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Homegrown Electronica 

Electronic music community rebounds from late 90s over-exposure

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Erwin attributes some local drum'n'bass success to the increasing presence of name acts coming through Charlotte's clubs. The visitors would suggest he's right about that.

"Early on (Charlotte) didn't have much of a reputation but always had a great crowd," says Lee Burridge, one of the best-known UK DJs and producers. "Now it's gaining quite a reputation with DJs and clubbers in other cities and overseas. All in all Charlotte is moving forward at high speed in the clubbing consciousness."

Part of that "high-speed" movement is due to an increasing reliance on the Internet. Erwin not only uses the Internet to network with other musicians (check for a peek at the action), he actually records over it.

"We'll send files back and forth," Erwin says, "and then put them out there for people to exchange and listen to. Since we've started doing that, we've got a lot of attention from people, like labels and DJs. A lot of labels actually prefer that method so they don't have a stack of CDs sitting around waiting to be listened to."

So far, so good for Erwin. He's been playing throughout the Carolinas and Virginia, recently venturing out West to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. He's also landed an opening spot on the upcoming Planet of the Drums stop at Mythos (April 30), a Lollapalooza-style drum'n'bass tour making its way across the US.

The big names regularly rolling through town certainly suggest that the local electronica community is thriving -- though they often overshadow the local acts that form its foundation. There are plenty of other pitfalls remaining and some new ones as well. The tension between financial and artistic success will always exist, just as there are plenty of club-goers who could care less about the artistic merit of the electronic music they happen to be dancing to.

But there is no denying the longevity or impact of electronic music, whether it floats your boat or not. The "organic" music community has in recent years made use of the newest developments in electronic music technology and incorporated it into their sound. The influence is far-reaching: from folktronica acts -- folk being the original dance music -- like Momus, Bjork and Beth Orton, to the cut-and-paste collages of Four Tet, Fridge, and Manitoba, and the post-rock of acts like Tortoise, Wilco, Cornershop and Beck.

But back at the local level, the formula remains the same.

"Our philosophy has always been to play, perform, and put out fresh sounds that no one has heard that still fills the dance floor," says Krause, adding that now that electronic music is no longer the flavor of the day for the marketers, "the scene has come full circle."

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