"David has always been very supportive of my project ever since I pitched my first article to him. He's clearly extraordinarily passionate towards and immersed in the EDM community which is epitomized by the EDM Reviewer project." - Stags EDM
Tell us about your background with music and EDM leading up to the creation of EDM Reviewer.
Apart from a couple of mashups, my technical background in the EDM world when I started writing was equal to zero. That's why my reviews are mainly focused on the emotional aspect of the songs, rather than technical elements.
I discovered EDM when I was thirteen, thanks to David Guetta and his album "Nothing But The Beat." Since that moment, I've kept listening and exploring this magical world. I was always fascinated by the infinite shapes that electronic music can have, and this provided me with an endless amount of music.
Nine years later, I can declare that I obtained a deep knowledge of the EDM world and a high technical know-how thanks to many producer friends. However I have no plans to produce or DJ because it's just never interested me.
So at first, EDM Reviewer was just a Facebook page posting song covers and a brief comment from me. In the following months, I taught myself how to use Photoshop to create my designs, improved my English, built up a team and, one year later, gained enough WordPress knowledge to create my website. At first, I was considering it just a way to store reviews, like an archive, but it became way more important.
Which songs are currently on your playlist?
Surprisingly, there isn't a lot of EDM in my personal playlist. I listen to a lot of different genres, mainly Italian and American rap, but there's a range from indie music to classical symphonies as well. Years spent listening to thousands of electronic tunes taught me to not go overboard with "work," so I keep my ear "relaxed" during the day with different genres, and in the evening I enter "work mode" and listen to the latest EDM releases. It's A bit difficult to understand, but I often had writer's blocks because I was listening to too much EDM and felt over-saturated with content. Don't ever ignore the signs of stress when you're working on a project because it'll hinder your progress.
I also have a little personal Spotify playlist with my favorite EDM songs we've reviewed, just in case and you can find it here.
How have you gone about building the EDM Reviewer team and where do you hope to take the project in the coming years?
We have two other writers with their independent series: Chris with the Weekly Recaps and Alex with Allax's Observatory. There are a few special guest that write reviews and collaborate with us like Jibran, Stags EDM, and Revealed Family. All in all, that's the team but it's always evolving.
As for where the project is headed, our expansion plans have been shelved for the past five months on account of my work as an intern, which takes up a lot of time during the day. In the summer, we'll resume our evolution and bring on new members to create different types of content. I created EDM Reviewer because I wanted to transform my passion into something substantive and also because I want to bring quality into the world of EDM reviews. I hope that in the next years, our hard work will be noticed by as many people as possible. We want things to change and move away from the status quo that currently exists in EDM journalism.
How do you decide which songs and albums you're going to cover?
I'll say that 70% of the reviews are of songs we find in the Internet. Every Friday we group up and look for the upcoming releases and pick what we want to write about. The rest are submitted by artists or suggested by fans.
In my opinion, having the freedom to review whatever you like, as long as it's classified under the broad umbrella of EDM, is really important. I can't be inspired if I'm analyzing something I dislike, plus we won't ever lie to my fans presenting something just because someone else paid us or ordered us to do so. Thus, I give the writers complete freedom to choose what they cover.
We are using a fantastic service that makes us possible to continue this strategy called Submithub. Through their platform, artists can submit their music for us to consider without over cluttering our email. I used to spend two hours each day responding to emails so I'm really happy with this new system. That being said, we no longer take any demos through DM, so if you're looking to be featured, you must go through Submithub. While it is a premium service, it doesn't require publications like ours to accept and publicly review submissions. This plays well with our two main principles: Fairness and Honesty.
We have a bonus question submitted by one of your writers, "Being on the active listening side of the music industry spectrum means that we, as writers, active listeners, fans, are always craving for the next thing that can satisfy our needs and expectations. Would that mean we are stuck in an endless pursuit of unreachable satisfaction, that puts us in an state of unconscious affliction?"
Looking at the industry as a whole, how do you feel about EDM journalism at large and how do you think it'll change in the future?
One year ago I was sure that the "old" EDM blogs were going to die soon if they wouldn't change something. Nowadays everything is more informal, blogs must connect with fans and make them participate in their work, you can't just copy paste press releases and hope to gain enough interest.
The scene was cancerous, nobody really cared anymore about reviews and the few trending articles were click-bait trash about drama with the artists. It is a common thing to pay a blog and receiving a guaranteed copy-pasted review which is obviously positive. For that reason, we push our writers to be honest about the songs and pick tracks to write a negative or even neutral review one. We actually published one recently on the Hardwell and Dannic collaboration which we gave a 73 and that ended up upsetting many fans. Many people are surprised and confused to read something that doesn't suck up to the artist or label.
A huge thank you to Davide for taking the time to answer our questions and for believing in The QR Network almost a year ago. Special thanks to Alex and Stags EDM for contributing to this interview. You can follow EDM Reviewer using the links below and be sure to check out our own Weekly Recap segment that appears on his site.
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Chris W. Lao
Writer, DJ, and Student.
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