Standing for Electronic Dance Music, it started out essentially as a phrase used by Americans to describe dance music (as clearly, ‘dance music’ won’t do). In theory it covers all styles of music that are electronic and designed to make people dance, but it doesn’t really mean this. We all know it refers to a specific genre of music, whose producers of said genre describe what they’re making as “big room house” or “progressive house”.
Around about 2011, Chuckie made waves with his “Dirty Dutch” sound, and this is where things really started to change. You had everyone from the cheesy electro-house maestro David Guetta to hardstyle kings Showtek, tweak their sound to fall in line with this new style.
A large slice of the producers of EDM are from the Netherlands (Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, Dyro, Martin Garrix, Sidney Samson….shall I go on?) and it’s clear there’s a huge hardstyle and Dutch hardcore influence with certain samples and basslines you hear in the tunes.
The similarity between EDM and hard dance doesn’t really end there. And this is where I differ from most music journalists.
I came from a hardcore background. Sixteen years old, with fake ID, fluffy boots and glowsticks I frequented clubs across the Midlands, namely Air in Birmingham, where HTID (Hardcore Til I Die for those not in the know) was held every month.
These were not cool events. Sweaty, overweight, topless men combined with pale, neon-clad women with amphetamine addictions, did not make for an attractive crowd. It’s easy to look back with an epic portion of snobbery about the crowds but really, who gives a shit about what people look like?
You know what the main focus of those events was? It was to have fun. To enjoy yourself. To enter that club when the night started (we used to queue round the corner at 8pm, there was none of this ‘fashionably late’ business) and not stop dancing, laughing and making friends until 6am when the lights came on and the bouncers forced you out the doors.
We loved the tunes. I still love them. Yes they were cheesy and predictable. Nearly all involving a vocal about flying or angels or euphoria or some other ecstasy-shaped innuendo which just spoke to you, in that moment, on every level, and the nostalgia that comes with hearing these tunes again is immeasurable.
We didn’t care about the musical credibility of these tunes. We were not bothered if it was brand new, or three months old, a year old or even older. We didn’t get into pseudo-intellectual conversations about, well, about anything to do with hardcore. It wasn’t about dissecting the music and analysing the molecules. If we liked a tune, we liked it. Simple as.
I see similarities within the EDM community. They don’t care if the tunes are a variation on a theme. They make you dance. Nobody cares if you’re doing a particular style of dance (you know the one I mean), you just bounce around like a four-year-old that’s ingested too many e-numbers. There are less cares with EDM, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Music snobs will argue that it’s ‘killing’ house music. My honest opinion? The underground house scene is killing clubbing. I take no interest in standing in a room full of people who are too cool to dance or smile.
Their other argument is that people who have only been clubbing for 5 minutes think they listen to house because they download Hardwell’s podcast. My counter-argument? Everybody has to start somewhere. All of us, once, had only been clubbing for 5 minutes. And also, house is a huge umbrella term for hundreds of sub-genres ranging from electro house to hard house to tech house. House doesn’t just mean DJ Sneak plays it. Sorry.
Finally, and this is a biggie, the complaint about the ‘superstar DJ’ status, and the money that goes with it. Don’t be fooled into thinking these underground house DJs are getting poorly paid, they’re not. There are reports that Solomun is getting €60,000 a week for his Pacha residency. And even if the amount other DJs get paid is half, even quarter of that, that would still mean they were getting FIFTEEN THOUSAND euros for an hour’s work (because yes, they get travel and accommodation paid on top). So when you put it like that, might these achingly cool, underground DJs just be a teensy bit jealous that Avicii et al are getting paid millions, and they’re not?
I was at an EDM night on Wednesday, and it has been years since I’ve been in a room so full of energy; the crowd was literally jumping up and down, whilst the DJs act like maniacs behind the decks. It was so refreshing, and kind of encouraging that fun hasn’t been forgotten about with clubbing.
I might not be very cool saying all this but ah well, I never really was.