Thanks to the wonders of the internet, one’s quest for knowledge really has no limitations. Between the plethora of digitized articles, documentaries, and—on the technical side of things—instructional videos and guides around, there is no shortage of information accessible to those who seek to learn more about the ever-expanding world of electronic music. The lecture, however, makes for a unique form of information sharing as it not only provides the necessary facts and details, but also allows for attendees (and, eventually, viewers) to get a sense of the person behind these facets of knowledge. With that in mind, Beatport News has compiled what we believe are 10 amazing lectures on electronic music, gathering videos from modern innovators, dance music originators, technical wizards, and a few that simply capture a time and place in electronic music too perfectly to overlook. Below are our 10 picks guaranteed to teach every electronic music enthusiast and music maker something new.
Richie Hawtin is surely one of techno’s living—and gigging, for that matter—legends, and his lecture at this year’s Red Bull Music Academy NYC session proved to be an enthralling and informative discussion. Covering his evolution as a DJ and producer, Hawtin talks about his experiences beginning in Windsor, Canada (just across the river from Detroit), throwing warehouse parties, launching record labels, and the evolution of dance music as a culture. The techno stalwart also discusses how technology has been central to his professional career, and why he has continued to strive to stay on the leading edge of music technology.
Everyone knows Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) as a monster performer and surefire producer, but what his conversation with Jeff Rosenthal at IMS Engage earlier this year reveals is that Moore is also a careful planner and an artist concerned with creating a sustainable future for electronic music. While the discussion does cover some of Moore’s rise to becoming Skrillex, the talk is more focused on what building blocks can lead to a concrete scene. Most interestingly, Moore talks about being $30,000 in debt before having Skrillex become what it is today. The 45-minute talk provides an interesting look at what happens behind the scenes of electronic music and what Moore—arguably one of the most successful electronic talents to rise from a grassroots movement—hopes will sustain the future of dance music.
Thanks to Daft Punk and their inescapable summer jam “Get Lucky,” the genius of guitarist/songwriter Nile Rodgers has been introduced to a new generation. But, as many of us already know, Rodgers is a musician who is squarely at the foot of dance music, having completely revolutionized disco with his band Chic and a long list of memorable—and commercially huge—productions. In this discussion with Pete Tong at IMS’ 2012 edition, Rodgers talks about how he first began making disco and how he and his crew became thought of as having “captured Studio 54 in a bottle.” The hour-long discussion includes some entertaining anecdotes from the disco era and goes on to give a sense of the atmosphere that marked New York’s early club scene—which would eventually give rise to house and techno years later.
This 2007 RBMA lecture features a young (well, aged a mere 25 years) A-Trak alongside the late DJ Mehdi. The discussion, which runs over two hours, captures both producers right around the time when Ed Banger and the world of electro house was taking over the globe. In it, the two discuss the difficulties of evolving beyond hip-hop production and what makes a good dance track while capturing the fast-evolving scene and pace of dance music—specifically French electro house—that was occurring at the time.
Although this lecture appears shortened in its video form, this discussion between legendary digital-instrument designer Roger Linn (the man behind the MPC) and techno stalwart Carl Craig occurred during the 2012 edition of Seattle’s Decibel Festival, and finds the two discussing the evolution of drum machines from the Rhythmicon (believed to have originated in the 1930s) to the Tempest, Linn’s latest creation alongside MIDI “godfather” Dave Smith. Along the way, Craig talks about his evolving relationship with drum machines in his productions, and Linn adds insight into why certain devices were created in particular ways to help producers and musicians make use of these ever-changing machines that provide the very base of dance music.
While on the subject of technology, it seems fitting to check in with Bob Moog, the synthesizer pioneer and man behind the renowned family of Moog synthesizers, such as the legendary MiniMoog Model D and the more recent MiniMoog Voyager. Taking almost an hour, the lecture covers Moog’s initial fascination with electronics and his time developing earlier modular synthesizers before covering the basics of synthesis and how they have been applied to Moog’s unique instruments. As Moog passed away less than two years after this RBMA lecture, the video serves as one of the last in-depth discussions with the legend, one of electronic music’s greatest technology contributors and an utterly fascinating mind.
Moodymann (aka Kenny Dixon Jr.) is one of dance music’s most intriguing figures. The Detroit DJ and producer rarely gives interviews and does his best to exist outside of the regular music-business hierarchy, running his own label, releasing his own music, and just being his own damn self. Dixon’s 2010 lecture at Red Bull Music Academy is one of the organization’s most iconic—and infamous—exchanges, as it features the veteran producer getting his hair braided while he talks about music in Detroit and delves into his own philosophy on producing, DJing, “fucking the MPC,” and existing as a creative entity in the modern world. While the discussion is certainly entertaining (the man even talks about making a track entirely inside a Guitar Center), Dixon dishes out some real gems of wisdom, albeit ones shrouded in a bit of mystery due to his enigmatic persona and unique gift of gab.
No lecture list would be complete without at least one TED Talk. Earlier this year, the iconic discussion series invited renowned beatboxer and producer Beardyman (aka Darren Foreman) to lead a brief presentation on what is possible with the human voice. Amidst displaying some of his skills and giving a brief overview of his background, the British man of many talents eventually shows off a complex amalgamation of gear and programming that allows Beardyman to create full-fledged audio productions by manipulating only the sounds that come from his mouth. As he emphasizes, no pre-recorded audio or sample triggering is used; everything comes from the sounds of Beardyman’s own mangled voice, and the results are quite mesmerizing.
In 2006, a young Skream was invited to take part in a chat at the RBMA session in Melbourne, Australia, and an illuminating and frank discussion of the UK’s garage and dubstep scene at the time ensued. Everything from London pirate radio to Fruity Loops to legendary club nights like DMZ and FWD is fair game in this talk, which gives viewers a comprehensive impression of what the dubstep movement was like when it was first taking form in the UK, before it made the jump across the Atlantic.
And, because you have to know where you came from to know where you’re going, the last conversation to make this list features Italian producer and electronic-disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. Sitting down for a 40-minute talk, Moroder details the atmosphere and drive that led him to produce seminal dance records like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” while also covering how he first encountered synthesizers and why he finds the current world of dance music so exciting. Get your learn on!