Today’s Pacific Northwest EDM scene
Today, the Pacific Northwest boasts a deeply ingrained electronic music scene. All thanks to the local legends who changed the game, inspired new generations, and brought clout to the PNW. We now have producers, visual artists, labels, radio stations, publications, venues, and festivals dedicated to our local EDM community.
Bumbershoot, the once folk rock festival, now revolves around hip hop, rap, and electronic music. Many EDM-centric festivals have popped up around the PNW such as Shambala and Pemberton in BC, FreakNight in Seattle, and Paradiso and Bass Canyon at the Gorge. With such a vibrant community, the festival circuit changes from year to year. For example, the return of Beyond Wonderland promises to bring an old festival back to life, while the classic Paradiso might be gone forever.
These festivals, plus a steady stream of shows at beloved venues (such as The Forum and Celebrities in Vancouver; The Showbox, WaMu, and Q Nightclub in Seattle; Holocene and 45East in Portland) help local talent find their audiences. Even the small town artists such as ODESZA from Bellingham, WA have a huge outlet at their fingertips.
When these artists make it big, they open doors for more talent to follow in their footsteps. ODESZA started as a college band at Western Washington University (WWU), but went on to top Billboard’s EDM charts with their Grammy-nominated music. After finding success, ODESZA founded their own label, The Foreign Family Collective. They also teamed up with Death Cab for Cutie to put on a massive double-header, last Summer, that raised money for their alma matter, WWU.
Grounded in Seattle’s indie/alternative culture, like-minded producers such as Chong the Nomad, Fluencie, and Manatee Commune promise to keep the momentum going.
On the heavy bass side of things, Destroid/Pendulum drummer and independent producer KJ Sawka has pushed the boundaries of DnB. Like the local scene itself, KJ Sawka started with rock & roll.
I was about 17 or 18 years old, recording a record with my rock band UmmaGumma. After tracking we came by the next day to start the mixdown process when I noticed another bands gear setup in the live room. They had synthesizers and electronic drums and I could only think that they played drum and bass. (UFK)
Shortly after his chance run in with electronic drums, KJ Sawka began producing. He collaborated extensively with BC bass stars Excision and Downlink, and played the drums for Illenium’s live show. Like ODESZA, Sawka founded his own label, Impossible Records.
Recognizing their undeniable stronghold in today’s culture, even the once anti-electronic label Sub Pop has signed a host of interesting electronic artists, including clipping., Washed Out, and Yuno.
Sub Pop found Yuno via Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets fame, who’s on the A&R staff for the label. He stumbled upon Yuno on Soundcloud and kept a close eye on him. (Sub Pop)
These lesser known artists might not headline Coachella any time soon, but they’re putting in the work to define new and exciting sounds. Such a task is often out of reach for big name projects with intense touring schedules, a broad fan-base, and controlling record deals.
Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!