House music rages on in L.A., featuring raw and syncopated dance music that isn't afraid to avoid a drop now and then. (God forbid.)
Historically, L.A. house has been commonly associated with the uplifting party mantras of Marques Wyatt and Doc Martin. But dedicated crowds are coming out of the woodwork to build a community around local artists who explore the more unconventional sides of dance music: including the distorted ghetto house of Delroy Edwards, the slow and low synth-sparkle of Suzanne Kraft, and the loose, psychedelic drones of Secret Circuit.
The unifying factor with these artists is a keenness for experimentation and an ear for what gets people moving.
In the past, the growth of house in L.A. has been stunted by a lack of venues and stores dedicated to the genre, but luckily fans are now finding reliable places to buy records and enjoy the music live: Highland Park's Mount Analog record shop and Glendale's Complex nightclub chief among them.
A travel destination in its own right, Mount Analog provides a physical space where house heads can walk around and find out about new music – “a clubhouse for like-minded folks,” co-owner Zane Landreth explains.
“My bestsellers are some wild records, but there's an audience for that,” he added. “We're making new regulars every week, which just means more and more people are getting turned on to really cool stuff.”
When Landreth and his partner Mahssa Taghinia opened the shop in July 2012 they were both tired of spending all their money on shipping from Europe – the only place, it seemed, where they could find the obscure dance releases they wanted.
“We thought, if we open a store, a spot where people can get records from underrepresented genres, we can corner a market that nobody else is doing,” he said.
Likewise, Complex – regular home to Mount Analog's events – addresses the need for a reliable venue where fans can enjoy live music with a sound system worthy of the massive four-on-the-floor beats conceived by the artists coming through.
“We reach out to fans of underground music where fidelity is important and that frequently end up in less than legal places where the promoters spend thousands of dollars on renting sound systems with the possibility of going to jail or getting huge tickets,” owner John Giovanazzi says. “We can cater to these audiences and give them a place that's welcoming to them regardless of the style.”
In doing so, Giovanazzi is encouraging the experts – the promoters and labels he works with – to keep their ears to the ground, because there's now a pocket of L.A. where serious house music has a permanent home.
“We're a destination,” he added. “And that's kind of the method we take from our bookings. We book stuff people are going to want to come here to see.”