At the beginning, electronic music suffered from a bad reputation based on clichés surrounding illicit substances consumed at night, and snap judgements being made about this ‘techno boom-boom’ that lacked soul or finesse... Neither charge sounds like something you’d recommend your kids get involved in. Added to that, there was something suspect about machines creating music instead of a human.
But in the 1990s, a notable development came to contradict all the judgement brought by those who, voluntarily or not, kept their distance from the genre. The rhythms slowed down, productions became softer, and electronic music took a more playful turn, allowing it to develop enough imagination to fill the length of an album.
It was no longer music that you could only dance to, but something you could now listen to at any time of the day or night. In this way a whole new school of producers was born, focused on smooth textures and rich sounds. Of course that didn’t stop a whole group of them from rubbing shoulders with something more experimental and crazy, but just because these productions are less accessible doesn’t make them any less beautiful.
And thus was born electronica – instrumental electronic music at its foundations, but closer to pop than dance music in its purpose and aim. Far from being simple lift muzak, it is able to tell stories, invent worlds, enhance imagery, and transport you. This is how, naturally, it has become a genre able to accompany every moment in one’s life, as well as a genre that suits every age group.
I really became aware of its importance at electronic music festivals in the 2000s. There, ravers who had turned 20 in the 90s came to share their passion with their children in specially designed afternoons of initiation. The softest and most playful electronica was one of the best ways to make the little ones enter their parents' universe.
Little ears are very discerning, and will pick up on the smallest details that adults no longer pay attention to. It is for this reason that you have to first introduce them to the most accessible and joyful artists, with the funniest and most surprising song names. Little fairy tales, organic noises, synths as soft as a cuddly toy, choirs that wrap you up like a blanket, choruses that spin like music boxes, whispered tales of fantasy, notes that evoke robotic or extraterrestrial language, the tinkling of a bell or a xylophone... even the most serious of electronica artists are inspired by childhood, from Aphex Twin to Matmos, Björk, and John Maus. Behind electronica hide marvellous adults who have chosen music as a way to prolong their childhood dreams.