Inside EDM: Why We Love Rave Subculture and You Should Too


During the course of my time as a radio show host, I came to learn that my tastes in music are diverse in many ways, both in time periods and in genres. One of the show formats that I tested out was an educational format, knitting together my educational background, my culture as a fifth-generation musician, and the number of music-related subcultures I have found myself to be a part of. In 2019, I found myself fulfilling a promise to myself and one of my dearest friends, by attending a rave — one of the biggest raves at the time, Electric Daisy Carnival in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that experience, I had little knowledge of rave subculture or understanding of how pervasive electronic dance music (EDM) is in the music scene in the United States. I couldn’t believe how much EDM I already knew and loved!

rave subculture, EDC orlando, rave, new music
Photo credit: Photobombshell
Inside EDM Interview

Date: February 20, 2020

Host (P): Photobombshell

Guests: (M) MusicIsLove/Fab, (N) NoEyeHoles/Kim, and (D) Dreadd/Deb

Listen: Hear the FULL unedited recording

P: Welcome, everybody. Thank you for being here. For the people who don’t know you, give us the rundown. Who are you? No pressure.

M: What’s up, guys? My name is Fab. I’m originally from New Jersey, and I am an eclectic soul. I love music, and I am so blessed to be here right now. Super grateful.

P: Oh, we are so happy to have you. You’re the best.

N: Hey, guys. I’m Kim, a.k.a. No Eye Holes. I was also born in Hoboken, raised in New Jersey, and reside in sunny Tampa, Florida. I am super excited to be here.

P: How did that happen? Both of you are from Jersey.

M: We needed the sunshine.

P: Where did your names come from, by the way?

M: I am super interested in yours, Kim. Where did that come from?

N: It’s my gamer tag from Playstation. It comes from Rick and Morty. You can’t have my eye holes.

P: Oh! I was like, what does that mean? Does she wear a ski mask, and she can see through it or something?

M: I was mispronouncing that from the beginning, and how long have I known you?

P: That’s amazing. OK, a bunch of Jersey girls in the house. We are covering the entire east coast. You got me here in Jersey, and I got you all in Florida. So how did you guys first get into EDM, and festivals, and the whole rave scene? You guys are veterans. I am a baby still. You were with me for my first rave, which was a lot for me to process, but you guys have been in the scene for a while. Tell me about how you first got into it.

N: I have always loved electric music, but I have to say that my first invite to a festival was Deb. I started working at T-Mobile. There is kind of like a silent EDM family at T-Mobile.

P: Yeah?

N: There was a festival, and a bunch of people got sick the first day and couldn’t go. Deb was there at my first EDM show. Someone ended up selling me their ticket the next day, and I drove up there and went.

P: That’s awesome. What about you, Fab?

M: You know what? Deb. It’s funny because she’s like the godfather. She brought us all together. It’s so true. She and Danielle actually brought me to my first rave.

P: I got Deb here.

M: You got Deb here?

P: I got her!

M: Deb, we owe it all to you.

N: We do.

D: What?

M: What’s good? Yeah, man. I’m just bragging about how you took me to my first festival, but the first one was EDC. Hands down, I found a home. It was like I stepped into a completely different world where you can unapologetically be yourself, completely, and express yourself without any form of judgment. It was just complete freedom. Yeah, that’s my story.

P: Love it. Deb, do you want to tell us about you, since everyone is just meeting you now. Where are you from, and how did you get into EDM?

D: Sure. My name is Deb, a.k.a. Dreadd. I’m from Miami, and I was born in Haiti. Really what got me in the scene was my best friend, Dee. We met up in Fort Lauderdale, and I used to call it white people music.

P: Yes, for real, I did too.

D: In school, I got picked on a lot so I never felt like I belonged somewhere. Then one day, Dee and I were listening to the same song, and I was like, “you like this?” and she was like, “yeah.” After that is was a wrap. We were just like, let’s do this. We started doing different festivals back in 2012, and we have been hooked since. It was just freedom. Nobody was judging me. Everybody was on the same page, and it didn’t matter what color skin you were or where you were from. I am talking about every location. The love was intense. I have been hooked since.

P: I love it. That’s something I have to agree with.

D: After that, everybody else came through.

P: I love it.

D: It’s freeing, man. It’s such a dope feeling, and you don’t feel that everywhere.

P: That is something that I noticed. I have been to all kinds of music things, like Dusse Palooza, the Roots Picnic, but when I went to EDC, everyone was like, it’s super PLUR. You can be yourself. You can walk around and wear whatever you want. You can wear your hair however you want. Nobody cares. I was like, okay, this is total bullshit. That’s not going to fucking happen, but it’s REAL! It’s like fucking wonderland. It’s crazy. The only person that sucked was that one guy who whistled with his stupid whistle in the bathroom.

M: Oh, remember that?

P: He was the one person out of a quarter of a million people, who wasn’t cool. Fuck that guy.

M: Fuck that guy.

P: Everybody else was cool.

D: On the real though, when you start to step outside of Florida, that’s where you see it. When you start going to Vegas and Electric Forest you see it. You know, Fab.

M: Yeah.

D: You see, these people will legit find your whole wallet and return it. It’s crazy. It shows you that good people still exist.

M: Yup.

P: Yup, yup. Pretty amazing. While we are on that and we are talking about the festival scene, who is everybody’s favorite artist? If you can’t get down to one artist, which I don’t know if I can.

N: Never.

P: What is your favorite genre? I may have to jump in here.

N: That’s harder! Sub-genre is harder for sure.

P: Really?

M: Yeah.

P: Let’s just talk about our favorite things then.

M: Let me jump in. If anybody knows me, everybody knows my favorite is Alison Wonderland, the one and only. Round of applause. Don’t tell my wifey at home, but Alison is so talented and just, in general, an awesome being. I respect her so much as an artist and a person. Genre?

N: Right? So hard!

M: When I was a kid, when I first got into EDM, I legit would listen to KTU, Webster Hall, late at night.

P: Oh, I loved Webster Hall!

M: Do you remember that?

N: Hardcore! Espescially in Jersey.

M: Right? Level 1, Level 2, and it got deeper and more underground. I am showing my age right now, but I would press the play and record and record over my parents’ cassette players. Don’t judge me. I would, and it was because that stuff wasn’t mainstream at that time. I mean, I have been in the scene for a minute, and house is one. The second is trap.

P: YES!

M: Trap because it’s a crossover with hip hop, which is my second love. I love headbanging, the vibes, the bass.

P: Love it!

N: I am going to go with a toss-up for me as well with trap and house because it is crossover. I also like trance. My guilty pleasure is trance. I can’t narrow it down to one, so I am going to go, Alison, San Holo, and Slushii has become a favorite.

P: Slushii is so good!

N: Slushii slides in real nice.

P: Love it. Alright, Deb, it’s all you.

D: I am going to have to go with Kim. I’m all trance. It takes you to another place. When I am flowing, I can feel it more. I am down to headbang, I love dubstep, but if I had to go with one, it would be with trance.

N: It’s a guilty pleasure.

D: You can just run with it, yeah.

M: Why is it guilty though? Because the rave started all like headbangers?

N: Because you have to dive into trance.

P: Because it’s all wooks who like trance.

D: Yeah. Most people don’t want to hear that.

N: You have to dive into it, and if you’re not into that mood, you’re not going to vibe with it.

D: At all.

M: That’s true.

P: Or you’re just going to fall asleep.

M: You’ve got to be in the mood. It takes you into a trance, and you vibe and lose track of time. It’s kind of like meditating in a way.

D: My favorite, there’s too many. Adventure Club brought me into the scene. When I heard Gold, I went crazy. It was a wrap. After that, I started listening to more and more EDM. Dee made me realize that this isn’t white-people music. This is just me loving different types of music and different genres. Even then I go outside of EDM, like Cyndi Lauper, Michael Bolton, if I hear them, I go crazy too, so I’m all over the place.

M: Yup.

P: My favorite is bounce, but I feel like that is because I’m a baby still. I haven’t reached trance level of rave subculture. That’s like what you get when you defeat the last boss, you know. I’m at bounce. I’m still jumping in the shows.

D: She’s on the search for the philosopher’s stone right now.

P: Exactly. Y’all are too funny.

M: You did well on your first rave. You did well.

P: Thank you! I survived.

D: Yeah, for real.

P: I feel bad because the first day, my feet hurt so bad.

N: Oh man.

P: I was like, how is this real life? I even wore special shoes, not new shoes, super supportive shoes, and I was still dying.

N: When Yellowclaw came on, I was like, I am not missing that.

D: Yo, that’s my hype music to get to work. Yellow Claw? DJ turn that up.

P: So, if you were to encounter somebody who was like no, I’m not going to listen to EDM music, EDM is whack, what would you say to them? Personally, my first experience at EDC Orlando, one of the biggest raves in the country, I thought I wouldn’t know anything about rave subculture or anyone, but I knew half the acts. Something that I would say is that you probably know a lot of EDM and you have no fucking clue, already. What is something you would say to someone who is just not interested?

N: Go to a show.

P: Oh, facts.

N: Period.

D: Yeah, you have to see for yourself.

N: It’s not just the music. It’s the nostalgia that brings you back to the vibes from the festival. EDM is like the tuning fork to your soul. Whenever my vibes are off, I can always count on that music to bring me back.

M: Yes.

D: Awww

M: She said it. She hit it right on the nail, man. That’s exactly it. It’s the vibes, dude. I would say if you are hesitant, it’s because you probably heard a hater.

D: Or you’re worried about judgment.

M: Yes, you’re too worried about the shit that you shouldn’t be worried about.

N: I think people have a stigma about EDM.

M: Yes.

N: EDM has an association with psychedelics and things like that, but until you experience it, you can go sober and still have an amazing time.

P: Yes, I did. I was super sober. I would have liked to have been not sober. I would have liked to be extra super wavy, but I was sober and I had a blast. I had one of the best times of my life.

M: Yeah.

N: Deb mentioned earlier that sometimes you lose that faith in humanity and the change that you’re trying to bring to the world, and festivals bring you to a place that reminds you that humanity isn’t dead. You’re not alone, and there are other people in the world on the same mission as you. It’s doesn’t matter who you are on Monday, during the carnival you can be whoever you want to be.

M: You know what’s crazy is that, when you go to a festival, you see all ages, all ethnicities, people in wheelchairs, people who are like 70 years old. There is no discrimination.

N: Doctors, lawyers, teachers…

M: Yup. I sound corny and that’s ok, but that it is my heaven. That is my happy place. I love and look forward to going to EDC because it’s so freeing. You are so free and you escape the reality of the world and you can just be. Be yourself and whoever is missing out, just go one time.

D: Go once.

N: Go for one day.

M: Yeah, just go once. Book a 1-day and wear some comfortable ass shoes.

N: I can tell you right now, I am never happy to see a bill come out of my account, but every time an EDC payment hits, I’m like one more payment!

P: One payment closer!

N: I am so happy to pay $25.

M: Oh, true! Yeah, man. It’s wonderful.

P: So, seasoned pros, festival-goers, what are some unwritten rules for newbies or some valuable tips for newbies that they should know about for their first rave?

N: Hydrate.

D: Drink lots of water.

M: For real, hydrate.

N: Water is your best friend.

M: Bring a camelback.

D: Don’t go in there thinking you’ll be alright with two bottles of water. For real, you have to stay on top of it.

M: I would also say, leave your ego at the door.

N: Uh-huh.

M: Any prejudices that you have, just leave them behind you and just vibe. Have a great time and feel it out. You will learn more about yourself in that festival than you do in this world where you are constantly worried about judgment. How do I look? How do I sound? When you’re there, you are present in that moment.

D: A perfect example. At my first festival, I got lost. I lost my friends, and that was scary for me because that was my first time. The people that we met, I somehow ended up bumping into them. Before I ended up bumping into them again, so many people offered me water or to walk with me, offering to help, and eventually, we found the friends we had met. Mind you, I had met these people for the first time, and they did not let me go until they got me back with my best friend, who was looking for me all over the place. For them to spend the whole night, and forget about their time, to get me back to the people I was with we are friends to this day, five years later.

N: I have a similar EDC story. For my first EDC, I went with you. We ended up meeting this girl, Alyssa. Her friends left her. She could not find her friends, we spent the whole time trying to find them. Once we got out of Tinker Field and we had cell service, we still couldn’t get in contact with them. She ended up riding back with us to Herald’s friend’s house, and I met up with her this year at EDC. She stayed in the house with us at EDC, and that’s how we met, her friends abandoned her, and three years later we still talk all the time. I was like destiny aligned us.

D: It’s crazy, man.

N: The whole newbie thing, have a flag or have a totem because you will get lost without one.

M: Yes.

D: I went in with that attitude like, no, I’m not going to get lost.

P: Yeah, but then you have to go to the bathroom. Then you have to walk across the entire festival.

N: Have a buddy.

M: Have a buddy!

N: Don’t go to the bathroom alone.

D: Cell service is not reliable.

P: For real, the buddy thing is real. I was like, yeah. I can go to the bathroom by myself. I can walk across this whole festival and find yall, and if you did not have a flag, I would never have found you again. I would have been on the street somewhere. We got lost out on the street, even when we had cell service.

M: Oh my god. Remember that?

P: Always have a buddy. Also, newbies, if this is your first time at any major festival, drop a pin to where you put your car or you’re never going to find your car again either.

D: Yeah.

M: That’s true.

P: If you could produce music or were a DJ, who would you work with and why?

D: Dash Berlin, because I have seen him perform, and he is so passionate about what he does, how he treats his fans, and how he takes the time to talk to you. He doesn’t have to do that, and you see it in him. Every one of his shows that I have been to, I’ve cried.

P: Awww

M: Yeah, that’s a real thing. Hands down, Michael Jackson.

P: Wow.

M: I think he would make me a better producer/DJ. He always pushed the envelope. He is a legend.

N: I’m going to with San Holo. I had the pleasure of listening to the album One commentary, where he breaks down the sound and the creative process in that album. It’s the same thing that Deb said. You can hear the passion in what he does and what he is trying to create. Listening to his creative process was fascinating because I am not creative when it comes to making music but listening to someone who is, is fascinating to me.

P: Yeah. Music is the best, yall. Is there a question that you wish I had asked you about rave subculture? I ask this of all of my guests.

N: PLUR.

P: Oh yeah! So, for the people who don’t know what PLUR is, what is it?

N: Peace, love, unity, and respect. It’s not just an acronym. It’s a lifestyle, and EDM festivals have opened up my mind about what that meant for me.

M: Absolutely. It’s a sense of community and a way of life. You look out for each other. You respect each other. When you walk into a festival, even just the vibes, the music, you feel like the energy, and it unites you. You hear us talking, and we may sound like modern-day hippies, but it’s real. You feel united, and there is mutual respect to take care of each other. That’s been one of the best things, and I have been blessed to live this lifestyle, ever since I started going to these things five years ago. It has been a blessing. I am super grateful.

N: Absolutely. I think it’s made me a better person. You always want to be the change that you want to see in the world, and you go through experiences that set you back but being around that many people radiates positivity. It made me so much more accepting of other people’s perspectives.

P: I think something that even a lot of seasoned ravers may not know is that the acronym PLUR came back from the ’90s in the Brooklyn rave scene.

N: Underground.

P: Yeah, it didn’t just pop up. Rave subculture not a random thing that people talk about. There is an actual raver’s manifesto that talks about obviously peace, love, unity, and respect, but also freedom, tolerance, expression, and responsibility. It’s not just this idea that everyone does this cute hand sign, it’s a full ideology about caring for other human beings. For me, that’s the wildest thing about the whole scene. It’s not just electronic music; sure it’s electronic music and you dance to it, and you feel great, but also everyone who enjoys that music and comes to these events subscribes to this ideology. It makes those events safe places and puts the whole thing together.

M: Absolutely.

P: Rave fam, thank you all so much for being here! Thank you to Dreadd. I am so glad you got a chance to be here! Be good, and if you can’t be good, take pictures!

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