Deep house music is the result of an ongoing transformation in the dance music genre, which has involved growth, change, and adaptation to new environments wherever it lands. Originating in the Chicago disco scene, deep house music is becoming more well known, coming as a pop culture stock to new audiences- particularly in America. It has been deemed the Next Big Thing by industry icons like Pete Tong as its groundswell in the house scene is unmistakable.
However, since it has been around for so long, why now and what’s bringing it to the mainstream? For one thing, deep house music stays true to the incestuous trend of house music in that it has its own outliers, subgenres and microgenres that were influenced by the music of another era or sound in the broader dance music genre. However, another reason it has been pushed to the forefront is that its general sounds have not changed. This is important because the popular sounds of dance music have changed, as well as the definition of what is or is not house, as it once was, which makes the evolution of sound more intriguing. Deep house music has reinvented itself by becoming more of what it was: soulful and mellow.
What is Deep House?
Deep house music has been around since the early 1980s in Chicago as a diverse cross-section of jazz and soul music. In more modern times, it has become synonymous with the mellowness of both jazz and soul, as opposed to its louder siblings in EDM and techno music, or repetitive melodies of progressive house. The soulfulness and relaxed grooves of deep house distinguish itself from other forms of club music through its profound nature.
Deep house today is classified as a four-to-the-floor pulse with groove, soul, and a dance-ability set to shuffle and swing with accents on the two and four. The major difference between deep house and EDM is that it is more restrained, as opposed to the loud thumping EDM. The tempo runs typically from 118 and 125 beats per minute, with rich harmonies and lush, atmospheric sounds.
Throughout its 27-year history, deep house has become known for its slow, sensual sounds, distinctive from the other techno and club sounds. Its closest cousin in the house music genre is disco, which explains why deep house has become largely out of the forefront of dance-y EDM.
Deep house music is seemingly impenetrable to mass consumer music audiences, even to those in the house genre. Its moody slower sounds are not the dancing festival-filling sounds of EDM with its lasers, beat drops and jackhammers drums. But as the house genre becomes more sophisticated, and as mainstream audiences gain more access to it through the Internet, deep house music has become the last hip genre of house music.
Its success comes with the massive popularity of EDM, which has led the largely undiscovered genre into the public eye. Although deep house is seemingly the opposite of EDM, the latter serves as a gateway for the former. An analogy for this gateway would be Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” during the day, and Al Green’s “Since We Been Together” at night.
DJs like Tiesto and Pete Tong have included deep house in the radio mixes recently. This has largely contributed to its consciousness in the public forum. However, its adoption as a legitimate and popular form of house music is a direct result of EDM’s popularity worldwide.