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What is ‘Garage Pop,’ you might wonder? Especially considering the double meaning of those two small words. ‘Garage’, as in ‘Garage Rock,’ music for misfits and leatherclad miscreants. ‘Garage’ as in ‘UK Garage,’ gnarly syncopated blasted bass music that would evolve into dubstep. ‘Pop’ as in ‘Pop Music,’ Beatles-loving rock ‘n roll, tailormade for radio with a bright, slick sheen. And ‘Pop,’ as in ‘populist,’ being by, for, and about the people - all apt descriptions of DENM.
Pop Music has changed a lot in the 21st Century, with even bedroom producers and lo-fi songsmiths able to craft sparkling hi-fi gems for little to no money. Elliott Smith was Pop, if only ‘Indie Pop,’ as is Animal Collective, Grimes, Miley Cyrus, and DJ Khaled. Pop is more of an attitude, these days - presenting music in an ear-friendly, catchy way. The same could be said of ‘Garage’, basically acting as shorthand for raw, authentic, weird, and personal. Put them together, and you get the idiosyncratic Garage Pop of DENM.
DENM has earned his Garage Pop wings, with a dayjob as a songwriter/producer for likeminded bands like Clean Spill. DENM comes from an indie slacker background, playing house shows with a variety of indie rock bands before settling on the high-gloss electronica that would make up his debut offering, the Dreamhouse EP. DENM began working in electronica on a dare after his mates became obsessed with the slow-grooving nu-disco/R&B of “Lit,” DENM’s well-received debut single.
Despite the high production values, DENM remains firmly committed to underground ideals, creating music for house parties in some imaginary beach town. “When I was writing these songs, I pictured myself playing a house party in a dingy little beach town,” says DENM. “Like, all these super-sweaty college kids dancing so hard. That’s the atmosphere of my music: a little town that makes a lot of noise.”
For those who want to see underground music remain strange and distinctive, DENM is your saviour. He’s got the work ethic, chops, and taste of a Top 40 producer, yet retains a low-key slack charm, similar to early Pavement, Modest Mouse, or other holdouts from a time before Indie musicians pandered to public opinion or popular tastes. DENM brings the best of both worlds, escaping the sometimes whiney self-obsession of the complete underground aesthete, but also focusing more on substance than style, that a lot of Pop Musicians could borrow a lesson from.
Benjamin Groff | benjamin.groff (at) brillbuilding (dot) com
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