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The History of Electronic Music and How Classics Still Define Modern EDM

Why and How: Classics That Are Still Viable to Modern EDM

Now that we’ve discussed the varying characteristics of (some) tracks that helped shape the growth of electronic music, this next section focuses on the classics that are still important to the scene today. Meaning, think of songs that are older or pioneers of the scene, but are frequently in sets, commercials, and/or movies today. Or, tracks that developed into several renditions and remixes in the electronic music community over time.

My Friend – Groove Armada

The English duo, consisting of Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, started making club house music in the early 90s. Little did they know that their contributions to early house would make cultural impacts. They adapted their name from the nightclub Groove Armada, where both Andy and Tom hosted a floor, once they began producing for Tummy Touch Label in 1998.

Their club hit My Friend did not release until 2001 on the album Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). The name of the album was to reflect their change in sound from chill out to more upbeat. The duo took the electronic keyboard and plunking sounds to create a smooth, jazzy house track, which reflected the early house styles. It’s still a viable track in modern EDM due to its frequent remixes and renditions in sets. EDX’s 2016 My Friend is a more uptempo tropical house rework of the Groove Armada track. Nicky Romero also did a remix of the song in 2010. DJ Icey, Rabbit in the Moon, and more were also featured on a 12″ vinyl edition with at least 12 different classic remixes.

Pakard – Plastikman

In the early 90s, Plastikman, also known as Richie Hawtin, influenced the second wave of Detroit techno. With Richie Hawtin leading the current techno scene, it’s only fitting Plastikman is on this list. Growing up in 1980s Ontario, Hawtin always took an interest in that Detroit sound, forming the label Plus 8 with John Acquaviva in 1990, which helped bring techno into the U.S. mainstream. Plastikman is the first to pioneer minimal techno, which is stark and with stripped aesthetics. Many consider Plastikman’s Sheet One to be one of the first minimal techno songs. His 1998 Pakard incorporates that signature minimal, deep style and timber percussion, which is a staple sound in various modern techno and tech-house tracks. Among other successes, Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva go on to found the music portal Beatport in 2004.  Hawtin’s style brings inspiration to additional techno greats, such as Deadmau5 and Carl Cox.

Smack My B**** Up – The Prodigy

One of the later tracks in 90s DnB, Smack My B**** Up is certainly one that is viable to our modern EDM scene. The live sound with forceful, violent drums and hints of electro make it an influential track for artists with a similar style, like Pendulum and Black Tiger Sex Machine. In 2013, The Prodigy’s 1997 song hits #3 for Top Dance Tracks of All Time by Mixmag viewers.  Smack My B**** Up is the last track on an overall controversial album, which upset many American artists and activists.  Stations like MTV go on to ban the music video. Although the album has a controversial beginning, at almost 20 years old this track is still a frequent banger in heavy sets. Some remixes include artists such as Major Lazor, Noisia, Slacker, and more.

Chakra, Home (Remix) – Above & Beyond

In considering this group, the focus is on their contributions to the electronic music scene over time. The trance trio, consisting of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinnes, and Paavo Siljamaki, has been around for almost two decades. The trio initially formed in 2000, and since then they have been a driving force in mainstream trance. The melodic vocals and vibrant entrancing drum line makes this classic track a predominant one in trance sets.

Their label Anjunabeats has been around technically since 1999, where Jono and Paavo released their first single Volume One under the alias Anjunabeats. The momentum Jono and Paavo gained in the club scene with that track gained the attention of Tony McGuinnes, the marketing director and manager of Warner Music Group. McGuinnes decides to recruit the duo, while working on a Chakra remix, to help him complete the track, which creates the first piece of music as Above & Beyond. This trio is one of the first to commercialize and market trance with a purpose, and it certainly was successful. Decades later the duo has a continual podcast, Group Therapy, which plans to have it’s AGBT250 at the Gorge. Right in our own backyard! Plus, with several successful aliases, acoustic albums, two labels, and more, this trio is not stopping in the electronic music scene any time soon.

Intro | Pioneers 70s-80s | 90s-2000s (Techno, Jungle/DnB, Trip-Hop) | 90s-2000s (Trance, Poptronica, Heavy Electro / Dubstep)

Now, this is a very minimal list. There is truly a vast amount of historical information for us to unearth. We could go on about the various songs that shaped electronic music history, and there are certainly a ton more that deserve a spot on this list. We hope you enjoyed our flashback in time through electronic music history. For more historical facts, check out our newest segment, “This Month in Electronic Music History, Vol. 1.” What songs do you feel like shaped electronic music history? Are there other classics that you find viable to modern EDM? Share your links to tracks with us in the comments below!

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