The State of House


If you're looking for a snapshot of the success of house music today, simply take a look at one man: Calvin Harris.

The young man from Dumfries – that’s Scotland – broke a Billboard record this week, claiming three singles in the top 10. Last week he signed a three year deal with Las Vegas super club Hakkasan, to the tune of $400,000 a night.

The recent phenomenon - which has seen the likes of Harris, alongside David Guetta, Deadmau5, and Swedish House Mafia become chart topping sensations - has swept across the world from the nightclubs of the UK, to the casinos of Macau, to huge festivals that welcome tens of thousands of people. But it has slightly more humble beginnings.

Like many scenes from days gone by – Motown, punk, even the revival of rap to the mainstream with Eminem – the story of house can be traced partly back to Detroit, Michigan. An offshoot of Chicago house which was also big during the 80s with the likes of Frankie Knuckles of The Warehouse pioneering the sound, Detroit saw the genre hit the mainstream with Big Fun by Inner City topping the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and entering top 10s across the globe.

From there, the doors to house were well and truly open, and the party was here for good. Hitting the shores of the UK, it went further to influence the world with the Second Summer of Love, and the rise of acid house which saw the Hacienda in Manchester become one of the most famous nightclubs on the planet during the late 80s and early 90s.

Britpop and grunge took over, with the likes of Nirvana and Oasis taking over the airwaves. But the echoes of house were never fully silenced. Like in the 80s in Chicago, the end of the 90s saw nightclubs once again be introduced to a new form of the genre, except far from Illinois in the dingy backstreets of Paris. We were introduced to Air, Justice, and of course, Daft Punk, whose recent hit Get Lucky, co-starring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, sold over 9.3 million digital downloads worldwide, emphasizing the appeal the genre still wields.


The early aughts saw it boom with Roger Sanchez helping it become what it is today. His huge hit "Another Chance" charted across the world. Bringing house to the mainstream, he has worked on remixes for an array of stars including Kylie Minogue, Madonna, The Police, and a track for No Doubt, which he won a Grammy for. Sanchez even setting up his own record label, Stealth, which has put out music by Steve Angello and Swedish phenom Avicii.

And he still has time to spin with the best of them. The 47-year-old New Yorker is a regular in Las Vegas, today's house mecca, while he’s also a favorite in Europe playing Ibiza’s top hotspots and major events like the European Poker Tour’s party in Barcelona last year.

During the DJ’s performance at EPT Barcelona, the superstar sampled some of his new record as well as paying homage to the origins of the genre he loves. He said, “There’s a lot of influences from Latin, deep house, there’s techno, there’s a lot of sounds that came from the underground which crossed over, and one of the things I want to do is reconnect with that sound, especially right now with the evolution of dance music being what it is.”


And it’s quite the evolution. In Las Vegas, Hakkasan is transforming the scene, placing DJs on the same plinth as the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Elton John, and David Copperfield, who are all headline acts on the strip.

Alongside Harris’ $400,000 sets, Deadmau5 reportedly makes around $425,000 per night, while Tiesto receives $250,000 for turning the tables.

But why such a resurgence?

Kenny Dope, a Grammy nominated producer and one half of Masters at Work, believes it was always going to come back around again, telling Music Radar, “Music always moves in circles. It has a lot to do with the technology as well, which has been a huge benefit for people that are tapped into it as we’re able to do things a lot quicker than we used to.”

It’s perhaps the reason Calvin Harris can have nine top 10 singles from one album on the UK Singles Chart – that beat a record set by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Is the King of House just as influential these days? It seems so. The reason the Scot is earning over $60 million a year is because of the huge appetite to get down to house. It’s why Las Vegas nightclubs are promoting massive DJ sets ahead of the casino floors and Dope believes it’s getting back to its best.

“The whole deep house scene is happening for me. I love what the kids are doing now and I think a lot of producers and DJs are open to the music again.”

It doesn’t look like house's dominance will be slowing down anytime soon either, particularly with the state of the music charts at the moment. Are any pop acts that are not already drawing from house music exciting? Meghan Trainor? Ed Sheeran? Even the world's biggest rock bands — Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Muse — have embraced house music to some degree to keep their music from feeling stale.

And what’s more, with various underground scenes thriving across the world, it’s as accessible as it was back in the days of Chicago and the Second Summer of Love. 2015 is going to be one hot, steamy, and sexy summer of love, and it’ll be house blaring out of the speakers, serenading us all.