By: Sierra Judge
House music is a fundamental part of electronic dance music. Whether you like it, or hate it, it is still important to understand that house music was the turning point for EDM. Every sub genre (dubstep, riddim, techno) wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for house music. Producers like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson really shaped electronic dance music.
In the 70s, Disco was growing in popularity, and helped shape and create what we now know as house music. Disco, and eventually house music first became popular in clubs that were in predominantly Latino, African American, and gay communities. These clubs were a safe space for these individuals, where they could embrace who they are while dancing the night away. House music was born in the underground clubs of New York and Chicago.
(Larry Levan at The Paradise Garage, 1985)
DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan began experimenting with new mixing techniques, and eventually, house music was born at “The Warehouse” located in Chicago. The Warehouse shaped our modern day nightclubs, and helped name this new genre of music that was blowing up.
(The Warehouse, Chicago)
During this time, technology was not as easy to come by. Remixing a song in the 70s was a completely different process than it is now. Once synthesizers and drum machines became more accessible in the 80s, the producers were able to dive deeper and experiment new ways to create this sound. Rearranging sections and extending parts of the song were some ways they started mixing. Record labels and radio stations began playing this style of music more, and received amazing feedback.
If you are someone who enjoys house music, you know it always makes you dance. It did not take long after people started hearing this new sound, that it travelled all the way to Europe in the 80s. Very quickly, this became one of the most popular genres across Europe. Almost 30 years later, house music is still widely popular, and Europe hosts some of the biggest festivals every year.
I think it is important to understand that house music, and essentially every other sub genre has originated from the African American community. When you look at festival line ups nowadays, there is not much diversity when it comes to producers. If you take a look at some popular festival lineups, the majority of the producers are typically caucasian males. I really love that recently in the past few years, there have been more women being added to these lineups as well. It seems crazy to me that there is not more diversity in edm music producers, when the world has so many different cultures and ethnicities everywhere. When you walk through the crowd at a place like EDC, you meet and see people from all over the world. Taking time to learn about other cultures can be very eye opening and allow you to gain appreciation.
From my experience and what I have seen on social media, people have very strong feelings about house music. They either absolutely love it or can’t stand it. It took me a few years of going to shows to appreciate house, but now I absolutely love it. There is never a time it doesn’t make me want to get up and start dancing. Whether it is your favorite, or you’d rather not listen to it, learning the history of this genre can definitely make you appreciate it more. If house music had not started, we probably would not have the many many subgenres we are fortunate enough to have today. I feel very blessed we have the ability to listen to such a variety of genres.
If you are interested in learning more about the origins of house music, there are a variety of documentaries to watch. I recommend “I Was There When House Took Over The World’ on youtube. This was very informative, and again, made me want to get up and dance. Watching this taught me so much I had no idea about. I am always listening to music, yet I had no idea where it came from. Looking into the origins of your favorite genre can teach you lots and make you feel more connected to the sound.