Little Dragon moving the crowd Nick Schrunk/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

If you’re looking for some healthy debate among friends, gather your audiophile buddies and discuss just what electronic music is. Their responses will be wildly varied. Your friends who actually appreciate authority would point to the Electronic Music Association (yes, there is one), who claim that electronic music can be just about anything that involves electronics -- sampling, filtering, synthesizing, whatever suits your tastes. Even vocals could be considered electronic as long as they “support the other electronic elements.”

Some of your friends -- the more book-brained than socially inclined -- would cite some strange experimental stuff from the era of your grandparents. As much as you’d hate to admit it, they’d be right, too. But they’d still be boring and shouldn’t warrant too much attention.

A contemporary take on the debate would list off sub-genres with adventurous names -- ghetto tech, electro-bounce, house, techno, jungle, dubstep, folktronic, ambient, chill wave, grime and many, many more. Each sub-genre is built around a tempo and general stylistic principle whether it is the minimalist march of Detroit techno or the fierce, rapid-pace assault of break beat.

In a genre that is basically open for interpretation, evolution of sound is constant.

In a genre that is basically open for interpretation, evolution of sound is constant. This leaves the organizers behind Movement 2011 with an interesting dilemma: what exactly do we book on our stages if most anything can be labeled “electronic?”

Constant Evolution

“Electronic music evolves constantly,” agrees Jason Huvaere, festival director of Movement, “and every year, we want to be part of that evolution. We want to follow the natural progressions of some of these artists…but we also want to lead. Coming from an underground background, there is a connection we’re trying to bridge between the mainstream and the underground electronic acts.”

This includes staying true to an underground Detroit scene that is thick as blood. A group like AUX88, who have been a staple on the scene since the mid-‘80s, may be classified as “electronic,” but their live show is filled with an array of live instrumentation and dance.

Little Dragon, a performer on the Red Bull Music Academy stage this year, is a live group made up of five members but meets the criteria of electronic. Other DJs fly in, perform and fly out with little more than a laptop and some headphones.

Creating that balance and bridging that gap is anything but easy. Huvaere is the first to admit it. “It’s a challenge every year to get 100 different acts together, but that’s the reason we work all year round.”

At the end of the day, Huvaere and the Movement festival knows that their hearts beat to the sound of the underground.

“That’ll always be a major percentage of our bookings,” Huvaere says. “We bring in a few acts to cross over and provide that mass appeal. But we are very in favor of presenting to people the underground side of this genre.”

If your friends are still bickering about just what electronic music is, we’re sure they’ll all agree that the purer the sound, the better. Bottom line.

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