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Underground Electronic Music Producers Making Pop: Would You?

Many underground electronic music producers say that they would never make pop music because they see it as selling out to mainstream music. What are your thoughts on this? Let’s explore this in more detail in this article.

The vast majority of the famous producers I have interviewed so far for the BassGorilla Podcast to say they would definitely write pop music, and they don’t see why anyone wouldn’t. I think that if this question had been asked to famous producers 15 years ago, the answer would have been the opposite in most cases.

Assuming I’m right about most underground producers of the past not being willing to make mainstream music, what caused this paradigm shift in most people’s thinking when it comes to the acceptance of writing pop music?

I believe there are two main reasons:

  1. it’s the way the music industry has changed with the evolution of the internet, pirated music and digital downloads. There isn’t as much money to be made as a producer these days compared to the wonder years of CDs and vinyl. Many underground music producers these days see their releases on labels as a way to advertise and market themselves, and they make the majority of their money from playing out at clubs and festivals. As a result, many are more open to the idea of doing things that will enable them to still work within the music industry but make a living from it.
  2. As the music industry has evolved in the last 15 years, the line between underground and popular mainstream music has become increasingly hazy. That is to say that not only are we hearing more and more underground production trademark sounds in mainstream music, but even underground music itself is becoming more and more polished and ‘popular’ in many cases as producers are making a conscious decision to popularize their material to make it more appealing to more people and reach wider audiences.

That said, it is possible to take the more mainstream route without being a complete sell-out and producing David Guetta style material for the likes of Kylie Minogue.

Take Spor for example, who changed his alias to Feed Me and now makes a much more mainstream of electronic dance music than his previously highly respected neurofunk drum & bass.

Another prime example is Adam F, who kept his name but branched out into pop, hip hop and breakbeat music, which still releasing drum & bass on his record label Breakbeat Kaos. He is also a co-owner of the drum&bass website and forum Dogs On Acid. Adam F has collaborated with Everything But The Girl, David Bowie and the Pet Shop Boys to make mainstream music, as well as Missy Elliot, LL Cool J and Redman.

Another is Zinc, who moved from one of drum & bass’s most respected producers and DJs to becoming one of breakbeat’s most highly respected, and is more recently producing electro house.

Despite these moves towards mainstream music, these artists have still managed to keep their artistic integrity and are atill highly respected by the underground communities that they left behind for pastures new.

Underground Electronic Music Producers Making Pop: Would You?

So it can be done tastefully, and for many artists moving into the mainstream or towards it to some degree is a necessity in order to continue to make a living from doing what they love to do – make banging music and move crowds.

Another important figurehead to consider is DJ Fresh – he has continued to produce drum & bass and has managed toretain his class as a producer while creating a uplifting, dance floor-ready style which has reached #1 in the UK pop charts by collaborating with singers such as Rita Ora, who was relatively unknown at the time of the release in the pop world.

What are your thoughts? If you made it big in bass music, would you later think about venturing out? If so, how far would you go? Let me know on BassGorilla’s Facebook fanpage, I’m keen to hear where more of us bass music producers stand on this topic.

Luke