Posts Tagged ‘genres’

I’ve been an mixed genre producer for several years now but currently about 75% of the projects I’m working on are electroswing. There’s something incredibly special about this genre, both to listen to and to make… here’s why

So Danceable

Swing music was made for dancing, its hard for me to listen to it and not start moving. In electroswing, the other genres it’s being combined add an extra level of energy. The overall effect is creating a style of music that is irresistable to dance to. And the great thing is there are so many styles of dance that work well with it: swing, quickstep, shuffling, charleston, club dancing, rock and roll or just your best flapper impression…  anyone can get their groove on. A friend of mine recently observed at a gig: ‘There were ravers in the middle and swing dancers around the outside but everyone was dancing together’.

Creative Freedom

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Compared to other genres ES is very light on rules, there’s no set BPM, no set beat, no established convention on what instruments you have to use, anything goes! (note to self, I need to make a remix of Anything Goes). People produce ES that is almost entirely swing with a hint of modern production added while others make primarily electronic music combined creatively with swing. With the latter, I’ve heard ES inspired by (or based on) almost every major electronic genre: House, DnB, Electro (obvs), Dubstep, Techno, Dancehall even things like Trance and commercial EDM. Providing it fits the overall aesthetic and uses some relevant samples or instruments you can justifiably call it electroswing. This makes it a real joy to produce in as this freedom of expression allows you try out combinations of sounds and techniques you’d never otherwise think of. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that genre conventions stifle creativity but I would say that it is a lot easier to be lazy in your productions when you already know how aspects of your tracks have to sound to be considered part of that genre.

Plays well with others

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Because ES can be based on so many different styles of music and be played at many different tempos it mixes well with a whole range of other genres. Glitch hop, funk, rap, big band and latin house work particularly well but if you feel out the crowd you could drop a massive electro-house track, an acoustic rock number or something really leftfield. You could probably make anything work if you gave it enough thought. This encourages really creative DJing and means that the crowd can be genuinely surprised, which is much less likely to happen during a 2 hour long single genre set.

Sample away!

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A lot of people have commented recently about how intellectual property law has become completely ridiculous. Some corporations (ahem ahem Disney) have tried to change copyright law to allow them to have perpetual rights to their properties. This is an insane approach as it completely shuts down some major creative avenues: homage, remixes, retellings all become potentially problematic legally. Fortunately they have not managed to extend this far enough back to affect a lot of swing, big band, jazz and other pre 1940s music. Maybe its just me who cares about making music completely legally (or rather without the chance that some gung ho record label will decide to try to sue over something that is clearly being used in a creatively altered fashion) but I really appreciate the sheer volume of source material freely available to use.

Broad appeal

One of the great things about electroswing is that it is really approachable. When I’ve played some of my friends and relatives a heavy electrotrash, dubstep or DnB track, their response has  been ‘that’s just noise’, when some people hear a house or trance track all they hear is the pounding kick. I’ve yet to play someone ES and get an overtly negative response anything like that. I mean I might start them off with something fairly swing heavy like Parov Stellar or Caravan palace but even the tracks which are heavily inspired by the genres above get a much better reception. It might be something about the sounds of real instruments or the familiarity of the swing samples that makes it easier to get into. I think this is reflected in the group that turn up to ES events, you usually find people of all ages and backgrounds (not to mention an amazing selection of outfits), and that creates a really welcoming atmosphere.

Retrofuturism

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Part of the reason I love electroswing is the same reason that I love steampunk… they take some of the best bits of the past, the present and our imagined futures to create something glorious. I love the imagination of these hybrid genres but I think that they are part of a bigger trend. We have unprecedented choice when it comes to music (and media in general), you could load up your computer with all the best music from the past 100 years, or listen to it online. We are no longer bound by whatever the radio is playing or we’d managed to collect as physical media. This has meant that in a sense we have moved on from the strong creative fashions and trends of the past. People can listen to, watch or play almost anything that is current and anything that is from the past. The last few years has seen an explosion in old acts reforming, retro inspired culture and classics being rereleased. Likewise modern technology has given us almost unlimited creative freedom to combine these things. I think that this has definitely helped to bring electroswing to the fore in the last couple of years.

While often an increase in popularity is associated with a reduction in quality, I actually think that in electroswing’s case it has just created a broader range of interpretation and styles. That’s not to say that there aren’t some really lazy tracks out there but actually, there are very few lazy tracks which are popular with ES listeners, it’s the interesting stuff that keeps people hooked. If that spirit continues I’m sure it will remain one of the most exciting and vibrant musical styles.

Love and Peace, D

 

 

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