Updated: it’s now fairly definitive what happened with Grimes’ set, as following weekend 2 at Coachella, technicians are talking. Here’s what they have to say.

Correction/retraction: This story has been updated with information from the technical teams involved. An earlier version pointed to evidence that seemed to square with impressions from some viewers that the technical failures were staged. (Which, to be fair – would be a really interesting approach, to say the least!) That information was never definitive. Now we have what seems to be a definitive account from the technical team, so – case closed.

Let’s also put this up top: this means definitively, this was user error, not an issue with rekordbox/CDJ reliability. And actually, resolving that is significant given the number of people who use this tech and the (kind of weird) amount of attention this story got. (Now, whether rekordbox’s design makes that sort of user error easier is a separate issue.)

And yes, I will also acknowledge – I understand the frustration that big-name, huge-budget artists aren’t delivering on the actual performance. (That question of authenticity and the industry around it was exactly what brought down Milli Vinilli, so my comparison there isn’t haphazard.)

But onto breaking this down:

First, the (debunked) staged theory

Yes, a number of expert witnesses had presumed that, perhaps taking a page out of pro wrestling, Grimes may have staged her “technical difficulties” at Coachella as a kind of performance art. It would be unprecedented, if Grimes Milli Vanilli’ed herself. (Self-Vanilli?) – a Vince McMahon of EDM, because nothing is true and everything is possible.

Subscribers to this theory pointed to similar issues occurring earlier – in such a way that led them to believe this was a routine. It also seemed suspect that Grimes was so visibly performative about the errors and apologies and had a mic handy for an instrumental DJ set.

ENDO (who has advised one Paris Hilton on DJing), personally wondered if this was the case and passed along others who thought so. He and I were both confused by the reference to “300 bpm” – the maximum bpm you can set for rekordbox auto analysis is 255.

Based on testimony from Grimes’ technical team, though, I’m going to call this theory totally debunked / mythbusted. That said, I kind of hope someone takes this kind of approach in the future, in this age of Vince McMahon.

What actually happened

So, it turns out my initial theory (along with many others) – that this was due to an incorrect analysis setting in rekordbox – is almost certainly what actually happened. Via X, from the team that produced the music:

I do feel for them – even on massive shows, it’s possible to make mistakes. rekordbox is a great tool, but it easy easy to do something like this by switching computers (which is what happened, which is why I did mention double-checking settings in the guide I wrote last week). Making a mistake like this on a big show has to be just … the most stressful thing every, for artist and team. So yes, you do want to find a solution that is consistent and foolproof and (critically) reproducible.

And yes, with the wrong analysis setting – either the wrong range, or (even more catastrophically, as I wrote last week) Dynamic Tempo – would absolutely cause the issues you heard.

At the same time, as you’ll read in the thread, this sort of failure is reportedly a common problem on Grimes’ shows – commenters report similar issues at Electric Daisy Carnival and a show in Mexico, and our informants also talked about these issues. I don’t want to comment directly on that, but of course, I do hear people who are frustrated that the productions aren’t technically consistent. As artists, I’d say if you want to avoid that sort of repeat issue, this is down to communication and focusing on predictability (that’s advice to ourselves – not to Grimes or anyone else).

Now I’ll leave it to CDM readers to help develop a new genre of DJ where we do this intentionally. We can play in about six months. See you there.

What happened next

The final (hopefully) chapter of this story came with Grimes self-referencing the show. You would need a team of miracle workers in order to produce a video like this – and Grimes has just that; we’re told LA-based KNGMKR labs worked on that final video package.

Pioneer DJ USA’s artist relations Lars Schlichting captured her second Coachella video – including a sort of aftermovie for the f***up.

And here’s a slightly longer (if lower-quality) video from Lars with the whole setup, via Instagram, reproduced here as I guess this counts as public interest (certainly for rekordbox users):

There’s also this post from veteran visual/immersive producer Xite Labs (and Vello Virkhaus and team) that references adapting to some big changes – so this all around AV package was an extraordinary effort, also involving working with Fortnite and Epic Games (more on those kinds of connection soon).

Case closed. No more theories.

But honestly, with all the rest of the news, I’ve enjoyed this time.

And I stand by the guide I wrote last week, with a lot of input (including from Pioneer), on how to use rekordbox reliably – though even if you did know this, of course, you could still make a mistake like this: