I’m scared for Tech House. More so selfishly because I really do love it that much.
I see the bastardization starting to begin. No different from what happened to what we now call EDM. It’s not because people are finally realizing how much fun tech house really is, but because the music is starting to sound the same. There are labels that put out amazing tech house records, that are stopping completely and going in a direction away from it. DJs are losing passion for it. Producers are being forced to crank out record after record because that is what’s charting on Beatport.
The change is real.
“I’m sorry to say that tech house as a genre has totally degenerated. It has been commercialized and massified in a way that it no longer contributes musically, it’s no longer me. I respect enormously all those who continue to support the genre. I understand that they don’t do it for economic reasons but because they continue to love it.” – Coyu, January 11 2018.
To say that I haven’t felt this coming this would be a lie. I experienced it first had at Movement Festival when the “Big Cat” of Suara Records himself played a deep, dark, driving techno set on the Pyramid Stage overlooking the Detroit River. Back in 2014 Toolroom Records also paused and re-directed, just like Suara is doing, shortly after their 10 year anniversary. 2018 brings Toolroom’s 15th year, and I can’t help to feel a little paranoid that Mark Knight may do #RESET 2.0 to remain authentic.
Vegas reeled in Jamie Jones, Black Coffee and Solomun for summer residencies. I should be thrilled that these artists, who spend most of their summers on Ibiza, are making time for the US… but I’m not. The underground I love — this dark, weird and special place where there isn’t judgment, false realities, VIP tables, short bodycon dresses and high heels is going to god forsaken Mecca of just that. I am worried that it’s being put into the hands of the wrong people. Worried, that I won’t find quality records once my go-to labels, producers, and DJs tire of this commercialization.
I’m worried that I won’t find quality records once my go-to labels, producers, and DJs tire of this commercialization.
I found tech house when I got tired of getting my ass kicked on dance floors with Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia, and Steve Aoki. There was a groove. Tech House made me dance.
I can tell you the specific moment I first discovered this. I traveled to NYC for my first Sensation in 2013. The evening before the big night at Barclays, Leif (my friend and DJ mentor) and I discovered that Sidney Blu (one of our favorite female DJs) was playing at a tiny lounge in Chelsea. Completely underdressed and slightly buzzed from drinking dinner earlier in the evening, we went.
We walked into the Pink Elephant through a mirrored hallway, and into the main room with crazy baseball sized lights on the ultra low ceiling that spun around your head. There were hookahs on the VIP booths outside of the dance floor, and a lone drummer that would wander around adding some auditory texture to this thick sound that vibrated around me. I finally felt that moment where the music instinctively makes you dance. Other club-goers danced and they listened. That blew my mind. That was the first time I experienced the power of tech house on the dance floor.
While we made our way into the Barclays Center, I still had the vibration and groove from the night before stuck in my head. As excited I was for Fedde Le Grand, my curiosity for Mr. White and Nic Fanciulli had taken over. I was curious on how they would create this instinctive urge to dance in such a large arena, compared to what I saw the night before at the tiny space of the Pink Elephant.
After experiencing this I left NYC fully changed as a music fan and a DJ. I was sold. Done. Switched completely over. I went home and recorded a mix with anything I could quickly find that peaked interest in my ear. That mix started everything for me as DJ. I found myself through tech house. I made friends through tech house. I’ve traveled, played packed dancefloors (and empty ones too), and have loved every minute with tech house.
I can’t tell if the over saturation is breaking my heart because of what tech house has done for me, or if I’m sad for the dance floors that they aren’t going to get what I had when I so desperately needed it.
I really do want the genre’s sound to ebb and flow like it does in my sets. That evolution is what I want. More voices, textures, vibrations and sounds coming into my ear. To bring my audience in a unified flow.
I don’t want sponsorships. There’s no need for astronomically expensive VIP tables or pool bungalows that cost the same amount as 3 months of living expenses. Factories need to stop pushing out “DJ’s” because they’re attractive and look nice in the booth. I don’t want ghost producers that never get the opportunity because some A&R guy doesn’t think they look good in a booth. This unique connection between artist and audience — it’s not meant to be labeled. Exploited. Bastardized. Mass produced.
At the root of everything, music is supposed to make us feel something. Carefully curated and mixed together to say something. To make us dance. To make us forget.
I am afraid that I may need to forget tech house in the future. I’ve already felt the drift away as I find new labels, DJs and producers. I love it, yet it doesn’t make me dance like tech house does.
And it breaks my heart.