Disco and dub influences trickled in despite relative irrelevance
The historical importance of Michael Jackson needs no introduction. What makes him particular interesting for the Pacific Northwest EDM scene is that disco mostly failed to take root here. This was partly due to disco’s short-lived (and predominantly East Coast) fame, and partly due to the PNW’s overwhelming preferences for rock and jazz. After Michael Jackson moved to LA in 1968, he brought disco to the West Coast, with a rock & roll twist that actually appealed to local tastes.
Besides Michael Jackson’s undeniable fame, a unique venue known as Teatro ZinZanni opened a small gateway for disco. The venue combines cirque performance with live music. Relocating from Seattle to San Francisco and back before finally moving to Redmond, Washington in 2017, ZinZanni’s ongoing influence continues through recent years, bringing artists such as Thelma Houston to the area.
As the direct precursor for house music, disco might be the most important parent-genre for electronic dance music as we know it today. The fact that some disco influence managed to reach the PNW might have been an important factor in the eventual success of local synth pop bands.
Speaking of LA music that reached the Pacific Northwest, Sublime continued a West Coast legacy of dub music. Sublime was of course preceded by Bob Marley & The Wailers who gave historic performances at Seattle’s Paramount Theater in 1978 and 1979. Dub music helped lay a foundation for electronic music in general, but for dubstep in particular.
Listening to Is This Love, the skull-shattering beats and gut wrenching wobbles of today’s dubstep seem to come from a different world entirely. The genre hasn’t always been so hardcore though. These days, one Seattle venue dedicates a monthly event called Sub Sessions to “the old school, more chilled-out style” of dubstep.
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