I want to talk about dance music. Electronic dance music. Techno, house, DnB, idk?
Recently I’ve become inspired to create dance music. I’ve always liked dance music, but this year something switched in my brain and now I have a greater appreciation for the art form. What finally clicked is the feeling of completely giving in to the music. Letting it take you over so you can dance for hours without getting tired. Finding “the notes in between” on your synth or sequencer feels truly incredible when you have a bangin’ beat backing it up. It’s hard not to lose yourself just jamming in a spare room in your house and that is an amazing feeling that I want to share with other people.
I am a part of the “ambient-guitarist-turned-ambient-modular-synthesist” wave, but lately I am finding that genre to be limiting to my process. Don’t get me wrong, I still love playing and listening to atmospheric (sans-beats, obviously there’s atmospheric edm) music, but it is much more challenging for me to create something that I can get completely lost inside. It happens, but it takes a lot more to get me in that headspace now that I have more time working with modular. On the other hand it doesn’t take long for me to become excited about four-on-the-floor beats and a simple sequence. I could go on this tangent longer, but that’s not what the thread is about.
Obviously the best tool for dance music is the computer, but after fielding some suggestions from my friends who are into dance music, I’m realizing that I genuinely enjoy hardware/synth-based dance music the best. Not because gear-fetishism, which I am unfortunately guilty of, but because there is something fantastic about seeing someone using a few tools that they know very intimately to melt people’s minds. Playing live is really important to me, and hardware translates better to a live experience. I have no qualms with computers for music production, but unfortunately I’ve spent too much money on gear and not enough on a laptop, so I’ve had this bias for some time.
Right now I’m using my Electribe 2 synced to my Shared System via a cv.ocd. I also have an Alesis Wedge in the send on my mixer. Part of what is driving my newfound appreciation of dance music is that it makes me feel like I’m working towards something when I sit down to play with my instruments. You really have to know how to control things to create the tension and drama for a big release, and it’s been rewarding to force myself to learn how to do that with the equipment I already have. I’m not nearly as proficient as I’d like to be, but it feels good to have a goal when I’m just jamming to blow off steam after work.
Okay this is a long post about my personal journey into the confusing world of dance music, so I will wrap things up with some questions. I have a sneaking suspicion that the community best known as the decorative houseplant hub also contains some people who really know how to rock a beat.
What do you use to create dance music?
Do you perform your music live?
How do you create tension in your music?
What artists do you like?