Witch house (genre)

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Witch house (also known as drag or haunted house) is an occult-themed dark electronic music microgenre and visual aesthetic that emerged in the late 2000s and early 2010s.[1] The music is heavily influenced by chopped and screwed hip-hop soundscapes, industrial and noise experimentation, and features use of synthesizers, drum machines, obscure samples, droning repetition and heavily altered, ethereal, indiscernible vocals.

The witch house visual aesthetic includes occult, witchcraft, shamanism, terror and horror-inspired artworks, collages and photographs as well as significant use of hidden messages and typographic elements such as Unicode symbols.[2][3] Many works by witch house visual artists incorporate themes, from horror films such as The Blair Witch Project,[4] the television series Twin Peaks,[5] horror-inspired dark web videos and mainstream pop culture celebrities. Common typographic elements in artist and track names include triangles, crosses and Unicode symbols, which are seen by some as a method of keeping the scene underground and harder to search for on the Internet as well as references to the television series Twin Peaks and Charmed.[6][7]

Influences and style[edit]

Witch house applies techniques rooted in chopped and screwed hip-hop—drastically slowed tempos with skipping, stop-timed beats[8]—from artists such as DJ Screw,[9] coupled with elements from other genres such as ethereal wave, noise, drone, and shoegaze.[10][11][12][text–source integrity?] Witch house is also influenced by 1980s post-punk inspired bands including Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Christian Death, Dead Can Dance and The Opposition,[13] as well as being heavily influenced by certain industrial and experimental bands, Psychic TV and Coil.[14][15] The use of hip-hop drum machines, noise atmospherics, creepy samples,[16] dark synthpop-influenced lead melodies, dense reverb, and heavily altered, distorted, and pitched down vocals are the primary attributes that characterize the genre's sound.

Many artists in the genre have released slowed-down and backmasked remixes of pop and hip-hop songs,[9] or long mixes of different songs that have been slowed down significantly.

Origins and etymology[edit]

The term witch house was coined in 2009 by Travis Egedy, who performs under the name Pictureplane.[17] The name was originally conceived as a joke,[18][19][20] as Egedy explains: "Myself and my friend Shams... were joking about the sort of house music we make, [calling it] witch house because it’s, like, occult-based house music. ...I did this best-of-the-year thing with Pitchfork about witch house.... I was saying that we were witch house bands, and 2010 was going to be the year of witch house.... It took off from there. ...But, at the time, when I said witch house, it didn’t even really exist..."[18] Shortly after being mentioned to Pitchfork, blogs and other mainstream music press began to use the term. Flavorwire said that despite Egedy's insistence, "the genre does exist now, for better or worse".[21]

Some music journalists along with some members of musical acts identified as being in the genre's current movement consider witch house to be a false label for a micro-genre, constructed by certain publications in the music press (including The Guardian, Pitchfork and various music blogs).[22][23] The genre was also briefly connected to the term rape gaze, the serious use of which was publicly denounced by its coiners, who never expected it to be used as an actual genre,[24][25] but viewed it as simply a joke intended to mock the music press' propensity towards the creation of micro-genres.[23]

List of artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wright, William (July 2010). "The Rise Of Generation Cult". SuperSuper!. Vol. 21. SuperSuper Ltd. pp. 8–18. 
  2. ^ a b c Necci, Marilyn Drew (August 9, 2010). "Witch House: Listen With The Lights On". RVA Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Davis, Ben (December 21, 2010). "WITCH HOUSE ▲ESTHETICS". Synconation. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Murder Dog Magazine - Volume 17 #3 - Special Feature:Witch House (Page 87)". Murder Dog Magazine. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  5. ^ Dom, Pieter (April 14, 2011). "Witch House And Okkvlt Guide To Twin Peaks". Welcome to Twin Peaks. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Baxter, Jason (October 20, 2010). "What is the "Witch House Font?" | Line Out". Lineout.thestranger.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ Jovanovic, Rozalia (January 19, 2011). "How To Be a Witch House Poser". Flavorwire. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Lindsay, Cam (January 31, 2011). "The Translator - Witch House". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (November 4, 2010). "DJ Screw's Legacy: Seeping Out of Houston, Slowly". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  10. ^ Watson, William Cody (September 12, 2010). "Slow Motion Music". Impose Magazine. 
  11. ^ Rees, Thomas (November 18, 2010). "oOoOO: Christopher Greenspan Joins the New Wave of Ethereal Electro-Pop Makers While Sidestepping the Name Game". XLR8R. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Rodgers, D. Patrick (August 25, 2010). "‘New’ ‘Genre’ Alert: Which House? Witch House". Nashville Scene. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  13. ^ Wright, Scott (March 9, 2010). "Scene and heard: Drag". London: Guardian. Retrieved June 10, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Marshalek, Russ (September 22, 2010). "Haunted: A Witch House Primer". Flavorwire. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ Maness, Carter (August 25, 2010). "Brooklyn's Vanishing Witch House: White Ring and CREEP burn your trends and have real music to show for it". Nypress.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  16. ^ Sokol, Zach (February 1, 2011). "The Witch House Debate: Is †he Music Genre Wor†h ∆ Lis†en? · NYU Local". Nyulocal.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  17. ^ Lhooq, Michelle (June 18, 2015). "Teens, Drugs, and HIV Jokes: Welcome to Witch House in Russia". Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Nguyen, Tuyet (December 30, 2010). "This is witch house | Music | The A.V. Club Denver/Boulder". Avclub.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  19. ^ Huston, Johnny Ray (June 1, 2011). "Weird emergence". Sfbg.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  20. ^ P.J. Nutting (December 30, 2010). "Which house for witch house?". Boulderweekly.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  21. ^ Hawking, Tom (September 7, 2011). "State of the Witch House: Predicting the Controversial Genre’s Future". FlavorWire. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Brooklyn's Vanishing Witchhouse". New York Press. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "The Horrifyingly Named Micro-Genre "Rape Gaze" Explained". Village Voice. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  24. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (October 8, 2010). "Salem - King Night". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Pitchfork Backtracks on 'Rape Gaze' Because Creep Said So". The Daily Swarm. October 12, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  26. ^ Burkart, Gregory (December 4, 2013). "'AIMON' – Album Review". FEARnet. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ Turgoose, Kate (October 17, 2011). "∆AIMON: a new kind of noise". Connexion Bizarre. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c Jonze, Tim (September 26, 2010). "Witch house and the musicians taking us back to the future". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d Friedman, Ian (January 30, 2013). "What Is Witch House?". DJZ. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  30. ^ Latta, Ian. "Clams Casino - Rainforest [EP]". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  31. ^ Gieben, Bram E. (November 5, 2012). "Crystal Castles – (III)". The Skinny. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  32. ^ a b Harris, Marcus (November 23, 2010). "Drag On: Fostercare + Mater Suspiria Vision". Mint Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  33. ^ a b Chester, Tim (December 20, 2010). "The Horn The Hunt & White Ring – Free MP3 Downloads". NME. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  34. ^ Hawkins, Shane (June 25, 2012). "New Noise: Glass Teeth". Wonderland Magazine. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  35. ^ Currier, Alyce (August 1, 2013). "Earmilk Interview: GLASS TEETH [Track Premiere]". Earmilk. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  36. ^ Latta, Ian (June 13, 2011). "Holy Other - With U [EP]". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  37. ^ Segal, Dave (June 12, 2013). "Mount Kimbie, Holy Other, Rob Garza, Nguzunguzu". The Stranger. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  38. ^ Prescott, Shaun (July 1, 2010). "Record Reviews: Void". Mess and Noise. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  39. ^ Prescott, Shaun (December 10, 2012). "Listen: Horse Macgyver - Junkyard". Crawlspace Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  40. ^ Sottile, Leah (September 4, 2012). "Dark Horse". The Pacific Northwest Inlander. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  41. ^ Opperman, Derek (September 5, 2012). "Mascara and oOoOO: Show Preview". SF Weekly. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  42. ^ Pendu, Todd (November 6, 2010). "The Genesis of Naming a Genre: Witch House by Todd Pendu". PenduNYC. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Dreams of the Witch House". 20jazzfunkgreats. February 5, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  44. ^ Sullivan, Ben. "Purity Ring - Shrines". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved June 17, 2013.