“What We Started” is a groundbreaking documentary that reflects on 30 years of electronic dance music and highlights a culture which has inadvertently revolutionized the entire music world. On June 15, the premiere of the film was held in Los Angeles and some of the industry’s heavy hitters came out in support. Filmmakers Bert Marcus, Cyrus Saidi and Cassandra Hamar were all on site, as were film subjects: Moby, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold and Erick Morillo.
“This has been a dream for over 15 years,” Cyrus Saidi shared with AXS on the red carpet. “I’m just so pleased to be working with everyone who was a part of this film.” Cyrus has been directly involved in the dance music world since the ‘90s and was a driving force behind getting this movie made.
“I want people who are not from the scene to see the film and walk away understanding a little bit more of what the true culture of electronic music is all about,” he said. “I also want people who are in the scene to learn more about the different aspects of electronic music; it’s so rich. Even I, being 20 years in it, learned so much during the making of this film.”
Another name that is synonymous with longevity in this industry is John Lyons. The renowned club owner runs Avalon in Hollywood (which is really the epicenter for EDM in Los Angeles) and has helped put talent such as Skrillex and Erick Morillo on the map. The entrepreneur got his start in the early days of disco and has seen his share of evolution in the industry. “The truth is,” he explained, “this evolution is not happening on our main stage, it’s happening in our side rooms - in places where people are saying, ‘Can I get an hour?’ People come out and they just have incredible stuff. When somebody’s onto something they strike a chord. The rest is just like dominoes.”
Erick Morillo shared that when it comes to “What We Started,” he’s happy to finally see a movie that tells the complete history of the culture. As far as where we’re at now, he explained, “There seems to be a shift going on. It started in London about two years ago. Things are sounding more soulful. People want to hear vocals. So, the music itself is kind of changing a little bit. But do I think it’s here to stay? 100 percent. I think now you’re just going to start seeing different styles.”
We asked Erick if the whole culture of electronic dance music had one message, what would it be? He mused, “It would be to have a great escape plan for your weekend. For me, I would escape every day and go DJ in my basement. I think for a lot of people, music provides a way to get away from the world. It’s a much better escape than a lot of other things. That’s why we do this, to touch people. And music touches everyone.”
Like music, the movie itself depicts a touching story. It’s one of strength and highlights those who have a love for creating something that is, quite frankly, indescribable. From the beginning of dance music with legends such as Carl Cox to today’s superstars such as Martin Garrix, the truth is that the talent of the artist lies in their innovation, not the era in which they came up. The beauty of it all is in taking something that inspires you, something that moves you, and playing it forward.
You can check out a clip of “What We Started” above.