12 Essential electronic music documentaries you must watch

It looks like another lockdown is looming in the UK along with a weather shift, what better way to kill the time by kicking back with 12 must watch electronic music documentaries to get you through the days. Kick back, grab a drink and turn it up.

  1. I Was There When House Took Over the World – A documentary about the history of house music. Featuring Nile Rodgers, Marshall Jefferson, Honey Dijon, and many more. Nile Rodgers and more on how Disco’s death gave birth to the most iconic sound in dance. How social unrest and Chicago’s underground gay clubs led to a global dance movement. How young black entrepreneurs created a music empire that eventually topped UK charts.

2. Free Tekno

Freetekno is a cultural movement that is present in Europe, Australia and North America. Freetekno sound systems or tribes form in loose collectives, frequently with anarchist philosophies. These sound systems join together to hold parties wherever a viable space can be found – typical locations include warehouses (also known as squat parties), fields, abandoned buildings or forests. Because freetekno parties are usually held illegally this sometimes leads to clashes with the police, as was the case at both the 2004 and 2005 Czechtek festivals and many other, smaller parties around the world at different times.

3. RICHIE HAWTIN – Pioneers of Electronic Music

The film draws from the important stages and events in Richie Hawtin’s personal and artistic life, revealing the journey of an introverted and transplanted computerminded teen that develops by way of Detroit’s radio and records fueled by pure driven passion into a successful techno-entrepreneur and global DJ entertainer. Assembling an extensive archive of both new and unreleased photos, video and exclusive interviews, the film provides an extraordinary insight into the life and career of Richie Hawtin.

4. Drum & Bass: The Movement – A D&B Documentary

20 years that changed our lives: Presenting our feature-length documentary – Drum & Bass: The Movement – capturing a specific and intense slice of drum & bass culture’s rapid acceleration from 1996 – 2016. Brought to you by Drum&BassArena, featuring Goldie, Andy C, Roni Size, DJ Flight, Grooverider, Ed Rush & Optical, Mefjus, Friction, El Hornet, Chase & Status and many more, as well as exclusive unseen footage from our scene’s rich history.

5. The Chemical Generation – Acid House documentary

2001 Channel 4 documentary, presented by Boy George, looking at the history and legacy of the UK acid house, rave and clubbing culture since the 1980s. The program goes into detail on the way UK society and attitudes changed after the dawn of acid house culture and, perhaps, more importantly the introduction of chemical of choice, ecstasy to the party diet of the young people of Britain. Tony Wilson, Irvine Welsh, Danny Rampling, Mike Pickering, Paul Oakenfold, CJ Mackintosh and Nicky Holloway all feature; as well as the kids who were there at the time from dealers to clubbers. Ibiza, Shoom, the Hacienda and the Criminal Justice Bill

6. The Prodigy, A film by Dugdale

Recorded before 65,000 fans, this is the debut live film documenting The Prodigy’s biggest concert to date. Directed by award winning director Paul Dugdale, the full length feature was devised with close direction from the band throughout, and features a short film of previously unseen footage taken on tour in Brazil.

7. WE CALL IT TECHNO! A documentary about Germany’s early Techno scene and culture

Inspired by new sounds, new technologies and the political events of the time, the early 90s sees the emergence of a scene that euphorically celebrates the dawning of a new era. In Berlin, Frankfurt and many other German cities, activists tinker on a new music and club culture oriented around the coordinates Techno and House. At Berlin’s Love Parade in 1991, different local scenes congregate for the first time.

The trend turns into a movement. A German Summer of Love, which changes whole lives overnight and kick-starts careers. The basic principle of Techno stands for experimenting, crossing borders and DIY. Fans become DJs or party promoters. Labels are founded and record stores open up. The scene grows. An independent microcosm is created. Networks are formed away from established structures. For a moment everything seems possible… WE CALL IT TECHNO! tells the story of a tempestuous phase in music history, the first time that pop culture was created significantly in Germany. With exclusive interviews and comprehensive, mostly unreleased film and photo archive material from the years 1988-1994!

8. A Trip Around Acid House 1988 ITV

The documentary was originally shown on ITV’s World In Action current affairs series and was produced by Granada Television.

9. Sound of Berlin

A journey through the capital of electronic music Interviews w/ Juan Atkins, Dr. Motte, Dimitri Hegemann, Marc Houle, Monolink, Pan-Pot, Mathias Kaden, Nela, Alexander Krüger, Ekaterina, FreedomB

10. Sub Berlin -“The Story of Tresor”

The original Tresor was in many ways the quintessential Berlin club: located in an unrenovated vault beneath a bombed out department store, it opened its doors amidst the general confusion and ecstasy that swept across the city when the wall fell. Its low ceilings, industrial decor and generally unhinged atmosphere created an unprecedented platform not only for techno in Berlin, but also for the scene taking shape across the Atlantic in Detroit. It quickly became a second home for artists like Juan Atkins, Jeff Mills and Blake Baxter, as well as countless German DJs.

Directed by Tilmann Künzel, SubBerlin traces the club’s history from its beginning in the early ’90s to the closure of its original location in 2005. It includes interviews with many of the artists that played at the venue, from Atkins to Sven Vath, as well as the people that made the club happen, such as original founder Dimitri Hegemann.

11. The Story of STREETrave

The Story of one of the UK’s biggest and oldest Club brands, from the old-skool raves to the mega clubs. Streetrave have produced an in-house documentary of the last 20 years involvment at the very forefront of the clubbing world telling the true story of how it all started and continuing to the present day.

This film contains exclusive video footage from STREETrave at the legendary Ayr Pavilion, Prestwick International Airport and The Arches, Glasgow to name but a few. We also speak to some of the dj’s and friends who helped along the way including Carl Cox, John Digweed, Jon Mancini, Graeme Park and Hooligan X.

12. Pump up the volume: A history of House music

Documentary about history of house music, from its early days as NY disco to the massive European and International scene it has become, via the major people and clubs who pushed it forward.