Don't miss a beat with this introductory course
People love labels.
“Who designed that fantastic sweater?”
“How can I tell if that’s gluten-free bread?”
“Is he ‘the one?’ Your father and I want to know.”
Music is no different. Labels — not the companies who sign artists, but the name given to describe a sound or style — are an easy way to define music.
“I’m into indie rock.”
“I prefer alternative music.”
“Know any good jazz?”
One of the newest labels to emerge in mainstream music circles is electronic dance music, or EDM.
In fact, the Grammy Awards, set for Sunday, Feb. 10, on CBS, only began recognizing the dance and electronic music genre in 2002, according to grammy.com.
To help you better understand EDM, here is an introductory course, thanks to several local DJs who filled us in on what EDM is, its sub-genres, and some artists to listen to.
Welcome to EDM:101.
WHAT IS EDM?
EDM by definition includes an electronic component, but isn’t necessarily a label aficionados use because it’s too large and generic a description, said Laura Courtney, part of the local DJ duo Chamber Bot.
“Please stop calling it EDM,” said Chad Harris, the other member of Chamber Bot, with a smile. “It’s electronic music.”
Instead, break EDM into sub-genres by Beats Per Minute, or BPM, said David Goe, another local DJ and Out & About music columnist.
BPM is a measure of tempo.
“Your body can feel BPM more than your mind, I guess,” Goe said. “For example, if you are dancing you know when a DJ makes a switch between BPM because you can feel it.”
Some EDM genres broken down from fastest to slowest based on BPM are:
■ Drum and Bass. Also called DnB, it has upward of 180 BPM.
■ Dubstep. Characterized by drums and a bass line, it has about 140 BPM. According to Harris, Denver is a national hub of dubstep artists. Local man Jeremy Velasquez, or DJ Daytona, is a producer of dubstep.
■ Trap. This is one of the newer forms of EDM, Courtney said. It ranges from slower to fast based on drumbeats. It has a BPM of up to 140, according to the blog dubcomusic.com.
■ House. The most common form of EDM, House includes a repetitive 4/4 tempo, with a BPM of up to 135. House is where Courtney included other forms of EDM such as trance and techno.
■ Moombahton. It is a fusion of sub-genres House and reggaeton and is characterized by slower tempos of around 115 BPM.
■ Glitch Hop. It doesn’t have a definitive BPM. It’s more about the “glitchy effects” the computer creates, according to the blog afromonk.com.
HOW, why EDM BECaME POPULAR
When Dirty Vegas won the 2002 Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Days Go By,” it signaled the beginning of mainstream and critical interest in EDM, although dance parties with electronic music had been around for years, said local DJ Ryan Stringfellow, or DJ Strangefellow.
Electronic music existed in the 1970s and morphed into the rave scene that popped up across the country in the 1990s. Stringfellow attended numerous raves in Grand Junction and Fruita.
“Before EDM, we called it techno,” he said.
DJs started spinning with vinyl, but technology has transformed EDM within the past 15 years or so, taking it from vinyl, to CDs, to the point now where music is available online to download.
“It’s everywhere,” Stringfellow said.
The Internet transformed EDM perhaps more than any other music genre because EDM is electronic and technological from the music to the bloggers to the social media handles or pages that keep people informed about shows and new music.
The equipment used at EDM shows differs from DJ to DJ, but all at least have a computer and a controller to manipulate sounds whenever, wherever.
“That sound is constantly changing, and people are coming up with new ways to put beats together,” Goe said. “It’s all electronic music but wasn’t called EDM until recently. (The label) is definitely an oversimplification for computer-based music.”
Some artists credited with bringing EDM mainstream through the years are: Daft Punk, Moby, Skrillex, David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Deadmau5.
IS EDM AN EXCUSE TO USE DRUGS?
It depends, local DJs said.
Some people who listen to EDM use drugs such as ecstasy or other mind-altering drugs, but they might use drugs no matter what they are listening to. Not everyone who likes to dance does so under the influence of anything, the DJs said.
“A perception is that it’s music where people get all messed up on drugs,” Goe said. “I don’t think that’s the case. (Drug use) definitely gets the attention, and that makes a lot of news stories, but generally if you go to shows it’s not like that. That’s not why people involved in it are a part of it.”
Courtney said her interest in EDM has nothing to do with drugs and more to do with dance.
“For me, it’s such care-free music,” Courtney said. “It’s very accepting. Everyone just dances together. They just dance how they feel.”
The style of dance in EDM has less to do with structure and more to do with freedom. Think dancing at a jam band show but “with less spinning and no hula hoops,” Stringfellow said with a smile.
WHERE CAN I GO TO LEARN MORE?
Blogs are the place to be in the world of EDM, DJs said. Blogs are the best source for new music, information and keeping a pulse on what people like or dislike.
Goe frequently looks at various blogs for new music and DJ technology reviews. Here are some to check out:
Harris and Courtney listed these blogs as among their favorites:
Also, if you want to simply listen to examples of an artist’s work before purchasing anything, visit iTunes. For example, a quick search of Skrillex music revealed a list of 313 songs available on iTunes.
■ Go to the top of this story for a link to a video of Chamber Bot performing in December at Sabrosa, 122 S. Fifth St.
■ Catch Chamber Bot, DJ Strangefellow and Echo Dafunk for dancing from 9 p.m. until close Saturday, Feb. 9, at Mesa Theater & Lounge, 538 Main St.