House music is a genre of electronic dance music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms provided by drum machines,[failed verification] off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized basslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, which preceded and influenced it, as both were DJ and record producer-created dance music, house was more electronic and minimalistic. The mechanical, repetitive rhythm of house was one of its main components. Many house compositions were instrumental, with no vocals; some had singing throughout the song with lyrics; and some had singing but no actual words.
House music developed in Chicago's underground dance club culture in the early 1980s, as DJs from the subculture began altering the pop-like disco dance tracks to give them a more mechanical beat and deeper basslines. As well, these DJs began to mix synth pop, rap, Latin, and even jazz into their tracks. Latin music, particularly salsa clave rhythm, became a dominating riff of house music. It was pioneered by Chicago DJs such as Chip E., and Steve Hurley. It was influenced by Chicago DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles, the Chicago acid-house electronic music group Phuture, and the Tennessee DJ/producer Mr. Fingers. The genre was originally associated with the Black American LGBT subculture but has since spread to the mainstream. From its beginnings in the Chicago club and local radio scene, the genre spread internationally to London, then to American cities such as New York City and Detroit, and eventually globally.
Chicago house music acts from the early to mid-1980s found success on the US dance charts on various Chicago independent record labels that were more open to sign local house music artists. These same acts also experienced some success in the United Kingdom, garnering hits in that country. Due to this success, by the late 1980s, Chicago house music acts suddenly found themselves being offered major label deals. House music proved to be a commercially successful genre and a more mainstream pop-based variation grew increasingly popular. Since the early to mid-1990s, house music has been infused into mainstream pop and dance music worldwide. In the 2010s, the genre, while keeping several of its core elements, notably the prominent kick drum on most beats, varies widely in style and influence, ranging from soulful and atmospheric to the more minimalistic microhouse. House music has also fused with several other genres creating fusion subgenres, such as euro house, tech house, electro house and jump house. One subgenre, acid house, was based around the squelchy, deep electronic tones created by Roland's TB-303 bass synthesizer.
Major acts such as Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Martha Wash, CeCe Peniston, Bananarama, Robin S., Steps, Kylie Minogue, Björk, and C+C Music Factory were influenced by House music in the 1990s and beyond.[example's importance?] After enjoying significant success which started in the late 1980s, house music grew even larger during the second wave of progressive house (1999–2001). The genre has remained popular and fused into other popular subgenres, notably ghetto house, deep house, future house and tech house. As of today, house music remains popular on radio and in clubs while retaining a foothold on the underground scenes across the globe.
House music is created by DJs, record producers, and music artists, often with contributions from other performers on synthesizer and other electronic instruments. The structure of house music songs typically involves an intro, a chorus, various verse sections, a midsection and an outro. Some songs do not have a verse, taking a vocal part from the chorus and repeating the same cycle. The drum beat is one of the more important elements within the genre and is almost always provided by an electronic drum machine, usually Roland's TR-808 or TR-909, rather than by a live drummer. The drum beats of house are "four on the floor", with bass drums played on every beat and they usually feature off-beat drum machine hi-hat sounds. House music is often based on bass-heavy loops or basslines produced by a synthesizer and/or from samples of disco or funk songs. One subgenre, acid house, was based around the squelchy, deep electronic tones created by Roland's TB-303 bass synthesizer. The tempo of most house songs is between 115 BPM and 132 BPM (beats per minute).
Various disco songs incorporated sounds produced with synthesizers and electronic drum machines, and some compositions were entirely electronic; examples include Italian composer Giorgio Moroder's late 1970s productions such as Donna Summer's hit single "I Feel Love" from 1977, Cerrone's "Supernature" (1977), Yellow Magic Orchestra's synth-disco-pop productions from Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978), Solid State Survivor (1979), and several early 1980s productions by the Hi-NRG groups Lime, Trans-X and Bobby O's Hi-NRG productions.
Soul music and disco influenced house music. As well, the audio mixing and editing techniques earlier explored by disco, garage music and post-disco DJs, record producers, and audio engineers such as Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton, Jim Burgess, Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, M & M, and others was important. These artists produced longer, more repetitive, and percussive arrangements of existing disco recordings. Early house producers such as Frankie Knuckles created similar compositions from scratch, using samplers, synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines.
The electronic instrumentation and minimal arrangement of Charanjit Singh's Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (1982), an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album's rediscovery in the 21st century.
Rachel Cain, co-founder of influential dance label Trax Records, was previously involved in the burgeoning punk scene. Cain cites industrial (another genre of music pioneered in Chicago) and post-punk record store Wax Trax! Records (later a record label) as an important connection between the ever-changing underground sounds of Chicago. As most proto-house DJs were primarily stuck to playing their conventional ensemble and playlist of dance records, Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, two influential pioneers of house music, were known for their unusual and non-mainstream playlists and mixing. The former, credited as "the Godfather of House", worked primarily with early disco music with a hint of new and different music (whether it was post-punk or post-disco) but still enjoying a variety of music, while the latter produced unconventional DIY mixtapes which he later played straight-on in the music club Music Box, boiling with raw energy. Marshall Jefferson, who would later appear with the Chicago house classic "Move Your Body (The House-Music Anthem)", (originally released on Chicago-based Trax Records) got involved in house music after hearing Ron Hardy's music in Music Box.
I wasn't even into dance music before I went to the Music Box," he laughs. "I was into rock and roll. We would get drunk and listen to rock and roll. We didn't give a fuck, we were like 'Disco Sucks!' and all that. I hated dance music 'cos I couldn't dance. I thought dance music was kind of wimpy, until I heard it at like Music Box volume.— Marshal Jefferson
In the early 1980s, Chicago radio jocks The Hot Mix 5, and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played a range of styles of dance music, including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul tracks), electro funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, newer Italo disco, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop. Some DJs made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in electronic effects, drum machines, synthesizers and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation. In the 2017 film What We Started, legendary DJ and Producer Carl Cox says the first House record was "Time to Jack" by Chip E.. The 1985 "Jack Trax" EP by Chip E. was the first record to use the words "Jack" and "House". Besides "Time to Jack" the EP includes "It's House" and several other songs with House in their titles and lyrics. The minimalist songs, using repetitive lyrics by way of new sampling technology, created the blueprint for future House music.
The hypnotic electronic dance song "On and On", produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had elements of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland (specifically TR-808) drum machine and Korg (specifically Poly-61) synthesizer. It also utilized the bassline from Player One's disco record "Space Invaders" (1979). "On and On" is sometimes cited as the 'first house record', even though it was a remake of a Disco Bootleg "On and On" by Florida producer Mach, and other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk's "Music is the Key" (1985), have also been cited.
Starting in the mid-1980s, some Chicago DJs began producing and releasing original compositions. These compositions used newly affordable electronic instruments and enhanced styles of disco and other dance music they already favored. These homegrown productions were played on Chicago radio stations and in local clubs catering mainly to Black, Hispanic, and gay audiences. By 1985, house music encompassed these locally produced recordings. Subgenres of house, including deep house and acid house, quickly emerged and gained traction.
Deep house's origins can be traced to Chicago producer Mr Fingers's relatively jazzy, soulful recordings "Mystery of Love" (1985) and "Can You Feel It?" (1986). According to author Richie Unterberger, it moved house music away from its "posthuman tendencies back towards the lush" soulful sound of early disco music.
Acid house arose from Chicago artists' experiments with the squelchy Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, and the style's origins on vinyl is generally cited as Phuture's "Acid Tracks" (1987). Phuture, a group founded by Nathan "DJ Pierre" Jones, Earl "Spanky" Smith Jr., and Herbert "Herb J" Jackson, is credited with having been the first to use the TB-303 in the house music context. The group's 12-minute "Acid Tracks" was recorded to tape and was played by DJ Ron Hardy at the Music Box, where Hardy was resident DJ. Hardy once played it four times over the course of an evening until the crowd responded favorably. The track also utilized a Roland TR-707 drum machine.
Club play of house tracks by pioneering Chicago DJs such as Hardy and Lil Louis, local dance music record shops such as Importes Etc., State Street Records, Loop Records, Gramaphone Records and the popular Hot Mix 5 shows on radio station WBMX-FM helped popularize house music in Chicago. Later, visiting DJs and producers from Detroit fell into the genre. Trax Records and DJ International Records, Chicago labels with wider distribution, helped popularize house music inside and outside of Chicago. One 1986 house tune called "Move Your Body" by Marshall Jefferson, taken from the appropriately titled "The House Music Anthem" EP, became a big hit in Chicago and eventually worldwide. By 1986, UK labels were releasing house music by Chicago acts, and by 1987 house tracks by Chicago DJs and producers were appearing on and topping the UK music chart. By this time, house music released by Chicago-based labels was considered a must-play in clubs.
One 2009 book states the name house music originated from a Chicago club called The Warehouse, which existed from 1977 to 1983. Clubbers to The Warehouse were primarily black, who came to dance to music played by the club's resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, who fans refer to as the "godfather of house". Frankie began the trend of splicing together different records when he found that the records he had weren't long enough to satisfy his audience of dancers. After the Warehouse closed in 1983, the crowds went to Knuckles' new club, The Power Plant.
In the Channel 4 documentary Pump Up The Volume, Knuckles remarks that the first time he heard the term "house music" was upon seeing "we play house music" on a sign in the window of a bar on Chicago's South Side. One of the people in the car with him joked, "you know that's the kind of music you play down at the Warehouse!". South-Side Chicago DJ Leonard "Remix" Roy, in self-published statements, claims he put such a sign in a tavern window because it was where he played music that one might find in one's home; in his case, it referred to his mother's soul and disco records, which he worked into his sets. The documentary also explored how house music was something that anyone could do. Mostly the documentary looks at some of the DJs from that genre, and how they stumbled into the music.
Farley Jackmaster Funk was quoted as saying "In 1982, I was DJing at a club called The Playground and there was this kid named Leonard 'Remix' Roy who was a DJ at a rival club called The Rink. He came over to my club one night, and into the DJ booth and said to me, 'I've got the gimmick that's gonna take all the people out of your club and into mine – it's called House music.' Now, where he got that name from or what made him think of it I don't know, so the answer lies with him."
Chip E.'s 1985 recording "It's House" may also have helped to define this new form of electronic music. However, Chip E. himself lends credence to the Knuckles association, claiming the name came from methods of labeling records at the Importes Etc. record store, where he worked in the early 1980s: bins of music that DJ Knuckles played at the Warehouse nightclub were labelled in the store "As Heard At The Warehouse", which was shortened to simply "House". Patrons later asked for new music for the bins, which Chip E. implies was a demand the shop tried to meet by stocking newer local club hits. In a 1986 interview, when Rocky Jones, the club DJ who ran the D.J. International record label, was asked about the "house" moniker, he did not mention Importes Etc., Frankie Knuckles, or the Warehouse by name. However, he agreed that "house" was a regional catch-all term for dance music, and that it was once synonymous with older disco music, before it became a way to refer to "new" dance music.
Larry Heard, a.k.a. "Mr. Fingers", claims that the term "house" became popular due to many of the early DJs creating music in their own home studios using synthesizers and drum machines, such as the Roland TR-808 programmable drum machine, TR-909, and the TB 303 bassline synth. These synthesizers were used to create a house subgenre called acid house. Juan Atkins, an originator of Detroit techno music, claims the term "house" reflected the exclusive association of particular tracks with particular clubs and DJs; those records helped differentiate the clubs and DJs, and thus were considered to be their "house" records. In an effort to maintain such exclusives, the DJs were inspired to create their own "house" records.
House lyrics contained positive, uplifting messages for all people, from every different walk of life but spoke especially to those who were considered to be outcasts, especially African-Americans, Latinos, and the gay subculture. As well, house music lyrics encouraged unity and called for people of all ethnic groups and backgrounds to come together. The house music dance scene was one of the most integrated and progressive spaces in the 1980s; gays, blacks, and other minority groups were able to dance together in a positive environment. Frankie Knuckles once said that the Warehouse club in Chicago was like "church for people who have fallen from grace". House record producer Marshall Jefferson compared it to "old-time religion in the way that people just get happy and screamin'". Deep house lyrics also contained messages calling for equality for the black community. However, not all house music songs had vocals, and in some cases, the vocals were wordless, as the most important element in house was the beat and rhythm. This contrasts sharply with pop music, which forefronts the vocal melody and the song lyrics.
Detroit techno is an offshoot of Chicago house music which developed in the early and mid-1980s. One of the earliest hits was "Big Fun" by Inner City. Detroit techno developed as the DJ The Electrifying Mojo did his radio program, which fused eclectic sounds into the signature Detroit techno sound. This sound, also influenced by European electronica (Kraftwerk, Art of Noise), Japanese synthpop (Yellow Magic Orchestra), early B-boy (breakdancing) Hip-Hop (Man Parrish, Soul Sonic Force) and Italo disco (Doctor's Cat, Ris, Klein M.B.O.), was further pioneered by Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson, known as the Belleville Three.
Derrick May a.k.a. "MAYDAY" and Thomas Barnett released "Nude Photo" in 1987 on May's label "Transmat Records", which helped start the Detroit techno music scene. This record was played on Chicago's Hot Mix 5 Radio DJ mix show and in Chicago clubs. A year later, Transmat released "Strings of Life". Transmat Records also released such as 1988's "Wiggin". As well, Derrick May had releases on Kool Kat Records and many remixes for underground and mainstream recording artists. Kevin Saunderson's company KMS Records contributed many releases that were as much house music as they were techno. These tracks were well received in Chicago and played on Chicago radio and in clubs.
Blake Baxter's 1986 recording, "When we Used to Play / Work your Body", 1987's "Bounce Your Body to the Box" and "Force Field", "The Sound / How to Play our Music" and "the Groove that Won't Stop" and a remix of "Grooving Without a Doubt". In 1988, as house music became more popular among general audiences, Kevin Saunderson's group Inner City with Paris Gray released the 1988 hits "Big Fun" and "Good Life", which eventually were picked up by Virgin Records. Each EP / 12 inch single sported remixes by Mike "Hitman" Wilson and Steve "Silk" Hurley of Chicago and Derrick "Mayday" May and Juan Atkins of Detroit. In 1989, KMS had another hit release of "Rock to the Beat" which was a theme in Chicago dance clubs.
The Detroit Techno scene was also met with some conflict. Reynold's "A Tale of Three Cities" discussed the acceptance and inclusion of marginalized groups within each genre of Techno, House, and Garage. Detroit turned out to be where wealthier black youth tried to discourage ghetto youth from enjoying Techno. Comparing that to the religious sanctuary that House provided, Chicago became a true "house" to the black, Hispanic, and gay communities in Chicago.
With house music already important in the 1980s dance club scene, eventually house penetrated the UK pop charts. London DJ "Evil" Eddie Richards spun at dance parties as resident at the Clink Street club. Richards' approach to house focuses on the deep basslines. Nicknamed the UK's "Godfather of House", he and Clink co-residents Kid Batchelor and Mr. C played a key role in early UK house. House first charted in the UK in Wolverhampton following on from the success of the Northern Soul scene.[clarification needed] The record generally credited as the first house hit in the UK was Farley "Jackmaster" Funk's "Love Can't Turn Around", which reached #10 in the UK singles chart in September 1986.
In January 1987, Chicago DJ/artist Steve "Silk" Hurley's "Jack Your Body" reached number one in the UK, showing it was possible for house music to achieve crossover success in the pop charts. The same month also saw Raze enter the top 20 with "Jack the Groove", and several further house hits reached the top ten that year. Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) expensively-produced productions for Mel and Kim, including the number-one hit "Respectable", added elements of house to their previous Europop sound. SAW session group Mirage scored top-ten hits with "Jack Mix II" and "Jack Mix IV", medleys of previous electro and Europop hits rearranged in a house music style. Key labels in the rise of house music in the UK included:
In March 1987, the UK tour of influential US DJs such as Knuckles, Jefferson, Fingers Inc. (Heard) and Adonis, on the DJ International Tour boosted house's popularity in the UK. Following the number-one success of MARRS' "Pump Up The Volume" in October, in 1987 to 1989, UK acts such as The Beatmasters, Krush, Coldcut, Yazz, Bomb The Bass, S-Express, and Italy's Black Box opened the doors to house music success on the UK charts. Early British house music quickly set itself apart from the original Chicago house sound. Many of the early hits were based on sample montage, and unlike the US soulful vocals, in UK house, rap was often used for vocals (far more than in the US), and humor and wit was an important element.
The second best-selling British single of 1988 was an acid house record, the Coldcut-produced "The Only Way Is Up" by Yazz. One of the early club anthems, "Promised Land" by Joe Smooth, was covered and charted within a week by UK band The Style Council. Europeans embraced house, and began booking important American house DJs to play at the big clubs, such as Ministry of Sound, whose resident, Justin Berkmann brought in US pioneer Larry Levan.
The house music club scene in cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Wolverhampton and London were provided with dance tracks by many underground Pirate Radio stations. Club DJs also brought in new house styles, which helped bolster this music genre. The earliest UK house and techno record labels such as Warp Records and Network Records (otherwise known as Kool Kat records) helped introduce American and later Italian dance music to Britain. These labels also promoted UK dance music acts. By the end of the 1980s, UK DJs Jenö, Thomas, Markie and Garth moved to San Francisco, and called their group the Wicked Crew. The Wicked Crew's dance sound transmitted UK styles to the US, which helped to trigger the birth of the US west coast's rave scene.
House was also being developed by DJs and record producers in the booming dance club scene in Ibiza. While no house artists or labels came from this tiny island at the time, mixing experiments and innovations done by Ibiza DJs helped to influence the house style. By the mid-1980s a distinct Balearic mix of house was discernible. Several influential clubs in Ibiza, such as Amnesia, with DJ Alfredo at the decks, were playing a mix of rock, pop, disco and house. These clubs, fuelled by their distinctive sound and copious consumption of the club drug Ecstasy (MDMA), began to influence the British scene. By late 1987, DJs such as Trevor Fung, Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling were bringing the Ibiza sound to key UK clubs such as the Haçienda in Manchester. Ibiza influences also spread to DJs working London clubs such as Shoom in Southwark, Heaven, Future and Spectrum.
In the U.S., house music developed into more sophisticated sound, moving beyond the rudimentary drum machine loops and short samples that had characterized early US house. In Chicago, Marshall Jefferson formed the house group Ten City with Byron Burke, Byron Stingily and Herb Lawson (from "Intensity"). New York City–based performers such as Mateo & Matos and Blaze had slickly produced disco-infused house tracks. In Detroit a proto-techno music sound began to emerge with the DJ recordings and mixes of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
Atkins, a former member of Cybotron, released "No UFOs" as Model 500 in 1985, which became a regional hit. Atkins follow this by dozens of tracks on Transmat, Metroplex and Fragile. One of the most unusual songs was "Strings of Life" by Derrick May (under the name Rhythm Is Rhythm), a darker, more intellectual strain of house. "Techno-Scratch" was released by the Knights Of The Turntable in 1984 which had a similar techno sound to Cybotron. The manager of the Factory nightclub and co-owner of the Haçienda, Tony Wilson, also promoted acid house culture on his weekly TV show. The UK midlands also embraced the late 1980s house scene with illegal parties and raves and more legal dance clubs such as The Hummingbird.
Back in America the scene had still not progressed beyond a small number of clubs in Chicago, Detroit, Newark and New York City. Newark-area DJ Tony Humphries was influenced the sounds of disco pioneer David Mancuso, the host of the disco-era's underground gay subculture loft parties. Humphries played his mixes in Newark NJ's Club Zanzibar, where he developed his signature "Jersey Sound", which mixed a soulful element with a rawer edge.
DJ Tony Humphries began his residency at the Club Zanzibar in Newark, New Jersey in 1982 and, along with others, helped "spawn the sometimes raw but always soulful, gospel-infused subgenre" of deep house music known as the Jersey Sound. The club scene also gave rise to the ball culture scene in Newark hotels and nightclubs. "Queen of House" Crystal Waters and other house luminaries performed on the Newark scene.
Many independent Chicago-based record labels were also getting their artists on the dance charts. Detroit DJ Terrence Parker uses his advanced turntablism skills and his focus on precision to blend hip hop music DJing styles, such as rhythmic scratching, in his house mixes. Fellow Detroit spinner DJ Minx is a notable woman house DJ. Her records on her Women on Wax label blend Parker-influenced turntablism precision with a funky style.
In the UK, any house song released by a Chicago-based label was routinely considered a "must-play" at UK house music clubs. Paradise Garage in New York City was still a top club in the house era, just as it had been during the disco age. The emergence of Todd Terry, a pioneer of the genre, demonstrated the continuum from the underground disco approach which moved to a new house sound. Terry's cover of Class Action's "Weekend" (mixed by Larry Levan) shows how Terry drew on newer hip-hop influences, such as the quicker sampling and the more rugged basslines.
In the late 1980s, Nu Groove Records launched and nurtured the careers of Rheji Burrell and Rhano Burrell, collectively known as Burrell (after a brief stay on Virgin America via Timmy Regisford and Frank Mendez). Nu Groove also had a stable of other NYC underground scene DJs. The Burrell's created the "New York Underground" sound of house, and they did 30+ releases on this label featuring this sound. In the 2010s, Nu Groove Record releases like the Burrells' enjoy a cult status among "crate diggers" and DJs. Mint-condition vinyl records by the Burrells from the 1980s can fetch high prices.
By the late 1980s, house DJing and production had moved to the US's west coast, particularly to San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego and Seattle. Los Angeles saw am explosion of underground raves, where DJs mixed dance tracks. L.A. DJs Marques Wyatt and Billy Long spun at Jewel's Catch One. In 1989, the L.A.-based, former EBN-OZN singer/rapper Robert Ozn started indie house label One Voice Records. Ozn released the Mike "Hitman" Wilson remix of Dada Nada's "Haunted House", which garnered club and mix show radio play in Chicago, Detroit and New York as well as in the U.K. and France. The record went up to number five on the Billboard Club Chart, marking it as the first house record by a white (Caucasian) artist to chart in the U.S. Dada Nada, the moniker for Ozn's solo act, did his first releases in 1990, using a jazz-based Deep House style. The Frankie Knuckles and David Morales remix of Dada Nada's "Deep Love" (One Voice Records in the US, Polydor in the UK), featuring Ozn's lush, crooning vocals and jazzy improvisational solos by muted trumpet, underscored Deep House's progression into a genre that integrated jazz and pop songwriting and song forms (unlike acid house and techno).
Pop singer Madonna's 1990 house song "Vogue" became an international hit as well and topped the US charts. The single is credited as helping to bring house music to the US mainstream. The gospel/R&B-influenced "Time Passes On" in 1993 (Strictly Rhythm), then later, "Follow Me" received radio airplay and club plays Another U.S. hit which received radio play was the single "Time for the Perculator" by Cajmere, which became the prototype for the emerging ghetto house subgenre. Cajmere started the Cajual and Relief labels (amongst others). By the early 1990s, artists of note included Cajmere (under that name as well as Green Velvet and as producer for Dajae), DJ Sneak, and Glenn Underground. The 1990s saw new Chicago house artists emerge, such as DJ Funk, who operates a Chicago house record label called Dance Mania. Ghetto house and acid house were other house music styles that started in Chicago.
In Britain, further experiments in the genre boosted its appeal. House and rave clubs such as Lakota and Cream emerged across Britain, hosting house and dance scene events. The 'chilling out' concept developed in Britain with ambient house albums such as The KLF's Chill Out and Analogue Bubblebath by Aphex Twin. The Godskitchen superclub brand also began in the midst of the early 90's rave scene. After initially hosting small nights in Cambridge and Northampton, the associated events scaled up at the Sanctuary Music Arena in Milton Keynes, in Birmingham and in Leeds. A new indie dance scene also emerged in the 90's. In New York, bands such as Deee-Lite furthered house's international influence. Two distinctive tracks from this era were the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" (with a distinctive vocal sample from Rickie Lee Jones) and the Happy Mondays' "Wrote for Luck" ("WFL") which was transformed into a dance hit by Vince Clarke.
In England, one of the few licensed venues was The Eclipse, which attracted people from up and down the country as it was open until the early hours. Due to the lack of licensed, legal dance event venues, house music promoters began organising illegal events in unused warehouses, aeroplane hangars and in the countryside. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was a government attempt to ban large rave dance events featuring music with "repetitive beats", due to law enforcement allegations that these events were associated with illegal club drugs. There were a number of "Kill the Bill" demonstrations by rave and electronic dance music fans. The Spiral Tribe dance event at Castle Morten was the last of these illegal raves, as the bill, which became law, in November 1994, made unauthorised house music dance events illegal in the UK. Despite the new law, the music continued to grow and change, as typified by Leftfield with "Release the Pressure", which introduced dub and reggae into the house sound. Leftfield's prior releases, such as "Not Forgotten" released in 1990 on Sheffield's Outer Rhythm records used a more typical sound.
A new generation of clubs such as Liverpool's Cream and the Ministry of Sound were opened to provide a venue for more commercial house sounds. Major record companies began to open "superclubs" promoting their own groups and acts. These superclubs entered into sponsorship deals initially with fast food, soft drink, and clothing companies. Flyers in clubs in Ibiza often sported many corporate logos from sponsors. A new subgenre, Chicago hard house, was developed by DJs such as Bad Boy Bill, DJ Lynnwood, and DJ Irene, Richard "Humpty" Vission, mixing elements of Chicago house, funky house and hard house. Additionally, producers such as George Centeno, Darren Ramirez, and Martin O. Cairo developed the Los Angeles Hard House sound. Similar to gabber or hardcore techno from the Netherlands, this was associated with the "rebel", underground club subculture of the time. These three producers introduced new production approaches and sounds in late 20th century became more prominent and widely used during first decade of the 21st century.
Towards the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, French DJ/producers such as Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, Stardust, Cassius, St. Germain and DJ Falcon began producing a new sound in Paris' club scene. Together, they laid the groundwork for what would be known as the French house movement. They combined the harder-edged-yet-soulful philosophy of Chicago house with the melodies of obscure funk records. As well, by using state-of-the-art digital production techniques blended with the retro sound of old-school analog synthesizers, they created a new sound and style which influenced house music around the world.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed August 10, 2005 to be "House Unity Day" in Chicago, in celebration of the "21st anniversary of house music" (actually the 21st anniversary of the founding of Trax Records, an independent Chicago-based house label). The proclamation recognized Chicago as the original home of house music and that the music's original creators "were inspired by the love of their city, with the dream that someday their music would spread a message of peace and unity throughout the world". DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Paul Johnson and Mickey Oliver celebrated the proclamation at the Summer Dance Series, an event organized by Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs.
It was during this decade that vocal house became firmly established, both in the underground and as part of the pop market, and labels such as Defected Records, Roulé and Om were at the forefront of championing the emerging sound. In the mid-2000s, fusion genres such as electro house and fidget house emerged. This fusion is apparent in the crossover of musical styles by artists such as Dennis Ferrer and Booka Shade, with the former's production style having evolved from the New York soulful house scene and the latter's roots in techno. Numerous live performance events dedicated to house music were founded during the course of the decade, including Shambhala Music Festival and major industry sponsored events like Miami's Winter Music Conference. The genre even gained popularity through events like Creamfields. In the late 2000s, house style witnessed renewed chart success thanks to acts such as Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Fedde Le Grand, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris.
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During the 2010s multiple new sounds in house music were developed by DJs, producers and artists. Sweden had "Swedish progressive house" with the emergence of Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, and Steve Angello. While all three artists had solo careers, when they formed a trio called Swedish House Mafia, it showed that house could still produce chart-topping hits, such as their 2013 single "Don't You Worry Child", which cracked the Billboard top 10. Avicii was a Swedish DJ/artist known for his hits such as "Hey Brother", "Addicted to You", "The Days", "The Nights", "Levels", "Waiting for Love", and "Without You". Fellow Swedish DJ/artist Alesso collaborated with Calvin Harris, Usher, and David Guetta. In France, Justice blended garage and alternative rock influences into their pop-infused house tracks, creating a big and funky sound. Skrillex, a former alternative rock singer, mixed dubstep and pop into his UK house music.
During the 2010s, in the UK and in the USA, many records labels stayed true to the original house music sound from the 1980s. It includes labels like Dynamic Music, Defected Records, Dirtybird, Fuse London, Exploited, Pampa, Cajual Records, Hot Creations, Get Physical, and Pets Recordings.
Netherlands brought together a concept of "Dirty Dutch", an electro house subgenre characterized by abrasive lead synths and darker arpeggios, with prominent DJs being Chuckie, Hardwell, Laidback Luke, Afrojack, R3hab, Bingo Players, Quintino, Alvaro, Cedric Gervais and 2G. Elsewhere, fusion genres derivative of 2000s progressive house returned, especially with the help of DJs/artists Calvin Harris, Eric Prydz, Mat Zo, Above & Beyond and Fonzerelli in Europe.
Diplo, a DJ/producer from Tupelo, Mississippi, was able to blend underground sounds with mainstream styles. As he came from the Southern US, Diplo fused house music with rap and dance/pop, while also integrating more obscure Southern US genres. Other North Americans playing house music include the Canadian Deadmau5 (known for his unusual mask and unique musical style), Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Porter Robinson and Wolfgang Gartner. The growing popularity of such artists led to the emergence of electro house and progressive house sounds in popular music, such as singles like David Guetta" feat. Avicii "Sunshine"  and Axwell's remix of "In The Air."
Big room house was increasingly popular since 2010, through international dance music festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival. In addition to these popular examples of house, there has also been a reunification of contemporary house and its roots. Many hip hop and R&B artists also turned to house music to add a mass appeal and dance floor energy to the music they produce. Tropical house went onto the top 40 on the UK Singles Chart in 2015 with artists such as Kygo and Jonas Blue. In the mid-2010s, the influences of house began to also be seen in Korean K-pop music, examples of this being f(x)'s single "4 Walls" and SHINee's title track "View."
Later in the 2010s, a more traditional house sound came to the forefront of the mainstream in the UK,  with Calvin Harris's singles 'One Kiss' and 'Promises', with the latter also incorporating elements of nu-disco and Italo house. These singles both went to No.1 in the UK,  showing that a classic house sound could still have great success in the modern day.
Chosen Few is an annual event in Chicago that celebrates house music in its birthplace. Started in 1990, it was a gathering of house music artists and their friends and families. In the 2010s, it is an annual event with live performances by DJs and artists from around the world.
house music was born in the black-latino urban gay clubs of the U.S.
Another New York DJ, Frankie Knuckles, moved to Chicago, following an invitation to become the resident DJ at the Warehouse, a gay black club.
House music, in particular, is often held up as a kind of banner of cultural diversity owing to its origins in black and Latino discos, where it first found its audience. One could point to the 1980s, when African American producers / DJs, like Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson or DJ Pierre, began refining the all night dance floor workouts at underground gay and mixed clubs like the legendary Warehouse club in Chicago from which house music derives its name. Or there is DJ Larry Levan, whose residence at New York's Paradise Garage not only defined a distinct subgenre of its own ("garage" is slower and more gospel oriented than "house") but set the tone for today's raves—no alcohol, heavy drug use, a mixed, "up for it crowd" and loud, pulsating music for 15-hour stretches without a break.
Around 1986/7, after the initial explosion of house music in Chicago, it became clear that the major recording companies and media institutions were reluctant to market this genre of music, associated with gay African Americans, on a mainstream level. House artists turned to Europe, chiefly London but also cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Manchester, Milan, Zurich, and Tel Aviv. ... A third axis leads to Japan where, since the late 1980s, New York club DJs have had the opportunity to play guest-spots.
The initial audience started out black and gay in Chicago, but the genre has since attracted Hispanics and whites as well.
If you were a DJ in Chicago, if you wanted to have 'the' records, there was only one place to go and that was Importes. This is where Importes was. People come in, they're looking for 'Warehouse music', and we would put, you know, 'As heard at the Warehouse' or 'As played at the Warehouse', and then eventually we just shortened that down to – because people also just in the vernacular, they started saying 'yeah, what's up with that 'House music' – now at this time they were talkin' about the old, old classics, the Salsoul, the Philly classics and such – so we put on the labels for the bins, we'd say 'House music'. And people would start comin' in eventually and just start askin', 'yeah, where's the new House music?'
The term 'house music' has become a generic phrase for modern dance-oriented music," says Jones. "At one time the phrase 'old house music' was used to refer to old disco music. Now 'house' is used to describe the new music.
The word 'house' comes from a record that you only hear in a certain club. The DJs would search out an import that was as obscure as possible, and that would be a house record. You'd hear a certain record only at the Powerplant, and that was Frankie Knuckles' house record. "But you couldn't really be guaranteed an exclusive on an import, 'cos even if there were only 10 or 15 copies in the country, another DJ would track one down. So the DJs came up with the concept of making their own house records. It was like 'hey, I know I've got an exclusive because I made the record.