So, what is this about? It’s a top-ten list for genres that I think might benefit from being made into electronic genres – now, before you think I’m talking about throwing a house beat on top of a bunch of non-electronic samples, believe me – that’s NOT what I’m talking about. That would be a “Top Ten Genres That Should Be Remixed,” or something to that affect. I’m talking about remaking a particular genre, but with electronic tools and synthesizers. Fully self-actualized styles. Why? Because I enjoy electronic music, the sound of the kick drums, the tastiness of the synthesizers, and the physicality of the overbearing basslines.
All in all, there are a few genres I’ve listed that do have some entanglement with electronic elements, but when I say ‘plugged in,’ I’m talking about really giving these style the ol’ electronica shine down. Really givin’ them the ol’ rinse, and not just in some arbitrary way, the way a lot of old 90s rock bands “had a DJ” and OCCASIONALLY let him scratch for about 8 seconds before the refrain, no! The only thing that upsets my stomach more than that is ghost pepper! And at least with that, I get to taste some real spice before I invariably suffer, a few hours later, in the bathroom.
I’m talking about truly incorporating electronic techniques and structures into a wide variety of musical genres, both modern and older. So, with that, let’s get to it.
Now, if you haven’t heard of soukous, don’t feel too stupid, as it hasn’t exactly destroyed the American pop charts yet. But that’s fine! In fact, I shudder to think what awful things R Kelly or ‘The Bieb’ would do to a genre like soukous, were it ever to gain popularity in the West…
Soukous literally translates to ‘shake,’ and it’s from the French Congo and Belgian Congo. It’s from the 1930s, but is still played today, and it just sounds so nice, especially how they play the guitars. I remember turning some of this music on, going to bed, and as I woke with soukous tunes playing, I was put in such a wonderful mood! Now, think about that light, breezy sound of African soukous music – but with the advances of electronic techniques, like dub effects or buzzed guitars or some ambient feedback. Not altogether necessary, but it could be a lot of fun!
I’m talking about the forward thinking / post-big band jazz sounds of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Again, not just some corny remix with a breakbeat on top of a hard bop jazz piano loop; but instead, an electronic cacophony of odd time signatures and frantic note-killing square synthesizers bubbling over complex rhythms of 606 snares and 808 kicks and basses. It would be like breakcore without the punk rock sound, maybe a “mature” breakcore hybrid? I don’t know… But whatever it would sound like, I would be down.
And no, it probably wouldn’t be something Deadmau5 would want to throw down after playing some electro-house anthems that were specifically designed for a bunch of screaming fans (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but bop was traditionally music that was played in reaction to the big club sound. It was experimental, it could go wild, and it was always interesting and cutting edge – so, too, could be the incredible sounds of BopStep. (Note: Please don’t call it bopstep. Pleeeease.)
3. Medieval Music
Think of it – loots and breaks, medieval costumes, ecstasy, jousting, and glow sticks! Come on, doesn’t that sound pretty fucking spectacular? Actually, I suppose you could achieve a very similar effect by having a rave at the Renaissance Festival. Hmmm….
4. Bossa Nova
Alright, another breezy, upbeat genre that electronic music hasn’t really touched. Yes, there have been a few exceptions – but mostly exceptions involving some old bossa nova samples thrown atop some breaks and bass loops… Nothing wrong with that except its just remix-music. Why not an original track? Electronic music can sound truly wonderful when it takes on a ambient, lighthearted mellow demeanor. Look at some of the slower Ninja Tunes stuff… or, whatever ‘illbient’ music is. It sounds nice, and a rave-a-nova could also be quite fun.
5. Gabber (wait, let me explain)
Ok, ok. Gabber is as electronic as you can get, right? Well, yea. So here’s the flip – what if it were done non-electronically? What if gabber were done up with the harsh but human sounds of rock music? A quick, repetitive staccato bass, done with a guitar and a drum set. I know it’s the opposite of the theme, but this whole thing is just for fun, and this one might make you think about gabber differently… for a minute… if you were even thinking about gabber, at all, which you were not. Is your mind blown yet? It’s not? Really?! C’mon, gabber rock!
And if you’re thinking to yourself, “what the hell is this? Is this a joke?” The answer is, “Yes, sort of. But it would still be cool, if…”
Alright, so back on theme – no one’s played any ragtime in a hundred years! No wonder we’re in a recession…
This old style of catchy and melodic pop music might fair well, in an ironic way, if made distorted and hardcore. At least, I would definitely give it a listen. Wouldn’t you? A super-angry rendition of Maple Leaf Rag – you honestly wouldn’t be curious as to what the hell THAT would sound like?
Here’s an idea that might thrill some and irritate others. Combine the rugged and thrashing power of grunge rock with the sounds familiar to the rave scene. Does that sound ridiculous? Perhaps, but it’s worked wonders with the few examples that have actually come out already! Yes, that’s right, it’s been done, a couple of times… I think it could go way further, if anyone wanted it to. I released the ‘Grungestep Compilation,’ on a label I ran, Soul Outsider Records, and it was hugely controversial. Tons of people enjoyed, and many people fucking hated it. I mean, REALLY hated it. I remember posting the idea on a forum, and one person responded saying I was basically “a corporate asshole, trying to sellout grunge.” Ha! Wow! I didn’t put any money into it, and I gave the whole thing away for free, but I’m a corporate asshole! Nice.
After that, I made an album (with grunge samples) creating unique songs, not just remixes. In between these two releases, I found a Lil Wayne mixtape where he raps over a grunge-loops-put-to-hip-hop-beats format. Not sure if he signed off on it, or if someone just went ahead without his permission. It’s happened before. The point is – the ideas of grunge don’t have to be foreign to the language of electronic music. Maybe what edm needs is some grit added to it’s clean synth sound. (It worked for dubstep!)
8. Funky Rap Metal
Fundamentally an open minded sound; what else could you ask for in the early 90s in music? You got your hip hop, you got your hardcore metal, and you got some incredibly delicious funk smeared all over it. You could make it grandiose and socially conscious, like Rage Against the Machine, or you could make it personally reflective and gritty, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or you could, well, you could make it annoying, like Limp Bizkit… (though they were never really that ‘funky’)
The point is, a style of music as wide-ranging as this was might be open to some of the advancements in music of the last fifteen years – keep the funk, keep the metal, the hip hop and rap – but maybe put a subbass in there, make it grimey, and try to see if you could add some bitcrushed vocoders to the mix. It would be the sound of fucking lightning. Yea, you heard me! Even a sparsely used wobble, from time to time (note: and I really mean ‘from time to time’) might not hurt, either. Hell, you know the wobble would make this new hybrid genre poppy enough to be in a Spider-Man movie preview in no time! Just don’t call it, “Wobble Against the Machine.” That would be fucking stupid.
9. Parliament-Style Funk
I don’t care how; just bring it back! It was done in the 90s with G-Funk by artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Nate Dogg. If you think about, they were able to make a major impact on rap music, considering they were all pretty much working together in California. It goes along with the little-known reality that much of the cultural change that we see in the world starts out, basically, from small groups of people. The Beats contribute a whole genre of literature, and how many of them were there? Not that many, at first, and most of them were friends, hanging out and writing.
So, yes, PFunk was definitely open-minded to electronic techniques, but it’s been almost thirty years since Atomic Dog, and what the world needs now is more PFunk. Make it BFunk, CFunk, or even DFunk. Whatever. Just bring it back, now! And plug it in even more than before!
10. Brazilian Psychedelia
In the late 60s and 70s, Brazilian groups such as Os Mutantes created masterfully tripped-out and cut-up gems that would’ve excited the Beatles – hell, the Beatles probably loved some of this stuff, and I’d ask them if I could what they thought of it, if bring the two best Beatles back to life… This style of music floored 90s-music-god, Beck, as well. When he first heard Os Mutantes, he couldn’t stop listening to them, over and over, and over and over and over, until he ingrained the psychedelic Brazilian musical sensibility deep into his psyche, releasing tunes like, ‘Tropicalia,’ and having, overall, a strong influence from these tunes in much of his music.
So, what needs to happen is this: somebody needs to do to Brazilian Psychedelic music what hip hop artists from the 70s and 80s did to funk music – sample the hell out of the best bits and pieces of the genre, and create a new form of music that will surely stun the world. Another name for this article should have been, “Ten Ways to Make a Million Dollars and Change the Landscape of Music: A Blueprint: You’re Welcome.”
Ok, maybe that’s overreaching. But you get the idea. It would be dope as fuck. If you do it, I won’t even sue you if you take credit for coming up with the idea! All I ask is that you mentioned StrangeFlow and “that wonderful Bassadelic blog, of which I gathered so much inspiration…”