Twitter has been the source of many spats between high-profile figures in several industries since it founded back in 2006. Some of those Twitter feuds have been a source of mild amusement to the casual observer looking for a distraction from life’s mundanities, while others have provided some fascinating insight into certain topics.
The recent online feud between EDM stars Zedd and Diplo falls into the latter category of providing insight, specifically into attitudes about ghost production within EDM. The story began when a fan accused Zedd of using a ghost producer named Porter Robinson to create his 2012 worldwide hit, Clarity, which won Zedd a Grammy Award.
It is clear that Porter Robinson is listed on Clarity’s credits, but merely being listed in the credits doesn’t say anything about his precise role in making the tune. However, facts clearly don’t matter when making unsubstantiated claims on the Internet.
In an unexpected intervention, American producer Diplo responded to the fan’s accusation by calling out Zedd for reportedly using EDM duo Grey as ghost producers. Diplo’s exact words, responding to the fan’s tweet, were, “Let’s not forget grey doing the rest of his music”.
Diplo’s remark was surprising, and it revealed the divisive attitude that still pervades EDM with regards to ghost production. The implication was that Zedd makes none of his own music, which seems a stretch considering he’s posted project files on Instagram several times.
What makes this feud all the more bizarre is the high likelihood that Diplo also enlists the help of other producers to make music that fits his brand. Someone of Diplo’s stature, a producer who spends so much time touring and DJing in different locations, very likely gets help on both his solo projects and his collaborations with the likes of Mark Ronson, Labyrinth, and Sia. Working with increasing numbers of engineers, writers, and co-producers is an unavoidable consequence of stardom in EDM.
Given that Zedd clearly credits Grey for any contributions to his work, implying they are “ghost producers” is wide of the mark. Worse still, the most worrying aspect of this whole saga is how a high-profile producer like Diplo is attempting to undermine a fellow producer with cheap digs about ghost production.
Diplo’s Twitter response amounts to borderline virtue signaling; as if he was above all that ghost production stuff. Furthermore, the spat goes to show that even household EDM names are split on the issue of ghost production—Diplo sees it as a put-down; a way to denigrate others.
However, the real underlying truth, regardless of whether Zedd has, in fact, used ghost producers, is that artists at the pinnacle of EDM often use ghost producers to help them make music while they live the helter-skelter tour life. As far as the future effects of this online feud on the respective reputations of each artist go, it’s hard to tell who will come off worse.
Those with the ability to objectively analyze the facts and think rationally will surely side with Zedd, but you just never know in the reactionary social media era we live in, wherein reason and discourse on important topics seem increasingly sparse.