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Back You are here: Home Reports from Real Life Oh, The Things We've Seen! Reviews "Witch House" is a Dr▲g
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 05:35

"Witch House" is a Dr▲g

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"Witch house is a really gay thing to call a lot of cool shit," says faceless Youtuber lepusupel of self-proclamed drag musician oOoOO's heavily popular track NoSummr4u. "This isnt witch house, this is dope."

Scrolling through the comments on any track labeled or considered part of the Witch House movement (taking its name from a combination of its Goth oriented schema and influence of preexisting house music,) it’s hard not to notice much of the same. And while it seems the internet's opinions may be a shaky source of information at best, having sprung from the loins of websites like MySpace and Soundcloud, witch house music may very well be a product of the internet if nothing else. With names like †‡†, PWIN ▲▲ TEAKS, and twYIY<ght>ZoNe, many witch house artists are almost impossible to say aloud, let alone write without the use of a copy and paste function.

Taking a heavy queue from the 1990's chopped and screwed movement, Witch House (also being referred to as Drag, or Haunted House) combines ghostly vocals, spooky synths and almost painfully slow BPMs to create haunted sounding electro tracks that could almost be described as having a specific audible aesthetic more than a set sound.

While witch house music has definite, definable parameters, it's being criticized left and right. Not for being anything less than good, mind you. It's being criticized, surprisingly, by its fans. Why?

For not actually being a genre.

"I think it's called 'drag' becausebeing labeled is a drag. But what do I know. People make me sick," claims YouTube user NOTgarycoleman (who, in fact, isn't Gary Coleman.)

An anonymous internetter retorts on Pitchfork's article of witch house, "Ugh! Leave it to good 'ol Shitfork to dub ridiculous labels to these bands. 'Witch house'? Really? Well then, let me gather up my mortar and pestle, and my incense while I listen!"

Partially, it seems, the problem fans are having isn't with the parameters of the genre itself, but the name it was given. While aesthetics and titles of many titles lean heavily toward the obliquely gothic (with popular artists like Salem, Modern Witch, and reoccurring visuals that include crosses, black triangles, and hooded figures,) where does that leave fans of the music that have no interest in the gothic subculture?

"Maybe you just made the same mistake by branding music with genres and shitty sub-genres. Music should just be enjoyed whatever sound or for. People should keep their minds open and stop labeling things with names that mean nothing," snarks another youtuber DeadFishDirector in retort to another member.

Another problem that arises in the myriad comments and banter about most witch house is, again, nothing critical of the music itself, but rather: it's been done before under a plethora of names. Industrial, Goth, it's even been called nothing but "Psych Tinged Southern Hip Hop."

But where does the line get drawn between influence and genre? Though it's often referred to as the same old Goth shit again and again, many witch house and drag artists cite notably different inspirations. Creep's Lauren Dillard claims to be heavily influenced by Nicki Minaj and while many listeners claim Balam Acab sounds "almost like rudimentary dubstep," he claims he’s "never been exposed to much other dubstep, techno, or dance music."

As unlikely as it is, too, for a genre that no one is sure really exists, witch house has already sprouted sub-genres. Tracks composed of remixed hip hop songs are being called "witch hop," though the label has grown from something that's only being considered a "pseudogenre."

While listeners can't agree on anything but liking it, producers and musicians alike seem to have very little problem with the new label. Eponymous label owner Robert Disaro claims, "“I like the term ‘witch house’, it kinda fits the whole dark heavy sound. I’ve also seen it spelled ‘haus’, so I guess it’s how ever you wanna take it. Keep in mind, Disaro isn’t specifically a witch house/haus or drag label. We’re just a label." When approached by Expatriarch blog writer Joey Hansom about the uniting factors of the genre, he says “independent music by mindfucked artists all working together to bring music back to where it should be. Right now musicians are so controlled by labels with what they should do and what they can’t do… All this high gloss shit on TV and radio (even college radio) that’s the new now next, that shit isn’t indie to me. Art and music need to stay together and it hasn’t been like that.”

Perhaps the ceaseless controversy is nothing but a product of "Generation Z's" refusal to be labeled, named, or judged. While the "net" generation is entitled to feel protective of its creative offspring, perhaps in this case it's insistence on individualism is working against itself. We've created something to enjoy, it seems to be shouting, but what do we call it? Why call it anything at all? Amongst the innumerable comments on each track, hundreds and thousands of the same stand out.

"Wtf is it?"

And I don't know really.

I'm not sure anyone does yet.

But it's pretty fucking good.




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Last modified on Thursday, 15 March 2012 17:11
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