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What is the “Underground” Really?

We often see promoters, music fans, blogs, news outlets and artists use the word “underground” in the context of electronic music, yet the meaning of the word can vary depending on the context used.

More often than not, the connotation attached to the term is that akin of a stamp of approval, signifying that the sound/music in question is pure, genuine and stands on an honest backbone of creativity that has not been marred by any type of commercialism. But in some circles the word “underground” is used to refer to music played at non-legal venues, while the same type of music by the very same artists can be found at mega-stages and parties somewhere else in the world, leading to confusion as to what truly constitutes the “underground”. On the other side of the coin, and in more commercial circles, the “underground” label can be attached to a scene that is out of touch with the rest of the world, a scene that is seen as unpolished, un-professional, dangerous and, in some cases, even “dirty.”

In this article we examine some of the positions adopted on the subject:

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What You Can Do To Help Keep The Underground Alive

As the underground techno and house scene in the United States continues to grow, it’s vitally important that every single person involved understands proper etiquette and rules of conduct when attending such events.

By definition alone, the moment the “underground” isn’t underground anymore it ceases to exist, and all it takes is careless behavior to bring unnecessary light to great events occurring in your city. Promoters are undoubtedly responsible for ensuring that every single event they put on is planned and executed with attendee safety as a first priority, but they also need your help in ensuring that the event goes smoothly and becomes one of a series, rather than a single burning flame destined for no future.

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Are We Taking The Underground Scene Too Seriously? – An Interview with Austin Gebbia (Dear Morni)

The mere mention of clubbing and nightlife evokes thoughts of dark rooms, a dance floor filled with black-clad partygoers, sunglasses and a sense of elitism that would put the Royal family to shame. In all fairness, it’s hard to not imagine nightlife, and in particularly the techno scene, as a truly serious affair. But is it really?

Early last year, I encountered a seemingly bizarre Twitter account that used the handle @DearMorni. Whoever this Dear Morni was, they clearly enjoyed making crude yet pin-pointed jokes at the expense of the DJs, clubs, and really anything that was dance music related with a focus on underground house and techno. The more tweets I read, the more I laughed. The jokes were all brutal yet innocent, and always contained at least a pinch of truth. Most were accompanied by haphazard memes that were also getting love on Dear Morni’s Instagram account. The photoshop job on each was boorish but I could sense it was part of gig  – there was sure nothing serious about Dear Morni.

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The Underground Electronic Music Scene Needs More Collaborations

“Let’s link up and collaborate!”

Yes I am completely aware of how stereotypical that sounds, but given the climate of the electronic music industry we live in today, the need for collaboration is higher than ever.

Here is a simple truth: promoters can choose to view everyone else around them as competition or, instead, as essential elements in nurturing the scene they themselves are a part of. In the United States the more underground sounds of electronic music are still playing catch up to the EDM beast that exploded shortly after the turn of the new century. Every week I hear and read comments from house and techno fans asking for bigger and more, especially when they compares the United States’ scene with that of Europe. They want bigger events, more production and, more importantly, acts that don’t tour in the States often. Let’s be honest here though, these acts are either really expensive to bring Stateside or are simply too high a risk for the promoter as they don’t promise high enough attendance to make the booking viable.

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30 Essential Underground Dance Music Venues in the United States

 

After featuring 25 essential clubbing destinations for house and techno in Asia, it’s now time to highlight our very own underground dance music scene here in the States.

While we originally narrowed down our list to 23 essential underground dance music destinations, we recently expanded it to a total of 30 venues you should take the time to visit for techno and house here in the United States. Here they are in alphabetical order by city:

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Watch This Documentary About Glasgow’s Thriving Underground After-Hours Scene

 

Glasgow, a city that truly knows how to party.

The largest city in Scotland is known to be a hot-bed for skillful DJs and producers, in large part thanks to a thriving nightlife scene with several world-renowned clubs the likes of Sub Club, La Cheetah and SWG3.

But beyond the clubs, there’s a deep underground after-hours scene that is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about in the world. i-D has decided to explore this late-night/early-morning world through a mini-documentary that dives deep into the city’s underground scene and the players that are making it shine.

“Discontent with the current political climate, they are artfully rebelling, reclaiming the city and throwing illegal after-hours parties. In this love letter to inner-city Scottish misfits, we discover more about the ripple effects of regeneration on Glaswegian youth culture.” — i-D

Watch the documentary in full below:

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Hector Moralez to Headline Warehouse Party for Sacred Grounds in Downtown Los Angeles

Hector Moralez

The thriving Los Angeles warehouse party scene is in full throttle this summer, each weekend providing an array of options to please even the most discerning of underground techno and house fans.

Coming up next week, on Saturday 20th of August, is the long awaited return of Siren, a party series hosted by Sacred Grounds LA. Headlining the night, which will take place at a yet-to-be-announced private DTLA space, is none other than Hector Moralez, whose 2013 debut album with Chris Carrier on the acclaimed French imprint Apollonia created waves throughout the international house music scene. The LP spawned a new live show, a first for Hector and a testament to his vision of constantly pushing boundaries and creating new sounds.

With support from some of the genre’s greatest, including DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter, Doc Martin, Dan Ghenacia, Apollonia, Chris Carrier, Mark Farina, Diz and DJ Heather, Moralez has gone on to release on Magnetic Recordings, Robsoul Recordings, Get Physical and Roush just to name a few. Joining him on the decks for the event that runs 10pm-6am will be Sacred Grounds’ very own G-Dubbs, Pots ‘n Kettles’ Destrada – who will be playing a special birthday set – and Fine Time’s Tahl K.

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Created in 1995 with the vision of bringing people of all walks of life together through the love of house music, Sacred Grounds remains one of the longest running parties in Los Angeles. In the past they have hosted artists the likes of Derrick Carter, DJ Pierre, Sonny Fodera, Phil Weeks and Drumcell just to name a few. Their 20 Year Anniversary party at Lot 613 this past September featured none other than a 2×6 set by house veterans Doc Martina and Mark Farina to a packed house.

If you’re searching for that true Los Angeles underground house vibe then look no further than Siren by Sacred Grounds. Expect a true multi-cultural and visceral experience where emphasis is on quality of music, inclusion and the total focus and respect for the culture of house music.

Early bird tickets are on sale now via Resident Advisor. Make sure you check out the official Facebook Event for more info and RSVP that you’re going!

Connect with Sacred Grounds LA: Resident Advisor | Facebook | Twitter

Connect with Hector Moralez: Resident Advisor | Facebook | TwitterSoundCloud

#TBT Series: What Was It Like to Party in New York City in the Early 90’s?

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The world of electronic and dance music has changed and evolved tremendously over the last forty years. We have seen it all: from the disco days of the early 70s to today’s popularity of EDM, via the birth of house in Chicago and the golden era of techno in nearby Detroit.

There is no argument that in 2016 we are witnessing electronic music live through somewhat of a “back-to-basics” movement highlighted by the growing resurgence in popularity of real house and techno. But how different were things back in the day, before dance and electronic music became a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry?

Our new #TBT series will seek to give readers a glimpse of what it was like to have stepped on some of the most iconic dance floors of the past. The idea is to provide a window through photos and videos, and to allow you to draw the lines that make up the differences and similarities between then and now. Perhaps, for a smaller percentage of you, this will also be a welcome voyage down memory lane.

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Our first trip takes us back to NYC in the early 90s, a place where house music and techno were in full swing and where things were truly underground. First up is a video from one of Save the Robots iconic after-hours in the city’s East Village neighborhood. 1993 was the last year of operation for the social club, having lived for almost 10 years as one of the city’s top destinations for ravers seeking to keep the party going past 4am. If you partied in the Big Apple in the late 80s to early 90s, chances are you made it inside Save the Robots at least once. And if you did, it’s possible you first had to get past late night talk-show host Craig Ferguson who worked as a bouncer there for a period of time.

 

 

While the video speaks for itself, there is absolutely no denying that the music played remains timeless. If you were to play the video’s sound for someone, you couldn’t fault them for thinking they were perhaps watching a Movement after-party video from last May. The video was shot by none other than promoter, producer and club-owner DJ Scotto, one of the founding fathers of pre-EDM rave culture.

Not coincidentally, the next video was shot only three months later at Scotto’s legendary loft party in June 1993. This one-off night was born out of necessity when the owner of Roxy, a venue Scotto had booked for a Monday night event, canceled last minute leaving the producer with no choice but to use his own loft as home of the party. He put neighbors up in hotels and the rest, as they say, is history: an insane night that saw the likes of Frankie Bones, Moby, Joeski and Scotto among others play sets that went deep into the next afternoon.

 

 

These two videos offer just a small inkling of what it must have been like to live during New York City’s rave scene of the 90s. Scotto played a pivotal role as a pioneer of what was to become the almost bigger-than-itself world of EDM that we live in today. He owned NASA, known as being the 90s club version of Studio 54, and played a role in launching the career of Chloe Sevigny who used to work the door for him at the time (you can see her in the second video above). He went on to produce Ravestock at Woodstock and played in front of hundreds of thousands at Woodstock’s South Main Stage.

He has since appeared in articles by Rolling Stones, Spin, The New York Times and The Washington Post where he has offered an important voice and on the growth of dance music to what it is today. You can learn more about his work and NYC’s rave heydays of the 90’s through his website, Facebook page or YouTube channel.

New Tokyo Club, Contact, Opening Next Month

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One of Tokyo’s iconic clubs, Air, closed last year with one final hurrah on New Year’s Eve. It has now been announced that Global Hearts, the company behind Air, is opening a brand new concept club next month in the city’s area of Shibuya.

The new basement venue, Contact, features a main space, a smaller bar area and will adopt the no-photography policy that has been widely praised in select world clubs such as Berghain/Panorama Bar and Output in New York City.

In an interview with Resident Advisor,  the club’s director Yuko Ichikawa explained the vision behind the new venue. “We’d like to create a space where everyone can easily come and enjoy the music without any concerns. A place where you forget that you even have a mobile phone to ‘take pictures.’ There will be a policy for no cameras/video recordings/etc., but we will hire professional photographers. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind the photographers forgetting to take pictures because they get sucked into the music and the environment,” he said. “There are no resident DJs at the moment. We want Contact to be a venue where young DJs would work hard and be proud to stand inside the DJ booth. A place where the DJs can grow alongside the venue, and eventually call it their ‘home.'”

Contact will launch things off on Friday, April 1st, with Ostgun Ton’s Function on headlining duties. The following two months’ programming alone highlight the impressive focus on quality from the club’s booking perspective, with Francois K, Laurent Garnier, Louie Vega and DJ Nori joining Dekmantel and Giegling showcases to round up the month of April. In May, the club is set to play host to DJ Nobu, efdemin, Erika and Derrick Carter just to name a few.

For full lineup details for April and May, head to the Contact’s club page on RA.

Connect with Contact: Online | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Must See Underground Artists at Coachella

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It’s that time of year where many music enthusiasts make the great migration to Indio, California for the annual Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Considered one of the premier festivals in the United States, Coachella consistently sets the bar for festivals with their production and bookings ranging from AC/DC and Alt-J to Ben Klock and Danny Tenaglia. To describe the Coachella lineup as diverse would be an understatement; with so much music to discover and enjoy, the three-day festival extravaganza is one of the most anticipated weekends of the year.

Like any festival, we begin to lose our minds thinking about what sets we want to see most. So to assist in the decision making process we’ve compiled our Coachella Weekend 1 battle plan complete with our must-see underground acts of the weekend.

Editors Note: Coachella Weekend 1 set times have been added to the bottom of this post Read more