Electroclash is a fusion genre of music that combines the popular electropop of the 1980’s, with the dance music of the 1990’s, and techno. It heralds from the US, in Detroit and New York in particular. Larry Tee, a DJ, was the first to coin the phrase. He wanted it describe music that was an amalgamation of synthpop, punk, techno and also performance art.
The genre was essentially a reaction to techno music, with all its rules, which many felt stifled creativity. By complete contrast, Electroclash was predominantly focused upon performance, a sense of showmanship, humour even, and also on the song writing itself. Techno by comparison is a very ‘cold’ genre, ‘robotic’ perhaps, with very little human contribution on display. Perhaps it was this that rendered Techno inaccessible to some, and therefore propelled Electroclash’s burgeoning
In terms of instruments, Electroclash is similar to Techno, though the dedication to composition is maybe what provides Electroclash with a more human element. Drum machines were the norm, however, some bands would use other types of drums, such as Kicks drums ad Djembes for a richer texture, and also, may use actual drummers with kits In live shows; sometimes Drum machines being used on stage could provoke a negative reaction from an audience, as audiences wanted a sense of performance and theatrics, rather than someone simply pressing a button and having to do nothing more.
As with other styles of electronic music, Synthesizers were crucial. They provided the notable synthpop sections previously seen in the 1980’s. The synthesizers were sometimes used to create faux string sections, which created depth to the music and was useful in terms of creating harmonies. Vocals were common, though usually they were distorted or edited in some way, and sometimes sampled. However, Electroclash generally leant towards more standard song writing, and verses, choruses and therefore full lyrics were common, therefore making the genre more popular within the mainstream. Samplers were used, but often samples would be quite well blended into the rest of the song, and therefore Electroclash had a more organic feel to it. Unlike other Electro styles, sequencers were less commonly incorporated, as some felt they brought too much rigidity to the music, much like Techno, due to the repetitive nature of the patterns of notes.
Electroclash is still relatively popular today, with bands such as the Scissor Sisters continuing to reach the charts. In some ways, it could be said that Electroclash triumphed over Techno, as Techno has relatively died out. Arguably, it is good to see that music that places emphasis on composition and retaining performance skills and therefore the raw humanity Is still thriving, especially in an era of such computer generated music made purely for sales figures.