Witch House: the New Underground

Electronic music took pop culture by storm as soon as the 10’s hit. Garnering an overwhelming amount of sub genres that quickly defined certain parts of youth culture. The base heads who sought after the filthy and grimy blue collar aesthetic and who for the most part wore baggy clothes in that white ghetto boy demeanor became BASS heads and took to dubstep. The chiseled douche bags and the perky ladies who catered more to the lavish illusions of the night and more than likely have been to ‘LIV’ more than twice took to mainstream house music; you know that genre where all the DJ’s raise their hands towards the sky in every climactic portion of a song as they sing along. The indie kids who wanted nothing to do with the mainstream opted for more laid back versions of electronic music like ‘chill wave’ and indie electronic bands that were just considered ‘indie’ like passion pit, neon indian, M83 and Chvrches to name a few. Then came the beat scene from LA that served as a new direction for sampled based music and hip-hop enthusiast. The deep house wave that crept its way into the radio with Disclosure and even Calvin Harris paying tribute to the style with ,”How Deep is Your Love” and the future bass and future R&B scene that has made people like flume and the chainsmokers quite radio friendly has garnered momentum in pop. But there is one scene/genre/style that is not so popular or as talked about. Its a dark and gritty part of the electronic music stratosphere honing in on a troubled youth. Its parties are a hedonistic tribal Goth expose of tattoos, lip rings, nose rings, septums, hoodies, tank tops, broken panty hose, cigarettes, dark attire, buzz cuts, mohawks, crosses, smudged eyeliner, beer, weed, ecstasy, sweaty, loud and deranged distorted music that only the willful and faint of heart can survive. Witch house is the new underground of the underground. The screwed up kids who want to be screwed up. The outcasts’ who embrace a lifestyle of an altered mind the idgaf mentality. The new punks of the world. Techno-Punks if you will. They don’t like to be typecast but I’m not sure they even care.

 

The only way to understand this underground phenomenon is to take to the streets of London and attend one of these witch house parties or just listen to the dark and gritty music that is witch house that is the perfect exemplification of this scene and part of youth. The music is dark; always in minor scales but not overtly complicated. A darker four chord charlie of hard techno. It is EVIL pop. It stands on either four on the floor drums or on southern hip-hop syncopations. It often feels dreamy and mad and sad and exciting all at the same time with heavy reverb and heavy distortion often intertwined into its mix.Its visual aesthetic is usually presented in an occult, video tape and DIY style with lots of symbolism and witchcraft-like anotations. It sounds as if My Bloody Valentine and the Cure had a rendezvous at an industrial club and had a baby.

 

Most of the artist stylize their names with symbols in the title; GL▲SS †33†H for example. The name witch house was coined by the group ‘Pictureplane’ who are pioneers of the genre. Some of the music is loud some of it slower and dreamier but all carry the same emotional dissonance. Crystal Castles, Purity Ring, SALEM, Ritualz, producer Clams Casino (A$AP ROCKY, Lil B, Mac Miller), Grimes and my favorite; CRIM3S have molded and shifted the sound to many different directions which makes this slate all the more interesting.


I personally do not fathom the survival of this scene. Some of the more popular artist don’t even embrace its moniker which is fine. I believe its extinction is eminent but it is quite interesting to observe, listen and delve into. Perhaps its remnants might morph into something much more palpable or much more deranged. I can’t wait to find out.