Clubbers' Decktionary: Witch House
- 5 January 2012
A guide to the myriad genres of clubbing, from Trouble's DJ Hobbes
Witch House aka Haunted House or Drag, proper noun: usually down-tempo to mid-tempo (80-120 bpm), dark, syrupy fusion of hip hop with goth, industrial, noise, drone and/or shoegaze elements. Its main practitioners also favour the use of occult symbols in place of conventional typography, apparently in a bid to maintain mystique and underground status
Origins Allegedly started, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, by Denver’s Travis Egedy, aka Pictureplane, and Jonathan Coward, aka Shams, describing the strand of occult-based house music they liked to make, the idea grew in popularity following an end-of-year interview with Egedy in US indie bible Pitchfork. He included his best Witch House artists for 2009 and mockingly claimed that 2010 would be ‘straight up witchy’. The term consequently became an internet meme and soon enough it was the subject of a feature in The New York Times. Since then, many acts formerly perceived as forming part of the ‘scene’ and critics have dissed it as a gimmick and/or a joke, including Egedy himself, who seems at once baffled and excited by the internet monster he has unwittingly spawned.
Key figures Michigan’s Salem, Brooklyn’s White Ring, San Francisco’s oOoOO (pronounced ‘Oh’) and Pennsylvania’s Balam Acab have all become associated with the term, alongside Mater Suspiria Vision, New York’s Creep and Fostercare. 20jazzfunkgreats’ Tri Angle label, Disaro Records and Aural Sects are prime label movers, while Arizona gothic popstrel Zola Jesus and Swedish electro star Fever Ray have been identified as mainstream influences. Washington’s Bl/\ck Ceiling, London’s Crim3s, Brisbane’s Daterape and US artist Aparition are currently more underground but also worth a listen.
Bram Gieben, aka Texture, is Witch House’s most vociferous champion in Scotland just now. Thanks for his help researching this feature.