What the #trancefamily feud says about dance music

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“You are currently tuned in to A State of… Top40? Electro? Dubstep? And not even the cool kind! DJ Fei Fei what are you thinking? This is awful!” And so it was, Saturday night a week ago, that I was informed via a friend’s Facebook status that Los Angeles DJ Fei Fei had dared to enrage the global #trancefamily when she opened the A State Of Trance 550 stage at the Beyond Wonderland festival in her hometown – with a few noisy ‘brostep’ breakdowns.

It’s impossible to even begin to analyse the vitriol that spewed out over the internet shortly after (some of it was abusive and misogynistic, so it’s best left forgotten), but the 50 or so comments that began to quickly build under that same status offered a fair representation of the community’s general attitude towards Fei Fei’s brazen behaviour.

“Genocide … thanks Fei Fei,” said one sullen poster. “A state of rubbish. I’ll choon back in later when there’s trance on,” was another poster’s disbelief that such an institution could be sullied by a different genre. “When we expect to listen to trance and get given a dubstep set… it’s our god damn right as fans.” It’s our goddamn right! Just imagine the look of self-righteous indignation as that one was typed out on the keyboard.

Never mind the fact the event was part of a multi-stage festival that began in the afternoon, or that Fei Fei was an LA local who’d likely have a fair idea of what would work in her city. Then there’s the fact the music played at the ASOT550 parties could be accused of being embarrassingly commercial at times, or that Fei Fei’s selections were still brimming with bubbling melodies and trancey riffs, and arguably weren’t even that out of key in the first place (albeit with a few additional ‘wubb wubbs’).

Perhaps the reaction was predictable, though; the ASOT listeners inclined to use the infamous #trancefamily Twitter hashtag have become notorious for their distrust of anyone seeking to shift the sonic boundaries a little. Arty and Mat Zo were greeted with accusing jeers of “trouse” when they released their genre-bending single Mozart this year, while the UK’s Gareth Emery (who was sharing the stage last Saturday) has called fans out on their musical intolerance on more than one occasion, striking out at the “pathetic” purists who took offence to the occasional dubstep breakdown in his radio show.

“Dance music genres are not in competition, we are in this scene together,” Emery insisted fruitlessly, to a crowd who weren’t really listening. “If all you want to listen to is 100% trance there are plenty of shows doing that so go listen to them. Sorry to rant but this close minded bullshit really fucks me off.”

Enduring scene leader Ferry Corsten had a few similar words to say to inthemix last year after experiencing a stinging critical reaction to his new ‘trouse’ influenced single Check It Out.

“In dance music, the boundaries are disappearing,” he said. “There are still a lot of people left with a very narrow-minded view, and I was getting frustrated with all the idiots out there with so much to say about something that’s a bit out of the box. If we all start listening to people like that, then dance music will die…There’s so much more interesting music than just trance.”


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special ed

special ed said on the 26th Mar, 2012

'dj plays variety of music' #firstworldproblem

StiC MaN

StiC MaN said on the 26th Mar, 2012

the best article yet on this issue. i'm glad you covered both sides to this debacle


RachelRixham said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Beautifully written!! Great write up :)


JackT said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Sure I'm biased, but great piece Angus!


Ruskhouse said on the 26th Mar, 2012

this is great. well done.


gedwashere91 said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Fuck James Blake and his pathetic clamouring for relevance.


lawlietskyy said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Great article, And despite my DP - I feel no need to troll this article. And James Blake is a fkwit.


van_tango said on the 26th Mar, 2012

%u201CWe have a philosophy that if you listen to Deadmau5 when you%u2019re 18, by the time you can get into a bar you%u2019re on to Dirtybird.%u201D
I like CVS's sentiment (then again I like most things he does).
Cheesy pop trance in the late 90s/early 2000s when I was a kid definitely made it easier to cross over to more intelligent EDM later on.

More kids than ever are in their mid to late teens being exposed to 'dance music'. A whole heap of them will stay on with Black Eyed Peas/whoever is on the pop charts (and will go out to clubs that play their favourite Lady Gaga remixes/whatever), but more than would otherwise will start to look deeper and get into proper EDM.
We can all agree that it is more pop than anything and artistically sketchy, but its existence might not be a bad thing.


Mickstah said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Awesome read Angy with many excellent points raised!

For the record I've given her ASOT 550 set a few listens now and on its own I don't mind the set, there's nothing wrong with it when you listen to it out of context. But when you hear it along side Shoguns following set you can really see the contrasts, and yes, it's a trance event so I can see why trance fans would be up in arms about it.

I think her attitude in the interview afterwards didn't do much to dull the flames either.


w8_2008 said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Go Emery! haha
Well written, straight to the point article, it doesn't hurt to whet your appetite with different genres of EDM and as a Trance fan, I don't mind a bit of Dubstep/DnB, gotta mix things up from time to time otherwise *any* genre will get stale.


Silkyyy said on the 26th Mar, 2012

Apparently Fei-Fei got some death threats for her set. People are fucked.


dirtyepic said on the 27th Mar, 2012

"I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school... I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy..."


YossarianIsSane said on the 27th Mar, 2012

Whenever I hear artists whining about how their fans can be close-minded, it seems to me they almost think that people should be fans of whatever *they* do, not the genre they have made a name in. Seriously, tissues please.

I am all for EDM being varied and inclusive, but in the case of Fei Fei and others, please don't jam it down my throat. It's not a penis.


annajay said on the 27th Mar, 2012

Terrific article and I pretty much agree with the sentiments. I thought Fei Fei was a very odd choice for ASOT but why all the hate?


Jeanica said on the 27th Mar, 2012

Written so well!
Seriously, go Gareth Emery! couldn't have said it better


KraftyNut said on the 27th Mar, 2012

Wow. Great article angy.

"why would you choose one over the other?" = Nail on the head.


MarissaDee said on the 27th Mar, 2012

So spot on, this was such a good read!


LavyP said on the 27th Mar, 2012

It's always been about the Trance for me. But a few fusions (even slight trance-step) are fun if done well.

ehem... The fusion (Armin van buuren's intro remix)... and Michael Myers feat. Astrid Suryanto - UP.. Both great tracks


LargeMarge said on the 28th Mar, 2012

Silly.. I like all dance/electronic music :D
No use complaining that you didn't get what you wanted, acting like a spoiled child.


k9culture said on the 28th Mar, 2012

Emery is just as big of a toss pot. 2 out of the 3 of his shows I've seen he's dropped a couple of dubstep tracks, though I would hardly call it an integration of 2 genres.
More like: "Here look! I can play dubstep too, but I don't want to be gang beaten by any patrons who came here to listen to trance so I'm going to go back to that now ok?"


dirtydoge said on the 28th Mar, 2012

why choose one over the other? ummm cos one sounds like complete shit!!!. I'll let you decide it's not hard unless your fucking retarded. plenty of them round the block now days though!


fmcloude said on the 29th Mar, 2012

I think people are just upset when they hear house, trouse or dubstep played in an area where they think they will find only pure trance..

I won't shut the dj's down because its true that dance music is there to evolve and not just stick inside the box.


plan-b said on the 1st Apr, 2012

I bet the people who had a whinge about Fei Fei are the same people who booed David Guetta at the DJ mag top 100


steveog said on the 1st Apr, 2012

Interesting for sure. I still can't get my head around it all. must be too old.