* Editor’s note: Article is apart of the series.
EDM? What is it and why do we still call it that?
To be specific, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is an umbrella term used to encompass a wide gamut of various styles contained within electronic music. Since its rapid mainstream acceptance in the 2000’s, we’ve seen a slew of new styles rise up and also styles like “house music”, that have existed for decades, reemerge into popularity. These so-called “sub-genres” are each unique and grouping them together into a three letter mass that we call EDM does no service to the industry and should be considered an outdated term.
Electronic music has an extensive history, pioneered by a few key figures that have slowly laid the groundwork of what we know it as today.
The roots of it can be attributed back to the end of the disco era with the introduction of electro-pop, funk, and the famous TR-Roland 808 synthesizer.
The culture surrounding the music didn’t really develop until the mid-’80’s with the birth of “house” music in the Chicago underground scene. Chicago-based DJs like Frankie Knuckles helped develop the sound that saw the adoption of synthesized beats catching on. The scene grew relatively quiet again after the peak occurred in the mid to late 90’s and once again moved to the underground.
Like any underground scene, experimentation gives rise to creativity and development.
Dubstep was one of those experimental styles; born from the fusion of reggae style music and drum and bass tracks with electronic sounds. Early dubstep producers like Digital Mystikz and Skream, had no idea at the time that they were laying the foundations of the new era of electronic music – even if it isn’t quite the direction they intended.
Dubstep’s first real bout of notoriety came with the likes of a producer named Skrillex. In 2012, he was able to take home three Grammy awards solely from this evolution of new music. His “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” was, to many, the first time hearing the sounds typical of a dubstep production. Since 2012 however, we’ve seen the scene grow tremendously and dubstep isn’t necessarily dead but it definitely is not at the forefront any longer.
Which brings us to the point; where does electronic music go from here?
We’ve seen the emergence of Trap music with artists like Flosstradamus and RL Grime, a sub-genre which relies heavily on the influences of hip-hop, delivering hard bass with gritty lyrics resembling those of traditional rap.
Artists like Gramatik and Griz have delivered that funky soul sound of electrofunk/hiphop which is seemingly growing in popularity as of late. I mean can you count how many festivals Griz has headlined in the past year? It’s a lot, I have to tell you.
The bassheads have united and created their own sub-genres such as artist Snails’ self-proclaimed “Vomitstep. Or Excision’s neck breaking tracks with elements of drum and bass with some dubstep thrown in. If you listen to those tracks you can really feel the influence of heavy metal and the direction the culture is taking.
Basically, we are seeing a huge transformation of the scene and there will be sub cultures that emerge from the transformation.
Some will grow into mainstream sounds played on the radio – the so-called “sell-outs”, I’m looking at you Chainsmokers (secretly still love you guys) – and many others will retreat to dark recesses of the underground right where they want to be.
If you ask me I’d have to say right now we’re seeing an emergence of future bass/progressive house artists come to the front. This includes DJs such as Flume, Illenium, Said the Sky, Odesza, Gryffin, Mura Masa, and many others.
The reason for this you can attest to catchy lyrics laid over soft melodies which make for an easy transition to mainstream radio. It’ll be interesting to see the direction of the culture in the future as it continues to grow.
What are your thoughts on the current direction of electronic music?
We’d love to know what you think is currently trending in the culture today and what direction it’s heading. Leave us a comment below sharing your thoughts.
- **This piece is an editorial that expresses the viewpoint as the writer, and not the viewpoint as a whole.