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Witch House: The Gothic Side of EDM That Started Out as a Joke, but Turned Serious


December 13, 2013

Posted by: Lauralie Ezra

By this point, you may have heard the term “witch house” within EDM circles. Over several years, the sub-genre has earned some infamy and acclaim.

At the core of witch house are gothic themes, obscure lyrics, dark imagery, names that contain crosses, triangles, and squares, and often slowed, distorted samples. Many speculate that the odd naming of the artists is not just meant to keep with the aesthetics; it is also a deliberate attempt to make online search harder and keeps the artists underground.

On the surface, much of this seems dark and deliberately scary. This is why there is some irony to the fact that the term “witch house” was created as a tongue-in-cheek description by Denver-based DJ Travis Egedy to describe his own style of house music. However, the term ended up circulating everywhere, from Pitchfork to blogs to and even to the New York Times. Almost overnight, this self-effacing joke started a new movement in EDM. However, with the quality of the artists that have emerged from it, we can certainly say it is for the best.

For instance, the group Salem has mastered the techniques of laying moody, distorted, atmospheric sounds over hard beats and slowed samples – going as far as performing an awesome total makeover of Britney Spears.

However, more recently, the duo Purity Ring established a reputation with a handful of unreleased singles and put out its debut album Shrines. On their full-length debut, they made it clear that they had perfected a way to bring in the mystical atmosphere associated with the genre, but also give it a sparkling level of polish that makes it inviting for people who are just looking to dance.

By this point we can safely say that this genre is no longer a joke. Furthermore, Boulder Weekly’s interview with Edegy probably describes it best: “like a cult based around dance music, ‘like a magical house music.’”