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 "haunted house" was first used by Mark Pytlik in 2006 in his review for Swedish electronic duo The Knife's album Silent Shout for Pitchfork Media. 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]

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