Electronic music non-fiction

By Velocity Press

By Velocity Press

Tim Burgess from The Charlatans recently added an extensive list of music book recommendations to his website. There are some great books well worth checking out but, as usual with these lists, it mostly includes rock titles with a token few on electronic music and club culture. However, it did inspire us to create our own list of recommended electronic music books. We've deliberately excluded all our own books as you can check them all here. If your favourite is missing please write a few sentences about it, send it to us and we'll add it. So, in no particular order, here they are...

The Secret DJ

The Secret DJ

£9.99 £9.29

The Secret DJ is an essential exposé into the world of DJing - a true 'warts and all', real-life account from a fine storyteller. If you fancy a taste of what to expect then check out his regular column for Mixmag.

The Second Summer of Love: How Dance Music Took Over the World

Alon Shulman

£16.98 £15.79

A bit southern biased in its scope but nonetheless still a good insight into the birth of dance music and club culture in the UK.

Class of '88: Find the warehouse. Lose the hitmen. Pump the beats.

Wayne Anthony

£12.99 £12.08

Wayne Anthony co-founded the legendary Genesis raves and took acid house to the masses. Class Of '88 is a lively, highly individual account of the two years he spent as an illegal party promoter, leading the rave revolution that was sweeping the UK. Would make a great film or TV series.

Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture

Simon Reynolds

£20.00 £18.60

With this weighty tome, Reynolds provided what was arguably the first "proper" in-depth history of electronic/dance music and rave culture. It's not perfect: it's very London-centric and Reynolds has a tendency to somewhat over-intellectualise everything, while his own musical proclivities, prejudices and predilections are writ large throughout. But you'll still struggle to find a better over-arching analysis.

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (updated): The History of the Disc Jockey

Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster


A tried and tested favourite, and the first book to trace the history of dance music from the perspective of the DJ. Brewster and Broughton were the first to present DJing as an art form in its own right, and emphasis the cultural significance, in this immensely entertaining and down-to-earth book. Also check their The Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries if you can.

Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979

Tim Lawrence


Opening with David Mancuso's "Love Saves the Day" Valentine's party in February 1970, Tim Lawrence tells the story of disco. The definitive history of dance music's early years.

Ocean of Sound: Ambient sound and radical listening in the age of communication

David Toop

£10.99 £10.22

Toop’s exploration of ambient music, in the most general sense and from classical to modern electronica, sits very neatly between being academic and freestyle wandering. This book gives a real sense of why music works, even when it's a bit strange.

All Things Remembered


£12.99 £12.08

A whirlwind, adrenalin-fuelled celebrity memoir from drum & bass pioneer Goldie. Not to be missed.

Liberation Through Hearing

Richard Russell

£20.00 £18.60

The story of XL Recordings, one of the UK's leading independent record labels, told through the life, and in the words of its owner, Richard Russell.

It's a London Thing: How Rare Groove, Acid House and Jungle Remapped the City

Caspar Melville


It's A London Thing tells the story of the linked black musical scenes in the capital across four decades: from ska, reggae and soul in the 1970s, to rare groove and acid house in the 1980s and jungle and drum & bass in the 1990s, to dubstep and grime of the 2000s.

Rave Art: Flyers, invitations and membership cards

Chelsea Louise Berlin

£16.98 £15.79

Rave Art documents the explosion of the rave scene in the late 80s and early 90s, through this collection of flyers, invitations and posters that were collected at the time by the author.

Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music

Matthew Collin

£10.99 £10.22

Some 20 years on after Altered State, Matthew Colin examines the various changes dance music and club culture has gone through in the two decades since and ponders where we're at today, looking into things like the rise of Berlin, Europe's enduring 'Teknival' scene and the corporate takeover of EDM culture in the United States.

How To DJ (Properly): The Art And Science Of Playing Records - the definitive guide to becoming the ultimate DJ and spinning you

Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster

£20.00 £18.60

The pair that brought us the definitive history of DJ culture (see Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, above) followed it up with the definitive guide to DJing itself. From how to balance a tonearm to dealing with snooty record shop staff, from basic beatmatching to advanced scratching skillz, it's all here. Worth noting, too, that the 20-year-old book addresses the currently hot topic of gender equality in dance culture - which highlights just how slow progress has been in that regard.

Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime

Dan Hancox

£9.99 £9.29

As well it being a complete history of grime, complete with interviews with the important players, Dan Hancox also delves into the socio-political and psychography of the reason why, and locations that gave birth to the genre.

Mars by 1980: The Story of Electronic Music

David Stubbs

£12.99 £12.08

David Stubbs charts the evolution of electronic music from the earliest mechanical experiments in the late nineteenth century, through to the familiar sounds of electronica, house and techno that we know today.

The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club

Peter Hook

£8.99 £8.36

Peter Hook played bass in New Order who were co-owners of The Hacienda along with their label, Factory Records. The story of the Hacienda's contribution to the Madchester scene is well documented, this book details the gleeful hedonism with frank admissions of eye-popping commercial ineptitude. Hooky's books on his time in Joy Division and New Order respectively are also worth a look.

Grime Kids: The Inside Story of the Global Grime Takeover

DJ Target

£9.99 £9.29

DJ Target is one of grime's pioneers and his book is a great insider account of how the genre evolved.

Highflyers: Clubravepartyart

Jon Savage

£16.95 £15.76

Originally published in 1996 so it's a bit dated but this was probably the first review of club flyers and includes examples from all the major designers of the time and is introduced with an essay by Jon Savage.

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America

Michaelangelo Matos

£9.99 £9.29

The Underground Is Massive is a history of the American electronic dance music underground, viewed through the lens of nineteen parties over thirty years — from the black, gay underground clubs of Chicago and Detroit’s elite teen-party scene through the nineties electronica to today’s EDM-festival juggernaut.

Art Sex Music

Cosey Fanni Tutti

£10.99 £10.22

One of the pioneers of industrial and avant-garde electronic music tells her story with brutal honesty in this autobiography. Fanni Tutti certainly pulls no punches, but at the same time manages to be remarkably non-judgemental, and throughout all the mayhem, the music remains centre stage. An enthralling read.

Let Them Eat Chaos: Mercury Prize Shortlisted

Kae Tempest

£10.99 £10.22

As anyone who has seen Kate Tempest in concert will testify, she can whip up an electronic storm and lay down a solid groove. This provides the backdrop to her words, of course, and it’s also worth reading them in a poetry form, where they’re just as powerful, but at a different pace.

The Story of The Streets

Mike Skinner

£9.99 £9.29

You can always rely on Mike Skinner to tell a good story, and his account of life as The Streets doesn’t disappoint. It’s pure Skinner as it ricochets between eccentric trivia and fascinating insights into the music industry, and you can almost his voice bouncing up from the page. Great fun and perfect for a personal after-party.

Marshall Jefferson: The Diary of a DJ

Marshall Jefferson

£8.99 £8.36

From the US, the legendary Marshall Jefferson analyzes the phenomenal house music movement from the rise of it and his contribution alongside his fellow producers and DJs.

Inner Sound: Altered States of Consciousness in Electronic Music and Audio-Visual Media

Jonathan Weinel


Taking a broad view across a wide range of genres, Inner Sound draws connections between shamanic art and music, and the modern technoshamanism of psychedelic rock, electronic dance music, and electroacoustic music. While academically rigorous and formal, it's a captivating read full of insight which offered me many a-ha moments, putting large blocks of modern culture into a more timeless perspective.

Kraftwerk: Future Music from Germany

Uwe Schutte

£9.99 £9.29

This Is Grime

Olivia Rose and Hattie Collins

£25.00 £23.25

Renegade Snares: The Resistance And Resilience Of Drum & Bass

Carl Loben and Ben Murphy

£14.95 £13.90

We use cookies and similar methods to recognize visitors and remember their preferences. We also use them to help detect unauthorized access or activity that violate our terms of service, as well as to analyze site traffic and performance for our own site improvement efforts. To learn more about these methods, including how to disable them view our Cookie Policy.