It's Sunday night and the people are crammed in like sardines at one of the biggest underground electronic dance music (EDM) parties in the city. The room is dim and grimy, filled with people who seemingly don't mind their current scenery; as a matter of fact, they LOVE it. The dance-crazy fans hyped by the bass-driven, heavily percussive electronic beats and strobe lights are amused by the music, which is as futuristic as it is frightening. But this music carries a rhythm and an electric flow that makes it utterly impossible not to move. The hypnotized crowd is in a trance on the dance floor, when the only lyrics you may hear are "drop the bass," but it makes the crowd go wild.
They call this Sunday night party session "Church" (formerly known as Bass Church), and whether you're used to Chicago house music, Southern trap or dubstep in London, Church is an unusual and unforgettable experience that brings about and highlights DJs from all over the world: places like New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and all around America.
Church, held at the Dragon's Den, is only one of the many up-and-coming EDM venues around the city. It seems as if this music craze has recently taken the city by storm, urbanizing a space in the forefront of some of the most recent house parties, clubs, and most major festivals, all while maintaining a presence in the underground venues where it all began.
Beginning in the early 1990s rave era, EDM orchestrated itself as a late offspring of the 1970s electric disco music that transcended traditional music into the use of more electronic instruments. During that time, the music went by many names, such as rave, house music, techno, beat break, drum and bass, etc.
Now in the 21 st century, EDM has regenerated itself, but this time it came back with a vengeance. EDM came back ready for the recognition it certainly deserved.
It has evolved from being a strictly underground genre that made occasional appearances in popculture songs to becoming mainstream, highlighting many DJs, like Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Diplo and Major Lazer, and Daft Punk, forcing them into a worldwide fame that was pleasantly unexpected.
It's undeniable that this music trend has become something of an amazing overload around the world, from the "Harlem Shake" to "Gangnam Style," but what does that say for the city of New Orleans, and how we have embraced this genre?
In a music snob city like New Orleans, we are typically late when it comes to embracing genres outside of jazz, funk, blues, and R&B. Most times, the city doesn't embrace them at all. But, with all of the upcoming and veteran DJs of techno, house, trap, dubstep, and many more EDM styles coming out of the woodwork, it's safe to say that much of NOLA, though late, has finally taken a liking to EDM.
While we have embraced EDM, many still fear that it will become a victim of its own popularity.
As WYAT spoke with several EDM DJs around the city, the one universal response was that while the fad of EDM may fade away, the production, underground scene, and most importantly, the love for this genre of music, will last forever.
It was about three years ago when Unicorn Fukr and business partner Patrick, Mr. Cool Bad Guy, realized that New Orleans needed a better outlet for the growing underground EDM scene. Coming together, the two set out to start what was initially called Bass Church (Church), an underground party that would feature some of the original innovators and DJs of EDM from around the world. Unicorn Fukr and Mr. Cool Bad Guy had a motive for the event, stating, "We wanted to educate people on a broader range of style in EDM…Church is more of EDM root music; it's not mainstream."
Since the creation of Church, which is held every Sunday night at the Dragon's Den, Unicorn Fukr's career has also taken off quite rapidly. Fukr has spent the last couple of years performing around the world, from Miami to Detroit to major festivals, such as South by Southwest and New Orleans' own Voodoo Festival, and has performed at BUKU Festival both years. This month, he is set to perform at the Outlook Festival in Croatia.
"I've always worked with electronic music. My family lived in Norway, so I was exposed to it at a young age," says Fukr as he reminisces on the days he started out with EDM. "I did the tail end of the State Palace Theatre rave scene…NOLA in the '90s, at one point, was the rave capital."
Key Tracks: Dubstep Fetish Volume 2, Dirty Freqs