Dance music has been alive with talk of the return of electro in recent months. And while long-time advocates of the scene including DJ Stingray, Dopplereffekt and I-F have seen a surge in bookings, flying the flag for the classic Detroit sound, many others – including Nina Kraviz and Helena Hauff – are finding increasingly widespread success combining techno and electro with the industrial clatter of electronic body music (EBM).
Hauff often uses EBM in her wide-ranging DJ sets and has also used her Return To Disorder label to put out music by new artists producing the sound. "I feel like the term electronic body music is such a great name anyway because in music, for me, it's all about the energy, and when it comes to club music it's about the body. It's a very physical thing."
"EBM, early house and techno all have some degree of shared DNA," explains Bon Harris of seminal band Nitzer Ebb. "Each genre takes its own direction, but there are commonalities at source. The original EBM protagonists have had a resonant influence in a lot of genres. The aggression, energy and upfront danceability in the case of Nitzer Ebb are what seem to have captured a lot of imaginations."
"The longer a style sticks around, the more respect it tends to get," Harris continues. "Especially if it holds up in terms of freshness and relevance. Patience is a virtue. If you can weather that intervening decade-and-a-half when you are completely unfashionable, it all comes back around. It is gratifying to feel that emotions and intentions that were important to us in formative years remain important to a new generation."
"Artists have more influences to draw from, an expanded range of tools and possibilities, and the vantage point of updating a classic style for modern times," Harris explains. "Artists like Rhys Fulber add another level of sophistication in the production. That's the advantage of taking a classic genre and using today's [technology], you can take it to another level."
He also explains that the shift in sound on a wider scale is connected to the current political climate. "The music got more aggressive over the last few years with a comeback of noise and industrial," he continues. "It's less relaxed than the early '00s when we were more optimistic about the future. Now we have many negative inputs around us, and that's reflecting in the music. It's cathartic to sweat and express yourself now in a room full of bodies moving with energy."