Techno producer Regal came out this morning with a rather questionable statement as regards techno and its value within the mainstream music frame at the moment. It’s best you read his remarks in full before continuing on with what’s to follow.
He then went on to further explain in a comment:
After reading and re-reading the status, along with the additional comment, the whole thing is a little bit of a headscratcher. On the one hand, the Spanish producer is advocating that the current crop of techno producers gear up to be the sound of a supposed mainstream takeover once the current crop of hip hop fades into obscurity, but on the other he claims the music doesn’t need to change.
The whole thing is entirely mystifying.
As most die hard techno fans know well, the balance between mainstream and underground is one of the finest lines and one of the most difficult concepts to explain to anyone that’s not entirely entrenched in the scene. In loose terms, becoming a mainstream hit can often times be considered ‘selling out’ (depending on the manner in which you do it). With that being said, there are obviously a huge number of electronic music acts that breached the barrier between underground and mainstream via groundbreaking sounds; The Prodigy (which the Italian cites), Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and an endless list of others.
Regal’s squeal for attention and his big reveal that the music industry is a business isn’t really a shock to anyone and more so just a further affirmation that the Spanish producer is trying to justify why exactly his sound is becoming more and more commercial, exemplified by his work with Suara. Suara’s boss Coyu recently penned his own statement on why he’s changed his sound from tech house to techno because the former became too diluted and that he wanted to move on. Some may say it showcased how easily he could jump ship from one sinking genre to one that’s currently swimming.
It’s no shock that Regal is just another artist trying to justify moving from the underground, what really is jarring about it is his particular choice of words. By comparing techno at the moment to the current crop of rap stars dominating the radio is a bit rich. He cites how rap came from the ghetto and that now it’s a million dollar industry. While to many that might seem like a perfectly plausable argument as to why Spin 103.8 might actually play ‘Acid is the Answer’ in the coming years, it’s a bit of a misleading take on the rise of the world’s most popular genre.
The current style of rap is very far gone from the one ‘born from the ghetto’ and like any other genre that reached mainstream dominance, it needed to change its style significantly. Migos are a far cry from A Tribe Called Quest, much like Kygo or anyone else in the tropical house movement was from any underground house act.
Regal’s suggestion is basically an admission that he wants to transform techno into a marketable sound, rather than create original sounds.
As an artist, you aren’t living in reality if you believe that marketability isn’t an aspect of the modern music landscape, however with that being said, basing your production on creating a marketable sound just nullifies the whole point of being a recording artist.
There’s no point in making music if you aren’t making something that isn’t in some way original. There’s already a space for cover bands. Techno at the moment isn’t a mainstream sound and if there ever is to be a sound similar to the one now that’ll get significant airtime on radio it’s going to have to be original, maybe not necessarily very good. By all means Regal can become a massive radio hit by making stuff within a pre existing format that has worked for genres before (Big build ups and distorted drops, see Tech House and/or Skrillex-era Dubstep), but his call for techno producers to band together in order to make the genre a marketable force is entirely harmful to the credibility of the sound and disrespectful as regards where it came from.
Rap never became a worldwide movement because the artists at the top of their game formulated a plan to take over radio. That sound developed over time until a new crop came in and made it their own, it wasn’t the result of a series of statuses on Facebook attempting to explain how they went from Boom Bap to Trap in a matter of months. The music they make may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s original, not a piss poor imitation of what it originally set out to be.
Trends will always be a thing in music and Regal won’t be the last artist to be called out for adhering to certain trends (see his most recent track, ‘Send Nudes’ for a sharp switch from acid to rave), but his pathetic attempt to justify it is laughable at best.
It’s never been a case of keeping techno underground, it’s about keeping it original.