Tech house is a simple, warm, funky and soulful style of house music that emerged in the 90s as a result of the marriage between house rhythms and techno synths. In 1995, Wiggle Room opened up in London featuring DJ Terry Francis, one of the producers whose goal was to try and foster this new sound. Wiggle Room became ground zero for a fun, funky, sometimes experimental, but still somewhat mellow vibe that came to be known as tech house.
The music originally had a minimal style associated with Detroit and UK techno, but it also had a lot of the warm sounds from house that were layovers from the late disco era. Early tech house really emphasized techno's chugging bass lines and crisp beats with the funky grooves and minimalist vocals of house.
While it's often confused with rave or techno, tech house has a pretty laid back feel, and is all about subtlety. There are no epic rising swells that build to crescendos and drops so adorned by the club scene, nor are there any drops. Deep house's realistic jazz sounds and resonating kick drums are replaced with elements taken from techno, like precise hi-hats, snares with more snap and much more of a synthetic or acid synth sound.
LFO - "Loop" (FUSE Mix)
In 1993 the term tech house didn't exist, but the basis for the genre were already there. The synth stabs in LFO vs FUSE's "Loop" became so popular with DJs that it became known as the rave organ and is a tech-house staple. This is a very early example of that sound, along with classic tech-house tempo, groovy bass and varying drum parts.
Terry Francis & Giddy Jackson - "Blue Wig"
This collaboration by Terry Francis and Giddy Jackson has all the elements of modern day tech house. A brooding and bouncy bassline, a repetitive loop, mellow vocals, and the slow addition and subtraction of various drum elements.
Mr.C - "Tech House"
Producer Mr.C called his music "Techno for girls and house for boys", and you can really hear what he means.
M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade - "Body Language"
"Body Language" encapsulates the essence not only of tech house, but of dance music, where the merging of genres creates something so exciting that it provides the basis for further evolution of the genre. Lots of samples have been taken from this smooth rockin track by M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade.
Bodyrox - "Yeah Yeah" (D Ramirez Vocal Mix)
D.Ramirez credits "Body Language" as the inspiration for his remix of Bodyrox's "Yeah Yeah", which itself became a hugely influential song on the tech house scene. This is arguably the high-water mark for the genre and one of the most popular songs to emerge from it.
Nick Holder - "Summer Daze"
Canadian DJ Nick Holder has made a name for himself worldwide, but particularly in South Africa, where even after 20 years this track is much loved by locals.
Pure Science - "Say It"
Pure Science keeps it simple with funky percussion and a steady beat on "Say It".
Terry Francis - "Took from me"
One of the original tech house DJs in England, Terry Francis has been DJing at London's famed Fabric nightclub for over 20 years.
Colin Dale - "You Know How"
Mellow techno ace Colin Dale keeps the beat exciting and the vibe groovy on "You Know How".
Steve Lawler - "21st Century Ketchup"
Insistent synth horn and creative production make this a refreshed version of the classic tech house sound.
John Acquaviva, Alex D'Elia, Nihil Young & Dan Diamond - "Good Music"
Like the man says on the track, "All you need is a kick drum, a good bassline and a hi-hat". Classic tech house at its finest.
Steve Lawler - "House Record"
A mainstay at Ibiza's notorious open air club Space, Steve Lawler has been producing high quality minimal tech house for almost 20 years.