Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The 3 Questions - Part 3 - USA and Canada

DJ Eliazar - Co-founder of Speakeasy Electroswing, Canada

I believe that it is proper dance music in the fact that it includes a mash of so many dance genre's that  it gives a wider berth in the dancefloor vibe.  I have had many folks tell me they don't like DJ/club music, but they love dancing to electro swing.  To me it involves the mixing of many BPMs with a child-like happiness that is missing from many types of club music - as we all remember Swing samples first being heard at grandma's house, or on cartoons

I think it is getting more widespread in the variety of musical styles being used.  I know that swing house is the main motivating force in the EU, but in North America more folks are taking a bassy breaks/ Ghetto Funk angle on it, and going more int eh hip hop style of production.  It still has not hit in any major way out here - only really 4 cities have bigger nights happening (300+ monthly), and one TV ad.  So there is a lot of room for growth out here, as most people still don't know what I am talking about when I say that I play Electro Swing.

I would like to think it is its own genre, as long as it can keep on evolving and growing.  If it keeps repeating itself and bores people in a short time, then we have a fad.  If it keeps changing and reinventing itself - more live bands, live performers with Djs, and great new producers of all stripes taking part, I think it can keep on growing and introduce more people to its style.  It is the only kind of club music that I play that will get 2 year olds dancing with 89 year olds - and that is a true story of the last party I played on the island where I live:) and yes we play the music much more quietly for the first hour or two at the events, starting them at 7 pm so folks of all ages and bedtimes can come out and boogie.

DJ Don Mescal - Cofounder of Speakeasy Electroswing, Canada

I can’t say what ‘proper’ dance music is, but Electro Swing is dance music for sure. I think it’s getting more and more attention right now and starting to cross over into Pop, Hip-Hop, and Rock. Today we see commercials on TV with Electro Swing in the background, and the general public is becoming more aware through that. 

One cool thing about Electro Swing is the flexibility of sounds you can mix. For me, anything with a vintage touch works nicely. So Hip-Hop, Drum n Bass, Glitch-Hop, House, Tech-House…

Of course, one can never forget to play contemporary swing bands like Caro Emerald, Dimi Cat, Fatima Spar Und Die Freedom Fries, Monsieur Periné, Tia Brazda, and The Stolen Sweets to name a few. We cannot do a night with 5 hours of Swing-House in Montreal, it doesn’t make sense for us. It can be sort of repetitive and we want to offer all kind of swing. I want to say a big thank you to Nick Hollywood for putting the Electro-Blues sounds on the map — it is really cool to add another flavour to the night.

Electro-Swing is still pretty new in North America. Not all cities in Canada or the USA have a regular monthly event yet. In Montreal, we are lucky to have a great audience, and people are always happy to discover new things. After 4 years, we built something special here with 300 to 400 people coming to our shows every month. Recently, some friends from Oslo asked us for some help getting off the ground, and then we started to offer our Speakeasy name to other cities around the world. We gave Speakeasy Oslo some graphics, music, and tips to start their events. We are very proud to have helped in the opening of Speakeasies in New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Victoria, Austin TX, Barcelona, Denver and Mexico City.
I went twice to perform in Mexico, and they were crazy about dancing to something new. I think Electro-Swing has a great future in front of it, and we want to be the ambassadors of that sound in North America. 
When we started our Speakeasy nights in Montreal, I was asking myself about how long this sound going to survive. An Electro-Swing scene could be just a wave — it might fall and a new groove will come after. But I think it depends on the organizers and DJs. If you offer something special with a great vibes every time, you can have Electro-Swing nights for ages.

Ménage Quad, USA

Electro Swing is a thief, it comes in the night. You hear it once and it's stuck in your brain for days, and you don't even know what it's called. When you hear it, your transmission autonomously kicks your feet into gear.  It's one of the reasons we've been fortunate enough to be successful in this industry, dancing is completely unavoidable, and the US has just begun to be exposed to it.

Like we mentioned, the US has just begun to be exposed to electroswing, and the future looks bright. Once it begins to spread more, we feel the demographic of electronica in general will expand significantly.

Its presence definitely shows it's more than just a fad, be it in the US or in Europe. It's only beginning, and people have already begun to fuse other aspects of electronic music, like glitch, Dnb, etc., with swing elements. We look forward to what fusion will continue to fuse.

The Grahamophone

Is "Electro Swing" proper dance music?

Absolutely, given that what is being sampled, swing jazz, is dance music itself I don't know how it couldn't be. As for whether it fits into current ideas of dance music, it definitely has a unique place among it. Here in the USA, I've found that most of the younger audiences have no idea what I'm playing. To them, unless they've already been told it's cool, they'll generally scoff at new sounds. Older crowds though love it. It especially does well among the Burning Man culture where the folks in their 30's and 40's are burned out on Dubstep and House.

What does the future of the genre look like?

Obviously it will evolve or die, no two ways about it. What is coming out now is nothing like what was initially out there 3-5 years ago. If you look at Dutty Moonshine's early release "Yes Please" and put it next to their newer stuff, they're light years apart. I kind of like how Chris Tofu has been calling the scene "Vintage Remix" as opposed to Electro Swing or Electro Blues, etc. I'm working on classic American country music remixes but I hope they'd work alongside swing or blues remixes. It'll also evolve regionally. England seems to be heading farther into Swing Hop or Ghetto Swing alongside bands like Electric Swing Circus, France and Italy are more band/dj mashup guided. Germany is all heavy on the DJ's, and here in North America we're slowly, VERY slowly getting our collective scenes together with bands like Good Co, DJ/Producers like The Gentleman Callers of Los Angeles, and straight up DJ's like myself and Eliazor.

Is it a fad or can it claim to be a bona-fide dance music genre?”

Again, I think it depends on how it evolves. If it sticks to tried and true sounds it will burn out fast. I think if it can be OK with being a niche sound and something that audiences will only take in doses, it can last for a while. I do think that if the sound doesn't get some more traction in the States it's gonna struggle to last in the long run. It's odd that a sound that at its core is derived from what is considered the quintessential American music the genre has really struggled to get a foothold here. I think a lot of that is a combination of Americans unwillingness to open their minds to new sounds the way that European audiences are, and there is also a bit of resentment at seeing their music chopped up and electro'd. I've had a few jazz musicians give me a good verbal beat down after hearing a set. Guess we'll just have to see it out and see what happens.

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