In its most typical form, the genre is characterized by repetitive 4/4 rhythms including bass drums, off-beat hi-hats, snare drums, claps, and/or snaps at a tempo between 120 and 130 beats per minute (bpm), synthesizer riffs, deep basslines, and often, but not necessarily, sung, spoken or sampled vocals. In house, the bass drum is sounded on beats one and three, and the snare drum, claps, or other higher-pitched percussion on beats two and four. The drum beats in house music are almost always provided by an electronic drum machine, often a Roland TR-808, TR-909, or a TR-707. Claps, shakers, snare drum, or hi-hat sounds are used to add syncopation. One of the signature rhythm riffs, especially in early (Chicago) house, is built on the clave pattern. Congas and bongos may be added for an African sound, or metallic percussion for a Latin feel.
Sometimes, the drum sounds are “saturated” by boosting the gain to create a more aggressive edge. One classic subgenre, acid house, is defined through the squelchy sounds created by the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer. House music could be produced on “cheap and consumer-friendly electronic equipment” and used sound gear, which made it easier for independent labels and DJs to create tracks. The electronic drum machines and other gear used by house DJs and producers were formerly considered “too cheap-sounding” by “proper” musicians. House music producers typically use sampled instruments, rather than bringing in session musicians into a recording studio. Even though a key element of house production is layering sounds, such as drum machine beats, samples, synth basslines, and so on, the overall “texture…is relatively sparse”. Unlike pop songs, which emphasize higher-pitched sounds, such as melody, in house music, the lower-pitched bass register is most important.
The structure of house music songs — or “tracks”, as they are more commonly called — typically involves an intro, a chorus, various verse sections, a midsection and a brief outro. Some tracks do not have a verse, taking a vocal part from the chorus and repeating the same cycle. House music tracks are often based on eight-bar sections which are repeated. They are often built around bass-heavy loops or basslines produced by a synthesizer and/or around samples of disco, soul, jazz-funk or funk songs. DJs and producers creating a house track to be played in clubs edit a “seven or eight-minute 12-inch mix”; if the track is intended to be played on radio, a “three-and-a-half-minute” radio edit is used. Unlike trance music, which is designed to keep building in intensity, house music tracks are “more consistent” and rather based on “playing with the constituent parts and bringing them in and out” in a subtle way. House tracks build up slowly, by adding layers of sound and texture, and by increasing the volume.
House tracks may have vocals like a pop song, but some are “completely minimal instrumental music“, as vocals are not required for the house genre. If a house track does have vocals, the vocal lines may also be simple “words or phrases” that are repeated.
One of the main influences of house was disco; house music having been defined as a genre which “…picked up where disco left off in the late 1970’s.” Like disco DJs, house DJs used a “slow mix” to “lin[k] records together” into a mix. In the post-disco club culture during the early 1980s, DJs from the gay scene made their tracks “less pop-oriented”, with a more mechanical, repetitive beat and deeper basslines, and many tracks were made without vocals, or with wordless melodies. Disco became so popular by the late 1970s that record companies pushed even non-disco artists (R&B bands, for example) to produce disco songs. When the backlash against disco started, known as “Disco sucks“, dance music went from being produced by major label studios to being created by DJs in the underground club scene.
While disco was associated with lush orchestration, with string orchestra, flutes and horn sections, various disco songs incorporated sounds produced with synthesizers and electronic drum machines, and some compositions were entirely electronic; examples include Italian composer Giorgio Moroder‘s late 1970s productions such as Donna Summer‘s hit single “I Feel Love” from 1977, Cerrone‘s “Supernature” (1977), Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s synth-disco-pop productions from Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978) or Solid State Survivor (1979), and several early 1980s productions by hi-NRG groups like Lime, Trans-X and Bobby O.
Also important for the development of house were audio mixing and editing techniques earlier explored by disco, garage music and post-disco DJs, record producers, and audio engineers such as Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton, Jim Burgess, Larry Levan, M & M, and others.
While most post-disco disc jockeys primarily stuck to playing their conventional ensemble and playlist of dance records, Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, two influential DJs of house music, were known for their unusual and non-mainstream playlists and mixing. Knuckles was influenced by and worked with New York City club Paradise Garage resident Larry Levan. Knuckles, often credited as “the Godfather of House” and resident DJ at the Warehouse from 1977 to 1982, worked primarily with early disco music with a hint of new and different music (whether it was post-punk or post-disco). Knuckles started out as a disco DJ, but when he moved from New York City to Chicago, he changed from the typical disco mixing style of playing records one after another; instead, he mixed different songs together, including Philadelphia soul, New York club tracks, and Euro disco. He also explored adding a drum machine and a reel-to-reel tape player so he could create new tracks, often with a boosted deep register and faster tempos.
Ron Hardy produced unconventional DIY mixtapes which he later played straight-on in the successor of the Warehouse, the Music Box (reopened and renamed in 1983 after Knuckles left). Like Frankie Knuckles, Hardy “combined certain sounds, remixing tracks with added synths and drum machines”, all “refracted through the futurist lens of European music.” Marshall Jefferson, who would later appear with the 1986 house classic “Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)” (originally released on Trax Records), describes how he got involved in house music after hearing Ron Hardy’s music in the Music Box:
“I wasn’t even into dance music before I went to the Music Box […]. I was into rock and roll. We would get drunk and listen to rock and roll. We didn’t give a fuck, we were like ‘Disco Sucks!‘ and all that. I hated dance music ‘cos I couldn’t dance. I thought dance music was kind of wimpy, until I heard it at like Music Box volume.”— Marshall Jefferson
Rachel Cain, better known as Screamin Rachael, co-founder of the highly influential house label Trax Records, was previously involved in the burgeoning punk scene. Cain cites industrial music (another genre pioneered in Chicago) and post-punk record store Wax Trax! Records (later a record label) as an important connection between the ever-changing underground sounds of Chicago.
The electronic instrumentation and minimal arrangement of Charanjit Singh‘s Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (1982), an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album’s rediscovery in the 21st century. According to Hillegonda C. Rietveld, “elements of hip hop and rap can be found in contemporary house tracks”, with hip hop acting as an “accent or inflection” that is inserted into the house sound.
In the early 1980s, Chicago radio jocks Hot Mix 5 from WBMX radio station (among them Farley “Jackmaster” Funk), and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played a range of styles of dance music, including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul tracks), electro funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, newer Italo disco, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop. Some DJs made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in electronic effects, drum machines, synthesizers and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation.
The hypnotic electronic dance song “On and On”, produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had typical elements of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Korg Poly-61 synthesizer. It also utilized the bassline from Player One’s disco record “Space Invaders” (1979). “On and On” is sometimes cited as the ‘first house record’, even though it was a remake of a Disco Bootleg “On and On” by Florida producer Mach. Other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk‘s “Music is the Key” (1985), have also been cited to be the first house tracks.
Starting in 1985 and 1986, more and more Chicago DJs began producing and releasing original compositions. These compositions used newly affordable electronic instruments and enhanced styles of disco and other dance music they already favored. These homegrown productions were played on Chicago radio stations and in local clubs catering mainly to Black, Hispanic, and gay audiences. By 1985, house music encompassed these locally produced recordings. Subgenres of house, including deep house and acid house, quickly emerged and gained traction.
Acid house, a rougher and more abstract subgenre, arose from Chicago artists’ experiments with the squelchy sounds of the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer that define the genre. Its origin on vinyl is generally cited as Phuture‘s “Acid Tracks” (Trax Records, 1987). Phuture, a group founded by Nathan “DJ Pierre” Jones, Earl “Spanky” Smith Jr., and Herbert “Herb J” Jackson, is credited with having been the first to use the TB-303 in the house music context. The group’s 12-minute “Acid Tracks” was recorded to tape and played by DJ Ron Hardy at the Music Box, supposedly already in 1985. Hardy once played it four times over the course of an evening until the crowd responded favorably.Deep house‘s origins can be traced to Chicago producer Mr Fingers‘s relatively jazzy, soulful recordings “Mystery of Love” (1985) and “Can You Feel It?” (1986). According to author Richie Unterberger, it moved house music away from its “posthuman tendencies back towards the lush” soulful sound of early disco music.
Club play of house tracks by pioneering Chicago DJs such as Ron Hardy and Lil Louis, local dance music record shops such as Importes Etc., State Street Records, Loop Records, Gramaphone Records and the popular Hot Mix 5 shows on radio station WBMX-FM helped popularize house music in Chicago. Later, visiting DJs and producers from Detroit fell into the genre. Trax Records and DJ International Records, Chicago labels with wider distribution, helped popularize house music inside and outside of Chicago.
The first major success of house music outside the U.S. is considered to be Farley “Jackmaster” Funk‘s “Love Can’t Turn Around” (feat. Jesse Saunders and performed by Darryl Pandy), which peaked at #10 in the UK singles chart in 1986. Around that time, UK record labels started releasing house music by Chicago acts, but as the genre grew popular, the UK itself became one of the new hot spots for house, acid house and techno music, experiencing the so-called second summer of love between 1988 and 1989.
One 2009 book states the name house music originated from a Chicago club called the Warehouse, which existed from 1977 to 1983. Clubbers to the Warehouse were primarily black, who came to dance to music played by the club’s resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, who fans refer to as the “godfather of house”. Frankie began the trend of splicing together different records when he found that the records he had weren’t long enough to satisfy his audience of dancers. After the Warehouse closed in 1983, the crowds went to Knuckles’ new club, The Power Plant, while the club was renamed into Music Box with Ron Hardy being resident DJ.
In the Channel 4 documentary Pump Up The Volume, Knuckles remarks that the first time he heard the term “house music” was upon seeing “we play house music” on a sign in the window of a bar on Chicago’s South Side. One of the people in the car with him joked, “you know that’s the kind of music you play down at the Warehouse!”. South-Side Chicago DJ Leonard “Remix” Rroy, in self-published statements, claims he put such a sign in a tavern window because it was where he played music that one might find in one’s home; in his case, it referred to his mother’s soul and disco records, which he worked into his sets. The documentary also explored how house music was something that anyone could do. Mostly the documentary looks at some of the DJs from that genre, and how they stumbled into the music.
Farley “Jackmaster” Funk was quoted as saying “In 1982, I was DJing at a club called The Playground and there was this kid named Leonard ‘Remix’ Rroy who was a DJ at a rival club called The Rink. He came over to my club one night, and into the DJ booth and said to me, ‘I’ve got the gimmick that’s gonna take all the people out of your club and into mine – it’s called House music.’ Now, where he got that name from or what made him think of it I don’t know, so the answer lies with him.”
Chip E.‘s 1985 recording “It’s House” may also have helped to define this new form of electronic music. However, Chip E. himself lends credence to the Knuckles association, claiming the name came from methods of labeling records at the Importes Etc. record store, where he worked in the early 1980s: bins of music that DJ Knuckles played at the Warehouse nightclub were labelled in the store “As Heard At The Warehouse”, which was shortened to simply “House”. Patrons later asked for new music for the bins, which Chip E. implies was a demand the shop tried to meet by stocking newer local club hits.
In a 1986 interview, when Rocky Jones, the club DJ who ran the D.J. International record label, was asked about the “house” moniker, he did not mention Importes Etc., Frankie Knuckles, or the Warehouse by name. However, he agreed that “house” was a regional catch-all term for dance music, and that it was once synonymous with older disco music, before it became a way to refer to “new” dance music.
Larry Heard, a.k.a. “Mr. Fingers”, claims that the term “house” came from DJs creating music in home studios using affordable synthesizers and drum machines, such as the Roland TB-303, Roland TR-808, and TR-909. These synthesizers were used to create the acid house subgenre. Juan Atkins, an originator of Detroit techno, claims the term “house” reflected the association of particular tracks with particular clubs and DJs, considered their “house” records.
Early house lyrics contained positive, uplifting messages for all people, from every different walk of life but spoke especially to those who were considered to be outsiders, especially African-Americans, Latinos, and the gay subculture. The house music dance scene was one of the most integrated and progressive spaces in the 1980s; gays, blacks, and other minority groups were able to dance together in a positive environment.
House music DJs aimed to create a “dream world of emotions” with “stories, keywords and sounds”, which helped to “glue” communities together. Many house tracks encourage the audience to “release yourself” or “let yourself go”, which is further encouraged by the continuous dancing, “incessant beat”, and use of club drugs, which can create a trance-like effect on dancers. Frankie Knuckles once said that the Warehouse club in Chicago was like “church for people who have fallen from grace”. House record producer Marshall Jefferson compared it to “old-time religion in the way that people just get happy and screamin'”. The role of a house DJ has been compared to a “secular type of priest”.
Some house lyrics contained messages calling for equality, unity and freedom of expression beyond racial or sexual differences (e.g. “Can You Feel It” by Fingers Inc., 1987, or “Follow Me” by Aly-Us, 1992). However, not all house music songs had vocals, and in many cases, the vocals were quite meaningless, as the most important element in house was the beat and rhythm. Later on in the 1990s, but autonomous from the Chicago scene, the idea of Peace, Love, Unity & Respect (PLUR) became a widespread set of principles for the rave culture which developed out of house.
At least three styles of dancing are associated with house music: Jacking, Footwork, and Lofting. These styles include a variety of techniques and sub-styles, including skating, stomping, Vosho, Pouting Cat and shuffle steps (also see Melbourne Shuffle). House music dancing styles can include movements from many other forms of dance, such as waacking, voguing, African, Latin, Brazilian (including Capoeira), jazz dance, Lindy Hop, tap dance, and even modern dance. House dancing is concerned with the sensuality of the body and setting oneself free in ecstasy — without the worry of outside barriers.
One of the primary elements in house dancing is “the jack” or “jacking” — a style created in the early days of Chicago house that left its trace in numerous record titles such as “Time to Jack” by Chip E. from the “Jack Trax” EP (1985), “Jack’n the House” (1985) by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk (1985) or “Jack Your Body” by Steve “Silk” Hurley (1986). It involves moving the torso forward and backward in a rippling motion matching the beat of the music, as if a wave were passing through it.
In Detroit during the early and mid-1980s, a new kind of electronic dance music began to emerge around Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, known as the Belleville Three. The artists fused eclectic, futuristic sounds into a signature Detroit dance sound that was a main influence for the later techno genre. Their music included strong influences from Chicago house, although the term “house” played a less important role in Detroit than in Chicago, and the term “techno” was established instead. One of their most successful hits was a vocal house track named “Big Fun” by Inner City, a group produced by Kevin Saunderson, in 1988.
Another important and even earlier influence on the Detroit artists was electronic music in the tradition of Germany’s Kraftwerk. Atkins had released electro music in that style with his group Cybotron as early as 1981. Cybotron’s best known songs are “Cosmic Cars” (1982) and “Clear” (1983); a 1984 release was titled “Techno City”. In 1988, Atkins produced the track “Techno Music” that was featured on an influential compilation initially planned to be named “The House Sound of Detroit”, but renamed into “Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit” after Atkins’ song.
The 1987 song “Strings of Life” by Derrick May (under the name Rhythm Is Rhythm) represented a darker, more intellectual strain of early Detroit electronic dance music. It is considered a classic in both the house and techno genre and shows the connection as well as the “boundary between house and techno.” It made way to what was later known as “techno” in the internationally known sense of the word, referring to a harder, faster, colder, more machine-driven and minimal sound than house, as played by Detroit’s Underground Resistance and Jeff Mills.
With house music already important in the 1980s dance club scene, eventually house penetrated the UK pop charts. London DJ “Evil” Eddie Richards spun at dance parties as resident at the Clink Street club. Richards’ approach to house focuses on the deep basslines. Nicknamed the UK’s “Godfather of House”, he and Clink co-residents Kid Batchelor and Mr. C played a key role in early UK house. House first charted in the UK in Wolverhampton following the success of the Northern Soul scene. The record generally credited as the first house hit in the UK was Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s “Love Can’t Turn Around“, which reached #10 in the UK singles chart in September 1986.
In January 1987, Chicago DJ/artist Steve “Silk” Hurley’s “Jack Your Body” reached number one in the UK, showing it was possible for house music to achieve crossover success in the pop charts. The same month also saw Raze enter the top 20 with “Jack the Groove”, and several further house hits reached the top ten that year. Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) expensively-produced productions for Mel and Kim, including the number-one hit “Respectable”, added elements of house to their previous Europop sound. SAW session group Mirage scored top-ten hits with “Jack Mix II” and “Jack Mix IV”, medleys of previous electro and Europop hits rearranged in a house music style. Key labels in the rise of house music in the UK included:
In March 1987, the UK tour of influential US DJs such as Knuckles, Jefferson, Fingers Inc. (Heard) and Adonis, on the DJ International Tour boosted house’s popularity in the UK. Following the number-one success of MARRS‘ “Pump Up The Volume” in October, in 1987 to 1989, UK acts such as The Beatmasters, Krush, Coldcut, Yazz, Bomb The Bass, S-Express, and Italy’s Black Box opened the doors to house music success on the UK charts. Early British house music quickly set itself apart from the original Chicago house sound. Many of the early hits were based on sample montage, and unlike the US soulful vocals, in UK house, rap was often used for vocals (far more than in the US), and humor and wit was an important element.
The second best-selling British single of 1988 was an acid house record, the Coldcut-produced “The Only Way Is Up” by Yazz. One of the early club anthems, “Promised Land” by Joe Smooth, was covered and charted within a week by UK band The Style Council. Europeans embraced house, and began booking important American house DJs to play at the big clubs, such as Ministry of Sound, whose resident, Justin Berkmann brought in US pioneer Larry Levan.
The house music club scene in cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Wolverhampton and London were provided with dance tracks by many underground Pirate Radio stations. Club DJs also brought in new house styles, which helped bolster this music genre. The earliest UK house and techno record labels such as Warp Records and Network Records (otherwise known as Kool Kat records) helped introduce American and later Italian dance music to Britain. These labels also promoted UK dance music acts. By the end of the 1980s, UK DJs Jenö, Thomas, Markie and Garth moved to San Francisco, and called their group the Wicked Crew. The Wicked Crew’s dance sound transmitted UK styles to the US, which helped to trigger the birth of the US west coast’s rave scene.
The manager of Manchester’s Factory nightclub and co-owner of The Haçienda, Tony Wilson, also promoted acid house culture on his weekly TV show. The UK midlands also embraced the late 1980s house scene with illegal parties and raves and more legal dance clubs such as The Hummingbird.
While the acid house hype spawned to the UK and Europe, in Chicago itself it reached its peak around 1988 and then declined in popularity. Instead, a crossover of house and hip-hop music, known as hip house, became popular. Tyree Cooper‘s single “Turn Up the Bass” featuring Kool Rock Steady from 1988 was an influential breakthrough for this subgenre, although the British trio the Beatmasters claimed having invented the genre with their 1986 release “Rok da House“. Another notable figure in the hip house scene was Fast Eddie with “Hip House” and “Yo Yo Get Funky!” (both 1988). Even Farley “Jackmaster” Funk engaged himself in the genre, releasing “Free at Last”, a song to free James Brown from jail, featuring The Hip House Syndicate, in 1989, and producing a Real Hip House compilation on his label House Records in 1990.
The early 1990s saw new Chicago house artists emerge, such as Armando Gallop, who had released seminal acid house records since 1987, but became even more influential by co-founding the new Warehouse nightclub in Chicago (on 738 W. Randolph Street) in which he also was resident DJ from 1992 until 1994, and founding Warehouse Records in 1988.
Another important figure during the early to mid-1990s (until the 2000s) was DJ and producer Paul Johnson, who released the Warehouse-anthem “Welcome to the Warehouse” on Armando’s label in 1994 in collaboration with Armando himself. He also had part in the development of an entirely new kind of Chicago house sound, “ghetto house“, which was prominently released and popularized through the Dance Mania record label. It was originally founded by Jesse Saunders in 1985 but passed on to Raymond Barney in 1988. It featured notable ghetto house artists like DJ Funk, DJ Deeon, DJ Milton, Paul Johnson and others. The label is regarded as hugely influential in the history of Chicago house music, and has been described as “ghetto house’s Motown“.
One of the prototypes for Dance Mania’s new ghetto house sound was the single “(It’s Time for the) Perculator” by Cajmere, also known as Green Velvet, from 1992. Cajmere started the labels Cajual Records and Relief Records, the latter combining the sound of Chicago, acid and ghetto house with the harder sound of techno. By the early 1990s, artists of note on those two labels included Dajae, DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter, DJ Rush, Paul Johnson, Joe Lewis, and Glenn Underground.
While house conquered UK and continental Europe, the scene in the U.S. had still not progressed beyond a small number of clubs in Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and Newark. In New York and Newark, the terms “garage house“, “garage music”, or simply “garage”, and “Jersey sound”, or “New Jersey house“, were coined for a deeper, more soulful, R&B-derived subgenre of house that was developed in the Paradise Garage nightclub in New York City and Club Zanzibar in Newark, New Jersey, during the early-to-mid 1980s. It is argued that garage house predates the development of Chicago house, as it is relatively closer to disco than other dance styles. As Chicago house gained international popularity, New York’s and New Jersey’s music scene was distinguished from the “house” umbrella.
In comparison to other forms of house music, garage house and Jersey sound include more gospel-influenced piano riffs and female vocals. The genre was popular in the 1980s in the United States and the 1990s in the United Kingdom. DJs playing it include Tony Humphries at Club Zanzibar, Larry Levan, who was resident DJ at the Paradise Garage from 1977 to 1987, Todd Terry, Kerri Chandler, Masters at Work, Junior Vasquez and others.
In the late 1980s, Nu Groove Records launched and nurtured the careers of Rheji Burrell and Rhano Burrell, collectively known as Burrell (after a brief stay on Virgin America via Timmy Regisford and Frank Mendez). Nu Groove also had a stable of other NYC underground scene DJs. The Burrell’s created the “New York Underground” sound of house, and they did more than 30 releases on this label featuring this sound.
The emergence of New York’s DJ and producer Todd Terry in 1988 demonstrated the continuum from the underground disco approach to a new and commercially successful house sound. Terry’s cover of Class Action’s “Weekend” (mixed by Larry Levan) shows how Terry drew on newer hip-hop influences, such as the quicker sampling and the more rugged basslines.
House was also being developed by DJs and record producers in the booming dance club scene in Ibiza. While no house artists or labels came from this tiny island at the time, mixing experiments and innovations done by Ibiza DJs helped to influence the house style. By the mid-1980s a distinct Balearic mix of house was discernible. Several influential clubs in Ibiza, such as Amnesia, with DJ Alfredo at the decks, were playing a mix of rock, pop, disco and house. These clubs, fuelled by their distinctive sound and copious consumption of the club drug Ecstasy (MDMA), began to influence the British scene. By late 1987, DJs such as Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling were bringing the Ibiza sound to key UK clubs such as the Haçienda in Manchester. Ibiza influences also spread to DJs working London clubs such as Shoom in Southwark, Heaven, Future and Spectrum.
By the late 1980s, house DJing and production had moved to the US’s west coast, particularly to San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego and Seattle. Los Angeles saw an explosion of underground raves, where DJs mixed dance tracks. L.A. DJs Marques Wyatt and Billy Long spun at Jewel’s Catch One. In 1989, the L.A.-based, former EBN-OZN singer/rapper Robert Ozn started indie house label One Voice Records. Ozn released the Mike “Hitman” Wilson remix of Dada Nada‘s “Haunted House”, which garnered club and mix show radio play in Chicago, Detroit and New York as well as in the UK and France. The record went up to number five on the Billboard Club Chart, marking it as the first house record by a white (Caucasian) artist to chart in the U.S. Dada Nada, the moniker for Ozn’s solo act, did his first releases in 1990, using a jazz-based deep house style. The Frankie Knuckles and David Morales remix of Dada Nada’s “Deep Love” (One Voice Records in the US, Polydor in the UK), featuring Ozn’s lush, crooning vocals and jazzy improvisational solos by muted trumpet, underscored deep house’s progression into a genre that integrated jazz and pop songwriting and song forms (unlike acid house and techno).
In Britain, further experiments in the genre boosted its appeal. House and rave clubs such as Lakota and Cream emerged across Britain, hosting house and dance scene events. The ‘chilling out’ concept developed in Britain with ambient house albums such as The KLF‘s Chill Out and Analogue Bubblebath by Aphex Twin. The Godskitchen superclub brand also began in the midst of the early 1990s rave scene. After initially hosting small nights in Cambridge and Northampton, the associated events scaled up at the Sanctuary Music Arena in Milton Keynes, in Birmingham and in Leeds. A new indie dance scene also emerged in the 1990s. In New York, bands such as Deee-Lite furthered house’s international influence. Two distinctive tracks from this era were the Orb‘s “Little Fluffy Clouds” (with a distinctive vocal sample from Rickie Lee Jones) and the Happy Mondays‘ “Wrote for Luck” (“WFL”) which was transformed into a dance hit by Vince Clarke.
In England, one of the few licensed venues was The Eclipse, which attracted people from up and down the country as it was open until the early hours. Due to the lack of licensed, legal dance event venues, house music promoters began organising illegal events in unused warehouses, aeroplane hangars and in the countryside. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was a government attempt to ban large rave dance events featuring music with “repetitive beats”, due to law enforcement allegations that these events were associated with illegal club drugs. There were a number of “Kill the Bill” demonstrations by rave and electronic dance music fans. The Spiral Tribe dance event at Castle Morten was the last of these illegal raves, as the bill, which became law, in November 1994, made unauthorised house music dance events illegal in the UK. Despite the new law, the music continued to grow and change, as typified by Leftfield with “Release the Pressure“, which introduced dub and reggae into the house sound. Leftfield’s prior releases, such as “Not Forgotten” released in 1990 on Sheffield’s Outer Rhythm records used a more typical sound.
A new generation of clubs such as Liverpool‘s Cream and the Ministry of Sound were opened to provide a venue for more commercial house sounds. Major record companies began to open “superclubs” promoting their own groups and acts. These superclubs entered into sponsorship deals initially with fast food, soft drink, and clothing companies. Flyers in clubs in Ibiza often sported many corporate logos from sponsors. A new subgenre, Chicago hard house, was developed by DJs such as Bad Boy Bill, DJ Lynnwood, and DJ Irene, Richard “Humpty” Vission, mixing elements of Chicago house, funky house and hard house. Additionally, producers such as George Centeno, Darren Ramirez, and Martin O. Cairo developed the Los Angeles Hard House sound. Similar to gabber or hardcore techno from the Netherlands, this was associated with the “rebel”, underground club subculture of the time. These three producers introduced new production approaches and sounds in late 20th century became more prominent and widely used during first decade of the 21st century.
Towards the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, French DJ/producers such as Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, Stardust, Cassius, St. Germain and DJ Falcon began producing a new sound in Paris’ club scene. Together, they laid the groundwork for what would be known as the French house movement. They combined the harder-edged-yet-soulful philosophy of Chicago house with the melodies of obscure funk records. As well, by using state-of-the-art digital production techniques blended with the retro sound of old-school analog synthesizers, they created a new sound and style which influenced house music around the world.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed August 10, 2005 to be “House Unity Day” in Chicago, in celebration of the “21st anniversary of house music” (actually the 21st anniversary of the founding of Trax Records, an independent Chicago-based house label). The proclamation recognized Chicago as the original home of house music and that the music’s original creators “were inspired by the love of their city, with the dream that someday their music would spread a message of peace and unity throughout the world”. DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Paul Johnson and Mickey Oliver celebrated the proclamation at the Summer Dance Series, an event organized by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs.
It was during this decade that vocal house became firmly established, both in the underground and as part of the pop market, and labels such as Defected Records, Roulé and Om were at the forefront of championing the emerging sound. In the mid-2000s, fusion genres such as electro house and fidget house emerged. This fusion is apparent in the crossover of musical styles by artists such as Dennis Ferrer and Booka Shade, with the former’s production style having evolved from the New York soulful house scene and the latter’s roots in techno. Numerous live performance events dedicated to house music were founded during the course of the decade, including Shambhala Music Festival and major industry sponsored events like Miami’s Winter Music Conference. The genre even gained popularity through events like Creamfields. In the late 2000s, house style witnessed renewed chart success thanks to acts such as Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Fedde Le Grand, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris.
During the 2010s multiple new sounds in house music were developed by DJs, producers and artists. Sweden had “Swedish progressive house” with the emergence of Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, and Steve Angello. While all three artists had solo careers, when they formed a trio called Swedish House Mafia, it showed that house could still produce chart-topping hits, such as their 2013 single “Don’t You Worry Child“, which cracked the Billboard top 10. Avicii was a Swedish DJ/artist known for his hits such as “Hey Brother“, “Addicted to You“, “The Days“, “The Nights“, “Levels“, “Waiting for Love“, and “Without You”. Fellow Swedish DJ/artist Alesso collaborated with Calvin Harris, Usher, and David Guetta. In France, Justice blended garage and alternative rock influences into their pop-infused house tracks, creating a big and funky sound. Skrillex, a former alternative rock singer, mixed dubstep and pop into his UK house music.
During the 2010s, in the UK and in the US, many records labels stayed true to the original house music sound from the 1980s. It includes labels like Dynamic Music, Defected Records, Dirtybird, Fuse London, Exploited, Pampa, Cajual Records, Hot Creations, Get Physical, and Pets Recordings.
Netherlands brought together a concept of “Dirty Dutch”, an electro house subgenre characterized by abrasive lead synths and darker arpeggios, with prominent DJs being Chuckie, Hardwell, Laidback Luke, Afrojack, R3hab, Bingo Players, Quintino and Alvaro. Elsewhere, fusion genres derivative of 2000s progressive house returned, especially with the help of DJs/artists Calvin Harris, Eric Prydz, Mat Zo, Above & Beyond and Fonzerelli in Europe.
Diplo, a DJ/producer from Tupelo, Mississippi, was able to blend underground sounds with mainstream styles. As he came from the Southern US, Diplo fused house music with rap and dance/pop, while also integrating more obscure Southern US genres. Other North Americans playing house music include the Canadian Deadmau5 (known for his unusual mask and unique musical style), Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Porter Robinson and Wolfgang Gartner. The growing popularity of such artists led to the emergence of electro house and progressive house sounds in popular music, such as singles like David Guetta” feat. Avicii “Sunshine”  and Axwell‘s remix of “In The Air.”
Big room house was increasingly popular since 2010, through international dance music festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival. In addition to these popular examples of house, there has also been a reunification of contemporary house and its roots. Many hip hop and R&B artists also turned to house music to add a mass appeal and dance floor energy to the music they produce. Tropical house went onto the top 40 on the UK Singles Chart in 2015 with artists such as Kygo and Jonas Blue. In the mid-2010s, the influences of house began to also be seen in Korean K-pop music, examples of this being f(x)‘s single “4 Walls” and SHINee‘s title track “View.”
Later in the 2010s, a more traditional house sound came to the forefront of the mainstream in the UK, with Calvin Harris‘s singles “One Kiss” and “Promises“, with the latter also incorporating elements of nu-disco and Italo house. These singles both went to No.1 in the UK, showing that a classic house sound could still have great success in the modern day.
Written by: 2hiradio
DJ Tempa takes over 2Hi Radio live on the 18th Feb 2021 from 6pm GMT for this very special event alongside Bassman Ic3 and xSelecta bring true drum and bass vibes to 2Hi Radio for two hours of pure bangers!! This one is not to be missed live on facebook and 2hiradio.com