"I think it burns my sense of truth, to hear me shouting at my youth, I need a way to sort it out/After I die, I’ll re-awake, redefine what was at stake, from the hindsight of a god."
Those are the lyrics to the beginning of "Global Concepts," the first single from Robert DeLong. They read like an introspective rock act or even a grizzled rapper, but lyrics like these are new to the nascent world of electronic dance music (EDM). For a genre marked by looped, simplistic hooks and predictable builds and drops, DeLong stands as an artist you can't ignore.
Born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, the 26-year-old has been blending pop-punk sensibility with the familiar elements of dubstep and trance professionally since 2010. After rocking sets at festivals like Coachella and Sasquatch, DeLong figures to make a splash in mainstream EDM, perhaps lassoing in fans who have previously dismissed the genre as too repetitive.
“The whole album is sort of a thesis statement for my philosophy,” DeLong tells MTV. He muses over movement, intellect and modern culture in verses sung before synth-heavy drops on his 2013 album Just Movement. It's as thought-provoking as it is dancy, stimulating both physically and mentally. And unlike many deejays in the genre, DeLong is a classically-trained musician who was active in jazz and pop before taking to a turntable.
DeLong's strength for songwriting is supported by his position on Glassnote Records' lineup, slated next to the likes of Mumford and Sons, Two Door Cinema Club and Phoenix. "Just Movement" discusses and capitalizes on our primal response to music, while "Here" and "Perfect" both incorporate fresh elements of funk and disco. DeLong's music doesn't make you feel guilty about dancing brainlessly or chanting over-dramatic choruses. It's EDM for those who aren't acquainted with EDM, but still rooted enough in the genre to attract the hardcore fans.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous criticism of EDM is that it revolves around the culture of a deejay pressing a button on a computer and jumping around at concerts. DeLong combats this with live instrumentation. After all, one of the biggest appeals of live shows is hearing differences from studio versions. DeLong acts as a true one-man band — laying down live percussion while controlling his set with a Wii-mote.
“I realized I’m making dance music and drums are kind of the lead instrument in dance music. So I really wanted to incorporate that,” DeLong added in the MTV interview.
Everything about DeLong seems fresh, and while the sing-song observational verses do have the potential to get corny after a while, it's a welcomed breath of fresh air for a genre with singles that often don't have any words at all.
As polarizing as EDM can be, DeLong seems digestible for most audiences. He keeps the electric and the dance elements alive and well, but more importantly, the label mate of Phoenix and the cheery songwriter keeps music in mind too.