March 28, 2023
Blog by Thomas Lack
Today, we’re celebrating the release of Draft Funk: the third in our Pop 40 series of production drum kits. Following the first two Pop 40 instruments (Aria Grand and Boogie Mars), this new collection is inspired by the world of EDM and some other genres that have been evolving from the 90’s to the present day. It features five incredible kits that are sure to take your tracks to the next level. You can see it in action here! One of the principal ideas of the whole Pop 40 line is to bridge the gap between pre-made loops and custom drum beats - offering the ease of loops, but without sacrificing the freedom of a true kit. With Pop 40, you'll be free to explore all kinds of rhythmic possibilities without the constraints of repetitive drum loops.
Electronic dance music, or EDM for short, is a pretty broad umbrella term these days. There is a huge variety of sub-genres that have emerged and evolved over the years, so there’s something to satisfy just about anyone. EDM has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the underground dance scenes of the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it's a global phenomenon that dominates the charts and draws huge crowds to festivals and concerts around the world. But how did this genre of music evolve from its early days to become one of the most popular forms of music on the planet? Let’s take a quick look…
The Rise of EDM
The roots of EDM can be traced back to the disco era of the 1970s, when DJs would mix and remix disco tracks to create extended dance versions that were perfect for clubs and parties. As technology improved, so did the ability of DJs to mix and manipulate music. In the 1980s, electronic instruments like synthesizers and drum machines were slowly becoming more affordable and accessible, which opened up the doors for enthusiastic musicians to get in the game. It was during this time that sub-genres like house and techno began to emerge.
One of the most significant early moments in the history of EDM was the release of Acid Tracks by Phuture in 1987. This track was one of the first to feature the Roland TB-303 synthesizer, which would go on to become an iconic sound in electronic music. "Acid Tracks" was a huge hit in Chicago's underground dance scene, and it helped to launch the acid house movement, which would go on to have a significant influence on EDM as a whole.
Throughout the 1990s, EDM continued to evolve and expand, with new sub-genres like trance, drum and bass, and jungle emerging. EDM was slowly but surely starting to make its way into the mainstream, thanks in large part to the success of acts like The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, and The Chemical Brothers. These acts brought a new level of energy and excitement to dance music, and their tracks became staples in clubs and at raves around the world.
One of the most important moments in the history of EDM and its rise to mainstream popularity came in 1997, with the release of Around the World by Daft Punk. This track, along with the accompanying music video, was a huge hit, and it helped to introduce a whole new generation of music fans to the world of EDM. The infectious beat, strong bassline, and even the simple lyrics (or maybe, just lyric) all hit the sweet spot for something you could dance to in a club, or enjoy on the radio. Daft Punk would go on to become one of the most influential and successful acts in the genre, with hits like One More Time (2000) Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (2001) and Get Lucky (2013). They even did the score to the 2010 film Tron Legacy, demonstrating both their synthetic and orchestral chops. One might say the French Duo is one of, if not the most influential artists in the genre. Even though their last album was released in 2013, the formal end of Daft Punk in 2021 was a real blow to fans all ove the world.
The late 90’s and 2000’s saw EDM continue to grow and expand, with new sub-genres like dubstep and electro house emerging. It was also during this time that EDM began to have a significant impact on Top 40 music, with tracks like Sandstorm by Darude (which you have definitely heard, even if you do not recognize the title or artist) and Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay (which you have probably heard) becoming massive hits around the world.
You know when you like something that’s moderately but not mega-popular, and then a big hit comes along and now it is super popular, but you can’t help but feel underwhelmed and struggle to really understand why that one example of all things somehow pushed it onto the world stage, when there are so many other amazing songs that you wish more people knew about? Unrelated, in 2009, EDM experienced a major moment of mainstream success with the release of I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas. This track, which features an infectious beat and catchy lyrics according to many people, was a huge hit around the world, and it helped to cement EDM's place in popular music. In the years that followed, EDM would dominate the charts more and more, with acts like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Avicii becoming popular online.
So, what makes EDM so appealing? One reason is its ability to bring people together and create a sense of community - a trait it shares with one of its predecessors: Disco. EDM festivals and concerts are known for their lively and energetic crowds, and the music often inspires a sense of unity and shared experience. And of course, the D in EDM isn’t just there for show. Another reason is the genre's versatility and adaptability. EDM is such a broad term on its own, and EDM elements can be incorporated into a wide variety of other genres, from pop to hip-hop to rock, making it accessible to a broad audience.
However, there are also criticisms of EDM, particularly around its commercialization and mainstream success. Some argue that the genre has become too focused on big drops and catchy hooks, and has lost its underground roots and experimental spirit. Some dubstep fans lament the change from early dubstep to what is more popular now, but perhaps that is a topic for another time. At the same time, 2020 was a big year for online music, and a lot of artists found their own niches and passions, igniting a new kind of creative spirit across several genres.