What is the origin of Electro House

History: Deep House - a term in transition

Deep house. The doorbell rings at this keyword. From the electro-savvy to the casual radio listeners, deep house has become a household name for many. Hardly any genre from the techno / house cosmos has enjoyed such popularity and such immense growth in recent years. With its rapid expansion, however, came the problem that the term as such became increasingly vague.

The history of electronic music goes back a long way and includes numerous artists, genres and varieties. In this section we want to bring you closer to individual historical aspects and put them in the context of current techno and house music. In each article in the 'History' series, we delve into a specific point in time or genre in order to make the history of electronic music more tangible.

What is deep house anyway?

If you ask this question across generations and scenes, very different answers are given and tracks are played that have little in common. The deep house in the panorama bar will sound completely different from a deep house party in the Go Parc. Nevertheless, you can find enthusiastic fans of the genre at both locations who have a clear idea of ​​deep house and its sound. Over the years since its inception, the term has taken on more and more forms and has been embedded in ever new contexts.

For purists and contemporary witnesses, one thing is clear: Deep House, that is Chicago on the threshold of the 90s, mixed with something New York and Detroit. Another group currently locates the genre in Europe. Names like Âme, Solomun or keineusik are used here. The majority of the audience (the group outside the scene), however, knows deep house from the radio. Wankelmut, Klangkarussell, Bakermat or Robin Schulz should be mentioned here.

So how do we deal with this mass of different views and bring order to the chaos? There are now some explanations, but these do not do justice to the whole phenomenon. In order to approach these approaches, however, a basic overview of the development and difference of the various deep house styles is required. The history of the genre has of course not always been linear and can hardly be mapped in the details, but Deep House can be roughly divided into three different phases:

1. The beginning - The Chicago, New York, Detroit axis

The beginning of deep house is generally dated back to 1986. In Chicago around this time, house rose from disco and funk music. In addition to pioneers such as Frankie Knuckles or Marshall Jefferson, a certain Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers (or together with the singers Robert Owens and Ron Wilson as Fingers Inc.) also attracts attention. With his track "Can You Feel It" he is still considered the founder of deep house.



In contrast to other contemporary house productions, e.g. by Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard impresses with special peculiarities: the leisurely pace, the jazzy sound and the idiosyncratic harmonic aesthetics created by pitching the sampled chords (a chord is in the same position pitched to different pitches, leaving the diatonic space), are characteristic of this form of deep house to this day. In the following years the style spilled through the USA and found new artists in New York and Detroit who took up, processed and changed the genre. At the beginning of the 90s, Kerri Chandler appeared on the scene, his idea of ​​deep house, which mingled with New York's Garage House, became internationally known and Chandler is still considered one of the greatest deep house artists.



In the mid-90s, Detroit also got two of the most famous deep house producers in Theo Parrish and Moodymann. The Chicago-born Parrish with his strong connection to jazz and Moodymann with his penchant for idiosyncratic sampling each bring a new approach to deep house. Both share their complexity, which they add to the genre. They break with the usual four to the floor, occasionally make use of Detroit techno and play with song structures. Their tracks vary from groovy-catchy to bulky. Despite their playfulness and independence, they almost always remain true to their roots in their work. Soul samples, jazz harmonies and black culture pervade their entire discography, connecting them to the origins of house music.


2. The European style - fusion with techno

At the end of the 2000s, a new style of deep house developed mostly in Europe and Germany. What is striking here is the partial departure from the formative jazz harmonies of the original deep house. Instead of the Black Culture roots, the European style is based more and more on "simple" harmonic references and moves more in the diatonic space already mentioned. At the same time, this style moves away from the organic component evoked by soul and funk samples. Rather, the "modern" deep house mixes much more strongly with techno and techhouse music. The tracks are much cooler and more technoid, the grooves are often more complicated and the quality of the productions is towards the high-end.



Labels such as Innervisions, Diynamik or Life and Death represent a new wave in the techno house scene. Since their music can neither be assigned to the hardness of techno nor the disco touch of house, a blank space is created, which was quickly filled with the term deep house. Since this house does not match the existing term, there has to be another explanation for the categorization, which can best be explained with the common theme or basic premise of the current Deep House. The "deep" can be explained with an emotional or sound aesthetic "depth". The dominant factor is the often gloomy mood and a strong melancholy approach in the music. Modern deep house is most clearly differentiated from its roots through the use of vocals. Instead of samples from old soul records, the vocals are mostly sung for the track and their style can best be assigned to indie rock / pop.



Catchy melodies and vocals ultimately lead to the immense popularity that the deep house sound has enjoyed since the mid-2010s. No other genre of independent club music experienced such a boom as deep house. The scene produced more and more hits and then, in its final consequence, developed into radio pop.


3. The pop - deep house in commercial areas

In addition to hits by Solomon, Koletzki and Co., which approach pop but can still be found in the house / techno scene, artists such as Bakermat, Robin Schulz and Wankelmut also come into the public eye. With them, the sound came on television at the beginning of the 2010s, ran on the radio, stormed the charts worldwide and made a few protagonists very rich.

The gloomy atmosphere gives way to relaxed warmth, cool synth pads become organic samples from guitar or saxophone and the sad melancholy is replaced by a poppy longing for the beautiful. Harmoniously and structurally set tracks such asOne Day (Reconing Song) mainly on simplification and use mostly vocals from the singer-songwriter scene. The songs can be easily broken down to a radio edit and - if you will - can only be described as house by choosing the basic beat.


Explanatory approaches and their shortcomings

So deep house is diverse. The term was and is subject to historical change and depends above all on the perspective of the listener.

It is not felt that way everywhere: In another declaration, the authority to interpret the term is simply claimed for itself. There would be a "real" deep house, the rest is fake. The argument here is more from a chronological point of view. Deep House in its original form (i.e. the time of its creation) is the pure form, the real and the true. Here, however, it is not recognized that such genre names are always subject to temporal and social change. The subtext of a term changes constantly and is always filled with new content. So there does not seem to be a simple explanation of what exactly deep house means, there is no absolute right to be determined. More can be achieved by taking a historical look at the genre: This allows the various contexts to be classified and their relationship to the unifying conceptDeep housebe clarified.