Article & Photography By Adam Wamsley
Electronic dance music (EDM) has undergone a giant surge in popularity over the past few years, and has since taken America by storm. The origins of EDM date back decades to the underground music scenes in Chicago, Detroit, and New York, as a departure from the norms of disco and as an underground refuge for those who love to dance. Once it crossed the pond to Europe, the music styles took root and flourished into house, techno, and trance in Germany and the UK, from where it has grown and expanded ever since. In the late 2000s, a few European artists began to work their way back into the American charts and integrated their music within pop-culture, thus beginning an unstoppable wave throughout the United States.
Whether you listen to music at home, in the car, or are a lover of live shows, you will have no shortage of places to get your EDM fix. Of course you can always sift through the radio, find songs on iTunes, or subscribe to Spotify, but many of these artist also release free periodic podcasts, giving you access to the most up-to-date new releases and remixes. For those of you who love to get out and move, not only is EDM readily available online, but the community surrounding it has been more widely embraced by the general public as well. This has opened the doors to live shows that were once written off as a scene for underground Euro-ravers. Artists are now traveling the world; filling stadiums, clubs, and concert venues with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger city, you may even find clubs where these artists take up residency and play on a frequent basis. If that still is not enough, multi-day festivals are sprouting up all across the US, dedicated solely to the electronic dance scene. These festivals bring listeners together by the thousands to enjoy a wide variety of electronic music, elaborate light shows, and experience many other forms of unique visual arts and entertainment.
With so many unique styles and sounds, you may be asking yourself “How do I tell the difference between them?” Before delving any deeper, I’d like to briefly clarify a few of the main genres that fall under the umbrella of EDM. House music is generally defined by its focus on groove and ever-present four-on-the-floor (4/4) kick beat usually accompanied by a high-hat and clap. Trance, though similar to House, is a genre that tends to be a bit more progressive and overtly melodic, having slightly faster tempos, longer build-ups and a greater focus on emotion. Dubstep, a rapidly evolving genre in the Americas, is known for its wobbly sound and intense bass drops. The tempos are usually a bit higher than that of house and trance, and focus more on 2-step rhythms versus 4/4. Finally, Drum and Bass (DnB), which has similar elements to Dubstep in its industrial and less melodic sound, uses even faster tempos driven by flurries of syncopated drums and bass elements as the name implies. A quick listen to any of these styles would quickly make their differences clear.
With countless sub-genres and unique blends between them all, what is it that ties them together? How can you relate a choppy Dubstep wobble to a soaring Trance melody? The binding thread that unifies these varying genres lies in the production process focusing heavily on the use of synthesizers and drum machines. Producers are able to create tracks by modifying pre-recorded and synthesized sounds and loops. This is the key element that gives it the name “electronic” and separates it from other forms of dance music.
So why is this style of music just now beginning to surge in America? Why are top 40 charts now overflowing with pop artists collaborating with EDM producers? Aside from the addictive high energy, a large part is due to its ease of creation and accessibility. In this technological age, social media and the Internet spread these songs and artists like wildfire around the world. Artists can produce music, release tracks, and tour more easily while freed from the confines of studios, high production costs, and rooms full of expensive equipment. This allows them the ability to create on the go, from hotel rooms to tour buses, while spending more time promoting their material.
For those of you who share the love of any number of these styles of music, make sure to check back often to see what artists and events will be coming to our area! We will be covering all things EDM, big and small, to bring you up-to-date news on upcoming shows and events, interviews, exclusive party pictures and photo coverage throughout the Carolinas and beyond!
Upcoming shows to be on the lookout for:
Underground Electronica featuring DJs KEITH, K-ROX, ALDO, JUSTIN KASE | Thursday, June 13th | Mosaic Lounge
Dillon Francis | Saturday, June 15th | Lincoln Theatre
Ian Lee | Friday, June 21st | Mosaic Lounge