At 37, Diplo has championed the dance world twice over. Responsible for some of the biggest EDM and crossover hits of the last decade — everything from “Lean On” with DJ Snake to M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” — Thomas Wesley Pentz has seen his fair share of success to say the least. All of this, however, has seemingly left the producer a bit jaded about the industry. In a recent interview with Billboard, supplementing his title of ‘Dance Artist of the Year’ for the brand’s annual Power List of DJs and Execs, Diplo expressed his disenchantment with the scene:
“The DJ world is the corniest f–ing group of people. We’re not celebrities, we’re not famous for any good reason. We’re just … really lame. Besides people like Dillon Francis, who makes fun of the whole thing, or Calvin Harris, it’s a sinking ship. It’s a really lame culture. I’m sad that I’m part of it, but I play the game.”
Pentz’s contentious words are sure to ruffle more than a few feathers, and we can’t help but feel his sentiment is a tad bit overblown (or at least, misdirected). While we can’t dispute the prevalence of artificiality and over-embellishment in the scene — ghost producers and purchasing Facebook likes come to mind — Diplo’s words seem more targeted at the EDM demographic than DJ culture as a whole.
It’s worth remembering that outside of Diplo and the EDM bubble, there’s an entire ecosystem of DJs and producers working hard at their craft, unconcerned with celebrity status and focused entirely on authenticity. One need look no further than the vibrant artist communities in genres like trance, techno, and drum ‘n’ bass to see this.
Ultimately, we can’t help but feel the whole thing is a bit hypocritical coming from one of the biggest progenitors of EDM culture. Call it self-deprecation, pessimism, or a midlife EDM crisis — we’re not convinced. We’ll stand by the countless artists who have rightfully earned their success and continue to uphold the legitimacy in dance music.