Underground Dance Music In Canada Is No Longer Underground
Thanks in part to Sydney Blu, Greg Gow took home this year's JUNO Award for Underground Dance Single for his track "I Knew Techno."
The modern-day term and music category of "underground dance" can often be misunderstood.
Underground dance is a figurative description that represents the struggles of previous generations that developed house, techno and drum & bass. The term pays homage to the origins and roots of those genres born in the true underground of the 1980s in Chicago and Detroit by marginalized groups.
While the term inherently honors its progenitors, it can cultivate modern challenges due to the proliferation of music considered "underground." In other words, it was created there, but no longer lives there.
Sydney Blu recognized this cultural conundrum and relentlessly campaigned across the Canadian entertainment industry to have the category of Underground Dance added to the JUNO Awards. Her efforts paid off with the introduction of the Underground Dance Single category in 2021, first awarded a year later. Now, Blu sits as the JUNOs Chairwoman for the category.
The Underground Dance Single nominees at the 2023 JUNO Awards in Edmonton were Bensley (“Debonair”), BLOND:ISH and Cameron Jack (“Aye Aye”), Fred Everything (“The Time Is (Now)”), Greg Gow (“I Knew Techno”) and Tiga (“Easy”).
Gow took home this year's award for his track "I Knew Techno", which pays homage to Detroit and the roots of the song's namesake.
EDM.com caught up with Gow after he walked off the JUNO stage this past weekend to hear about what the award means to him.
EDM.com: Congratulations Greg! How do you feel?
Greg Gow: It's amazing. It's as simple as that. It's really nice to see. I've been in this game for a long time and the recognition is really nice to see in Canada and supporting underground dance music.
EDM.com: Can you tell us about the track and how it honors Detroit?
Greg Gow: The track features Kevin Saunderson, which I ripped from an Instagram video. It talks about where techno came from. For those people that don't know, true techno originated in Detroit in the late '80s.
EDM.com: Where are you celebrating tonight?
Greg Gow: At the Bower with Fred Everything on the ones and twos [laughs].
EDM.com: We have been following the story about Sydney Blu and how she campaigned for this new category. The message of "I Knew Techno" is a beautiful tribute to the efforts and achievements of you and Sydney fighting for recognition of the underground. What do you think is in store for the future of techno?
Greg Gow: The pandemic has really brought a new energy to electronic music. There's a whole bunch of new kids and promoters that are taking the music back to where it came from, but pushing a new sound.
It's interesting that in the '90s electronic music was much faster. Like, around 135 or 140 BPM... even sometimes harder. That has come back in the last year. It's brought this crazy vibe that's so good. Techno isn't the kind of music that you want to sit back on. It's always been about pushing boundaries and developing new things. It's definitely interesting to see new kids, a new energy and new directions.
Other dance music artists awarded at this year's JUNOs include Rêve in the category of Dance Recording of the Year ("CTRL + ALT + DEL"), Banx & Ranx for Breakthrough Group of the Year and Teen Daze for Electronic Album of the Year (Interior).
You can check out a complete list of this year's JUNO winners here.