Swedish House Mafia is not house music, says DJ Dan

House music veteran DJ Dan is coming to Bassgasm
House music veteran DJ Dan is coming to Bassgasm

See Also:
Bassgasm 7 lineup announced

Artists will forever rail against pigeonholing, but genre classifications provide immediacy, saleability, and ultimately a fanbase. They're a sonic roadmap for the EDM world, so when pop-dance artists like Swedish House Mafia and AVICII rise to a bewildering level of acclaim as "house music" performers, it understandably has angered veteran house DJs who claim they're not using this genre just as a buzzword.

There's been some miseducation surrounding the house music genre for several years now. Longtime house vets like Sneak, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Paul Johnson, and DJ Dan, who came up in house's early days under soul and disco, have taken a backseat to the glossy European superproducers of the world a la David Guetta. Even artists like Kaskade and Bob Sinclar shed their roots to some degree in order to pack arenas with kids salivating for synth stabs.

Chicago house music O.G. Derrick Carter
Chicago house music O.G. Derrick Carter

House, after all, hasn't always been popular. There were years there after its '90s heyday where it wasn't considered "cool" or edgy to support given its warm-and-fuzzy values around community, love, and celebration of the soul.

A lightning-fast lesson for the uninitiated, here's what house sounds like -- funky and tracky with big disco and soul influences:

And here's where the debate lies -- "house" featuring relentless synth stabs, tranced-out melodies, and glittering, super-produced vocals.

Swedish House Mafia DJs Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso
Swedish House Mafia DJs Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso
Photo by Jen Boyles

The latest house fire ignited when DJ Sneak -- a fixture in that community since the early '90s -- accused pop crossover Swedish House Mafia of misidentifying themselves as house producers, a Twitter fight that echoed throughout the community.

A longtime friend and collaborator with Sneak, DJ Dan chatted with Gimme Noise about the issue before his headlining set at Bassgasm 7 at First Avenue next Friday, September 21. 

Dan rose to dance music fame in the early rave days, pioneering a funky West Coast spin on the genre. Frustrated by the appropriation of the music, Dan feels the responsibility is with the DJs them selves as "leaders and trendsetters."

"If they're going up there and saying they're playing house music, they should represent that," Dan says from his home in California. "The Swedish House Mafia is not house.They're making cheesy pop trance and infusing it into big rooms and festivals and calling it house music. To play or make music solely based on reaction is, to me, really cheap."

Clubber common ground?
Clubber common ground?

To many longtime fans, this new iteration is Pop Rocks and Coke disguised as a home-cooked meal. The result? Dancefloors filled with fist-pumping, hungry frat boys ala Jersey Shore and a general mindlessness around the music.
A regular rotation of massively popular and arguably overpaid DJs takes over club calendars nationwide, eclipsing up and comers as well as the original trailblazers.

While anyone would agree a love for music is a good thing, this house remains divided. Perhaps the answer is as simple as opening ears and minds to artists beyond what's most accessible, but how to spur such a shift is a long-unsolved puzzle. Perhaps Daft Punk will just emerge from their robot lair and save us all.

What do you think about the current debate around house music? We'd love to hear your opinion! Comment below and be automatically entered to win a pair of tickets to Bassgasm 7 and a chance to meet DJ Dan!

Full interview with Dan coming next week!


Swedish House Mafia is not house music, says DJ Dan

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