Inclusivity. Progress. Two words not always directly or immediately associated with EDM. And yet more and more, it’s what the kids want to see. The closure of the wage gap. Racial equality. Acceptance of gender and sexual fluidity. Lady Ghostbusters. You name it, this generation demands it—in their politics and in their pop culture, so it is no surprise that our penchant for progressive social action is reflected by the artists of the day.
This actively conflicts with the outsider’s perception of the genre—e.g. a beloved pastime whose enjoyment is restricted to club hoppers, fans of bottle service, and those select few who enjoy weaving metaphorical tapestries with glow stick trails. More and more electronic artists, producers, and DJs alike are moving away from this Patrón-soaked stereotype and towards the model of making music that means something to someone, that reaches out to a specific, perhaps otherwise underrepresented, demographic.
Take, for example, the latest musical endeavors of none other than Steve Aoki. Aoki’s new series of music videos, featuring songs like “ILYSM” and the aptly titled “Dope Girlz,” throw the traditional role of women in EDM videos out the proverbial window. We’ve all seen any number of the expected iteration of the electronic music video, the EDM concert or festival where the DJ (most often male) takes center stage while a sundry assortment of half-naked girls avec or sans faux-fur boots sway dead-eyed to the beat in the background. “Dope Girlz” isn’t like that. Instead, Aoki gives us a four-part video, each one set to showcase the miniaturized drama of one such dope girl in the club.
The first video for “ILYSM” centers on Mary—a no-nonsense club princess who commands the room and is having none of your usual nightclub BS. Check out the first of Aoki’s videos here:
But it’s not just ladies like Mary getting all the attention. “Dope Girlz” features a surprising number of inclusive scenes, brief though they may be. Same sex and interracial couples feature prominently—hell, there’s even an albino model thrown in the mix. The most out and out demonstration of gender and sexual role breaking in “Dope Girlz” comes in at part two, which features a leading lady named Lucy.
Lucy is portrayed by Malibu Dollface, otherwise known as Bejean Horowitz, a popular vlogger who is biologically male but identifies as androgynous. Dollface’s Lucy is, shall we say, not kidding around. She’s walking into the club throwing the middle finger at cat callers and skipping the line. She’s also dragging unsuspecting body guards into bathroom stalls, making out with said body guard, and then stealing his car keys. Bravo, Lucy. I’m not normally a fan of car theft as a rule, but you make it look damn good. Horowitz does a fabulous job both embodying the sexually liberated, outgoing Lucy in “Dope Girlz” and breaking down traditional expectations of the leading lady in the music video.
That’s not to say that “Dope Girlz” doesn’t pander to some of the usual tropes of EDM. The video does, after all, take place in a club. Yes, images of bottle service and bouncers and unrealistically happy club-goers abound. But it is what “Dope Girlz” does differently that makes it a stand out, and one in a line of other similar efforts by artists within the genre to provide a more inclusive, uplifting spin on the traditional booze-soaked model of electronic music. So, is EDM the new soundtrack for a more progressive generation? Potentially. There is admittedly still a good deal of ground to cover before that assertion can be confidently made. But videos like “Dope Girlz” that feature strong women and shed light on underrepresented minorities of the LGBT community are only adding fuel to the fire of music-driven change.
View part two here: