By Jade Lock-Whitmore
A darkened room. Flashing lights. People dancing in a trance to their favorite performer. But the performer isn’t your traditional musician — he plays other people’s records instead of creating his own.
Hundreds of people in Ottawa are going to clubs to see and hear this new breed of musician.
They are D.J.s who manipulate recordings of songs and sounds to produce endless loops of high-energy, beat-filled music without vocals, commonly called ‘electronica’ or ‘house.’
Genevieve Lepine, 21, is one person attracted to this type of entertainment.
She says she likes to hear certain D.J.s play because they have a unique style. Hearing a favorite D.J. play is “in a way like a live band,” she adds.
She used to go to Zaphod Beeblebrox and Barrymore’s Music Hall but now that she has discovered electronica she doesn’t see live bands any more.
“I don’t think live bands will be that popular any more,” Lepine predicts.
This doesn’t mean traditional music forms are on their way out, according to Eugene Haslam, owner of Barrymore’s on Bank Street and Zaphod’s in the Market.
“As far as taking away from live music venues, I don’t think so,” Haslam says. He also says live music is as or more popular than it has been, adding, “there are more people interested in live music.”
Local musicians agree.
“There’s still a lot of demand for live bands . . . I think people who have gone to live bands will always go to see live bands,” says Pam Brennan, from the local band Hennessey.
Haslam agrees with Lepine that the best D.J.s are like live bands because both perform live and that D.Js could play at a place like Barrymore’s “if it reeks of performance — I want that.”
He says D.J.s add more to the “music pot”, and there is room for both D.J.’s and live bands in the local music scene.
Atomic, which opened in the Market in March, is one club in Ottawa that features only D.J.s and their music.
Co-owner Nicholas Reichenbach says on Saturdays the club attracts upwards of 800 people and more people are taking interest in the music all the time.
“Electronica/house is growing in popularity,” says Reichenbach. “It “allows you to imagine and dream to the music.” Something, he says, traditional dance music doesn’t allow.
He also cites the recent success of the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk as other examples of the genre’s growing appeal and influence.
According to Jam! Music Charts, which calculates the top selling albums from across Canada, Daft Punk’s album “Home Work” is still in the top 50 ablums chart after 33 weeks, and Chemical Brothers’ “Dig Your Own Hole” is still on the alternative top 50 after 30 weeks.
Reichenbach also thinks there is room for both types of music in Ottawa.
“History is progressing so that this music has a following. It’s not eliminating live bands, it’s creating another market.”
Brennan from Hennessey says while the two different types of music attract different crowds, some crossover is occurring.
“A lot of bands are incorporating it into their music.” she says.
Those involved in the Ottawa music industry agree that with the introduction and popularity of electronica, Ottawa might not be losing a music scene but growing to support another.