Electronic dance music evolved in the USA over a few decades with U.S.-born artists, international influences and a growing fan base.
To learn more about EDM subgenres, and the artists to watch today, a look at EDM’s inception, progression, styles and DJs of the U.S. Listen to a favorite tune or two as you peruse the highlights and decide where you’ll go to watch your favorites entertainers.
EDM History – Where, When and Who
Today’s EDM incorporates the latest in equipment and sound software, but those state-of-the-art sounds have their roots in 1970s synthpop and disco mixed by DJs in tucked-away nightclubs.
In the late 1970s and early ’80s, the sounds of synthesizers and electronically enhanced tunes began popping up around the world, but it was in Detroit, Michigan, that techno was born. Three Detroit-based musicians, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May – known as “The Belleville Three” and named after the Detroit area neighborhood – engineered sounds that could be replicated, remixed and incorporated with popular music in new ways.
Around the same time, DJs in Chicago, Illinois, showed a similar trend by mixing disco, soul and emerging synthesizer sounds with a particular emphasis on heavy, electronic drum beats. A now-legendary DJ named Frankie Knuckles opened The Warehouse nightclub in 1977. His unique musical mixes combined with the club name coined the term “house” and earned Knuckles the title of “Godfather of House” and an honorary street name, Frankie Knuckles Way, at the corner of Jefferson and Adams in downtown Chicago. Phuture, Mr. Fingers and Kym Mazelle, who was known as the “First Lady of House Music,” were also part of the early house scene.
Electronic music became popular internationally in the ’80s with a massive range of songs, from a-ha’s “Take on Me” to Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam,” becoming further refined in the ’90s as it morphed into its own musical genre. Definitive EDM artists during the ‘90s from throughout the world and popular in the USA included Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, David Guetta and Tiësto. Moby was a standout U.S. artist, and even Detroit’s Madonna got in the act by adding EDM sounds to her “Bedtime Stories” and “Ray of Light” albums.
Modern EDM has many different styles, countless DJs, massive music festivals, outstanding venues and international appeal. Today, even mainstream singers, including Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, incorporate electronic dance music into their work.