April 1st marked a milestone for techno fans, as the National Academy of Recording Arts (NARA) revealed that they would be introducing a new category to the 2018 Grammys: “Best Techno Artist”
Neil Portnow, the president of NARA, acknowledged the growth of electronic music as a whole by stating, “we have decided to recognize techno in our forthcoming ceremony because of the increased interest in dance music throughout the U.S. that we’ve seen over the past few years.”
Portnow continued, “clearly, techno is the hottest new genre sweeping the nation right now,”. Although Portnow is correct in saying that techno has become increasingly popular over the past few years, he fails to take into account that the genre first arose in the country decades ago.
Additionally, it is evident that the Academy has a barrier to overcome due to their admitted struggles of discerning the difference between techno songs and their overall unfamiliarity of the genre and its history. President Portnow explained, “we at the Academy listened through the top-selling Beatport tracks in the genre from the past year and could not discern any differences between any techno songs or artists.” Failing to give much deserved credit to artists that have been in the industry since the very beginning is definitely a concerning factor for many techno fans.
President Portnow alluded to several nominees for the new category, as he explained that members of the Academy resorted to social media as a way to determine which artists were worthy of a nomination. After analyzing Facebook posts, comments, and blogs, they found that REZZ was commonly referred to as the “Dark Queen of Techno.” This was enough of a reason for them to give her the first nomination in the category, however, many techno fans were outraged by this selection.
I’m a big fan of REZZ, she seems like an extremely genuine person, constantly communicates with her fans in ways that other artists don’t, and I appreciate her work as a producer. However, a true techno fan has to wonder if NARA made a legitimate attempt to research candidates for the nominations. With legendary producers like Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, and Carl Craig seemingly overlooked from receiving a nomination. Furthermore, fans of Chris Liebing, Marco Carola and Ben Klock are also disappointed, and many are deciding to speak out against the Grammys overall. Even Kanye West remarked about the ceremony, denouncing the awards because he felt that racism was a reason why artists like Carl Craig and Kevin Sanderson were left out.
For now, we can hope that this is a positive boost for the electronic music industry as a whole. Although electronic music breeds and thrives in the underground, continued recognition of the genre will give producers some much deserved credit and will hopefully allow for some to start appreciating the music for what it is. Our only suggestion is that the Academy members do more research or get in a ‘techspert’ — someone who has been involved in the scene, can tell the difference between songs and artists, and knows about the true roots of techno.
Check out some awesome videos from some of my favorite techno artists below: