EDM is not drug music

EDM music should not be associated with illegal drug use

Many studies have discussed the drug use at raves, which has led to the inevitable assumption that electronic dance music is “drug music."

This assumption creates a negative stigma around EDM music, and those who enjoy it. Associating EDM with drugs negates the artistic value and creativity of the music, and trivializes the culture around it, which is largely comprised of college students.

A little before the 1990s, EDM became prominently mainstream in Europe. By the late 2000s, the U.S. also started exploring EDM.

Although EDM music was first explored in the a nightclub environment, it has since evolved into being an integral part of rave culture, which was developed by millennials. In a study conducted by Monitoring the Future, one out of every five students reported that he or she had attended a rave. 

Unfortunately, over time this experience has begun to include the excessive use of MDMA and other substances. These substances are said to heighten the experience of the rave, and provide a feeling of euphoria amongst the people, lights and music.

The problem with this is that it creates a false notion that just because EDM is the prominent genre of music at these raves where many millennials abuse drugs, that this music specifically is “drug music."

By assuming that all millennials who listen to EDM are partaking in the use of illegal substances, we are creating a harmful image for those who are simply passionate about the music as an art form.

For many, EDM music is part of a larger culture that allows college students to connect and find a place to belong.

“The only reason that stigma would be around is from sort of news coming out that says someone overdosed at an event,” DJ Munition, local DJ and ASU alumnus, said. “Of course when you put, say, twenty thousand people crammed in a space ... there’s a full distribution of people that you have … you hear that in the news, but I don’t see that as much, personally, when I go out.”

When listening to music like EDM in their car or in their dorm, college students wouldn’t necessarily take drugs to relish and appreciate it. 

Unfortunately, this notion that drugs are associated with EDM music is spreading.  Now, when college-aged students are introduced to the festival scene, they may feel pressured to use illegal substances because they hear that that is the best way to experience the music.

“To get rid of the stigma, the biggest thing is being responsible at events," DJ Munition said. "Make sure that you are setting good examples … Don’t partake in illegal substances. Be safe, be there for your friends and go around in groups."

EDM is much more about creative expression and connecting to a larger artistic community. This can be especially important for college students as they face major life changes.

“Particularly, a niche that I have in the valley is Trance, a sub-genre of EDM ... it’s much more about the community,” DJ Munition said. “It’s much more about the friends and the love for the music ... Obviously, we all enjoy the music, so let’s focus on our similar interests in the styles of music that we all love so much.”

Even though rave culture and EDM appear to be intertwined, EDM is a stand alone genre of music that should not be attached to drug use. Furthermore, college-age individuals should be able to experience rave culture without the pressure of using illegal substances.  

Reach the columnist at tkallye@asu.edu or follow on Twitter @trwscuit.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the  author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its  editors. 

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