‘The golden era’. What does that phrase really mean? Used often to describe the peak of ‘EDM’ back in 2011-2014, the golden era is an ever-present, but the genre it represents is changing rapidly. From the progressive and big room craze of the early 2010’s, to the emerging tropical house scene, not forgetting the domination of future house, the hot topic within the electronic music world has taken yet another twist over previous years, and undoubtably has hit its peak. The unrivalled rise of a modern age of techno over the last few years has taken the world by storm, and the ‘golden era’ of thumping kicks, industrial elements, and captivating stage presences is upon us.
Though techno has remained at the forefront of electronic music for some time, its notability amongst the more sporadic listeners was largely diminished. The lack of commercial sound that comes with techno often led it away from the typical chart listener, however with a sweeping wave of new events, stronger festival line ups, and dynamic structures populating many countries such as the UK, techno is taking over. The influence of female DJs within this scene has also seen a massive boost in festival bookings, with the likes of Russia’s Nina Kraviz, and Belgium’s Amelie Lens and Charlotte De Witte pushing ahead of the male techno DJs in the festival bookings department. In fact, Kraviz was the most booked festival DJ of 2018, playing 35 festivals (according to Festicket), revealed in the recent International Music Summit Business Report. At almost double the top performing band – The Killers (18) – and ahead of her genre counterparts Lens (27) and De Witte (24), the rise of techno is more evident than ever. Perhaps the most indicative statistic to take from this is Amelie Lens’ position in 2nd place. She sits 1 festival ahead of trance legend Armin van Buuren, but most notable of all is that in 2017 she only played at 4 festivals, seeing a rise of 23 festivals in just one year. With all of these bookings, on top of techno being the top selling genre on Beatport, the question – in the sense of its popularity within the scene – is this: is techno the new EDM?
Take the UK for an example. Creamfields Steel Yard complex began in 2016, initially used as a 20,000 capacity mega arena at the Daresbury festival for all genres, with Chase & Status, Jack Ü, and Eric Prydz headlining across 3 days. With the likes of Axwell ∧ Ingrosso, Martin Garrix, and Above & Beyond going on to headline the arena in 2016-2018, the EDM contingent remained at the forefront. However, fast forward to 2019 and things have taken a turn for the deeper genres. The past weekend has seen the usual Steel Yard London Bank Holiday event taking place, with Eric Prydz – featuring Alan Fitzpatrick, George Fitzgerald B2B Tiga, and more – and Carl Cox pres. Space Ibiza – featuring Nic Fanciulli, Steve Lawler, Richy Ahmed, and more – taking over the megastructure. As Prydz recent sets have seen a heavier influence of techno from his Cirez D project, and Carl Cox a legend within the techno and house community, does this prove to be a sign that the techno wave is pushing EDM away from large scale events, particularly this one provided by undoubtably the UK’s biggest festival and event provider? The August festival line up says the same, with Prydz, Cox, and Adam Beyer B2B Cirez D set to headline. This is just the UK, but many other countries are seeing the rise of techno taking over festivals. With more techno than ever on the Tomorrowland main stage, and Ultra Music Festival‘s ‘Resistance Island‘ being predominantly techno, 2019 certainly is looking like the year for one of electronic music’s most historic and influential genres.
The future of electronic music is ever-changing, and what goes around comes back around, with the progressive house surge after Swedish House Mafia’s reunion as a prime example. The real conundrum is how long techno can remain at the forefront of an emerging scene with so many genres. What is certain is that right now, techno is the hot topic in electronic music, and it’ll take a lot to dethrone it.