KandyGem #16: FeFe’s EDM Styles 101
Introduction: EDM as a brand, has become an umbrella term of sorts for multiple genres with house seeming to be at the root of it all. Complex Magazine has already did all the work for me, thanks for the great article guys. Complex touched on many different genres, more than I care to review, therefore I will summarize the styles that I am interested to learn about. If you want to know more, read their shit, cause I just don’t have time. I will also add my 3 cents on each genre I cover, because I always have shit to say and more.
Side Note: I’ll review Techno only because its been tightly associated with EDM since the beginning of time. I still don’t like that shit though. Techno is the reason I stayed away from EDM for so long, in the first place, so Techno can suck a dick…
Gray Underlined: Click the damn link, there’s a Spotify playlist attached
Purple: My 3 cents cause 2¢ ain’t enough
Pink: Artist I’ve heard abut
Light pink: Artist that weren’t mentioned but I like, so I added
Techno is NOT a way to describe all of electronic music, but it is one of the genres that’s been around the longest. Well thank you for letting me know, because I sure was calling all EDM Techno An American-born style wtf were these Americans thinking??, techno got its start in Detroit, where DJs loved the sounds of Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Giorgio Moroder, but wanted to inject some soul into the deep digital sounds using common time (4/4). The tempo is generally 120-150 BPM. Now I’m not sure what type of “soul” they were referring to, but I didn’t hear soul within the examples I listened to maybe I missed.
Subgenres: Deep House, Progressive House, Electro House, Tech House, Tribal House, Tropical House
Artists: David Guetta, deadmau5, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Frankie Knuckles, Afrojack, Hardwell, Daft Punk, Claude Von Stroke, Benny Benassi, Zedd, Wolfgang Gartner, Danny Tenaglia, Erick Morillo, Sasha, Calvin Harris, Matoma
House is one of the most popular forms of EDM. It’s almost three decades old, and is one of the truly American-born styles. It grew in Chicago, rising from the aftermath of disco, and the “four-to-the-floor” (4/4) sound is one of the most recognizable forms of EDM in clubs and on the mainstream. That’s right, everyone from David Guetta to Zedd are currently ruling the radio with their distinct brands of house music. House music is easier to dance to because of the 4/4 sound. It’s easy to catch the beat. I feel these songs are not so layered with other sounds, which makes them a diet version of EDM and made for mainstream.
Definition Alert: Four-to-the-floor is a rhythm pattern used in disco and electronic dance music. It is a steady, uniformly accented beat in 4/4 time in which the bass drum is hit on every beat (1, 2, 3, 4) in common time
Subgenres: Progressive Trance, Tech Trance, Vocal Trance, Goa/Psytrance
Artists/Label: Armin Van Buuren, Tiēsto, Roger Shah, Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Judge Jules, Dash Berlin, Markus Schulz, Aly & Fila, Paul Oakenfold, BT, Armada Records, Anjunabeats When I saw Anjunabeats I thought that was the DJ name, but nope it was a label on tour together
Trance was born in Germany, and is one of the most popular styles of EDM. Ranging from 110-150 BPM, trance is known for repetitiously building up and breaking down huge melodies. That’s the long and short of it. It’s like they build up the beat slow hit you with one big boom then give you something flowery light beat that you sway back and forth to with your head tilted back. You get plenty of time for rest when dancing to trance. Trance has always been popular in America, but its an entirely different beast once you hit Europe.
Artists: CRNKN, Carnage, Mayhem, UZ, Flosstradamus, Baauer, RL Grime, Branchez, Brillz, SayMyName, Jack U (Diplo & Skrillex)
Trap, in an EDM sense, is the 808-heavy sound that dance music producers have been working within since early 2012. Many credit the production of hip-hop producers like Lex Luger and artists like Rick Ross and Waka Flocka as bringing a new acceptance to what had been for years a sound almost synonymous with southern rap artists like T.I. and Young Jeezy. EDM producers started applying the build-ups, drops, and breakdowns found within many dance music genres to this style of production, and created a monster.
Subgenres: Brostep, Luvstep, Thugstep
Artists: Benga, Skrillex, Borgore, Malaa, Nero, Flux Pavilion, Kode 9, Rusko, Bassnectar, Excision, Datsik, 12th Planet, Caspa, Joker
Contrary to popular belief, dubstep was not directly born from a love of dub music; it started as a darker, more experimental take on the 2-step sound that was running through London in the late 1990s. Clocking in at 140 BPM, the early sound of dubstep was far from the aggressive tracks that are associated with the genre today. Early incarnations of dubstep are over a decade old, but the sound really started to grow in 2005, with DJs like John Peel and Mary Anne Hobbs helping bring the exciting new flavor to UK radio. Today, the sound is far from a London thing, and spent many years as the genre to many of today’s EDM fans. This is the one that sounds like robots opposed to some of the more alien sounding EDM. I’ve heard descriptions from Robots fucking, Robots having an orgasm or Robots battling… When listening, you feel like you wanna pop lock and drop it.
Subgenres: Hard Trance, Hard Dance, Happy Hardcore
Artists/Label: Showtek, Headhunterz, Wildstylez, Angerfist, DJ Issac, Tuneboy, Psyko Punkz, Scantraxx, Fusion
The hardstyle of today is typified by tracks around 150 BPM that are heavy on the distorted kicks thrown under insanely catchy melodies. Europeans have loved the sound, as it has roots in gabber and old hardcore styles, but its slowly sweeping into the American EDM scene, with Insomniac starting a special hard dance division to satisfy the demand. Basically Hard style seems to take the original genre’s music and add hella bass. Insomniac has followed the trends of EDM music turning to more bass heavy music and started a hard style division called Basscon. They also have a festival dedicated this sub genre called Wateland unfortunately it already passed but something to look forward to next year.
HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE… I found a website that listed New Jersey club aka fake Baltimore club as EDM. Really we consider it house music, which according to my studies is EDM. Get the fuck outta here, all this time I been listening to EDM and ain’t even know it.
Artists: DJ Rell, DJ Sliink, Nadus, Trippy Turtle, Cashmere Cat, DJ Hoodboi, Hemsworth, Kyle Edwards, DJ Smallz
Jersey Club is a sub-genre of EDM that was created in New Jersey. Aka stolen from Baltimore, but we won’t get into the technicalities Jersey Club often features tempos of around 128-140 BPM (EDMsauce).
Since we at it, let me shout out my city and put Baltimore Club back on the map…
Artists: K-Swift Club Queen (RIP), Frank Ski, Miss Tony, Scottie B. and DJ Spen
Baltimore club is a sample based form of breakbeat, with samples used including theme songs to shows like Sanford and Son or a simple repeated phrases/chants. A blend of hip hop and chopped, staccato house music, it was created in Baltimore, Maryland, in the late 1980s by 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell, Frank Ski, Big Tony (or Miss Tony), Scottie B. and DJ Spen. Baltimore club is based on an 8/4 beat structure, and includes tempos around 130 BPM. It combines repetitive, looped vocal snippets similar to trap, bounce, ghetto house and ghettotech. The instrumental tracks include heavy breakbeats and call and response stanzas similar to those found in the Go-Go music of Washington, D.C. Much like the rave-era genre known as breakbeat hardcore, Baltimore club sounds as if the music was intentionally hurried.
Sike, I said we weren’t when we damn sure are gonna get into these technicalities, cause I told y’all our shit was stolen and here’s a source that agrees with me… In the early 1990s, Baltimore club music developed a cult following in the North Jersey club scene, spread from the distribution of mix tapes from traveling Baltimore DJs. There influence reached Boston, Virgini,a Alabama and New York City [citation].
Summary: Technically there are genres. I still can not differentiate between them. The confusion in identifying a genres is simply because it’s music. Just like it’s difficult to tell if Nicki Minaj is HipHop or Pop, DJs take elements from several different sub genres and mix that shit together and call it a song. Unfortunately, that’s the way art goes. It wouldn’t be considered art if everyone colored within the lines… On top of that, many of the newer genres have evolved from their predescetors so they end up sounding the same anyway. I have decided to say fuck the labels and just find artist that speak that make music that speaks to my soul. Plus being labeled is wack any. It places you in a box and wants to be placed in a box, you could potentially alienate a fan base, because they think you only produce one genre. It’s kinda like type casting for actors, what black actor really wants to play the drug dealing thug every time. Nobody!!
Definition Alert: Tempo: Pace of a song or section of song; Beats per Minute (BPM): measurement that is used to determine the speed or the tempo of a particular track.