“XOXO” is a coming-of-age story starring Graham Phillips as Ethan and ‘Modern Family’ actress Sarah Hyland. Ethan Shaw is a bedroom dj-producer that gets booked for a major EDM festival after his track breaks out on YouTube. The storyline follows his journey of mishaps and ridiculousness that get in the way of his opening set at “XOXO Festival.”
Watching this film was a real treat as we got to see the EDM scene from someone else’s perspective. Several times throughout the movie we were sure someone would stop and say “that would never happen.” Granted, this is a fictitious movie, but there were a few things this film got right and wrong about the EDM music scene and we decided to nitpick it for you:
Here is a list of things the film got wrong
When Ethan Shaw (Graham Phillips) finally arrives at the festival, he attempts to check in at the main gate where he is told that he is “not on the list.” That is very unlikely to happen as a festival the size of XOXO would have a separate entrance for DJs and talent.
After realizing that Ethan was having no luck getting in to do his set. Ethan’s super-fan Ray (Colin Woodell) gives Ethan his own ticket. Ray and his girlfriend then had to return to the ticket line where they are turned away after the festival reached capacity. We are not saying this is not possible, but we are saying it’s very unlikely as EDM Festival ticket prices have reached an all time high, in the several hundreds of dollars. Most EDM festivals now offer installment plans where concert-goers start paying a year in advance. We can’t see that happening, especially for a new DJ, but who are we to judge?
As in the case with most major festivals and with XOXO Festival, this event happened to take place outdoors and as far away from residential areas as possible. Leading us to believe that it would be super unrealistic for a sewer system to be there. After Ray and his girlfriend are turned away from the festival, the two attempt to sneak in through the sewer system, their journey ultimately leads the couple into an argument about an inevitable break-up.
After Ethan Shaw finally arrives to do his opening set, there were a significant amount of people there waiting. We wouldn’t go so far to say “this would never happen,” but in most scenarios, secondary stages are far less glamorous and with much fewer people. Nevertheless, opening at a major festival for the first time is a big moment and a massive achievement for an upcoming DJ.
In the final scene, Ethan and his best friend Tariq manage to take over DJ Avilo’s set on the main stage by locking in Avilo (Ryan Hansen) and his manager in their green room. After Ethan plays his track to the massive crowd, he and Tariq run through the media pit where neither security or photographers were present. That would never happen.
Unsurprisingly, there were also many things the film got right. Film director Christopher Louie is a former DJ, he signed industry veteran Pete Tong as music supervisor and producer. You’ll hear popular tracks by Galantis, Skrillex, Disclosure, Dafa Life and other known names in music.
finally, here is a list of things the film got uber right!
The famous “key shaped” thumb drive. For whatever reason, this style of thumb drive is very popular in the EDM music scene. We see the “key drives” on DJs and producers to major labels such as Island (Universal) and Ultra Records, these key thumb drives are now very common around EDM music conventions
YouTube. Ethan Shaw initially breaks out on YouTube, which happens to be one of the main metrics label a&r representatives look at before signing a new act. We hear that social media numbers are important for bookings. In other words, artists and producers do not “break” after getting signed anymore, it’s now the other way around.
Ghost producing. After hearing Ethan’s track, Avilo offers Ethan to sign on to his label as a ghost producer. We hear this is typical with new producers. Up-coming producers first sign on as ghost producers before they are promoted on their own. This is similar to ghost-writing with mainstream pop music as well. Most pop artists typically write songs for established artists before receiving their own official release.
The outfits. As crazy and surreal as the outfits in the movie appear to be, that is exactly what you’d see at a real EDM festival.
Amsterdam. During their encounter, Avilo pitches a deal to sign Ethan to his label and during that conversation he mentions being treated “like royalty in Amsterdam.” That’s not a far-fetched idea considering Amsterdam is considered the “capital of EDM,” it hosts the largest gathering of EDM artists, labels, producers and Music execs during Amsterdam Dance Event once a year, and the Netherlands is home to EDM’s most popular producers and DJs. We can see how DJs would be treated like royalty in Amsterdam. Here’s a clip of several well-known Dutch DJs kicking off “Kings Day” with actual royalty in The Netherlands.