EDM Is Going Back To Its Earlier Days
As dance music continues to grow, fans are expanding their musical horizons, and new environments are starting to grow around the edges of music festivals. Recently, the mainstream market’s taste in beats has been breaking new ground. As the scene continuously reinvents itself, sound is moving towards diversification. The future of music will have to echo the desires of DJs and fans alike, and this means moving back to the foundation of EDM, all while pushing for the next big thing. The next phase of culture and sound is rising, and it is important to understand and respect the derivation of core electronic music sound.
In a recent interview with Pete Tong and The Daily Swarm, Tong discussed his thoughts on the future of EDM. Pete Tong, the man behind BBC Radio 1 and the Essential Mix, says “We’re probably not going to see the likes of what we’ve just seen again; it will be different. The thing about the next wave of music is that it’s more about the environment; it’s more determined to deliver the best experience of more supple music.”
The spark of the change has begun with several producers re-branding both their sound and production. To some, the "mass market" dance music movement that has been thriving for five strong years has undoubtedly restricted an artist’s creative potential. The areas of electronic music's origins in America, beginning in the warehouses in Detroit and Chicago in the 80’s, has faced rapid commercialization, now hitting open-air arenas. The world surrounding EDM has metamorphasized into giant festivals, and although stacked lineups have built hype for thousands, artists are typically limited in their stage time of an hour and a half set at these events. Inevitably, the immensely popular festival industry ignores the more complex, prolonged, and fine-crafted sounds that are behind the heart and soul of electronic music.
Fed up with the formulaic, festival-driven nature of dance music’s present, Wolfgang Gartner discussed his new stylistic efforts in an interview with Billboard: “Before I was Wolfgang Gartner, I used to make sampled disco house, funky house, Chicago house, and I switched over around the time that dance music started to become commercially viable again, with the transition to digital music. This is my third turning point, or career transition. I'm still doing the same thing as when I switched over to being Gartner from making disco house to grungy electro, but now the whole feeling behind it is different because it's coming from a place of funk and soul.”
The dance music pendulum that sways between the underground scene and the conventional festival sound has created a gap in EDM. However if the disparity is recognized by artists and fans alike, it could truly give EDM a fresh and new perspective. The contrast between new and old electronic sounds, respectively, is growing and beginning to morph into what will eventually become the next phase of music. The scene is increasingly moving back towards a more authentic-oriented sound, setting the tone for a new development wave of the genre. Artists are re-exploring electronic music’s earlier periods, extracting minimal melodies and returning to the genre’s ambient, textural roots.
Porter Robinson is another example of an artist that has journeyed a path to discovering new production. This year, the expert has taken several risks to expand beyond the conventional. Robinson told Billboard, “I genuinely don't want to be playing electro bangers anymore. When I do change the style of my show into the live thing, I want the shift in focus to be clear." So far, as producers aim at expanding their performance boundaries, audiences seem to be reinvigorated by new ideas. A few days ago, Calvin Harris released a new track, “Acid”, on his forthcoming album Motion. Far from his big-room style, the track demonstrated he’s not forgotten about his acid house roots. Similarly, DJ and producer Mark Knight publicly discussed his efforts in rebranding his label Toolroom Records as “the time to go back-to-basics and hone in on the core of what we want the label and brand to stand for: quality house music from across the globe.”
Even progressive house maestros Steve Angello and Afrojack recently tweeted about performing a techno set b2b at a show in Chile, describing their set as “disconnecting and going with the rhythm.”
This grabbed the attention of techno master Richie Hawtin, who then responded to Angello tweeting “can’t wait to hear the recording.” The same day, Deniz Koyu tweeted about his show in Bulgaria consisting of only tech-house and house music.
French electro-house DJ Tristan Garner followed this trend as well.
Overall, this year has exhibited drastic changes in an artist’s signature style. The progression of electronic music by renowned DJs takes on a more sophisticated style of deeper shades of techno and house. In a strongly opinionated culture, it is a risk for major artists to expressively reminisce about old records or take it back to the roots in front of a younger generation. Artists are fearless though, and things are truly shifting in time. Artists and fans similarly crave togetherness and inclusiveness in the scene, and I believe that the gap between genres and EDM’s tastemakers will soon merge. For now, the present theme is clearly understanding the indisputably worldwide yearning to look to the past to make people dance in the future.
Written by Carissa Gerzeny
Cover Photo Credit: Resident Advisor