Electronic music has been around for quite some time and has a rich, diverse history. It’s one of those genres that has traversed all continents from birth to maturity, having roots in one continent, growing in another and finally spreading worldwide.
The UK is one of the destinations which has played a significant role in the growth of electronic music. Now let’s take a journey down memory lane.
It all started with the technology of synthesizers in the 1970s, where we can trace music produced entirely through electronic means back to.
It is during this time we saw Kraftwerk using this technology to produce the first electronic genre of music. He used synthesizers to develop a weird and wonderful sound. The ingenuity of Kraftwerk inspired the rise of techno music in Detroit, Michigan. Techno is a kind of a repetitive electronic music produced with intent for use by DJs.
The growth of music production technology, including its cultural influences, led to more advancement and acceptance of electronic music by DJs in America in the 1980s. This was due to the music’s rapidly growing club appeal.
In Chicago, artists like Frankie Knuckles, Derrick Carter and Boo Williams incorporated the available technology to recreate their favorite tracks. On the other hand, DJs looking for dancefloor-friendly vibes utilized electronic instruments to mix and produce what their revelers wanted.
Availability of affordable synthesizers and drum machines led to many developments and it’s during this time that acid house was born.
Though it originated in Chicago in the 1980s, the acid house scene thrived in the UK. Tracks like Dream Girl, by Pierre’s Fantasy Club, No Way Back by Adonis and Acid Tracks by Phuture were some of the popular acid tracks released at the height of the genre. We can’t forget popular DJs like Danny Rampling, who is credited with assisting in the commercial breakthrough of the acid house genre.
As noted, electronic music revolution in the UK was started by acid house and from there, various other rave-focused genres continued to derive.
The rave phenomenon grew, with break beat dominating illegal warehouses and countryside settings. House and techno also peppered other music scenes. Jungle sounds were close to follow due to further fragmentation, and continued on a growth route which can be easily attributed to pirate radio. There were many unlicensed stations broadcasting illegally which gave jungle music the uplift it required.
Though jungle was invaded by negative vices like gang culture, some producers tried to bring sanity to the world of music with what came to be known as drum and bass. When drum and bass started to show a downward trend early in the millennium, UK garage took over, which has the Grammy award-winning Todd Edwards as its founder. This was while he was living in the US. DJ EZ heard it and was impressed by Edwards works. He brought garage to the UK which was widely accepted as being rave-friendly.
Funk and soul are seen again influencing UK garage in around 2002 and grime was revitalized at around the same time. Grime can be described as a subgenre and a hybrid of many different music scenes. Grime stagnated in the early 2000s but of late it has started to gain momentum with albums like Skepta’s Konnichiwa enjoying immense success in 2016.
At the same time that grime arrived at the UK, dubstep was also born, bringing another darker mutation of UK garage, which borrows heavily from reggae.
Since 2011, there has been an effort by various UK artists to weave the darker elements of dubstep with other genres like techno, jungle, garage, house and drum and bass to form a new hybrid sound, which is being referred to as post-dubstep.
It’s evident that electronic music has come a long way since the first prototypes of instruments that could make an electronic sound were made. This led to the development of UK underground music with genres and subgenres developing almost daily.
The UK electronic music displays creativity, resilience and tenacity of the highest order, refusing to be confined within regional boundaries. Indeed, electronic music is not ceasing to evolve anytime soon and we can barely imagine what the future holds.