Is Deep House The Walking Dead

Is Deep House The Walking Dead

Eoin Brennan

January 22nd, 2014


If anyone has been reading lately, the only thing that seems to be coming across in a big way, is an undeniable underlying tension within the dance music industry.

In terms of the big stuff, we have EDM being bagged, constantly for wrecking our beloved scene, we have the commercial success of dance music in general being scourned at by the underground, the MWMC  having a mixed reception last year and Las Vegas becoming the big get-to place for stadium Dj’s.

I have read all about the death of EDM, (thank God), and we have already touched on this in our previous blog post, but maybe its time that the underground address the issues that they are facing on their own turf. The question that has been cropping up more and more is the deep house genre.

If we look at the modern twist on deep house, its hard to make a comparison between what you were buying 5 years ago that was classed as deep house and what you are getting now. It seems that deep house has gone the way of the EDM blueprint for sucess and demise. 1. Make a big tune that everybody buys because it is different,. 2. Copy that structure and sound. 3. Play it to death until everyone falls overboard with boredom. 4. Panic and have a coronary trying to establish the next direction for dance music.

In the case of modern deep house that blue print seems to be a chunky rolling beat layered from some basic oldskool 808 sounds, a bottom end FM style bass with a few interchanges, minimal efx , a plethora of box ready chord presets with a high end pad in the background and a vocal that has been knocked down a few semi-tones to make it unregonisable and sometimes ridiculously hard to understand.

We all know that genres come and go but it seems these days its a bit all or nothing. Lets drift back about 10 years and use that as a approx starting point.

Prior to that year  we had just as many genres, (maybe not as many) but enought to give us a wide and vast array of different tastes, sounds and likes or dislikes. These were the days when Beatport was for Dj’s and house enthusiasts only. The days when you could surf across 4 or five different genres and get quality in the top 10s that were significantly unique. These were the days when a genre didnt define the sound that should be made but more a rough guide on what you should be doing to fit that description.

People can obviously disagree with me, but as a blogger, I am seeing it from my historical perspective. Minimal came in and all of a sudden there was a parting of the seas. The Hed Kandi clubbers were the old EDM’ers and the Techno heads were the proper underground. Proper progressive and what we term now as classic house seemed to sit in the middle and not really swing either way.  Then came tech house and with the likes of Toolroom and Steve Lawler, there brought  a slight dignity back into the scene. We started seeing a cross over again in 2006 and DJ sets were back to being mixed bags. I remember seeing Sebastien Leger in the Stiff Kitten in Belfast. He played his usual high pace tech driven warpy sound but then finnished off his set with a Erik Prydz track that brought the house down. It really was great to see a true Dj, being able to give the audience a change of direction with so much ease. BTW I didnt  forget to mention electro house. Thats a whole other subject and in reality, my mum always told me never to say bad words! Oops, just did!!

But this is where we start to see what commercial success and sales can do for a somewhat star driven scene. While people like Steve Lawler continued to diversify and push the genres boundaries, Toolroom seemed to go the opposite way. They created a commercial tech house sound that everyone started to copy. Go two years down the line and you see the charts completely corrupted with this carbon copy nonsence. Then suddenly it fell flat on its ass.

In all fairness to Tech house though, it has dusted itself off and seems to be stable again. With the likes of Coyu, Dossim, Edu Imbermon and Labels like Get Physical and Noir, Great Stuff and Diynamic keeping things real and making the genres boundaries wide and creative.

Back to deep house cause i gotta do some work soon! So with the emergence of a new generation of young dance entusiasts came a realisation that something new was needed. They needed their own identity and something that they could say they invented…..or updated more to the point. Im specifically talking about deep house so in the context of this blog lets forget Dubstep and all the other cross overs exist. What emerges is a great transition to slower paced chunky deep grooves with a bass rich funk that grabs everyones attention. These kids arent so much into glow sticks and vicks but more into coolness and hipsterism. I wouldnt be the only person in the world closer to 40 than 30 who loved the classic sounds coming back to the fore. It was almost like someone sneaked into your loft, dusted off your 12 inches from back in the day and polished them up to sound more modern but still amazing!

There was a good 2-years where i couldnt get enough of that sound. I even did a deep house course in pointblank to understand how to get there production wise. But no sooner than i had completed the course and there were already murmurs in the industry that this thing was going too get too big for its own boots and go the way of the dodo. Artists like Tube and Berger still comment that they like the fact that vocals and melody have pushed the minimal sound back into the cupboard and I suppose that could be true in a way ,though I think minimal is starting to return in a way as a deep house minimal crossover and the original DC10 type deejays that brought it to us are all still going strong.

The crossover to deep house / garage may be the only saviour for deep house as it seems to be the way the kids wanna go. It definitely isnt going the more progressive sounding way, though I have noticed that tech and the proper progressive end of the genre pools trying to emalgimate with it to create some sort of balance that gives a better reflection of what the modern version maybe should have been hoping for.

So in terms of the modern deep house blue print and as the blog title says,i honestly think deep house is definetely the walking dead. Of course this is no news to most of you but trying to find an article that directly responds to those opinions on the net is hard to come by. Hence my subject matter this week.

If deep house returns to its rightful place as the benchmark for underground house music and the building blocks for all the genres like it used to be, I will be very happy but unfortunately I think its going to have to go down before it comes up again.

Hopefully the original producers of deep house are rubbing their hands and smiling. They will be looking forward to getting back to work and defining the genre again after all the big fuss. They will be saying to each other thank Fxxk for that now lets bring it back again but this time lets not tell anyone. The same can be said for the industry as a whole. While techno is always going to be here, I just wonder if the bigger heads in the industry that are more concerned with money than music are scheming about a new hybrid to pump out to the masses and get rich on.

Word of warning though! The only thing with techno heads is that its a bit like fighting a battle with a rotweiller instead of a deep house jack russell. Techno enthusiasts wont be so willing to let it go!


Second Nature Records



  1. Luka Sambe says:

    Great read Eoin, really enjoyed that, i agree with almost everything you have said.
    It seems that once a certain style of a certain genre breaks the beatport top 10, people definitely notice that, and they copy that….i dont think there is anything wrong with that as we are hearing some great tracks from some really great producers, but it should evolve, and quickly..
    In my opinion, i think it gets very old, very fast because the speed of evolution is way too slow….
    Big prog and electro tracks are still using the heavy kicks and bass on the kick, with no baseline, i admit, i loved it when it came out, real heavy party music, but that was a good 3 years ago, it needs to evolve faster i think….As long as the hungry American market is churning out gigs for this then you cant really blmae these producers/djs who are setting themselves up for very early retirement…

  2. Kissifer says:

    Decent article and a point well made. Dance music will be forever changing, its now a solid part of culture and fashion, as such certain areas will rise and fall in time, within the mode that the fashionistas with their fake tits tans and teeth decree. The true dance music scene, for me, is in those dark and dingy clubs, scruffy sweat laden Stussy tees and dirty converse chuck tailors, stomping along to the underground beat, supplied by the DJ who is in it for the love of wax, not paper. The recent rise and equally fast plumet back down, in popularity of EDM and Deep House, shows just how false that modern society and pop culture are. They’ll never grasp the underground scene and what it stands for. I love the traditional deep house sound, I always will, but then I love all forms of electronica, except electro. No one really likes electro.

  3. Eoin Brennan says:

    Chris your a master of words!! Great reply thanks!

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