Many know Above & Beyond by way of their sentimental brand of trance music and immersive, interactive sets, but the British trio has always had an ear for ambient as well. They’ve merged this side of their artistry with their appreciation of yoga and general mindfulness in Flow State—their next album project centered around calming, beatless sounds. It was released on July 19, and features an array of re-released tunes along with some new ones.
Flow State floats through the speakers, with each composition melting effortlessly into one another. Meditative and emotive with just a few choice elements, the LP effectively captures the spirit of their yoga sets that began by chance at Burning Man five years ago. Classics like “Sun In Your Eyes” make the cut, while newer pieces like “Slow Buchla Sunshine” and “Strength From Inside” add a bit of shimmer into the overall product. It’s perfect to listen to with eyes closed and in a state of quiet contemplation. The EP is accompanied by a touching opening talk by Elena Bower, a yogi the group met at the aforementioned desert gathering and who leads their yoga sets at gigs around the USA.
Apple Music continues to celebrate Gay Pride with the curation and delivery of 16 fabulous mixes from a selection of the global LGBTQ+ community’s favorite and most supportive tastemakers. Including exclusive mixes from Anjunabeats standout Andrew Bayer, rainbow-riding bass phenom Ducky, and J. Worra, whose sound has proven to be as techy and sub-centric as it is gnarly, the series highlights just how central the LGBTQ+ community is across the entire dance music spectrum.
“Club culture IS queer culture” says Loren Granich, musical director of Cali queer crew Rhonda INTL, “and we’re honored to work with so many brilliant international artists from the queer community who embody this ethos while continuing to push musical & sexual boundaries.” The LA-based polysexual bash was the liason for sets from Newbody, Dopplegang, Patrick Mason and Lauren Flax.
See below for a full list of the artists and their mixtapes, and head over to Apple Music to hear the mixes in full.
Glovibes – Bonanza Selection Part 1
J. Worra – Pride 2019 Mixtape
B!tch Be Cool – Fever
Baby Blue – Baby Blue’s Astral Lovers Mix
Kitty Glitter – Glitter Pride
Sveta – A Love Letter From Sydney To New York – World Pride
Argonaut – Argonaut’s World Pride Paradiso
Kittens – No Shame
Sasha Marie – soft high.
Ducky – I Can’t Think Straight
Newbody – Pride: A Deeper Love, Mixed for Rhonda INTL
Dopplegang – Pride: A Deeper Love, Mixed for Rhonda INTL
Patrick Mason – Pride: A Deeper Love, Mixed for Rhonda INTL
Lauren Flax – Pride: A Deeper Love, Mixed for Rhonda INTL
A thick cloud of uncertainty loomed over the months leading up to the 2019 iteration of Spring Awakening Music Festival. A venue change for any festival leaves a precarious taste on a prospective attendee’s tongue. With one location swap already in recent memory (the move from its iconic Soldier Field footing to Addams Medill Park in 2016), organizers of the Midwest’s largest strictly electronic music festival had plenty of work ahead them following the announcement that Spring Awakening would not only be on the move again, but would be altogether leaving Chicago: its longtime, hallowed home. The somewhat nebulous news of the upcoming edition landing about an hour outside of Chicago, in Hoffman Estates, was at first daunting, as seen in the discordant social media reactions from repeat patrons of the festival. There were quite a few qualms to assuage—indeed.
Though, with the latest chapter of Spring Awakening, React Presents proved that its hallmark event has deservedly endured the treacherous festival front, where so many promising productions have folded in recent years.
The most apparent ingredient in the June affair’s success was a lineup that obviously spoke to its audience. Trend-setting talent from the bass-centric house domain came in droves, compliments of quintessential electronic curator, Gary Richards, and his All My Friends stage takeover, while deeper, melodic appetites found plenty of fuel from a long length of Anjunabeats‘ renowned repertoire. All the while, scene staples like REZZ, Chris Lake, Rusko, Illenium, and last-minute addition to replace an injured Martin Garrix, Kaskade, made the 2019 ticket all-the-more difficult to turn down. In its aftermath, the bygone roster of this year’s Spring Awakening echoes the famed Field of Dreams adage: “If you build it, they will come.”
But besides a robust, wide-reaching lineup, Spring Awakening saw its 27-acre Poplar Creek festival grounds succeed in rectifying much of the sound-bleeding issues it’s experienced in past years. Some traffic stoppages at the entrance and exits (mostly confined to the event’s first day), and a smattering of mud (mitigated partially by organizers as the festival stretched on) throughout the venue proved to be the primary, isolated complaints from the 26-30,000 attendees the festival amassed each day of its three-day run.
This year, Dancing Astronaut sought to get the artists’ perspectives on not only the newest chapter of Spring Awakening, but its legacy in the national and Chicago event spaces. We sat down with both first-time performers at the fest and well-oiled veterans, rounding up talent from different ends of the map, including native Chicagoans (Porn and Chicken), Aussies (Dom Dolla and What So Not), even a Frenchman (Shiba San) for good measure. Here are their takes:
Nora En Pure
Real name, Daniela Di Lillo, En Pure has traversed the Chicago club scene quite extensively over the years, though 2019 was the South African-Swiss artist’s first Spring Awakening. The “Come With Me” producer has been a revered name in the deep/melodic four-by-four realm for years, touting a length of accolades for her mixing proficiency, ever-apparent in her radio show/event series, Purified.
I love playing Chicago. It’s a great city for me to play: very music-driven. It’s very rewarding. You can play more elaborately and really try things.
Of the 2019 lineup:
…very diverse, I like that there are not too many similar acts to me, so I can play my sound and people can appreciate it. It’s a mix between that really uplifting stuff and deeper stuff… sticking to the melody.
All My Friends label head and taste-making guru, Destructo (Gary Richards) returned to Spring Awakening this past year, with a trove of on-the-rise talent in hand. As one of the first festival organizers to book acts like Diplo and Skrillex at his Southern Californian and now-ubiquitous brainchild, HARD Events, Richards is certainly no stranger to simply figuring out what’s cool from the underground, and feeding it to the masses.
My parent company, LiveStyle, owns the festival. It was a natural fit to bring an All My Friends stage here. But also too I feel like every one of our festivals we do needs that bass-house lane. It was fortunate enough that we got our hand in Spring Awakening. It’s just really worked out. I think it’s important for the scene as a whole to make sure this festival stays healthy.
On what goes into curating a stage takeover:
Finding the new breed of producers, trying to showcase new talent and bring up new people. Dance music’s all about the new. I think the masses only know the tried-and-true names, and I’m trying to break through new people to keep it fresh, but also to help those young producers really shine.
What So Not
One of the most omnipresent talents in the electronic ether, Australian-born What So Not was another familiar face at the most recent Spring Awakening effort, having played the fest in 2017. A driving source of innovation not just in his cross-genre niche, but the scene at large, What So Not’s most prominent cuts — like “Gemini” and his “Innerbloom” remix — continue to resound throughout festival grounds across the globe.
It’s a great festival to come out for. Last time I played, I think it was at 3 pm; really hot. They were struggling to move—staring into the sun. I remember being like, ‘Come on guys, let’s dance.’ They all just kind of laughed like ‘We’re trying!’ I’ve got some friends coming on a little bit later I’m really excited to catch, like [DJ] Snake. The Bass Tent looks like it’s going crazy. I want to go in there, put on a hoodie, and go get sweaty.
A Dirtybird crown jewel and more-than-seasoned purveyor of infectiously animated deep and tech-house, Shiba San returns to Spring Awakening as one of the lineup’s most coveted acts. Having established his very own label, Basement Leak, along with several acclaimed EP releases, the Parisian producer has certainly been busy since his last Spring Awakening stop.
Spring Awakening was one of the first festivals I played in the US, around the time I played HARD. It was so packed, and very special. I started my house music with the ’80s house music of Chicago. Each time I play in Chicago, I remember where house music came from. Chicago is house music. I’ve been waiting on an offer to play Spring Awakening again for a while.
I think they do a good job of placing up-and-coming artists at good times and fair stages. It can be hard for smaller artist to play a big stage at 2 PM, and then no one shows up.
Another Aussie, by the name of Dom Dolla, made his Spring Awakening debut this year. The “Take It” artist is quickly proving himself one of the most enticing propagators of the forward-thinking tech-house sound that’s taken American festival stages for ransom of late.
American audiences are super excited: house music is evolving so fast for them. Australia has quite a few established cultures. We’ve got our tech-house scene, a bass-house scene, a progressive/melodic scene, and all these established artists who tour within them. But dance music really only started to hit America in a commercial sense a few years ago. It’s been a really interesting tipping point observing what I can get away with in a set.
I’m performing a lot tech-ier here than I was a few years ago. I think the focus [at Spring Awakening] is very much on dubstep, trap, and that EDM sound, but I think they’ve picked their house artists really well, Shiba San, Chris Lake. It’s a distinctly American house sound, that Blackbook Records, Dirtybird sound, which I love.
Porn and Chicken
Having played the festival every year since its inception, Porn and Chicken are the invariable authorities on all things Spring Awakening. Known for their outlandish and voraciously attended event series (of which, unsurprisingly, visuals of porn and chicken are a cornerstone), the Chicago-based “dubstep-rock” crossover outfit has had one the most intimate vantage points of Spring Awakening’s progression.
We first played the festival on the Red Bull truck, which is no longer here. The stages are 10 times the size. This festival has grown as much as we have over the years. I feel like we were babies when we first played it. It’s been very interesting to see how the festival has matured, as we have as performers over the years. The festival’s identity is almost parallel to ours. [Spring Awakening has] faced so many challenges… But it’s bigger than it’s ever been.
The curation of the festival has always been electronic dance music, but throughout the years I think the sub-genres have been represented equally. You can find dubstep, you can find techno, you can find house, and everything else in between. It brings together all the best the world of dance music has to offer. I remember one of the first years we played: You could walk over and see Green Velvet on one stage and see Skrillex just across the way.
From the local level to the headliners, the festival takes care of you. They make sure that the local artists get a chance to shine.
Want the ambiance of Ibiza without the expense that a trip to the White Isle would entail? Apple Music figured as much, and has accordingly unveiled an exclusive new series of Ibiza themed playlists designed to evoke Balearic bliss, no matter the listener’s location. A myriad of musical curators came together to craft the playlists: streamers will find options from Anjunabeats, Ministry of Sound, Defected, Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza, and more.
Apple Music describes its newly launched Ibiza playlist category as “a celebration of Ibiza and its role in bringing dance music to the masses.” Now, the platform plays a distributive role akin to the island itself, as Apple Music too brings dance music tailored with Balearic flair to millions of users via the debut of its newest playlist series. Peruse the Ibiza playlist section, here.
Andrew Bayer has shifted gears on “Magitek,” stepping away from the more melodic constructions of May’s Only You Boy/Eight to Sixteen and moving instead towards a grittier, metallic technic. Sitting just over five minutes in length, Bayer’s latest single is not without some sonic plot twists. Robotic, penetrating baselines clang at the song’s onset.
Piano chords offset the harder texture of the cut’s opening, as a comparatively softer collection of chords gradually filters in to provide contrast. The Anjunabeats release shows off its anthemic capacity at the midway point, where the “Magitek” trance slowly rises in a euphoric sort of ascendance. The single gracefully lifts, to transcend the grounding trappings audible at the beginning of the production.
Anjunabeats Volume 14 has arrived and Friday morning has never sounded so good. After two years, UK trio Above & Beyond have released the latest edition of their compilation series — Anjunabeats Volume 14. Encompassing tracks from both Anjuna artists and the beloved trance act themselves, Vol. 14 melds the poignant styles of both imprints Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep into one ephemeral listening experience that not only testifies to Above & Beyond’s curation abilities, but also exemplifies the diversity of talent harbored within the imprint’s roster. With a synergy unlike many other labels and a signature sound ubiquitously championed by all its artists, Anjuna continues to dominate dance-floors, arenas, and clubs alike. Mixed in the midst of Above & Beyond’s thrilling journey alongside their 2018 album Common Ground, Vol. 14 pushes forward an expanding vision of trance and deep house over the course of a two-disc, 34-track collection.
Weaving together Anjunadeep picks, Disc 1 eases the listener in by starting off with mellow, hypnotic tracks and gradually building into the euphoric energy permeating throughout most of Vol. 14. By the conclusion of Disc 1, the listener has been fully primed for Disc 2’s intensity which brings with full-force a brand of progressive trance made for stadium capacity. With selections bursting with nuances in production, pace, and soundscape, Vol. 14 features Anjuna favorites like Spencer Brown, Andrew Bayer, Sunny Lax, Jason Ross, and more, while simultaneously highlighting new remixes and updated mixes. Including a Dave DK remix of Andrew Bayer’s “In My Last Life”, Tinlicker remix of Above & Beyond’s “Always”, i_o’s remix of Above & Beyond’s “Alchemy”, updated Above & Beyond mixes of their own songs “Liquid Love”, “There’s Only You”, “Alone Tonight”, “Distorted Truth”, and releases from Ilan Bluestone, Oliver Smith, GRUM, and more, Vol. 14 will go down as one for the books.
Anjunabeats Volume 14 mixed by Above & Beyond is available now. Find Above & Beyond’s tour dates here.
From the opening seconds of “Only You Boy,” the first of the two cuts that comprise Andrew Bayer‘s latest EP, it’s clear that Bayer’s latest Anjunabeats showing is preeminently poised for club play. The introductory cut is defined by an energetic beat that pulsates with a metallic grit. The edgy animation within “Only You Boy” eventually gives way, as a sonic plot twist of sorts unfolds. Bayer slows the track at the midway point, only to tone the tune with a melodic break.
In contrast to the rapidity with which “Only You Boy” develops, “Eight to Sixteen” builds at a slower pace. The latter mounts, affecting an atmospheric euphoria as it does so. The culmination of the production’s climb is an effervescent accent that palpitates at a danceable tempo. Only You Boy/Eight to Sixteen precedes Bayer’s forthcoming appearance at Above & Beyond‘s Group Therapy Weekender, slated for July 27-28 at the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington.
Both Anjunabeats and mau5trap fans have received some Group Therapy courtesy of i_o. The rising talent has, at long last, released his remix of Above & Beyond’s “Alchemy.” He’d been rinsing his take on the original for months, which led to it becoming one of the most requested IDs in his sets.
I_o highlights the poignancy of the original “Alchemy,” setting Zoë Johnston’s vocals in a driving, tech-based foundation and playing up the original’s central progressions. He crafts a breakdown that’s plenty cinematic, with sentimental, sweeping sting accents and twinkling synths that pair well with the “Alchemy’s” signature stark piano notes. It seems the public approves, based off the positive fan reactions to the interpretation being dropped during i_o’s EDC Las Vegas set.
Anjunabeats labelheads Above & Beyond are returning to EDC Las Vegas for the 2019 edition of the festival, scoring a midnight set at the Circuit Grounds stage on Friday, May 17th. Marking one of the most anticipated festival weekends of the year, thousands of attendees —both newcomers and EDC veterans alike return to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to reunite for three mesmeric nights under the electric sky.
Ahead of their long-awaited performance, Above & Beyond curates an exclusive playlist with 15 of their choice festival cuts for Dancing Astronaut. The trio delves into a slew of their most prominent and striking singles, ranging from “Distorted Truth” to “Show Me Love,” their collaboration with trance maven Armin Van Buuren. The playlist trickles into the soothing lulls of the trio’s club mix of “There’s Only You”, mesmerizing listeners with the harmonies of long-time vocalist Zoe Johnston. Between the invigorating twists of percussive-soaked festival anthems and the lush transitions of their staple ballads —Above & Beyond notate their musical journey through the ebbs and flows of the playlist.
Ilan Bluestone has released his sophomore EP, We Are The Universe, containing six immaculately crafted tracks. It features both regular and extended cuts of each release, giving listeners both a club backdrop and a collection of tracks ready for radio play.
We Are The Universe‘s title track is true to the Anjunabeats aesthetic, laced with euphoric progressions juxtaposed against sweet lyrical verses that bring high levels of energy to the dance floor. EL Wave’s warm vocal tone gives the record a full bodied feel, and does the same for “Mama Africa,” “The Distance” as well. The release serves as a worthy follow up to Scars. Bluestone will be embarking upon a 44-date tour to accompany the release, and tickets can be purchased here.