So Low: How ’80s EBM and industrial are returning to the dance floor
March 9, 2016
Powell, Helena Hauff and Katie Shambles on JD Twitch’s new So Low compilation.
Perhaps “returning” to the dance floor is misleading. When JD Twitch (one half of Optimo) first started DJing in the indie clubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the late ’80s, the post-punk, industrial and EBM he played would often leave the dance floor cold. There was no scene, the genres we now impose on the music, nonexistent.
Instead, Twitch fielded angry advances about the use of drum machines in the music. How times change. Convinced by his wife to delve back into his early DJ bag, Twitch launched the So Low night as Glasgow’s Poetry Club, playing the same Front 242, Tuxedomoon and The Klinik records that fell flat first time round. Now, the dance floor heaves, the noticeably more mixed audience getting down to ten-minute Throbbing Gristle tracks with complete abandon.
It hasn’t been an isolated phenomenon. Across the electronic music world, the music played at So Low nights and subsequently collected on the compilation has been slipped into techno sets and informing the most forward-thinking club music for some years now. Powell, who runs Diagonal and has recently released on XL and Werk Discs’ Helena Hauff, are just two examples of young producers who have found affinity with the raw groove and give-a-shit attitude of the music.
With both dropping remixes for the project, we spoke to Powell, Helena, Twitch and So Low resident DJ and artist Katie Shambles, who has provided the hand-printed sleeves for the LP, to find out how and why the music now dubbed EBM has found its way back to the dancefloor.