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Silver Medallion was very different four years ago.
Back then duo, Oren J (Oren J. Schauble) and Carnegie (Abay Lattin) made party music about the ladies of Scottsdale. The two hip-hop heads mined electro sources like Chromeo, Spank Rock, and Santigold. Their first single, "Scottsdale," was as cynical as it was fun, a biting account over clubby beats of the city's club scene (trashed Barbies, fake tits/cocaine, collagen lips/trust funds, SL6/Catholic school, sucks dick).
It's all changed. After stirring interest from the Scottsdale club scene and local radio stations, they relocated to New York City. Then, Carnegie was killed in 2010 by a drunk driver on University Drive in Tempe after returning to the Valley for a series of shows. Surviving member Schauble forged ahead, shedding the group's hip-hop origins in favor of pop flex. The upcoming album Road to Wonderland is Silver Medallion's first as a solo act.
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"I think the goal of this CD is to give you the whole spectrum, like it's everything from trap music to house music to pop to R&B, but it all ties together with the sounds and the themes," Schauble says over the phone from Brooklyn.
Aside from a guest verse from Shwayze, the record is sans rap. Schauble's lyrics are epicurean as ever, repeatedly relaying tales of driving fast and partying until your body physically surrenders to toxins or about how the fatigue from hooking up turns your lips numb.
In many ways, Silver Medallion's development — from hip-hop to genre-less EDM party pop — mirrors the evolution of America's musical taste.
The signs are everywhere, from Skrillex's winning a Grammy to the appeal of Identity Festival to back-to-school ads for retail giants like Target featuring grimy-ass dubstep tracks. The jump from underground rave culture to mainstream has been fast and bassy.
The soundtrack of today's young revelers is no longer hip-hop, but EDM.
"Two years ago, when I was on a fraternity tour, we were playing mad hip-hop and some club music or whatever like Dev or LMFAO," Schauble says. "Now we do those same shows and we're playing Rusko and Skrillex and it's going over like a dream."
We've even witnessed the rise of a new type of raver, especially in Scottsdale — the Raver Bro — spawned in the frothy wake of fraternity parties bumping EDM acts like Girl Talk, LMFAO, and Flux Pavilion.
"Three years ago, the bro in the tank top [saying,] 'Play dubstep!' did not exist," Schauble says. "And now they're everywhere."
While some EDM and dubstep fans loathe the scene's latecomers, Schauble doesn't mind: "It's cool for me because I've been doing electro for four years now, so it's, like, 'Great, more fans!'"
The Internet is playing a big part in this evolution. It's now easier to produce, share, and consume EDM. When Napster first arrived, the main problems facing young music seekers were scarcity and slow downloads.
Today, they are inundated with so many artists and free songs that their biggest problem is finding the relatable stuff floating amid the sea of crap lapping at their keyboards. The result of this increased awareness and free download model has been a greater demand for live music. Artists need shows to make money, and fans' taste for live music begets their taste for live music, begets . . . well, you get it.
If you like live music and you like to have fun, there's no better party than at an EDM show.
"It's way more conducive to having a good time than the previous pop music was," Schauble says. "It's like, 'Yeah, cool, we're gonna go to a party that's gonna play Lil' Wayne?' That's like, 'Okay, cool, we'll dance with some girls or whatever.' But when you're at a fuckin' house-music rave, that could be like the best night of your life. I think kids have really gravitated toward that, and it's just a funner culture."