EDM (electronic dance music) is an acronym that encompasses several percussive music genres, primarily produced with techniques used in disco, techno, trance, and house music. These genres originally became popular in the nightlife, party and club scene during the late 1980s, and into the early 90s. Dance music saw an increase in popularity when raving, club culture, and warehouse parties began to emerge.
So what is Electronic Dance Music?
EDM is typically made for nightclubs, raves, and music festivals, with the goal of getting people to swing their arms and move their feet. Over the years EDM has seen the rise and fall of many sub-genres. The most popular genres of EDM today are House, Techno, Drum & Bass, Trap, and Dubstep.
EDM Genres of electronic music
Many genres and subgenres come and go in the EDM scene, but it seems some are here to stay. House, Drum and Bass, Techno, Trap, and Dubstep have all evolved and been approached in new ways through the years but have never left the scene. To hear some of the best from each of the respective genre’s, check out what’s written below.
To answer the question of “What is EDM?” we need to first answer the question, “What is house music?”.
When house music was first being produced, it had strong influences of the early 1970s soul & funk-infused dance music style of disco. House music takes the prominent bass drum used on every beat of a disco track and mixes it with a heavy electronic synthesizer bassline, electronic drums, electronic effects, funk or pop samples, and vocals enhanced by reverb or delay.
The original sounds of house music were first heard in the year 1984 when the song “On and On” was released by Chicago based DJ’s Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawrence. The dance track featured musical elements that quickly became staples for the early house music sound.
House’s Sub Genres
House music can be broken into many sub-genres, with the most popular ones being deep house, bass house, tech house, electro house, and tropical house.
1. Deep House
Deep House is a slower variant of house, usually residing around 120 beats per minute (BPM). The genre has a strong focus on sub-bass, which makes the deep “wub” sound that house fans find so satisfying.
If you want to hear some deep house, check out Malaa and Tchami’s track below:
2. Bass House
Bass House is an upbeat genre of house, with an emphasis on the bass synths that usually consist of dubstep and grime influences. This genre often sounds like dubstep but with a house music drum pattern. The genre has seen a rise in popularity since 2014 when songs like “Rock The Party” and “Feel The Volume” were released by bass house producers Jauz and Ephwurd.
To get a feel for the bass house sound check out Ghastly’s remix of Zomboy‘s track, “Lights Out.”:
3. Tech House
Tech House features components of techno music, often using minimalistic production techniques from house, combined with minimal qualities of techno, to create a more melodic and introspective genre.
Green Velvet is a techno and house veteran, with some great tech-house productions.
Check out the track “Lazer Beams” featuring Green Velvet and Harvard Bass:
4. Electro House
Electro House is a subgenre of house music featuring melodic and harmonic electro influences. The style of music distorts waveforms with many harmonics which create a louder and more intense electronic sound then traditional house music would.
To get a better understanding of what electro house sounds like, listen to the classic track “Machina” by Dex Arson below:
5. Tropical House
Tropical House, sometimes referred to as trop house, is a more recent subgenre of house music, that many people say was pioneered by the Australian DJ and producer Thomas Jack. The genre uses instruments like saxophones, steel drums, and marimbas, with electro synths to create a summertime vibe. Kygo, is among the most popular Tropical house producers in the world.
To get a better idea of what the sub-genre sounds like check out Kygo‘s remix of Ed Sheeran‘s track “I See Fire” down below:
6. Progressive House
This sub-genre of House originated in the United Kingdon in the 1990s. Rising from the influences of the American and European house music scene from the ’80s, Progressive House was a way to distinguish between the new wave House and the previous American House. This new sub-genre of generally produced ‘experimental’ music filled the void in America left after the demise of the disco scene. However, according to DJ Dave Seaman, the genre faced some backlash in the early 1990s because it had more or less became “… really quite boring”.
Founders of Progressive House
The first DJ to release possibly the first Progressive House album was Leftfield in October 1990 with his release of “Not Forgotten”. From there, artists and production companies alike began to embrace the genre. The labels Guerilla Records, Deconstruction Records, Hooj Choons and Soma Records have all been credited for contributing to the Progressive House genre. Check out Eric Prydz progressive house song Opus below.
Another large building block of EDM is Techno, one of EDM’s oldest genres. The style of music first formed in Detroit, Michigan back in the mid to late 1980s. The genre draws heavily from funk and soul to create intense grooves and percussive bass lines. The four individuals often credited for the invention of techno are Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Eddie Fowlkes, who all attended school together in Detroit. Since first being innovated, techno has grown and evolved into the thumping basslines heard today.
Techno is not a genre that can be define by any specific subgenres, but rather, has more fluid subgenres that vary depending on the person. Some popular ones include Acid Techno, Deep Techno and Trance Techno. However, Techno can be better defined by the creators of the music and how their influences have pushed what can be argued is the oldest subgenres of EDM out there.
The Best Techno DJ’s
Carl Cox had a strong influence on the techno scene, especially in the 90s, when techno was first becoming popularized. The dance music pioneer first purchased a set of turntables at the age of 15 and learned to become a DJ.
Cox then got into producing music in the early 90s and released his first debut single in 1991 called “I Want You.” The years to follow were filled with success for Cox as he released one timeless dance record after the other.
The veteran has renowned mixing skills and song selections.
Richie Hawtin, better known by his alter ego, Plastikman, and is a British born, Canadian EDM producer and DJ. He produces primarily techno music and was extremely influential during Detroit techno’s second wave of artists to take over in the early 1990s. He has also helped to lead the minimal techno movements, since the mid 90s.
LOCO & Jam is a newer techno duo, who made a name for themselves in 2010, when the techno legend, Carl Cox, signed one of their tracks to his 2010 Space Ibiza Comp. The Northern Ireland based producers are releasing consistently groovy techno tracks.
Trance music was an evolution of the House and Techno scenes. As Trance was growing, it was taking root in different ways. There was a subgenre that emerged as a result of the British New-Age music scence, there was a subgenrethat was heavily influenced by the early 1990’s German techno and hardcore genres, and even a European subgenre that gathered a following in the Indian state of Goa. Some could consider it a percussive electronic music genre.
Sub Genres of Trance
There are several ways to characterize Trance music. Most noteably, this subgenre usually goes at a tempo of 110-150 bmp (beats per minute), repeating melodic phrases, and has 1 or 2 “peaks”/ “drops”.
1. Acid Trance
This sub genre of Trance emerged around the 80’s and 90’s and was characterized by the trademark “acid” sound. Initially, this sound was produced with a Roland TB-303. This genre took off in the Belgium rave scene, noteably making it’s first showcase at the Antwerp Rave 24.
Drum and Bass
Drum and Bass music originated out of the rave scene in Brittan during the early 1990s. The genre typically ranges from 160 to 180 BPM, which is the highest BPM range seen in EDM. It is often characterized as upbeat with heavy basslines and sub bass. The high tempo in Drum and Bass makes it the fastest paced genre in the EDM scene.
Some of the pioneers for the Drum and Bass sound are Joey Beltram, CJ Bolland, and L.A Style. The genre first saw mainstream popularity after tracks like “Trip to Trumpton” by Urban Hype and “Charly” from The Prodigy got released. These songs were released during the early 90s and the underground rave scene took a hit when these songs became mainstream.
The Best Drum & Bass DJ’s Today
Some of the Drum and Bass DJs who are dominating the scene right now with huge releases of epic proportions, include Teddy Killerz. The part Russian and part Ukrainian trio released straight fire last year and 2018 has been no exception.
Check out the Teddy Killerz, most recent release below:
Camo & Krooked are another Drum and Bass group to be on the lookout for. The Vienna based duo has been producing music since 2002 and first collaborated to form Camo & Krooked in 07′.
To hear the duo’s mixing skills, check out the BBC Radio1 Essential Mix below:
Muzzy is a 22-year-old, England born drum and bass producer who has been producing tracks since he was 16. Muzzy’s popularity came from hits like “Kill The Silence,” “Letz Rock” and “The Phantom.” The DJ is known for his drumstep-styled songs in addition to drum and bass.
Check out Muzzy’s hit track “Outsiders” featuring Charlotte Haining:
What EDM is now, and what it was even seven years ago, is vastly different. Trap music is a newly formed genre that gained mainstream recognition back in 2012. It is bass heavy with mean triplet hi-hats, loud kicks, snappy snares, and 808’s. The genre can be described as one-third hip-hop, one third dance music, and one-third dub.
The hip-hop influences are often heard in the song’s structure and tempo, with hip-hop vocals, sometimes pitched down. Elements of dance music are heard in the synths and sampling of trap music. There are also aspects of dub music, with a low-frequency focus, emphasis on repetitive drums, synths, and breaks.
Trap music in the EDM scene has seen a rise in popularity since hitting the mainstream in 2012 and the trap music sound has evolved over the years. Producers like RL Grime and Flosstradamus helped to lead the trap music movement when they started releasing music, over 7 years ago.
Listen to the timeless trap anthem, “Soundclash,” featuring Flosstradamus below:
Best of The Best Trap Music Producers
Eliminate is a Seattle born trap producer, with some of the most creative hybrid tracks in the genre. Eliminates music can be recognized by its ear melting synths, groovy beats, and beautiful vocals.
An Eliminate track that dominated dancefloors throughout 2017 is “Snakebite VIP.” The song saw support from bass music heavyweights like Excision and Bassnectar after its release.
Check out the game-changing track below:
The Sydney based producer, Hydraulix has made a lasting impression on EDM’s trap scene. The trap producer has recently collaborated with Riff Raff, Hekler, and Hatch, for his “Trippin’ EP” that was released on the TWONK label mid-November of last year.
He is known for throwing down high energy sets that seamlessly transition between different genres and styles. Some of his latest work in 2018 that deserves recognition would be his remix of Quix track “Storm.”
Check out the insane remix below:
Rickyxsan is another trap producer in the EDM world to keep an eye on. The young artist has made a name for himself over the past 3 years, receiving support from EDM’s most renowned artists, like Skrillex, Diplo, and Steve Aoki. Check out his latest sound design heavy track “Insane” below:
The dubstep sound has evolved immensely through the years, with its origins residing in the southern parts of London, England during the late 90s. Producers like EI-B, Steve Gurley, Zed Bias, and Oris Jay pioneered the early dubstep sound. Record labels, releasing music under this genre coined it as “dubstep” in 2002. The genre’s sound is ever-changing and some dubstep artists who are dominating the scene right now are Excision, Datsik, Bassnectar, Flux Pavillion, Zomboy, and Zeds Dead.
Skrillex was one of the first dubstep producers to tap into the brostep sound.
Brostep is a subgenre of dubstep that often features melodic breaks and upbeat “Wubs.” To hear an early brostep song check out Skrillex’s remix of Benny Benassi’s track “Cinema:
Dubstep Producers to Watch In 2018
Svdden Death is a Los Angeles based dubstep producer with some of the most unique sounding heavy dubstep and riddim tracks in the scene. He has huge releases on Skism’s “Never Say Die Black Label” and Borgore’s “Fresh Blood Compilations.” The young artist just recently released his “Junkworld EP,” on “Never Say Die Records.”
Check out Svdden Death’s latest track off the EP, “Last Life” below:
Virtual Riot, is a German EDM artist with some of the cleanest and meanest dubstep tracks known to man. He is a mastermind when it comes to sound design, from beautiful sounding melodic dubstep to filthy riddim, his versatility in the studio is unmatched.
Virtual Riot’s “German Engineering EP” was released last month and has a strong focus on riddim synths and disgusting growls.
Check out “Shindeiru” off of the German Engineering EP, to hear Virtual Riots latest take on the riddim dubstep genre:
Skism is an OG in the dubstep world, first making his mark on the scene in 09′. The British dubstep artist is a co-owner of A&R and owns Never Say Die Records.
The label features some of dubstep’s best and brightest, such as Zomboy, Spag Heddy, LAXX, Trampa, Twine, EH!DE, Megalodon, Space Laces, Trolley Snatcha, and many more. Skism is a madman when it comes to live mixing, and always puts all four decks to work.
Check out his classic mix “Never Say Die One Hundred.” The mix creatively showcases all of Never Say Die’s best tunes:
EDM has evolved through the years and the quality of underground artists has grown exponentially. Dance music’s respective genres continue to see innovation by new producers every year, pushing the boundaries of computer music. With new sounds being created every day, the EDM industry is going to continue to flourish and dominate.