Electro house, is a major genre of electronic dance music that has brought some amazing, inspirational, and timeless tracks. The genre has seen major popularity on the mainstream level since its birth around the early 1990s while maintaining its underground presence. Get ready to explore the evolution, artists, and subgenres of electro house.
Electro house nowadays can be described as something futuristic and hard. Typically in the bpm range of 125-135 this genre has some aspects that pull from other genres to form something new and exciting. Distorted saw basslines, large prominent 4 on the floor bass drums, futuristic synth pads and leads (usually with pitch modulation/glide)typical of 80s inspired electro and vocoded vocals(which can provide that typical alien feeling textures) are largely featured in these tracks. Sometimes featuring tech house styles percussion/bass patterns. Pop inspired synths and vocals, and samples can be heard on many of the tracks.
The genre has seen major success in the underground and mainstream, well known talent such as: Daft Punk, Justice, Basement Jaxx, Deadmau5, Benny Benassi, and Fredde Le Grand have had major influence over the growth of the sound over the last 2 decades. Many subgenres have stemmed from the electro house roots including big room, complextro, dutch house, fidget house, and melbourn bounce.
The early days of electro house see more of a rudimentary style, with the electro and house roots being a little more prominent. Some very influential tracks have been released and pioneered the sound before the term “electro” even came into use in 2011 which now pertains to what we currently hear in the dance music scene when we think of electro sounding tracks. The word electro started out as a way to describe the likes of Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambatta while growing as time went on with the sounds of Benny Benassi, Deadmau5, and Skrillex. Below are some examples of how the genre progressed.
Planet Rock’s release in 1982 can be seen as one of the most influential tracks featuring a ton of electro influence that would feed multiple genres expansions and influence a ton of producers. With the help of well known producer Arthur Baker, Afrika Bambaataa, whose real name is Lance Taylor, would produce Planet Rock and turn the dial up in the electronic music scene. Featuring hip hop elements such as breakbeats, rap cadenced vocals mixed with vocoded futuristic vocals, and Kraftwerk inspired synth lines all adding up to really push this track to an area that at the time was not seen before. Not to mention it started massive movements in the underground scene aiding to the expansion of hip hop, electro, electronica, and many more genres.
Within the above video renowned artist Questlove states “…it was very futuristic sounding, it just sounded like tomorrow.”
The Japanese composer Yuzu Koshiro’s 1992 soundtrack for the video game Streets of Rage 2 features a few futuristic, chiptune(8-bit) style tracks with leads reminiscent of 80s style electro and combining them with house grooves and faster bpms that would go on to influence electro house. The whole soundtrack is considered to be very ahead of its time, influencing many. Koshiro’s influence and contributions over the years has been monumental, playing a huge role in the evolution of video game music which he’s done by expanding on numerous genres such as electro, house, techno, experimental, gabber, and trance. Gameradar.com writes in an article about Streets of Rage 2 “It’s an amazing blend of swaggering house synths, dirty eletro-funk and trancey electronic textures that would feel as comfortable in a nightclub as a video game. Heard outside the context of a game console, these tracks are more likely to make you want to dance than fight.”
Jason Nevins is an American producer with numerous accolades over the years that has brought him critical acclaim. His 1998 remix of “Its Tricky” by RUN DMC was an important contribution to the scene featuring a combination of electro, hip hop, and house music elements. The famous lyrics from RUN DMC are mixed chopped and combined with futuristic sounding vocal snippets to add an electro flavor. House style beats from an 808 drum machine can be heard providing the break beat and percussion elements. Synth leads and baselines that derive from a electro standpoint really push the track along in a futuristic direction.
“Dark Invader” was released back in January of 1996 by Arrivers. Consisting of producers Oliver Chesler and Alexander Chesler the duo put out a few tracks on the same vinyl that features forward thinking, hard futuristic style beats, squelchy basslines, and delayed vocal samples combining to give a spacey hypnotic inducing the feel of an alien-like presence . Featured on the release is Roland TB-303 bassline, Electrocomp-101, and a few other analogue synthesizers. This track receives acclaim as an original electro house track and contains numerous elements that would make there way into what we are now familiar with when it comes to electro house
Basement Jaxx’s track Raw Shit released back in 1997. The electro vocal influence in this song can clearly be distinguished, along with a massive compressed, distorted, buzzing saw bassline that leads the track as it gradually is filtered in and out. A four on the floor drum pattern featuring a heavy kick, a straight snare and hi hat beat gives the track a robotic feel. The similarities of modern day electro house can be seen back then just with relevant synths and production methods. As technology grew so did the sound and techniques.
Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat was released in 1999. Receiving massive success reaching number 1 in Austria, Finland, Flanders, Germany, Italy, and the UK while peaking at number 5 on French charts. Q Magazine even placed the track at number 175 on their list of “1001 Best Songs Ever”. Quentin Dupieux aka Mr OIzo used the famous Korg MS-20 stating in a XLR8R magazine interview it only took him 2 hours to produce. In 2005 Flat Beat would go on to receive number 13 on Stylus Magazine’s “Top 50 Basslines Of All Time”. Needless to say the influence of this track on the future of electro house style genres can absolutely be felt and heard. Especially with that timeless lfo warbly saw bassline driving the track with a UK Garage type feel.
Famous French music duo, Daft Punk, released their album Discovery in 2001. Featuring famous tracks such as “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, the album was named one the top 50 albums of 2001 by UK’s Q Magazine. The album marked the beginning of a newer, less Chicago House based sound for the duo who pioneered a very new electronic sound with post disco, electro, garage and house music aspects. Incorporating a lot of French house music aspects such as: filtered part of the track (usually with an lfo on the filter causing it to open and close), the use of phasers, older vocal samples, and disco/ nu disco inspired elements.
Italian DJ and Producer Benny Bennassi released his world famous record “Satisfaction” in 2002. The lead single off his debut album release would go on to be certified gold in 5 countries, peak at number 2 in the United Kingdom, and forever change the way the mainstream views the electro house genre. Bennassi writes on Genius.com saying “Satisfaction is the brainchild of my cousin Alle. He was in a hotel and he pieced the noise of car horns in the traffic outside his window into the melody of the main riff of the track. At the same time he was experimenting with compressors and came up with what became our signature sound. The typical Benassi so-called “side-chain”…” The vocal effects and tone mixed with the whirring saw bass and snappy snare really pushes the track forward along with the coming and going of filtered saw leads. Benassi’s career took off from there and he is still touring worldwide today.
In the mid 2000s Freddy Le Grand and D Ramirez both dropped tracks that would go 1 and 2 on the UKs Top 40 singles charts. Le Grand has since been up to the 19th spot on DJ Magazines top 100 DJ rankings. His track “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” has been played millions of times worldwide. D Ramirez’s remix of Bodyrox’s Yeah Yeah features some tech house elements with regards to the call and response elements, vocal chops, hi hat patterns while maintaining that electro house style bass.
Famous music industry icons Deadmau5 and Skrillex both have had their interpretations of electro house style that would go on to push the sound further with their use of software synths to add a different more complex style to the genre. Around 2010s More pop style vocals were used and the more common minimal saw bass style saw a face lift with innovative new sound design. Both of these artists saw much success having been nominated for several awards throughout their careers and racking up millions of listens on huge portions of their catalogs. These two artists would go on to continually push the boundaries of electronic dance music in the US and have only grown in popularity.
Electro House has spawned a web of subgenres all over the globe, all featuring some sort of character traits that go back to the electro house roots.
Big Room can be described as a blend of progressive house and electro house. As EDM rose in popularity during the 2010s the need for music that would fill these new festival style venue productions came to existence. Big build ups and drops are to be expected with positive, up beat, euphoric leads giving the subgenre its signature sound with less emphasis on big basslines. Such artists are Martin Garrix, KSHMR, Nicky Romero, and Hardwell were well known for using this style at the time.
Complextro was a term coined by artist Porter Robinson back in 2010, glitchy intricate basslines and inspiration stemming from chiptune and other 80s style analogue music fills out this genre. The minimalism is gone within this genre and switching between multiple instruments throughout the song is normal. Sounds resembling those from American style dubstep can be heard throughout and we see the continuation of major buildups and drops.
Dutch House takes from electro house while some big room influences can definitely be heard. Latin inspired drums with complex rhythms are present, and the use of vocals to pump the track up. Artists like Lil Jon are not an uncommon occurrence during a huge dramatic snare buildup. Artists such as Vato Gonzalez, Afrojack, and Dj Chuckie are credited with pioneering the sound.
The 2008 article entitled “Welcome to the Fidget House” from The Guardian briefly described the subgenre “The sound is defined by snatched vocal snippets, pitch-bent basslines and rave-style synth stabs over glitchy 4/4 beats. Fidget producers like to think of themselves as global music connoisseurs, hand-picking bits from genres such as Chicago house, rave, UK garage, US hip-hop, Baltimore club, Kuduro and other “authentic” world music genres.” Italian house duo Crookers’ remix of Kid Cudi Day N Nite has became a party anthem and gives a great example of the aspects of the subgenre.
A 2013 article from EDMsauce.com goes into great detail about the subgenre that was seeing major popularity 10 or so years ago. “Melbourne bounce is often known for its progression with its upbeat, horn-infused Dutch house style. Melbourne Bounce is a sub-genre of the electro house umbrella with its fun-loving and party-like sounds.
Will Sparks, Deorro and Joel Fletcher among many others seem to be leading the new movement, while many others are testing the waters as well. Recently Will Sparks remixed Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” and gave this scene a new light”
The sound of electro house signifies a great era in the electronic dance music scene. While contributing to the growth and success of the industry as a whole while birthing the careers of many producers and DJs for years to come. WIthout electro house taking from its parent genres we would not see the evolution of sound ranging for almost 20 years. With continued experimentation, new ideas, and technological advances within the scene we can absolutely expect this genre and all of its spinoffs to continue to be expanded upon in the future.
Article written by Mark Grossane