The common stigma behind electronic music tends to describe obsessive drug abuse, music without meaning, and a general characterization as an outlet of outlandish behavior and odd outfits. We all know this not to be true, (except maybe the outfit bit), but if you were to convince someone otherwise, what would you do? Perhaps some of your favorite Madeon tracks, or Disclosure beats might persuade the individual. I think the conversation begins with a branch of electronic music that tends to go unnoticed. One that does more meaning making with their electronic sounds than most artists. That branch is Christian EDM. Simply stated, it goes unnoticed because there is such a small number of Christian EDM talent that makes quality music; and Christian EDM tends to get labeled as “less cool” than traditional EDM because of its religious affiliation. But, I find that the conversation on stigmas in EDM might start with Christian EDM, and there is one musical group in particular that incorporates their faith ideals into a unique sonic sound that transcends these stigmas: Hillsong Young & Free. 

Hillsong Young & Free is self-described as “a youth movement” who “continue to push their positive message in the musical context of EDM and pop influences.” Combating the stigmas behind electronic music can be tough, but this group does an outstanding job. In their song, “Real Love,”  poetic lyrics like “perfect love realized here with You” and “Jesus, I’m found in your freedom, this is real love,” stand out because they are grounded in a faith. It’s interesting how this works. If “Jesus” weren’t included, it would just be another song about love and happiness and cliche affection. But when you detach the secular and add a Christian spin, the music takes on a different meaning.

The release of their video for “Real Love,” demonstrates the positive vibes of electronic music and depicts the nature of their content. Mostly I hear people describe electronic music concerts as “wild” or “crazy.” But when you’re turning up in an effort to praise a higher power, things are wildly different. When we compare this live video with others from deadmau5 or Kaskade, you get two different atmospheres – even though musically a lot of the same stuff is still happening. With Hillsong we get this cheerful and blissful tone. And while I would argue we get the same atmosphere with other artists’ videos, to an outsider it doesn’t feel that way. An outsider feels safer watching the Christian EDM video than the other, and I think that’s fundamentally where Christian EDM can step in and say: “Hey, they might have a different purpose than us, but our musical styles are very similar. You should be able to enjoy both artists because the stigmatization of the music itself is unfounded.”

Now, I’m not discrediting EDM artists who do meaning making in their music, I’m just highlighting one Christian EDM group, that does a fantastic job at meaning making in a sub-genre that goes unnoticed. Any EDM artist can make quality sound and have a quality message, it just happens that the Christian EDM artists get a better reputation for it. So, I feel that when people bash EDM as a genre they aren’t getting the whole picture. So how do we combat the stigmas surrounding the electronic genre? Perhaps with a band like Hillsong Young & Free, we can convince outsiders of the positive nature of EDM.