Can electronic dance music unite people in a time of division?

As part of the UN’s World Day for Cultural Diversity, Abu Dhabi-based Electronic Dance Music (EDM) artist Scientific released Celebrate Diversity, an anthem to celebrate humanity’s differences. Staff writer Ferdinand Godinez talked to the Norwegian DJ to find out why now is the right time for people to join together not deepen divisions


What inspired you to create Celebrate Diversity?

I consider myself a spiritual activist, and I use my music as my tool to get across my messages of tolerance, diversity and the importance of education and creative expression. I believe, and as we see here in the UAE, that life is so much more enriching when we live and interact with people of different nationalities, creeds, cultures and abilities.

Sounds very timely considering what’s happening around us…

There’s a saying: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. Since last summer we’ve witnessed an increase in negative rhetoric by politicians and an increase in racism, hate-crimes and attempts to disenfranchise minority groups. In my opinion, we shouldn’t be constructing walls, we should be building bridges. And wherever people come together at music events to dance and enjoy music, all other aspects of what separates us as people become insignificant. The love of music and dancing becomes what unites us for that point in time.

Do you think the term EDM is being overly used and perhaps even misunderstood?

I don’t think most people know, or really care, about the genres of EDM. When they hear Daft Punk or KYGO on the radio, they know it as EDM – not necessarily as French House and Tropical House. If they do know the different genres, I’m sure I’ll be seeing them at the next EDM festival, because that means they know and love EDM.

Composing dance tracks is different than the conventional way of creating and recording music. Can you take us through your process?

If I wasn’t producing EDM, I’d probably be a drummer. So, my starting point is always creating a great, driving drumbeat. Secondly, I start layering bass lines – personally, I love drum and bass music. The next step is creating a melody. After composing the melody and chords, the final step is adding sound effects like build-ups and impacts. Once all elements have been added, it’s onto mixing the track before mastering it for publishing.

There’s no shortage of DJs in Abu Dhabi but there will always be room for new players. Any advice to people who are thinking of joining the scene?

I seek to inspire young people to start producing music and would love to see more local talent in the coming years. The youngsters shouldn’t hold themselves back if they don’t know how to play an instrument – I don’t know how to play any instrument; I just love music, and I have a great ear for music. Start by getting yourself music software and watch how-to videos on YouTube. Apple’s GarageBand is probably the easiest software for beginners to start with.

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