Swedish House Mafia is not house music, says DJ Dan

Categories: Bassgasm
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House music veteran DJ Dan is coming to Bassgasm
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Bassgasm 7 lineup announced


Artists will forever rail against pigeonholing, but genre classifications provide immediacy, saleability, and ultimately a fanbase. They're a sonic roadmap for the EDM world, so when pop-dance artists like Swedish House Mafia and AVICII rise to a bewildering level of acclaim as "house music" performers, it understandably has angered veteran house DJs who claim they're not using this genre just as a buzzword.

There's been some miseducation surrounding the house music genre for several years now. Longtime house vets like Sneak, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Paul Johnson, and DJ Dan, who came up in house's early days under soul and disco, have taken a backseat to the glossy European superproducers of the world a la David Guetta. Even artists like Kaskade and Bob Sinclar shed their roots to some degree in order to pack arenas with kids salivating for synth stabs.
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Chicago house music O.G. Derrick Carter
House, after all, hasn't always been popular. There were years there after its '90s heyday where it wasn't considered "cool" or edgy to support given its warm-and-fuzzy values around community, love, and celebration of the soul.

A lightning-fast lesson for the uninitiated, here's what house sounds like -- funky and tracky with big disco and soul influences:




And here's where the debate lies -- "house" featuring relentless synth stabs, tranced-out melodies, and glittering, super-produced vocals.
 

 

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Photo by Jen Boyles
Swedish House Mafia DJs Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso
The latest house fire ignited when DJ Sneak -- a fixture in that community since the early '90s -- accused pop crossover Swedish House Mafia of misidentifying themselves as house producers, a Twitter fight that echoed throughout the community.

A longtime friend and collaborator with Sneak, DJ Dan chatted with Gimme Noise about the issue before his headlining set at Bassgasm 7 at First Avenue next Friday, September 21. 

Dan rose to dance music fame in the early rave days, pioneering a funky West Coast spin on the genre. Frustrated by the appropriation of the music, Dan feels the responsibility is with the DJs them selves as "leaders and trendsetters."

"If they're going up there and saying they're playing house music, they should represent that," Dan says from his home in California. "The Swedish House Mafia is not house.They're making cheesy pop trance and infusing it into big rooms and festivals and calling it house music. To play or make music solely based on reaction is, to me, really cheap."

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Clubber common ground?
 To many longtime fans, this new iteration is Pop Rocks and Coke disguised as a home-cooked meal. The result? Dancefloors filled with fist-pumping, hungry frat boys ala Jersey Shore and a general mindlessness around the music.
A regular rotation of massively popular and arguably overpaid DJs takes over club calendars nationwide, eclipsing up and comers as well as the original trailblazers.

While anyone would agree a love for music is a good thing, this house remains divided. Perhaps the answer is as simple as opening ears and minds to artists beyond what's most accessible, but how to spur such a shift is a long-unsolved puzzle. Perhaps Daft Punk will just emerge from their robot lair and save us all.
 
What do you think about the current debate around house music? We'd love to hear your opinion! Comment below and be automatically entered to win a pair of tickets to Bassgasm 7 and a chance to meet DJ Dan!

Full interview with Dan coming next week!


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First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Music

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20 comments
Atmos
Atmos

Electro house has always been the shitty bro-house genre. 

DJGreen
DJGreen

Dan speaks the truth!  Swedish House Mafia is nothing but over produced pop trance.  It's sad and frustrating how they and others have co-opted and bastardized house as a genre.

JoeMaffei
JoeMaffei

I'm not a fan of labels for music. House, trance... who cares. If you're a DJ and you like it, play it. What makes your sound as a DJ is how you cook it all up into a set. If you're a music fan, listen to what you like. But if there must be a debate... here's my two cents.

 

I think part of this discussion has more to do with tempo than anything else. From my understanding, House ranges roughly from 120 to 130; Trance goes from 130 to 140. Trance is lush, huge, trippy. House is punchy, danceable. You can blur some lines here and there, as with everything.

 

What everyone here failed to mention is the accepted definition of the Swedish House Mafia-type music: ELECTRO House. At least that's where I can find that type of music on Beatport and every other music outlet. 

 

I checked out that Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music -- it's largely outdated, barely touching upon the 2000s, mentioning nothing about the 2010s. But it is informative and shed some light on this discussion for me... It looks like some sub-genres served to bridge under two master genres, like the 90s Epic House which "partnered" with Epic Trance (in the Eurotrance realm). Just like Madeon is an evolution of the French Funk House of Daft Punk, Swedish House Mafia (and the like) brings together elements of Dutch Trance, Dark House, Deep Trance (aka "Housey Trance"), Epic and Anthem House... etc. That, to me, makes Electro House -- fusing anthemic elements of Trance with the driving punch of House, at 125-130bpm.

 

leafarea
leafarea

~* I understand the debate, its been going on for a Lot longer than Ive been listening to EDM (i missed the 'rave days'). Altho I also like the 'big box' artists because they do get mass airplay exposing more people to EDM than may have been before, I much more prefer 'disovering' those who are the Roots of this type of music.

 

Each Bassgasm I have gone to has given me a chance to experience many 'new' artists music in a way that I wouldnt be able to with those bigbox acts. I deeply appreciate artists who preform at smaller venues, fostering a more intimate relationship with their listeners.

 

Labels of 'this type' or 'that type' of music are helpful to assist people in exploring or partially defining a type of music but, Ive found, these same lables are just a general guide. Its like trying to define all the colours of the prisim, some blend over into another yet, all of them are beautiful! You cant pigeon hole music into just one 'type' because music expresses & speaks to a persons senses, their emotions and their spirit.

nicolejohnson24
nicolejohnson24

Nice article, Jen. This is probably going to be a never ending debate and with the amount of passion people have for the music, it will certainly be an equally passionate debate. While at times I'd like to knock some head's together myself - I've found it's better to be happy with the fact that there are lovers, players and creators of the house music I want to listen to and I will continue to do everything I can to support it.

chrystalmann
chrystalmann

What about those people that play instruments in those groups called bands?  All those bands have the same instruments; it all sounds the same to me.  I’ll just call it… folk music.  It sucks so I won’t listen to it.  20 years later….Oh I guess some of that music is kinda good.. Oh it’s not called folk music, my bad! ... so it’s actually called rock and country?  How do I tell the difference?

Well Big and Rich said they make rock musicm so I guess rock music must be those people with the funny hats and bejeweled jeans that sing about loving their truck and how their girlfriend left.   

RIGHT!?

 

Fact is, electronic dance music (EDM) is fairly new to a lot of people. The idea of not hearing people call EDM, “TECHNO” anymore brings pure joy to my ears. Still doesn’t change that fact that rock music is about as different from country as trance is from house.  

An analogy might help explain…

ACDC (rock) - Kid Rock.(country rock) - Tobi Keith (country)  

DJ Dan (house) – Swedish House Mafia (Progressive) – Avicii (Trance)

 

Kid Rock might be a little more rock than country and Swedish House Mafia is more on the trance than house but EDM has a genre name for that... its called progressive. 

 

So if you want to know the difference between House and Trance and all the other sub-genres, check out:

 

http://techno.org/electronic-music-guide/  

 

--- Best site I’ve found to help learn the different styles of EDM. The site will break it down in a tree chart format with classic examples and hilarious description. 

 

**I strongly encourage you to read the description for progressive (its under trance) and Funky (under house) and found out why DJ Dan and DJ Sneak have a problem with people thinking progressive music is house music.

HAVE FUN!  

alexjarvis88
alexjarvis88

I am really disgusted that this is even a debate.  Using drum programming as the distinctive element, the big room and Swedish sound house music is just as house as tech house or jackin'.  If you don't like it, don't listen to it...but perpetuating this argument over what makes house music "real" is just a waste of time.  Being prejudiced like that alienates people who like a little of many genres of house.  The whiny hating underground DJs and producers who are making such a stink about it are also really tarnishing the reputation of their genre in the eyes of those who might be interested but haven't yet found ready access to it.  It is generally in poor taste to trash talk people and hate things that don't live up to some kind of ideal standard, and the music industry is no exception.  And, speaking from experience...those "pop rocks and coke" kinds of tracks tend to be much more difficult to make into something that attracts people's interest than are the "funky and tracky" disco influenced tracks.  The real issue here is a matter of taste, and the new generation of super producers has done a lot more trend setting and innovating than have the old generation of angry house djs who are still playing music that sounded like it did 15 years ago.  No apologies to DJ Dan, but trend setting involves moving forward and innovating, not holding on to a bias and trash talking those who are successful without acknowledging the limitations that the bias imposes on the art.  Music is art, not politics.

mplsmetro57
mplsmetro57

Todd Edwards @ the Record Room Saturday night showed us true house music. 

5oul5tyc3
5oul5tyc3

House Music is indeed a feeling. A subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. I sure hope Dan isn't trying to say that the feelings kids experience at shows today aren't real unless it's "real House Music"? I remember House when House respected House. It's a different world out there than it was in the early 90's but that doesn't mean we can just go and lose respect for one another's musical tastes. At the same time I totally understand where Dan is coming from and to a certain extent I agree - but I've got to believe that this is only due to the fact that we've probably shared in some of the same experiences which ended up forming similar  feelings and opinions in us. Why add fuel to the fire though? Kids today are growing up in a completely different musical environment, and who's to say if that's necessarily a good or a bad thing? I say support what you feel, and quit trying to tell others that what they feel or what they support isn't "real". Whatever they feel from their music is as real as the feeling I get from the music I feel and the feeling you get from the music you feel.

chris.spah
chris.spah

Everyone will have a different definition to a style of music and who fits in it. The more a person listens to a style of music they love, the more they'll be able to group different producers, DJ's, and musicians into their own personal genres. That's half the fun. The other half is comparing favorites with others and finding even more new and amazing songs! If people expect a style of music to sound the exact same as it was when it was created in the early 80's, you're crazy. I wouldn't say DJ DAN is wrong, but I wouldn't agree. Steve, Ingrosso, and Axwell are all very influential in house music, and they put their own flair into it to make it their own. I don't expect them to precisely label their content every time they release new material. 

 

P.S I like the Carl Cox quote 'slighter' 

 

"House is a feeling. And if you aint feeling it, it aint house." -carl cox

Andy Nordenstrom
Andy Nordenstrom

there is no 1 type of house. it might have started with recycled disco/soul beats (imo original sounds are almost always unbeatable) but like everything music changes and gets new influences. Look at dubstep, Everybody and their mom makes tracks with a wobble bass and overdone mid-range nowadays and very few new people (in the US at least) make the original sub bass heavy, reggae influenced, percussive dubstep of the mid 2000s. it happens :/

Joshua Allan
Joshua Allan

sadly House music is dying - no thanks to David Guetta, Benny Benassi, and even Swedish House Mafia - it's all top 40 JUNK infused with uptempo beats that masquerade as House...

Joshua Allan
Joshua Allan

sadly House music is dying - no thanks to David Guetta, Benny Benassi, and even Swedish House Mafia - it's all top 40 JUNK infused with uptempo beats that masquerade as House...

slighter
slighter

I come from a time where "house music was a feeling". When is a genre not a "buzz word"? seems comical to me. Let's get back to making better music and less time enforcing stereotypes and playing the "blame game" please. I'm sick of DJs getting butt hurt and clamoring for attention by acting like children. You don't like what's going on? don't enforce it, destroy it with your own creativity. It's your scene, do something to make it better. 

michael.danko
michael.danko

Swedish House Mafia is not house music.  I find it comical that they are even trying to come off that way.  DJ Dan is completely right.  Just because you slap a label on something does not make it so.  I am looking forward to the rest of his interview.  Bassgasm!!!

jenboyles
jenboyles

 @michael.danko Michael - you are on the list for Bassgasm 7! If you are around at the end of the night, stop over to the backstage area and say hi to Dan!

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