What is EDM? 10 years ago, EDM didn’t exist.
All EDM (electronic dance music) was called by its proper name, House, Progressive House, Trance, Minimal, Techno, Hardstyle, Drum and Bass, Trap, and Dubstep (Trap and Dubstep didn’t exist yet, only in a tiny underground scene in the UK), Etc.. the list goes on.
Today we are all lazy, We don’t classify a song by its genre anymore but, Place it into a generic 1 word category, EDM. Reading some EDM news blogs lately we are seeing a lot of wack shit like, EDM News blogs telling people how Lady Gaga and David Guetta have been a major contributors to electronic music and EDM blowing up.
Have you lost your mind?
EDM Ranks is here to save the day and spread some true, intelligent EDM knowledge on the EDM music of the past, EDM history, and the future of EDM.
So, How did Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Start?
Before there was any of these Superstar DJs, fake DJs, and Ghost producers, there were other bands and musicians around who had the same idea at the time,
Make great music.
They just went about doing it different ways due to the availability of technology and devices back then.
Lets take a look at how EDM really blew up and some of the most influential electronic bands that led up to the creation of the EDM genre.
Lets Recap on some Electronic Music History 101…
Formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970 in Düsseldorf, Germany, Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music and are considered pioneers in electronic dance music.
The german German electronic music band Kraftwerk played live music festivals and shows with analog synthesizers on stage.
Kraftwerk’s simplified lyrics were at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software.
Kraftwerk won the Grammy Academy Lifetime Achievement Award In January 2014.
Jean Michel Jarre (1972)
Jean Michel André Jarre is a French composer, performer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and new-age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.
As of 2004 Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People’s Republic of China, and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event.
Pink Floyd (1975)
In 1975 an English rock band from London known for their progressive psychedelic sounding music were making a big commotion.
Pink Floyd’s – ‘Welcome to the Machine’ is one of the first signs of how Electronic dance music started, But EDM still didn’t hit mainstream until about 2010. Pink Floyd was one of the first bands/musicians to display electronic influences in their music.
Depeche Mode (1980)
Is an English electronic band formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. Depeche Mode released their debut record in 1981, Speak & Spell, bringing the band into British new wave scene.
Depeche Mode have sold over 150 million albums and singles worldwide, making them the most commercially successful electronic band and one of the world’s best-selling bands in music history.
A New Breed of Electronic Music (1970 – 1989)
The 1st DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) came around in the 1970’s.
For anyone that doesn’t know what a DAW is, It is software downloaded onto a computer that allows a musician to produce music with effects and virtual instruments, or VST‘s.
The DAW’s of the 1970’s were vastly limited by factors such as high price for storage capacity, and super slow processing disk speeds of the time.
By the late 1980s, there were a few computer brand companies who had now manufactured a more powerful computer, The Apple Macintosh, Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga had power to handle the task of digital audio editing.
Aphex Twin (1985)
Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), is best known by his electronic alias Aphex Twin, is a solo England-based electronic musician and composer.
He has been described by The Guardian as
“the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music”
The Prodigy (1990)
The Prodigy is an English electronic music group formed in 1990, by Liam Howlett.
The Prodigy’s style of music uses various styles ranging from rave, hardcore techno, industrial, jungle and breakbeat in the early 1990s. Moving to a big beat and electronic rock punk vocal styler later on. The Prodigy first emerged on the underground rave scene in the early 1990s and are now worldwide renown.
The Chemical Brothers (1991)
The Chemical Brothers are a British electronic music duo consisting of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, originating from Manchester in 1989.
The electronic duo have won a number of awards throughout their career, including four Grammy Awards—twice for Best Electronic/Dance Album, and in 2000 also won the Brit Award for Best British Dance Act.
Robert Miles (1984)
Birth name Roberto Concina is also known as Robert Miles, is a Swiss-Italian producer and DJ.
In 1995 Robert Miles released the epic trance hit single “Children“, A song from his album Dreamland. The song is Robert Miles’ most successful single,as it went certified Gold and Platinum in several countries and it reached number one in more than 12 countries holding that position for several weeks.
“Children” reached #1 in the following countries: Austria (6 weeks), Belgium, Denmark, Finland (3 weeks), France (11 weeks), Italy, Norway (5 weeks), Germany, Spain, Sweden (7 weeks) and Switzerland (13 weeks)
According to Billboard magazine, it also reached the top five in “every European country that has a singles chart”.
Robert Miles himself created many remixes of Children with an additional remix by Tilt.
Steinberg Revolutionizes DAW & Creates Way for Advanced Electronic Dance Music Production (1990-1996)
In 1994, a company in California named OSC produced a 4-track editing-recorder application called DECK that ran on Digidesign’s hardware system, This combination of audio software and computer hardware was one of the earliest examples of what we currently call today, a DAW.
Around 1992, the first Windows based DAWs started to emerge from companies like, IQS Innovative Quality Software which is now SAWStudio. Most computers at this time now started to use dedicated hardware for their audio processing.
In 1993, German audio development company Steinberg released Cubase Audio on Atari Falcon 030. This version brings DSP(Direct Signal Processing) built-in effects with 8-tracks audio recording & playback using only native hardware.
With the rise of the computer gaining huge ground in 1999 and even better sophisticated technology, This quickly allowed humans to program and produce music in new ways never done before.
In 1996, Steinberg introduced Cubase VST which would record and play-back up to 32 tracks of digital audio on an Apple Macintosh without need of any external DSP hardware. Cubase even designed the tape-like interface for recording and editing, They also modelled the entire mixing desk and effects rack in common with analog studios as not to look confusing.
This revolutionised the DAW world, not only in features but also in price.
Never before could music be made so simply at one device, a Macintosh computer
Steinberg quickly set the standard for other DAW systems to follow in the future.
Daft Punk (1993 – Present)
Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo consisting Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.
The duo reached significant popularity in the late 1990s house movement in France also meeting continued success in the following years.
Using elements of house with synthpop Daft Punk are considered pioneers in the French house scene.
Influenced by groups including The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones, The duo were first in a band called Darlin’, which which later fell apart, leaving the two to experiment music on their own.
The duo became Daft Punk, releasing its epic album Homework in 1997.
The 2001 release of Discovery was even more successful, driven by the club singles “One More Time”, “Digital Love”, and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.
Daft Punk released the album Human After All in 2005 which received mixed reviews. However, the singles “Robot Rock” and “Technologic” achieved big success in the United Kingdom.
Daft Punk released the live album Alive 2007, which won a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
Daft Punk composed the score of the film Tron: Legacy and in 2010 released the soundtrack album of the film.
In January 2013, Daft Punk left EMI Records for Sony Music Entertainment’s subsidiary label Columbia, and released Random Access Memories in 2013 .
Their single “Get Lucky” became an international success,
Random Access Memories led Daft Punk to receive five Grammy wins in 2014 including Album of the Year, and also Record of the Year for “Get Lucky”.
The Birth of Trance Music and the Death (1990 – 2007)
Germany is considered the birthplace of electronic trance music with the original melodic trance sound first appearing around 1993 in Frankfurt.
Back in the 90’s America Trance was the underground music to listen to, and for those of us here in America that did listen to Trance.. Well we were looked at as weird. Nerds. Geeks. Losers. Druggies, Even Gay.
The earliest reference to ‘Trance’ in modern dance music is British act The KLF on their 1988 track What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1), which the record sleeve is also annotated ‘Pure Trance’.
Dance 2 Trance is also a very early example of trance music, The duo released their single in 1991.
In 1996, the UK became the core of the new trance phenomenon.
The UK was taking trance to new heights in UK clubs and out to the clubber’s island of Ibiza. DJ’s like Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and John Digweed started to open the eyes of the clubbing population to what is now described as Trance.
Producers and DJs were winning the hearts of club goers with monumental breakdowns and uplifting leads of an ATB and Delirium type Trance style of 2000.
Many of these songs were produced by well-known producers like Robert Miles, Sash and BT, these tunes struck to the hearts of an audience looking for new energy and excitement in their music.
Classic trance employs a 4/4 time signature with a tempo of 125 to 150 BPM and is a bit faster than house music.
A kick drum is usually placed on every downbeat with an open hi-hat is often placed on the upbeat or every 1/8th division of the bar. Extra percussive elements are usually added, and major transitions, builds or climaxes are often foreshadowed by lengthy “snare rolls”—a quick succession of snare drum hits that build in velocity, frequency, and volume towards the end of a measure or phrase.
At the turn of the millennium, Trance was at its commercial peak (1999), with tracks like ATB’s 9pm (Till I Come) reaching UK number 1 the same year, and Aurora’s Ordinary World reaching the UK Top 5 in 2000.
In this time, the sound of steady 4/4 kick drums and beautiful melodic synths continued to develop.
Rank 1’s 1999 hit Airwave featured sizzling sustained supersaw pads rather than the usual arpeggios or gated synths, for example. By the time trance began as very much an instrumental genre, In 2001 vocal trance had already become very popular, commercially too.
The Airscape remix of Delerium’s Silence which was released originally in 1999, became a worldwide hit in 2000, reaching the top 10 in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Madonna chose Above and Beyond’s Trance remix for the video of her single What It Feels Like For A Girl in 2001, and the same year commercial trance artists such as Ian Van Dahl began to emerge producing a unique vocal-trance sound.
This “Old-School Trance” as we know it today, Pretty much died around 2007.
Will it come back? Only time will tell, Look at how real music is beginning to come back to EDM.
Top 3 Most Influential EDM Acts Today
1. Tiesto (1987-Current)
Tiesto founded the label Black Hole Recordings with Arny Bink in 1997, where he released the Magik and In Search of Sunrise CD series.
Tiesto met producer Dennis Waakop Reijers in 1998, and the two have worked together extensively since then.
In 2000 Dutch DJ and producer Tijs Michiel Verwest did a remix of Delerium’s “Silence” featuring Sarah McLachlan that exposed him to more mainstream audiences.
In 2001 Tiesto released his first album In My Memory.
In 2004, Tiesto released his second studio album Just Be.
Tiesto also performed the album “Just Be” live at the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Athens, making Tiesto the first DJ to play live on stage at an Olympics.
In April 2007 Tiesto launched his radio show Tiesto’s Club Life on Radio in the Netherlands and also released his third studio album Elements of Life.
Element of Life reached number one on the Dutch album chart as well on “Billboard Top Electronic Albums” in the U.S. and received a nomination for a Grammy Award in 2008.
Tiesto released his fourth studio album Kaleidoscope, October 2009.
2. Armin Van Buuren (1995-Current)
Armin is known for mostly playing progressive trance and uplifting trance. Armin has won many award in his career including the #1 spot on DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJs fan poll a record of five times, including a unprecedented four consecutive years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and again in 2012.
Imagine, His third studio album released in 2008, it ranked Dutch album charts at No. 1, The first for a dance music artist in Dutch music history.
in 2010 Armin Released Mirage, his fourth studio album.
Armin hosts a weekly radio show called A State of Trance, which has 20 million weekly listeners in 26 countries. This radio show propelled him to superstardom and increased his following of trance fans around the world.
In 2014, Armin was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for his single “This Is What It Feels Like”, making him the fourth trance artist ever to receive a Grammy nomination alongside Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, and BT.
in 2013 Armin Released Intense, his fifth studio album.
3. Deadmau5 (2008-Current)
Joel Thomas Zimmerman better known as deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”) is a Canadian progressive house producer from Toronto, Ontario.
deadmau5 produces a variety of styles within the house genre and sometimes other forms of electronic dance music.
The 2006 album titled Deadmau5 Circa 1998–2002 was released using the alias “Halcyon441” and the collaboration with Steve Duda under the alias “BSOD”.
deadmau5 has many tracks included in numerous compilation albums such as the 2007 In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza CD.
In a February 2008 issue of MixMag’s music magazine had a free CD which was titled
MixMag Presents: The Hottest New Name In Dance! DEADMAU5 Tech-Trance-Electro-Madness, mixed by Zimmerman.
Deadmau5 tracks have also been included and presented on Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance radio show.
Get Scraped, His debut album was released in 2005, followed by others in the next few years.
deadmau5 has partnered with Melleefresh, Producing an early 12″ single on vinyl titled “I Don’t Want No Other” was released by Joel Zimmerman under the alias “Dred And Karma”.
deadmau5 has worked alongside other DJs and producers like Kaskade, MC Flipside, Rob Swire of Knife Party and Pendulum, Wolfgang Gartner, and on a number of others artists.
So, Before Lady Gaga and David Guetta. There were many electronic artists who paved the golden road… that we now call “EDM” today.
These are our top picks for most influential electronic dance music artists, if you dont agree. Write us and voice your opinion.