ELECTRONIC MUSIC continues to simmer just below the surface of North America's consciousness, a haven for those initiated into its unique world. As EDM continues to gain visibility and respect within popular culture, the insights of those most experienced in the industry can serve as a valuable preface to the music itself, allowing for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the steadily growing genre. EDM veteran DVS1—the alter ego of Minneapolis' Zak Khutoretsky—has dedicated more than 18 years of his life to promoting electronic music in some way or another: DJing, producing music, running a club, owning sound companies, promoting shows, and more.
When writing and selecting music, simplicity and minimalism drive Khutoretsky's taste. "It's got to have soul," he says. "To some that might mean an obvious presentation, [but] to me it's more of a feeling." That feeling could be in something produced 20 years ago or yesterday, he adds, pointing out that a sense of timelessness is what's most valuable. "My time on the dance floor, behind the turntables, throwing parties... have shaped my vision of this music and of this community."
Still, keeping thousands of bass-hungry connoisseurs dancing all night at the world-renowned Berlin nightclub Berghain, for instance, is no small feat, and Khutoretsky tries to have a method to the madness. "When I write music, a lot of the time, I'm imagining how it would feel versus how it would sound. Everything from a subtle bass line to a synth stab cutting through the sound system." The huge sound systems in European clubs no doubt have helped to shape his philosophy on sound, but it was the floor-to-ceiling stacks he grew up with in the Midwest that played the biggest role. "Those experiences of feeling the pressure and the tones on a physical level are ingrained in my mind," he adds.
The recent explosion of EDM in the United States indicates that listeners are becoming more receptive to new genres; still, it's easy for people to become entrenched in passive listening habits. "In my opinion, people need to choose [wisely] what they support and where they put their money," Khutoretsky says. "It used to be a bit more blurry for some people about what was underground and what was considered mainstream or commercial. That line is so obvious now. You really have to pick a side."