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CMU Beef Of The Week #258: Mat Zo v EDM

By | Published on Friday 5 June 2015

Sometimes people have a bit of a rant on Twitter, the shortform format lending itself to quickly firing off ideas. But Grammy-nominated UK DJ and producer Mat Zo took that approach to the extreme this week when he spent seven straight days laying out his not entirely uncontroversial views on the state of electronic music, stopping in time for BBC Music Day. By the end, there was enough to fill a small book and Zo had annoyed some of dance music’s biggest names on the way. Impressive work, and certainly worthy of the ‘Beef Of The Week’ title.

Mat Zo

“Electronic music used to be a bunch of nerds/geeks/outliers, and I have a lot invested in trying to keep it that way”, he wrote. “The cool people came with their money and ghost producers and us nerds had to start competing with them”.

He continued: “The point is being a nerd is fucking awesome, and the reality is the ‘cool’ people wish they had as much passion as we do. If you’re a nerd/geek whatever, be proud of it, don’t be ashamed. Show the fuckwits how much better you are without even trying. Being a nerd doesn’t mean wearing glasses or shopping at Wholefoods. If you don’t have that burning passion for knowledge then you’re not one”.

“Tiesto once said to me ‘Those trance guys are a bunch of old losers'”, he added, naming the first of several big player in dance music to directly come under his fire. “Maybe cus they stuck with their passion and didn’t go chasing pussy”.

Moving on to other topics, he accused many EDM stars of paying up to $100,000 to secure headline slots at festivals, of acting more like businessmen than artists, and of using ghost producers to create their music. On the latter point he called out Diplo, though more as an example of someone who is doing it and somehow maintaining their integrity.

“Not all DJs with ghost producers are frauds by the way”, he mused. “Diplo is a good example. He built his career on being different and playing what he wants”.

After some criticised him for naming Diplo, he added: “You think Diplo is all butthurt cus I said he has ghost producers? Nah, this is shit he’s said in interviews, he knows where his skills lie”.

Diplo did eventually get a bit pissed off with the whole thing though, tweeting: “Two ways a DJ can change the world. 1 Make great music. 2 Complain about other successful DJs. Oh wait there’s only one”.

To which Zo responded: “Great music takes time, and what looks like complaining is actually someone just standing up to you for the first time in years”.

Diplo wasn’t the only big name to fire back. Deadmau5 also put in his two cents, saying: “I complained about shit before it was cool. LOLs were had, but then I got to work making the changes I complained about. There you go, Zo”.

Pondering the state of electronic music in the wake of the EDM boom, at one point Zo stated: “A few years ago electronic music was like Cuba before the revolution, and a few of us made it on the boat, but we only got as far as Miami. Now all these budding producers are stuck in Cuba, metaphorically speaking with a load of Fidel Castros with slick back hair and V necks”.

Eventually, a full week into his rant, on Wednesday he reached some sort of conclusion, saying: “I really don’t like being the guy that’s after everyone, I feel most fulfilled when I’m inspiring other producers. It was wrong of me to break the eggs so violently, now there might be eggshell in the omelette. All I was saying is the uninspired people are always taking advantage of the inspired, and that should change”.

Read Zo’s tweets in full here.