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The 2010s and the rise of EDM in the Northwest (and beyond)

Avicii Live Set DJ Booth
Photo Credit: Rukes

The 2010s saw the biggest resurgence in the popularity of electronic music in North America since the 1990s. The popularization and meteoric rise of artists such as Avicii, Deadmau5 and Skrillex brought a fresh and welcome change-up to the charts and popular culture alike. Let’s take a look back at some of the key points in the decade, and how it affected the scene for an entire continent.

Whereas Trance and Hardstyle/Hardcore continues to be more of a niche following in the States and Canada, House and various subgenres reigned supreme over the North American EDM charts for most of the decade. However, Above and Beyond and Gareth Emery saw consistent popularity as mainstream artists in the States and Canada. Big room house artists such as Martin Garrix and R3HAB saw a meteoric rise in popularity in the early ‘10s. Meanwhile, Tiesto, Calvin Harris and David Guetta alike all hold residencies in Las Vegas.

It is interesting to note the intersection of country and EDM in many smash EDM hits in the early-mid 10s. Of particular note, Armin Van Buuren’s 2013 single This Is What It Feels Like mashed bigroom house elements with trance while featuring vocals and lyrics from Canadian country musician Trevor Guthrie. Avicii also pulled this off, with Hey Brother and Wake Me Up featuring as prominent examples.

Dubstep, with its UK roots and major Canadian proponents, was unleashed to a broader North American audience in the very late 00’s but fully came into its own in the 2010’s. (Author’s note: If you were one of the kids showing your baffled friends the Zeds Dead remix of Eyes On Fire you’ll probably get a rush of nostalgia from this). Notable releases included Skrillex’s 2010 album Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Nero’s 2011 Welcome Reality and Excision’s 2011 X Rated.

On the thought of intersections between genres, dubstep has had notable run-ins with metal and pop-punk, with prominent examples being Korn’s 2013 compilation album The Path of Totality and Breathe Carolina’s evolution from mid-00’s crunkcore to full blown EDM artists collaborating with the likes of Bassjackers among others.

Finally, let’s consider a thought closer to home. How has the rise of EDM in the 2010s impacted the Northwest’s rave scene in particular? For starters, most of the Pacific Northwest’s most beloved musical festival’s in Shambhala saw exponential growth during the 2010s, going from a few hundred people to a world-renowned event attended by over 12,000 people yearly.

Contact Music Festival, Paradiso, Bass Coast, Astral Harvest, and Electric Love are but a few of the other major music festivals in the PNW that have blown up in popularity this decade, no small feat for an area with a relatively small population density. Its also worth noting that many prominent artists of the decade are actually from the Northwest: Downlink and Excision are both from British Columbia, Odesza hails from Bellingham, and Pendulum and Destroid legend KJ Sawka is from Seattle. 

Meanwhile, other local artists like Manatee Commune and Kendoll have managed to expand out of the Northwest, and into national (and international) popularity.

All in all, it’s been a pretty good decade if we do say so ourselves!

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