is a version of a track in which the main vocals have been removed. This is also known as an instrumental version, especially in other genres such as pop music.

A dub mix played on episode 083 of Group Therapy Radio. Source: aboveandbeyond.nu

A dub mix played on episode 083 of Group Therapy Radio. Source: aboveandbeyond.nu

For example, in the track list of episode 083 of Group Therapy RadioJeremy Olander is credited for remixing Mendoza‘s song, “Love Druggie.” The term “dub mix” indicates that Jeremy has removed the vocals from this version of the remix.

Explanation

Dub mixes are a useful tool for DJs to create mash-ups, since the DJ can put vocals from another song on top of the dub mix. Many longtime producers will mash up their own works by putting vocals from old songs on top of dub mixes of their newer songs as a way to please old and new fans and keep the music fresh. However, dub mixes may be enjoyed as finished productions in themselves, without vocals from the original or any other song.

As a side benefit, dub mixes allow other DJs (who did not produce the music) to extract the vocals from the original mix of the song through phase cancellation, creating what’s called an acapella. The DJ can then use the extracted vocals over the dub mix of another song to create a mash-up.

Dub mixes are usually created by the producer him/herself, as it is easy for them to do so from the original project file. It is possible to remove vocals from finished song files, but the process can be tricky and the quality of the final song will suffer.

The EDM Dictionary: DJ Set (n.)

Definition

On set lists, “DJ Set” indicates that the artist(s) will be mixing pre-recorded music, not creating music or incorporating live elements (such as instruments, vocals, drum machines, etc.). This term usually appears when the artist(s) are known for performing with elements beyond the traditional DJ setup.

Explanation

You can think of the term DJ set as being the opposite of a live set, in which the artist will be performing some elements of the show live onstage. (Another term for a live set is “live PA,” or live performing artist. While this terminology is still used, Google Trends indicates that it is not as common as the term live set or liveset.) Similarly, the term “vocal set” indicates that the performer will be singing in addition to mixing a DJ set, but not incorporating other live elements.

Further Reading

In this 2010 post, the performing artist Quiet Entertainer outlines an episode in which a fan approached him after a DJ set, disappointed that he hadn’t performed in his normal live manner which incorporates performance art. Quiet Entertainer then vows to clarify on future set lists if he will be playing a DJ set instead of his normal live set (or live PA, as he calls it), to prevent confusion.

The EDM Dictionary: Producer (n.)

Definition

Producer (n.): In EDM, a producer is a person who creates electronic music. Unlike in other genres, such as pop and hip-hop, in which producers (i.e. “record producers”) oversee the process of making music on many levels, in dance music a producer refers to the artist who creates, or “produces”, the music. Producer is a distinct term from DJ, although producers often are DJs.

Description

A DJ is someone who plays recorded music onstage using decks; the term makes no claim about his or her ability to create music. A producer is the person who creates electronic music; the term makes no claim about his or her ability to play that music, or incorporate it into sets onstage.

Some producers, such as Nigel Good and Mikkas, are not DJs (or at least choose not to DJ), and many DJs are not producers. It is generally acknowledged that producing requires a much larger and more technical skill set than DJing.

These days, most producers are expected to DJ, and, increasingly, in order to get booked at decent gigs, DJs are expected to be producers. Because of this, almost every big-name DJ in the electronic music scene doubles as a DJ and producer. If a DJ is incapable of producing but still wants to achieve fame, he or she may hire a “ghost producer.”