Running parallel to the American EDM explosion has been a similarly transformative awakening across Asia.
Nowhere better typifies this renaissance than South Korea, and its capital city of Seoul.
Seoul is a sprawling metropolis, that has has developed through recent economic boom years into a major world player – now sitting pretty as the world’s 4th largest metropolitan economy.
But it is not just commerce that makes Seoul tick. As a major hub for Asian, and increasingly international tourism, music is at the very heart of the city’s resurgence. It may be most famous for birthing the K-Pop & Korean Wave scenes, but the modern sound of Seoul has a four-four beat.
The rise in the popularity of electronic music has been aided by the arrival of major super clubs in the city, each competing to bring in the very biggest EDM artists from across the planet, every weekend, plus a series of festivals and large outdoor events.
We spoke to local artist G-Tech, otherwise known as ZTKK who is resident DJ at Octagon – one of Seoul’s leading nightclubs, in addition to a regular artist at World DJ Festival & UMF Korea.
“The rave scene in Seoul existed back in the late ’90s, but it was only for a few people” he opines, “some of the clubs in Seoul began playing dance music in the early 2000s but everything spiked when the bigger clubs and events started to pop up”
These ‘bigger’ clubs can be pinned down to three behemoths who are bossing the scene in S. Korea. Octagon, A Club and Ellui.
Ellui was the first major venue to open in Seoul, and can be thanked for kickstarting the scene here, yet in recent years they have focussed more on student nights, away from the dance music scene. These days lovers of repetitive beats will be more likely to be seen in Octagon or A Club, where they can find international DJ talent such as Nic Fanciulli, Denis Koyu holding court.
But what is the prevailing sound in the clubs and venues of Seoul? Local DJ duo Shut Da Mouth (pictured above) imply that for Seoul’s clubbers – bigger is usually better…
“People in the clubs mainly want to hear progressive, and big room electro.” they tell us, “I think it’s similar to other places in the world in that you can’t fail with a tune that just hit the Beatport Top 10!”
This certainly ties in with the emergence of electronic music in wider areas of life.
G-Tech continues; “You can now hear some of the famous tunes outside of the clubs, on TV and Radio, yet many people see this just as ‘club music’. So we all kind of feel a sense of duty to spread this music and culture so it is not just dubbed that way.”
With three world class venues and a thriving EDM festival scene, you can be sure that this is just the beginning for Seoul’s dance music journey.
Want to check it out for yourself? Start off with the key players, below.