Evolution of Garage House



Garage house, also known as New York house, started in the 1980s nightclub scene with its development primarily attributed to two clubs: Paradise Garage and Club Zanzibar. Having been a direct precursor to disco, garage house music is deeply rooted in R&B and soul and can sometimes be indistinguishable from disco itself. Tony Humphries, Larry Levan and Junior Vasquez played important roles in the popularization of garage house.




The resident DJ at Paradise Garage for a decade, Larry Levan, had arguably the greatest influence on garage house music. His use of deep sounds, soulful tracks, and remixed disco hits would go on to define the sound of garage house music. Overall, garage house is an evolution of disco that’s harder-hitting, longer, and funkier while staying true to its musical roots.




Garage house sounds a lot like disco: 80s drum machines, funky basslines, Kork M-1 piano stabs, sequencers, synthesizers, and soulful vocals. Garage house music feels human, with many elements being performed and tracked rather than programmed. Disco remixes don’t tend to change much of the original music. The magic of garage house is in the rearrangement, extended sections, and building up or stripping down of layers of disco music, which have become the defacto framework for all house music arrangement. The tempo of garage house typically falls between 120 and 130 bpm.



New York, 1980


Larry Levan supplies Paradise Garage with a slew of remixes including Gwen Guthrie’s “It Should Have Been You”, setting the foundation for house music’s four-to-the-floor rhythm and staggered layering arrangement.



New York, 1982


Boyd Jarvis & Larry Levan help define garage house in New York with the Peech Boys.



New Jersey, 1982


Tony Humphries spends a decade helping define garage house in New Jersey as a DJ for Club Zanzibar and 98.7 KISS-FM.



New York, 1983


The driving kick drum, funky bass and use of synth make Boyd Jarvis's “The Music Got Me” one of the first true house music songs.



New York, 1990


Junior Vasquez starts releasing over a hundred official garage house remixes of artists like Prince, Queen, Madonna, and Janet Jackson, among others.



Evolution of House Music

Check out our 31-part series, starting with an overview of house music's 40-year history.

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