A Story OF: Bloghaus
Daft Punk, Justice, Dance Music and so much more
To get myself in the mood to write about the impact of bloghaus on pop culture for a real-life magazine (SHOUTOUT CONTROL FOREVER)…
On Saturday night August 5th, instead of schlepping out to HARD Summer to see the breakout superstars of the beloved musical era, I went to Echoplex to check out a $10 bloghaus-themed nostalgia party that was DJed by one of the low-key legends of that epoch, Fred Falke. While Justice, Busy P, ET AL were tearing it up in the crippling heat in San Bernardino, an older and wiser Molly was dancing with abandon in Echo Park, reveling in the lack of logistics it took me to get there and back. It’s been many years since I lost myself dancing for hours because back in 2009, I was doing that five nights a week in LA.
– 2000 Peaches release “ Fuck the pain away”
I’ve been told the music we grow up with, the music that soundtracks pivotal moments in our adolescence is the music we love forever. If that’s true then bloghaus was the era of protracted adolescence, my early 20’s spent living in college-esque roommate situations, raging on weeknights, doing whatever it took to keep the party going while still paying bills. It was Dim Mak Tuesdays, Moscow Wednesdays, Danceism Thursdays, Control Fridays, and Banana Split Sundays with the occasional Making Shapes or Discotheque parties in between. I saw half of Daft Punk unmasked at DJ Busy Ps birthday party at Dim Mak’s weekly, drank every Sunday from the free keg of Sapporo on the dancefloor at Banana Split, watched 2/3 of my friend group- one by one decide they wanted to work in the music business after seeing Daft Punk’s pyramid at Coachella; that show changed a lot of people’s lives.
– 2004 Bloc Party/Dim Mak records releases “Banquet”
Full disclosure – I did not see the pyramid. I was admittedly pretty far gone into Tiesto back then and thought my life had peaked at his In Search of Sunrise tour at Avalon. I have to live with that retroactive FOMO every day and it haunts me. However, I still believe my bloghaus cred is untouchable. I was the first person in LA to buy the limited edition Ed Banger Nikes. In fact, I Myspace messaged Ed Banger, boss-man Busy P aka Pedro Winter, to tell him the sneaker pimps were camped out at the Montalban Theater on Vine a week in advance to buy up the EB sneak supply, and that he needed to do something to make sure real fans were able to get a pair. He gave out a password to 50 of us and we watched the sneaker pimps enraged outside while we bought up every single pair, then we took this amazing photo in my Obama cape – pour one out.
-2005 Justice/Ed Banger Records release “Waters of Nazareth”
That night at HARD Haunted Mansion, DJ AM (RIP) performed in a Daft Punk costume, causing the entire crowd to go running to his stage before he disappointed us all by taking off his helmet. Deadmau5 performed that night also, he played a brand new track featuring Rob Swire of Pendulum called “Ghosts ‘n Stuff” – electronic music history was being made in real time and the content was blog-worthy, to say the least.
-2005 Daft Punk release Human After All album hits include “Robot Rock” “Technologic” “Television rules the nation”
Even before the term ‘bloghaus’ was coined, by indie-music-blog-pioneer Carles on his site Hipster Runoff, the scope of its influence was already expanding exponentially at that time via hip-hop. Daft Punk’s sample from “Technology” on Kanye’s “Stronger” took on a whole other level of recognition after the robots joined him onstage at the 2008 Grammy awards in a sequence so other-worldly it almost looked animated. At the time A-trak and later that same year DJ Craze were taking turns serving as Kanye’s DJ on tour. Meanwhile, Jay-Z had enlisted DJ AM to go on his tour, which started just weeks after he and Travis Barker survived a plane crash in South Carolina. Through Kanye and Jay-Z specifically, the art of DJing and the electro, head-banging, high cinematic sounds of the day were filtered into the mainstream. I contend that influence has only gained momentum since, penetrating our culture in ways most people will never recognize or appreciate.
As I was dancing-like-no-one-was-watching at Echoplex to Fred Falke, and I mean pouring my beer on the floor just a little so I could shuffle more efficiently, I realized how highly cinematic and instrumental so much music from that era is – and of course, dramatic music makes me dance dramatically. Even though I firmly believe it was the metallic, glitchy, bone-rattling facet of electro that paved the way for dubstep to rise in 2010, the bloghaus sound is equally characterized by rather over-the-top sonic landscapes which takes listeners on a proper journey. Most bloghaus purveyors were born in the 1970s, meaning their primary musical era of influence was ‘80s pop culture, known for some of the most brilliant and cheesy cultural artifacts ever created. Look no further than Fred’s remix of “The Golden Cage” from indie-poppers, The Whitest Boy Alive, to hear what I mean – traces of the ET and The Neverending Story soundtracks, The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” and old-school MTV commercials can be heard all in one remix.
According to FACT Mag’s story on bloghaus, it was UK-based band The Klaxons who started the whole nu-rave moment in 2006 with the release of “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Although that track wielded massive influence and was remixed to no end in the years following its release, I have to respectfully disagree with this thesis and put forth my own, which is admittedly equally arbitrary. Cultural movements generally result from an amalgamation of forces rather than a single catalyst, but if I had to point to one track that set the tone for the bloghaus-electro era, I’d actually have to point to two – “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi and “Call On Me” by Eric Prydz.
-2004 Eric Prydz releases “Call On Me
At a time before YouTube had reached its market potential and MTV was running more reality TV than music videos, both Benny and Eric’s sexy, seemingly ironic music videos for “Satisfaction” and “Call On Me” went viral, both featuring absurd objectification of mostly white women. The first Facebook group I ever joined in 2005 was called “Hold My Drink,” and it was chock full of voracious, collegiate Americans hyped on dance music for the first time sharing songs and party info. Although Daft Punk’s “Around The World” and “One More Time” both made their way, it barely made it into US pop culture; it was “Satisfaction” and “Call On Me” that played at every college party I went to between 2003-2007 that primed our young minds for the impending electro-bloghaus takeover.
For me and I think for most club kids in LA in 2007, “We Are Your Friends,” a Justice flip of Simian Mobile Disco’s “Never Be Alone,” ushered in the bloghaus era with an explogasm of feel-good hard-hitting disco energy. In 2006, the song’s music video won Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and presentation of the award was interrupted by none other than Kanye West, who’d been jocking bloghaus since 2004 when he saw A-trak DJ by chance at a record store in London. He became Kanye’s touring DJ and the two began producing together, A-trak had his touch on a few iconic cuts including “Gold Digger.” If you follow the threads of the bloghaus cultural influence web, there are a few key recurring connective parties – Kanye West is one of them and Pedro Winter is another.
-2006 Justice Vs Simian release “We are your Friends”
Justice’s invasion of American via “We Are Your Friends,” followed by their ‘Cross’ album which coincided with the hype of Daft Punk touring the pyramid, seemingly for the last time in the US; and the release of their ‘Alive’ live album, raised a fundamental question – who the fuck were these Frenchies? Enter Pedro Winter, who was managing both Daft Punk and Justice up until he retired from managing the robots in 2008 to focus on Justice and Ed Banger Records. He also launched his own DJ career as Busy P, which gave birth to the bloghaus love story between Paris and LA memorialized in “To Protect And Entertain” from Murs and Busy P, and made iconic by Crookers’ remix of the track. This track was rinsed at every Dim Mak Tuesday, Banana Split Sunday, and Avalon party for an entire year straight from spring 2008-2009.
-2008 Bloody Beetroots feat Steve Aoki release “WARP 1.9”
His imprint, Ed Banger Records, was home to icons of the era like: Uffie, Feadz, Sebastian, Breakbot, Cassius, Mr. Oizo, and of course DJ Mehdi, who tragically passed away in September of 2011 when a rooftop he was on in Paris collapsed. Thomas Bangalter’s remix of his song “Signatune,” released on New Year’s Eve in 2006 on Mehdi’s ‘Lucky Boy’ LP, is arguably the most quintessential bloghaus song of the era. If you’ve never heard that album or if it’s been awhile, go back to ‘Lucky Boy’ – it’s utterly transcendental if you’re a fan of French electro with a dash of rock crossover, and boasts cameos from fellow Ed Banger alumnus Fafi and classic bloghaus duo Chromeo (who still carry the torch of the gone-but-not-forgotten era).
After the French invasion came, a second Belgian wave in the form of Soulwax and 2ManyDJs. The brother-led rock band, turned-DJ-duo, turned-rock-band again, released their film and live-remix album by the same name ‘Part Of The Weekend Never Dies,’ which documented the process of rockers becoming ravers that ultimately gave birth to the bloghaus movement. Anyone who truly fell in love with the electronic-rock crossover music in the early 2000’s either started a label, became a DJ/producer, party promoter, or a blogger. Soulwax became 2ManyDJs then remixed Soulwax rock songs and became Soulwax again in order to play those rock remixes live – watch the movie and it’ll all make sense.
They remixed their 2004 album ‘Any Minute Now’ into a follow-up LP called ‘Nite Versions’ released in 2005. ‘Part Of The Weekend Never Dies’ was a further expansion on those same tracks, played live by the band in tracks that seamlessly flow together as if you’re hearing a set. It was the perfect mind-melting follow-up to satiate me after getting my head blown off by ‘Cross’ and ‘Alive’ the year before. We rode out a great time through the spring of 2009 marked by hits like Fake Blood’s “Mars,” Digitalism’s “Idealistic,” Uffie’s “Pop The Glock,” Boy Noize’s whole ‘Oi, Oi, Oi’ album, Soulwax’s remix of “Get Innocuous” by LCD Soundsystem, MGMT’s “Kids,” and The Gossip’s “Standing In The Way Of Control,” “Untrust Us” from Crystal Castles, “Street Justice” from MSTRKRFT, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” also from LCD Soundsystem, and we can’t forget the final bloghaus mainstream moment with Kavinsky’s contribution to the ‘Drive’ soundtrack “Nightcall,” the Eewas Cesium remix being more compelling than the original. If I forgot one of your favorite tracks in the last list forgive me, we all have those special jams that touched our hearts.
-2011 Kavinsky releases “Nightcall”
In conducting research for this article, we came across a site called (wait for it!) Harder, Blogger, Faster, inspired by, you guessed it – bloghaus, and I figured they as the fellow-torch bearers of the era, should help tell the end of our story. HBF writes, “[Bloghaus] gave fans who grew up on a diet of rock, grunge, and metal; a form of dance music that they could really understand and relate to – it united disparate music fans into a scene that was inclusive and where there weren’t any rules.
“Unfortunately, like most good things, it all came crashing down when it was arguably hi-jacked in 2009/2010 and was turned into one-dimensional electro-house, which saw a raft of producers fruitlessly try and out-do each other to see who could create the biggest ‘banger’. But at its height bloghaus, electro-clash or whatever you want to call it changed the course of dance music for the better. It spawned hundreds of independent blogs (including this one), inspired a whole new generation of the artists, fans, and labels, and while it might be a forgotten sound now, there’s still something really special about the raw, distorted energy of the bloghaus sound that’s sorely missing from today’s overly preened dance music.”
That’s some real shit right there, and it feels like we still live in an era where everyone’s trying to make the bigger banger. By 2009, the big bang of bloghaus readied the playing field and our musical palates for maximum distortion and bass-to-the-face. Rusko and Caspa showed us the path with “Cockney Thug,” but it was series of Skrillex remixes pied-pipere’d me into dubstep – those included his Lady Gaga edits, his flip of La Roux’s “In For The Kill,” and Nero’s “Promises.” By the time his remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” came out we were all jumping up and down screaming “JUST TAKE OUR MONEY!” – at least I was. Hard-hitting bloghaus electro prepared my heart, mind, and body for the dubstep inferno that took over my musical taste in 2010 when I saw Skrillex, Porter Robinson, and Reid Speed perform at the Fuzzy Festival, which was 16+ and held at a rodeo facility halfway between LA and Vegas during a moderate blizzard.
-2009 Deadmau5 releases “Reward is Cheese” Electro house movement is born
It feels like every five years there’s a new wave of musical inspiration that sweeps our culture. The dubstep wave began to roll back in 2013-2014, which means we’re getting ready for the next musical wave to break. The reason I wanted to write this article is that it was an exercise in solidifying the purity of the musical fandom that got me blogging back in 2010. Past-Me would be so proud, I’ve been raving and blogging ever since! A-trak fondly recalls the time “…when electronic music was indie, dirty, distorted, and sweaty – a time of low bit-rate mp3s, all-over-print hoodies, and MySpace top 8’S. We’re talking about 2007-2009, roughly. That scene laid the foundation for the explosion of dance music that followed.” Prydz and Benassi were some of the original architects of the sound, and Daft Punk, Soulwax, A-trak, LCD Soundsystem, Justice, and all of their peers laid the foundation. Now, we’re dancing in the building made of the last decade of electronic crossover music.
Earlier in the story when I flashed my bloghaus cred to overcompensate for the shame of having missed the Daft Punk’s ‘Alive’ tour, I left out one outstanding fact. If you remember Hipster Runoff you’ll appreciate this, and if you don’t I have terrible news – his content is no longer available. I searched http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/altreport/2010/04/shitload-california-tween-ravers-attend-steve-aoki-concert.html and the page is dead. My heart just broke a little. Carles was my high school arch-nemesis and single greatest blogspiration – we were both voted Most Likely To Start A New Trend senior year. In 2015, after he finally revealed his identity as “Carlos Perez of San Antonio Texas” to Vice, I wrote him a poem about him, his alt-influence in high school, and the rise and fall of his blog-dynasty. This story ends with an excerpt of that poem:
I wish I were blogging in the wild West
I wish I were me online
Before my Twitter and Insta handles were taken.
I wish I were Hipster Runnoff
Now I can finally admit
You’ve been my greatest blog-spiration.
The only shining beacon of hope out there
That one lone alt blogger
One content farmer, tending the fields
Can make it through the mucky muck
And shine as bright, as the brightest,
Non-manufactured alt star.
We welcome the next wave of non-manufactured alt-stars on its way, I leave you with Cut Copy’s gentle and iconic Hearts on Fire.