When house music was born, the majority of us were simply toddlers, oblivious to the musical revolution amplifying the streets of Chicago. Tracing it back to its roots, which began right in this city, house was truly an underground sound that began to perk the ears of many as it provided a reinterpretation of disco fused with r&b. A few founding father’s, like Jesse Saunders, Mr. Fingers, and Frankie Knuckles proved that this new genre could cater to people of any musical background with hits like “On and On”, “Can You Feel It”, and “Your Love” that drew on multiple styles of music. Thanks to its immense popularity at Chicago’s most famous underground club, The Warehouse, this new genre was soon coined as House.
Moving over to New York, Larry Levan was one of the city’s finest DJ’s who established a massive following at the unforgettable Paradise Garage. Similar to what we see today, this pioneer was experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers as he performed live, similar to what most now do through Ableton. While house music still hadn’t made it past smaller underground clubs in the States, there were still independent labels getting songs on the dance charts. Overall, it was notorious for gospel, r&b influences as well as a entirely mesmerizing sound that seemed to drift listeners into another world.
We fast forward nearly thirty years and now house music, known better as EDM, is booming all over the world, one of the most lucrative markets in the music business. It has moved from the jammed, congested clubs of Chicago and New York to holding the world’s biggest festivals, drawing in hundreds of thousands of fans from numerous countries. It is truly a global movement, uniting people from every corner of the world.
However, while house music has achieved such unprecedented success, it has allowed for almost anyone with money and the ability to make a good drop be able to “make it” in the industry. I believe it is safe to say most of the music we see dominating the charts has lost the sense of spark and ingenuity that was so prevalent back in the days. Even more, superstar DJ’s that are dominating the scene have come to give off very similar shows, relying on massive drops to wow their audience, which at times eliminates the sense of intimation and originality that the music was originally founded on.
As an ode to the origins of house, Toolroom Records, one of dance music’s finest label, has issued an exclusive EP titled, Chicago from legends Pete Griffiths and Cevin Fisher. Both of these guys have made a substantial impact on House from the early 90’s to the present, always giving their listener a unique experience when hearing their tracks. The EP also includes remixes from Federico Scavo, Weiss, and Vanilla Ace, all house music veterans known for their endless amount of unstoppable hits. Yet, the beauty behind Chicago is its ability to make a connection with you, making you wish you were in that underground club dancing endlessly to the song. One lyric stuck out to me most, stating:
“Not only did the DJ mix the music, the clubs mixed the people. Music was played with passion, to be shared by all, a gift to the masses”.
That is the core of house music: to be a gift to the masses, something I believe the genre still possesses. While it is easy to get lost in all the dollar signs and hype emanating from EDM, Griffiths and Fisher help remind us to not forget about where it all began and why we listen to the music. Sure, not every song is going to appeal to you, but as we close off this year and begin a brand new one, I encourage you to open yourself up to the “underground” sound that is still ever so present in the EDM scene. Whether it be deep, tech, electro, or even just strait house, there is still good stuff floating around, it just takes a little getting used to. Check out the song below and be sure to support the EP on Beatport!