I’ll bet you think you’ve heard it all when it comes to music, because you are a very cool dude or dudess. However, things have certainly changed as of late.
Without a doubt, 2012 has been one of the most bizarre years for music in recent history. Even the most knowledgeable music professional may be stumped by the new music styles that are popping up every day. In some cases, young creatives in major metropolitan cities are creating unexpected unions of formerly disparate sounds. In other cases, new music is being formed from places as disparate as inside jails in Appalachia, and on the social media website Tumblr.
In the May issue’s Odd Music! Part #1 we introduced you to #Seapunk, Moombahton, Electro-Soul and Tribal Guarachero, and we certainly expect that you’ve listened to these new genres of music by now. But we’re not done! We’ve got even more aural awesomeness for you in this issue as well, as Dish Magazine introduces you to Witch House, Hick-Hop, Brostep & Freak Folk. And do NOT be surprised to hear some of these impressive new sounds on your radio very soon......
Goth music produced by musicians raised on southern rap is a strange concept, but the genre Witch House shows that the contrasting worlds have more in common than you migh have originally thought. The term was coined by the musician PicturePlane in 2010 to describe the emerging genre that combined dark, ghostly vocals with the mellow characteristics of 1990s Houston rap and UK shoegaze. The sound was popularized by the band Salem (like the Salem Witch Trials), who used the remixing technique created by the Houston producer DJ Screw, called ‘Chopping and Screwing’, which meant that they dramatically slowed down the tempo of the song and dragged out the words.
In rap music, this slurred style was attributed to the cognitive effects on Houston rappers and producers of a drinkable recreational drug containing codeine and promethazine called “purple drank”. Still, Witch House maintained a cultural separation from this Houston street culture, only appropriating the sound and not the drug use. Now, many artists are creating their own variations of the emerging genre by adding dubstep elements, samples and synths. This genre has not reached the mainstream because of its member’s use of occult imagery, and also the bands’ propensity for unpronounceable names that include triangles, crosses, and other geometric shapes. The record label Tri Angle Records, created by 25-year-old Robin Carolan, is home to many Witch House artists, and is one of the most progressive record labels out there with a roster that also includes artists with avant garde takes on hip-hop and R&B. Many other artists like Balam Acab and Salem have continued to make ambient music, but have steered away from the distinctive sound of Witch House so their music won’t be pigeonholed.
Notable artists: Salem, Holy Other, oOoOO, Balam Acab, White Ring, and Creep
It’s been suggested that this genre was actually created in the 1990’s when prisoners from small, rural jails were transferred to larger, higher security prisons in Appalachia. The culture clash occurred when the country-music-loving prisoners from Appalachia encountered the hip-hop music of prisoners that hailed from urban areas, and tensions developed between the two groups. A Kentucky-based arts organization called Appalshop, which is “dedicated to the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when local cultures garner the resources, including new technologies, to tell their own stories and to listen to the unique stories of others” interceded, attempting to assuage the problem by uniting hip-hop, rap and country. That new genre was called “hick-hop” and it is most often associated with Cowboy Troy, who brought it to the mainstream when he self-released an album called Hick-Hop Hysteria in 2001. Though Cowboy Troy taught many country fans to embrace rap music, it was the Georgia rapper Bubba Sparxxx who introduced the rap world to hick-hop when put his own spin on the genre. Notable artists: Cowboy Troy, Kuntry Killaz, and Bubba Sparxxx
Dubstep was first created in London, England, and Brostep is a derivative of Dubstep. It’s characterized by a certain lack of soul which influenced Dubstep’s original style, and was popularized in North America. Fittingly, the face of Brostep is Skrillex, a former member of a hardcore band with an aggressive appeal created by wobble sounds, screams, robotic noises and breakdowns. Brostep songs might not be heard very often on the radio, but concerts featuring the genre brings out crowds numbering in the thousands, and poster boy Skrillex was one of the biggest winners at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Before the telecast had even began, the 24-year-old electronic producer won Grammys for Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Dance Recording (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites) and Best Remixed Recording (Benny Benassi's 'Cinema (Skrillex Remix).The ‘Bro’ in the genre ‘Bro’step is mostly associated in the change in the Dubstep demographic to a more male dominated fanbase. (If you want to learn more about Brostep’s parenting genre Dubstep, check out our feature in the Dish Magazine’s November 2011 issue.) Notable artists: Skrillex, Rusko, Excision & Datsik
Freak Folk is known as the eccentric brother of ‘regular folk music’. The sound has a very strong acoustic focus, and is created by large musical ensembles that take over the stage, with a neo-hippie aesthetic and very unusual instruments. From finger-plucking banjos, baroque harmonies and psychedelic riffs, Freak Folk music is best experienced at outdoor concerts where fans can dance carefree. The genre’s best-known proponents are singer-songwriter and visual artist Devendra Banhart, and Joanna Newsom, who charms the audience with a classical harp. Many freak-folk artists are in their 20’s, and their fans tend to resemble this millennium's version of 1960’s flower children. Many Freak Folk musicians are guided, and this is especially true of Banhart, by New Age Eastern philosophies.Perhaps the most most out-there members of the Freak Folk genre might be the sister duo CocoRosie, who cover the stage of their shows with whimsical dreamcatchers while performing with children's toys.
Notable Artists: Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan, and CocoRosie.