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“Shallow house. It’s not quite deep.”

It’s easy to write off something with a name as silly as “shallow house” as a stupid idea. And, in many respects, it is. The term was created “as a joke” a few days ago on the nigh-omnipotent hydra-like centralized collection of websites that is Reddit, intending to poke fun at the current comment war between people calling artists like Tchami and Oliver Heldens “deep house” and people for whom “deep house” means more than just groovy, bass-centric 4×4 music. Both sides have an understandable position, of course. Most of those in the former camp are dissidents from the big-room house movement which is currently exerting significant control over the global dance scene, disenchanted with the uncreative, poorly-produced slop they’ve heard for too long. They’re enchanted with the infective, funky bass and shocked at the relative sparsity of the compositions, and seeing Beatport and various ill-informed music blogs refer to the music as “deep house” (a phenomenon which I don’t entirely understand) they take it to be the correct term. In the latter group, of course, are the veteran house-heads. They’ve seen the primarily gay and black house sound of the Chicago and New York days appropriated and desecrated for profit by major-label execs eager to promote the easy-to-swallow house of everyone associated with labels like Spinnin’ and Revealed (including Heldens and Tchami), and having their soulful, colorful deep house reinterpreted by a bunch of young white guys (and yes, most of the new blood of this style are young white guys) looking to commodify the music they love is the last straw.

Although I’m more sympathetic towards the latter camp (especially since deep house typically isn’t defined by its bass), I think that to some extent the quibbling is a bit frivolous. Sure, Tchami might not be “deep house,” per se, but in the electronic music landscape we’ve built, neat, tidy categorization is the norm. What do we call “Gecko” if it’s not deep house? “House” is too vague – we don’t want to get it confused with the crap coming out of W&W’s speakers, do we?  (Yes, it’s also the term used to describe very similar acts like Dusky and Justin Martin, but any sort of connection, however meaningless, with the big-room stuff the fans despise could be deadly.) “Pop house,” while more accurate, implies a big fat equals sign between Shadow Child and Avicii, which is rather undesirable as well. It puts entry-level Naughty Boy fans in a bit of a sticky situation: what do we call the music we love if all the terms we’ve heard thrown around aren’t to our liking? How am I supposed to explain to my friends that I’ve moved from big-room house to, well, house music? Doesn’t that sound a bit stupid?

Hence, “shallow house.” The mantra of “it’s not quite deep” is remarkably appropriate: it’s much more refined and (possibly) “soulful” than big-room, it depicts a rupture from pop house, it doesn’t get the music confused with “legitimate” deep house. And, obviously, if it improbably catches on, it’s sure to catch some flak for just repackaging what house used to be in a different, neater parcel. Which is why the descriptor “shallow” is so perfect: it’s a blanket term which isn’t trying to be some sort of improvement over other, lesser blanket terms like “EDM” and “progressive house.” Instead, it can exist by virtue of the fact that it’s house music that thumbs its nose at those who would wonder if this non-chromatic chord means the song is deep house or if this cold, soulless drum pattern means it’s more like techno or if we should just call it house and call it a day. It’s simple, really: any sort of groovy, bass-centric house song which isn’t trying to maintain pretenses or delusions of grandeur and holier-than-thou can be “shallow house.” As those who created the term put it, “No genre snobbery here.”

In the end, this style of simplistic B-line-oriented house will probably take over the limelight for some time and then recede. The inevitable monetization will happen and then it’ll get old and the execs will move on to the next project. “Shallow” succinctly defines exactly that worry: it’s intensely hedonistic in that the music exists almost entirely  for the enjoyment of today’s listeners. When the funky bass gets old, the music will be cast away to the dusty bins of cheap record stores and forgotten corners of YouTube, only to be discovered by the intrepid music aficionado. Put simply, shallow house is just that: house that lives for the present. It’s silly, sure, but so are all sorts of seemingly random classifications and fads. Letting it exist for now is enough, and until it becomes hackneyed and trite (as most cultural movements do) we might as well enjoy it.

“Join us in the kiddie pool.”

Check out the (admittedly sparsely populated) movement here: http://www.reddit.com/r/shallowhouse





Brostep
04.22.14
i mean garage and house and "bass music" and whatevs but I think it could be cool

klap
04.22.14
my least favorite part about electronic music is the genre nazis

DaveyBoy
04.23.14
my least favorite part about music is the genre nazis

Chill3r
04.23.14
"shallow" house, like:

[Breach - Jack] - [Dusky - Nobody Else/Careless] - [Ten Walls - Requiem] - [Duke Dumont - I Got U]

plus the latest FabricLive compilation mixed by Jack Beats has a ton of these tunes. That latest trend won't go too long, will probably last one more year and then fade pretty quietly.

"Letting it exist for now is enough..."


Brostep
04.24.14
all of those songs kick ass so I'm pretty happy to let it sit for now

Brostep
04.24.14
man if there were some way to make that my forum description I'd take that in a heartbeat

Omaha
04.24.14
Hell, change it to your username

Electric City
04.24.14
god i love wordpress bots

Brostep
04.24.14
I mean like the least it could do is leave us with a link, how am I supposed to order the flowers now?

Omaha
04.24.14
You may need to shoutbox mr Sanjukta himself

Irving
04.24.14
lolllllllllllll

fish.
04.24.14
maybe he's not actually selling anything and he's just telling you to do that?

Omaha
04.24.14
Out of the -goodness of his heart-

scissorlocked
04.26.14
""shallow" house, like:

[Breach - Jack] - [Dusky - Nobody Else/Careless] - [Ten Walls - Requiem] - [Duke Dumont - I Got U]"

meh, neither dusky's nor ten wall's tracks are shallow

Brostep
04.26.14
don't know Ten Wall but after listening the shit out of both of Dusky's Aus EPs I'd say they fit under this definition of shallow (however stupid you may think that is) because they're groovy and bass-heavy and that's really what defines the idea for me

Deviant.
04.27.14
"my least favorite part about electronic music is the genre nazis"

As a genre nazi myself, I think the reason why so many exist is because I would argue that more than any other genre out there, electronic music as a whole has been subjected to so much outsider perversion. I mean, the infinite number of "new" tags being thought up an almost daily basis via blogs, tumblr and the like is getting beyond a joke

"How am I supposed to explain to my friends that I’ve moved from big-room house to, well, house music? Doesn’t that sound a bit stupid?"

This is a bit silly though. Saying something is "big room" doesn't ultimately separate it from the rest of the pack, or mark it as being different in any obvious way. It's not an import from the EDM hivemind, though it is used to convey a tune that might be more "anthemic" in nature. Shit, Scuba's being playing this type of 4x4 for awhile now. It's a stylistic substitution, not a genre switch

JS19
04.27.14
I think it's the sheer range of different types of sound that can be thought of as 'electronic'. It's almost like chucking all music made with amplified instruments into one big genre and then expecting no-one to try and distinguish between the massive amount of styles that can come under the umbrella.

I don't think people necessarily SHOULD be using all these crazy tage for music, but you can understand it

Brostep
04.27.14
Dev that phrase was very much tongue-in-cheek

theacademy
04.27.14
very nu vaporwave maybe even post nu vaporwave

Brostep
04.27.14
there was some shitty thump article about 9 new genres you don't know or something but I can't be assed to find it

and post-vaporwave is way better than nu vaporwave come on

StrangerofSorts
04.27.14
We've had this shit for a while as a response to the house+bass template popping up once people got bored with dubstep. I can't see it kicking off - it's just what the popular stuff isn't.

StrangerofSorts
04.27.14
wait, no -this is a different shallow house. Maybe we can get them all together and make a village.

Brostep
04.28.14
if that happens actual deep house will be the patricians/consuls/whatever else while this would be the plebs obv

klap
04.28.14
"As a genre nazi myself, I think the reason why so many exist is because I would argue that more than any other genre out there, electronic music as a whole has been subjected to so much outsider perversion. I mean, the infinite number of "new" tags being thought up an almost daily basis via blogs, tumblr and the like is getting beyond a joke"

this is what i was getting at tho. i hate all the useless genres that permeate the scene. very unnecessary

Deviant.
04.28.14
Yeah. I mean I love the almost community aspect of it all, thousands of people connected together online discovering new music etc, but it's tiring to think that if I switch this tuning knob this way instead of that way someone out there will believe I've created a new genre or whatever. Experimentation within genres needs to be rewarded, that's the only way music can really grow. Right now the electronic music scene (specifically the underground side of things) is a maze of dead ends and broken roads, because one thing isn't leading to the next anymore

Brostep
04.28.14
"it's tiring to think that if I switch this tuning knob this way instead of that way someone out there will believe I've created a new genre or whatever."

i mean how else would melodic chillstep exist

Omaha
04.28.14
Will, I c u got the jokes 2nite bby

PunchforPunch
04.28.14
I blame majestic sound for supporting this kind of electronic music a.k.a ~CHILLSTEP~

Brostep
04.28.14
MrSuicide Sheep

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