In the afterglow of this year’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, an interview between Major Lazer and I Heart Radio sent ripples of cringe through the internet. Of course, it wasn’t the first time an awkward dance music moment was immortalised for us all to re-play. From live gaffes to uncomfortable TV appearances, we’ve opened the inthemix vaults to remember 12 incidents – with video evidence! – that made us go “Oooof”.
#12 Armin’s army takes on David Guetta
In 2011, Armin van Buuren seemed poised to take the #1 spot in DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll for the fifth year running. So when divisive superstar David Guetta knocked him off the coveted spot – in Armin’s Dutch homeland, no less – the audience at the award ceremony wasn’t exactly pleased. For his part, Armin was all grace as he presented the Frenchman with his award, but that didn’t stop the crowd booing loudly as the accused interloper stepped out onto stage.
“Amazing achievement from Armin,” a clearly awkward Guetta wobbled in his acceptance speech. “This is your home country, so it feels a bit strange…” Meanwhile, the magazine issued a statement soon after the ceremony: “DJ Mag is merely the guardian of the poll. It does not reflect our taste in music.”
#11 Markus Schulz on the couch of cringe
Uploaded to his own YouTube channel with the title When interviews go wrong, there was never any doubt that Markus Schulz’s face-to-face with a journalist who clearly hadn’t done her research would have some face-palm moments. Sure enough, things start to wrong around the three minute mark when the interviewer asks Schulz about “his” track Concrete Angel, which, of course, was actually produced by one Gareth Emery.
“But I heard you play it at Escape From Wonderland?” she probes. “I didn’t play at Escape From Wonderland,” an amused Schulz responds. The follow-up question didn’t fare much better, either. “Anything we can look forward to from your set at Ultra?” the hands-on host asked. Turns out Schulz wasn’t playing there, either. “You’ll have to leave this interview online,” he jokes midway through. “No!” she screeches. “I’ll look like an idiot!” Well, yeah.
#10 Itch-E & Scratch-E thank Australia’s ecstasy dealers
(Now, this one might’ve been awkward only for concerned parents, while many more cheered.) When you win an award, it’s common practice to thank your fans, your family, your collaborators and maybe even God. Thanking the purveyors of powerful chemicals isn’t usually on the list, but seminal Australian techno duo Itch-E and Scratch-E cheekily double-dumped that rule when they won the 1995 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) award for Best Dance Release for the sublime Sweetness and Light.
Members Paul Mac and Sherriff Lindo used their acceptance speech to thank “the ecstasy dealers of Australia,” which caused a bit of a media kerfuffle, coming as it did only four days before the tragic ecstasy-related death of schoolgirl Anna Wood. Paul Mac later said that it was, “The best career move I ever made. I got in so much trouble for that, but I don’t care. I’m still proud of it. I meant every word, and I still do.” Will we see Skrillex thanking “molly” at next year’s Grammys? Unlikely.
#9 The amazingly awful trailer for ‘DJ Girl’
“Is this the worst DJ movie ever?” inthemix asked back in 2010, when we unearthed the gold-mine that is the DJ Girl trailer. Yes, this is someone’s idea of dance music culture. Packing facepalm after facepalm into two tantalising minutes, it’s almost a tragedy this teaser never led to the movie getting an official release. We never found out what happened to Dylan ‘the cute record store guy’, Gabe ‘the jealous ex’, Gunther ‘the metro buddy’ or the rest of the well-rounded and cliché-free characters. Oh well. At least you can revisit the trailer and wonder what could’ve been.
#8 DJ Shadow “too future” for the table-service crowd
When you book a peerless innovator like DJ Shadow to play your club, you should probably expect that he’s going to play some interesting, perhaps even challenging, music. Apparently Miami superclub Mansion missed the memo, though – the promoter kicked Shadow off the decks mid-set for being “too future.” (Have a listen to the infamous mix below and let us know if you think his mix of future-trap and glitch-hop is too challenging for a club crowd.)
Shadow took to Twitter to respond: “I don’t care if I get kicked out of every rich kid club on the planet. I will never sacrifice my integrity as a DJ…ever.” Shadow isn’t the only one to have been kicked off the decks at Mansion, though – house legend Dennis Ferrer’s set was also cut short for not being commercial enough.
#7 Disclosure goes ‘unplugged’ at Wembley Arena
A supposedly incriminating photo did the rounds after “the UK’s Number 1 Hit Music Station” Capital FM brought Disclosure in to perform hit You & Me at their Wembley Arena Summertime Ball. Vocalist Eliza Doolittle was on the mic, belting it out, while the brothers Lawrence stood awkwardly behind a black clothed trolley on which sat their CDJs and mixer, none of which were plugged in (the mixer plug was clearly visible on the floor).
Was this another case of talented producers who can’t actually do anything live? Disclosure were quick to answer the haters, posting on Facebook, “Capital FM made us do this show with a backing track playing but allowed the vocalists to sing…We pleaded with them for weeks and weeks to let us play fully live or at least let us mix but they just weren’t having it. Notice also that we didn’t try and make it look like we were mixing.” Props to the brothers for their protest stance.
#6 “It’s amazing to me that DJs are now considered superstars”
“I am so intrigued by having you here,” trilled daytime TV host Wendy Williams when trance don Armin van Buuren sat down on her couch earlier this year. “Trance is a kind of music, and DJ Armin is the king of that,” Williams added for those watching at home, while every second line from the Dutchman’s mouth raises a TV-studio cheer. (Surely the best wave of “woo”s comes when he mentions how good it is to have a working knowledge of tax law.)
It all got particularly weird when talk turned to his earnings. “Being that DJ Armin is the number one DJ in the world means he’s getting number one money,” Williams announces, before she guesses his fee for playing weddings, bar mitzvahs and parties is somewhere in the ball-park of $500,000 to $1,000,000. Armin’s his usual good-natured self for the full five minutes of shiny weirdness.
#5 Steve Angello versus the internet
As Steve Angello says of DJing without headphones: “It’s not that hard.” While that might be true, it is hard to contend with a viral video titled ‘Steve Angello: How To Fake Your Fans’. The outcry began when footage hit YouTube of the Swedish House Mafia don DJing at Dance Valley without headphones, and generally looking pretty nonplussed to be there. YouTube commenters, famed for their reasonable reactions (said nobody, ever) accused Angello of playing a premixed set and just toying with the EQs.
Angello hit back with his own Facebook post, and the sniping rolled on. When asked about the video at the EDMbiz conference in Las Vegas, he reasoned: “It’s not that hard if you know your records, and it’s definitely not hard if you re-edit all your records so you know the exact timing of things.” Still, being marked with the taint of ‘Fake DJ’ is no fun for anyone.
#4 “Markus Schulz is in the house!”
If you were the World’s Most Famous DJ™, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that professional TV presenters could put a face to your name. Which is why Tiesto deserves a pat on the back for only looking faintly amused when two Mexican awards show hosts introduce him with a hearty, ‘Markus Schulz is in the house!’ Sure, the two DJs do share a Teutonic resemblance (in fact, if you were being unkind you could even say that Tiesto should consider it a compliment). But you have to wonder who was in charge of the auto-cue, if they weren’t even sure which guest was up next…
#3 The Grammys do ‘EDM’, badly
David Guetta. Chris Brown. Lil Wayne. Deadmau5. The Foo Fighters. If that sounds like a line-up for the collaboration no one wanted, then you’d be right. This was how the Grammys decided to pay tribute to the rise and rise of EDM at their 2012 ceremony. Watch as Guetta bops along to I Can Only Imagine and fiddles with the EQs, while Chris Brown croons and the words ‘worst human alive’ flash over his head (they don’t, but they should). Then comes the stiff Deadmau5/Foo Fighters mash-up (Grohl told MTV that “Deadmau5 is maybe the only EDM artist I know because we did a bunch of festivals over the summer”).
If that sounds cringe-worthy, that’s because it was – watch below if you don’t believe us. The segment was so ham-fisted it even turned chart-friendly trio Swedish House Mafia off the idea of performing at the Grammys. Speaking to inthemix in March this year, Axwell simply put it: “The Grammys would probably feel like a monkey in a cage kind of situation.”
#2 “Where did you fly in from, a party in Kim Kardashian’s vagina?”
“Diplo has landed, along with the other two people who make up Major Lazer”: so begins an exceptionally painful interview with Wesley Pentz and his Major Lazer collaborators Jillionaire and Walshy Fire at Lollapalooza this year. Over the course of six minutes, the interviewer tries to joke around with the Major Lazer crew, ends up awkwardly mocking them and digs herself into a deeper hole with each exchange.
The trio, for their part, certainly don’t look happy to be there. But being thrown questions like “Have you ever texted pictures of your privates?”, “Where did you fly in from, a party in Kim Kardashian’s vagina?” and “Who is the most annoying person you’ve worked with in the past two years?” (to which Diplo responds without missing a beat, “Probably you”), you can hardly blame them.
#1 Madonna’s “molly” misdemeanor
Madonna doesn’t stay at the top of the charts for no reason. When the 2012 edition of Ultra Music Festival rolled around, Madge was 53, almost 30 years on from her first release and ready to promo the hell out of her new album MDNA. With EDM blowing up in the States at the time, a special guest appearance during Avicii’s UMF mainstage set must have seemed like the perfect place to jump the bandwagon. So before the superstar DJ took his place, Madonna waltzed on stage to declare her apparently long-standing passion for electronic music (“In my world, the words ‘music’ and ‘dance’ are not separated, OK?”) before asking: “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?”
“Very classy there Madonna,” an on-point Deadmau5 wrote on his Facebook the following day. “’HUR DUR HAS ANYONE SEEN MOLLY???’ Such a great message for the young music lovers at ultra. Quite the f’n philanthropist. But hey, at least yer HIP AND TRENDY! Fucking can’t smack my head hard enough right now.”