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EDM is a highly referential and cooperative genre. Borrowing from current trends and classic music alike the resulting work has, in turn, created inspiration for mainstream pop musicians worldwide. Top EDM artists like deadmau5, SKRILLEX, Avicii, and Afrojack spend their nights playing to clubs full of girls wearing sexy costumes and lingerie at Yumdrop.com and their days jet-setting to their next gig or working in the studio. In between all this, however, they are listening to their peers for inspiration. Where did these artists come from and who are they listening to?

deadmau5

Hailing from Niagara Falls, Ontario, deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman) got his stage name during his days as a computer programmer. A frequent visitor of chat rooms, he changed his username after finding a dead mouse in a computer he was working on. Zimmerman has built a brand around the mouse, wearing a large and often ornate mouse shaped headpiece during most of his performances. He hopes to one day work with Boards of Canada or Autechre.

EDM influences:

  • Irish-born British artist Aphex Twin
  • English solo artist Squarepusher
  • Boards of Canada, a pair of Scottish brothers
  • Danish EDM producer and player of many instruments: Trentemøller

Other influences:

  • Heavy Metal bands: Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica
  • Landmark alternative British rockers Radiohead
  • Icelandic band Sigur Rós, known for their post-rock/ambient sound

SKRILLEX

American Sonny Moore, based in Los Angeles, has been a bit of a chameleon throughout his career. He made a name for himself as the lead singer of From First to Last, a post-hardcore/screamo genre metal band. In his current artistic manifestation, he has collaborated with the surviving members of the Doors on the track “Breakin’ a Sweat”. The artist is a prime example of the dynamic abilities the genre has in collaborating and meshing styles to create heart pounding music.

EDM influences:

  • The aforementioned Aphex Twin
  • Flux Pavilion, English DJ, producer, and label co-founder
  • British artist Doctor P
  • Dutch trio Noisia
  • British trio Nero
  • J.Rabbit

Other influences:

  • Marilyn Manson, industrial metal musician and performance artist
  • Industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails

Avicii

Performing as Avicii or Tim Berg, Tim Bergline is a Swedish born artist. His most popular song is widely considered to be “Levels” on which he sampled Etta James. The artist had the honor of being introduced at Ultra Music Fest by none other than Madonna earlier this year, adding to the eclectic outreach the DJ has. His cited influences are generally within the EDM genre.

Influences:

  • Laidback Luke, a Dutch DJ and producer
  • French duo Daft Punk
  • Swedish House Mafia member Axwell
  • Eric Prydz, Swedish DJ
  • Swedish House Mafia, the now defunct Sweden-based trio
  • Steve Angello, also formerly of Swedish House Mafia

Afrojack

Dutch artist Afrojack, aka Nick van de Wall, started playing piano at age five and hasn’t looked back. His career is already prolific despite being so young. He’s collaborated with Beyonce, Pitbull, David Guetta and Eva Simons, amongst many others. Like Avicii, he has been influenced by Laidback Luke and Swedish House Mafia. Afrojack is in the middle of a worldwide tour, taking him from Vegas to South Africa, another example of how his music is reaching every part of the globe.