Before school starts back up, get educated about EDM without ever having to crack a book. There’s a bunch of EDM documentaries out there that will get you up to speed on electronic music’s roots, teach you all you ever wanted to know about your favorite artists, get a behind the scenes look at some of the most iconic nightclubs in dance music history, the biggest music festivals, and some of the most infamous club kids and nightclub take downs. What’s the saying? You think you know, but you have no idea!
One thing we’ve learned from watching all these films (for research purposes, of course) is that from America, to Britain, to Sweden, and all over, everyone thinks they invented electronic music. Just depends on who your source is, so now you get to watch and make your own opinions.
Take One: A Documentary Film About Swedish House Mafia (2010)
Get up close and personal with Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Axwell with Christina Larson’s documentary on the superstar trio. By filming scenes from their everyday routines in the studios and abroad, their collaborative vision is immortalized in this film. The 45-minute doc takes you through their studio collaborations, adventures abroad, and coverage of some of the biggest shows in the world. Find out how Swedish House Mafia, the super-group formed and how they rose to the top of the charts across the world.
Watch the full movie here- Take One: A Documentary Film About Swedish House Mafia
Limelight,one of the most historic clubs in nightlife history is infamous for creating new music and sounds in the 80’s from hip hop, to techno, to house. This documentary follows “the rise and fall of New York’s greatest nightclub empire.” The film focuses on the owner of Limelight, Peter Gatien, and his reign over the New York City club scene at a time when dance music was getting its first holdings on mainstream music.
It’s an insightful documentary on the evolution of club culture, its drug involvement and ’80s NYC as whole. This film depicts the nightclub life in the 80’s, just as dance music was becoming an economical force. Moby makes a cameo, along with footage from the club featuring Hip-Hop icons Jay-Z and 50 Cent.
Party Monster (2003)
This film is a factually based drama starring Macaulay Culkin as the drug-addled “king of the Club Kids”. The film tells the story of the rise and fall of the infamous New York party promoter Michael Alig and the New York club scene in the late 80’s through early 90’s, and the emergence of the club kids in the nightlife scene.
It’s based on Disco Bloodbath, the memoir of James St. James, which details his friendship with Alig, that later fell apart as Alig’s drug addiction worsened, and ended after he murdered Angel Melendez and went to prison. A 1998 documentary on the murder, also called Party Monster: The Shockumentary, was used for certain elements of the film. Featured on the soundtrack is Felix Da Housecat.
Watch full movie here- Party Monster
David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat, the movie (2011)
Legendary French music producer and DJ David Guetta partnered with burn productions and as part of this exciting collaboration, burn productions created a full-length film that gives fans unique insight into Guetta’s life, career and meteoric rise from underground house DJ to one of the world’s most sought-after DJ/producer/collaborators.
Nothing But The Beat features in-depth interviews with some of the amazing artists David has worked with including Will.i.Am, Kelly Rowland, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Taio Cruz and Usher, as well as insights from dance music legends Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim, Laurent Garnier, David Morales & Pete Tong.
Watch full movie here- David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat
Electric Daisy Carnival Experience (2011)
Heralded as one of the must-attend dance music festivals each year, Electric Daisy Carnival premiere most of hottest acts in the dance music industry. The film was shown in theaters for one night only, this film was pulled from most cities’ box-office venues due to negative remarks about the EDM culture and a quasi-riot that broke out in LA after Kaskade tweeted he would perform in the street. The live-music documentary showcases one of the largest festivals in America with appearances by Swedish House Mafia, Will.I.Am, Travis Barker, and Steve Aoki. On display is EDC as it was in the Coliseum before moving to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Watch the full movie here- Electric Daisy Carnival Experience
Pump Up the Volume – The History of House Music (2001)
In 2001, BBC released this 3-part TV series about the history of house music. It is an exciting film, featuring some of the most important figures of the early ages of electronic music and songs that still influence many artists these days. Ever wondered where the name “house music” comes from? Who first came up with the idea of adding electronic beats to a disco tune? And why did they do it? Well, wonder no more.
The film is a bit dated and only brings us up to about the mid-1990’s but futures legends like Frankie Knuckles, Marshal Jefferson, Jesse Saunders, Pete Tong and more.
Watch the full movie here- Pump Up the Volume- The History of House Music
High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music (2006)
High Tech Soul is the first documentary to tackle the deep roots of techno music alongside the cultural history of Detroit, its birthplace. From the race riots of 1967 to the underground party scene of the late 1980s, Detroit’s economic downturn didn’t stop the invention of a new kind of music that brought international attention to its producers and their hometown.
Featuring in-depth interviews with many of the world’s best exponents of the art form, High Tech Soul focuses on the creators of the genre — Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson — and looks at the relationships and personal struggles behind the music. Artists like Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Eddie Fowlkes and a host of others explain why techno, with its abrasive tones and resonating baselines, could not have come from anywhere but Detroit.
Watch the full movie here- High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music
Carl Cox 24/7 (2009)
See an exclusive documentary covering the everyday life of one of the world’s most loved and revered DJs, Carl Cox. Never before has anyone been granted this kind of access into Carl’s life outside of DJing. You will see the likes of Josh Wink, Sven Vath, Dubfire, John Digweed, Moby, Loco Dice, Fatboy Slim and many more, talking openly and honestly about their dear friend and colleague.
Shot continuously over 12 months, the film follows Carl around the world, taking in London, America, Australia, Ibiza and Barbados. Everyone knows Carl Cox the DJ from his mix CDs and DJ sets, so instead we give you an insight into Carl’s personal everyday life as he splits his time between jet-setting across the globe, riding his beloved motorbikes, attending interviews, hanging out with friends, family and collaborators and kicking back on his rare moments off.
Watch the full movie here- Carl Cox 24/7
The Drop: The EDM Culture Explosion (2014)
Sundance Film Festival 2013 premiered, The Drop: The EDM Culture Explosion, debuting at the acclaimed Cannes occasion. This movie is about the EDM takeover in the past couple years from festival season to mainstream music crossovers in popular culture. This film features everyone from Hardwell to Moby to Krewella to Avicii and was debuted at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The celluloid creations listed here gives viewers an insider’s eye to various components of the dance music- from daily routines of its current top artists to the intricate histories of its sub genres.
Not yet released.
How Clubbing Changed the World (2012)
Idris Elba (British actor, producer, singer, rapper, and DJ, best known as that drug lord and aspiring businessman Russell “Stringer” Bell in the HBO series The Wire), explores how clubbing evolved from a counter-cultural movement that defined a generation to a multi-billion-pound business, and reveals how, 25 years on, Britain still rules the underground. Get ready for 2 hours of how clubbing changed the world. This is a must watch for anyone who claims to be a true EDM fan.
Watch the full film here- How Clubbing Changed the World
If you really want to go crazy, check out these other EDM documentaries worth the watch:
Dubfiles (2008),1990′s Rave Documentary in Los Angeles “Underground Aboveground” (1992), The Sound of Belgium (2012), Liquid Crystal Vision (2002), Better Living Through Circuitry (1999), This Ain’t Chicago: UK House According to the Artists That Lived It (2012), The Chemical Generation (2000), Modulations(1998),Slices — Pioneers of Electronic Music: Richie Hawtin (2006),Moog(2004),Electronic Awakening (2011), Maestro(2003)Tweet