Featured photo: Eric Frommer.
Although electronic dance music (EDM) mostly depends on drum machines, synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, and other electronic instruments, many forget that the history of the genre is paved with traditional analog bass and guitar sounds. Bands like The Disco Biscuits, The String Cheese Incident, and The Floozies are proof of how strings have played large parts in the development of EDM as a genre. That’s why Conscious Electronic is taking a closer look at the minds behind the strings (in no particular order).
Jon “Barber” Gutwillig – The Disco Biscuits
With his range of Roland and Boss pedals in tow, Jon “Barber” Gutwillig is the heart and soul of Philadelphia jamtronica outfit The Disco Biscuits. The eclectic guitarist, who effortlessly switches between classic rock overdrive solos, synthesized sounds, and clean-signal finger work, is always intent on telling stories onstage. Gutwillig is a virtuoso whose work has led to The Disco Biscuits being categorized into everything between old-school house, contemporary EDM, and modern jazz and soul.
Matt Hill – The Floozies
Brothers Mark and Matt Hill are the only two members of The Floozies, which is easily the funkiest entry on this list. After informally DJ-ing for friends’ house parties for years, the brothers eventually decided to give their sticky, funk-driven blend of dance music a singular name. Powered by Mark’s energetic drumming and Matt’s brazen use of various talk boxes and effects pedals, The Floozies are a one-of-a-kind head-bopping machine that has slowly but surely gained followers over the relatively few years they’ve been in existence.
Anthony Thogmartin – Papadosio
While most of the guitarists on this list mostly employ the energetic side of electronica, Anthony Thogmartin‘s contemporary take on atmospheric house, EDM, and jazz is what differentiates him from the electronic virtuoso crowd. Although he is equally at home with overdrive and other distortion effects, Thogmartin’s signature sound is driven by creamy sustains and insane dynamics that gives Papadosio an arguable place in post-rock. A must-listen guitarist whether you’re into pure old-school house, acid jazz, or contemporary genre-blending dance music.
Michael Kang – The String Cheese Incident
Rock guitarist Michael Kang is a living testament to the genre-defying nature of EDM. The way he uses the Fulltone OCD overdrive with phaser effects has been influencing musicians for decades, particularly those who’ve experimented with combining EDM and classic rock licks. Kang’s legendary tone is the perfect complement to the finger work of folk, rock, and acoustic guitarist Bill Nershi who also provides vocals for The String Cheese Incident. The two guitarists’ combined sound makes them one of the most influential pairs in all of rock and electric music.
Kevin Donohue – SunSquabi
Affectionately and accurately referred to in some circles as “the conductor of the Squabtrain,” Kevin Donohue is the outspoken, effects-hogging electronic wizard behind the SunSquabi trio. And although he’s primarily known as the driving force behind the band, which is his main project, Donohue has also famously collaborated with the likes of Aqueous, Modern Measure, and a host of fellow electronic virtuosos. He’s a singular, progressive EDM-driven force of nature in the world of contemporary electric guitar. These are by far not the only string virtuosos to watch for in the world of modern EDM. However, they’re certainly the ones that deserve a place in your next playlist.