GRAVEDGR‘s in deep with his latest release: “6 FEET UNDER,” to be precise.
Straight from Heavyweight Records’ bass kitchen, the new track marks GRAVEDGR’s most lyrical song on record. Combining his propensity for trap produtions and bass in all its forms, “6 FEET UNDER” spins an audacious web of sin, regret, and repentance; though the narrator knows well he is destined to transgress again.
The hard-hitting number is a fruitful harbinger for a larger evil on the horizon, GRAVEDGR’s forthcoming album. The LP, set for a February release, is expected to trace its creator’s circuitous internal discord over the length of 12 original tracks. Listeners can rest assured more raging bass is well on its way from the shadow-faced producer’s camp.
One of the world’s premier bass festivals, Belgium’s Rampage, is coming off of a major 10th anniversary outing in 2019. The lineup boasted a thick cast of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass heavyweights including Andy C, Excision, Sub Focus, Dimension, and more. Though now, as the festival preps for the 2020 iteration, Rampage has revealed their first headliner—Pendulum, performing their Trinity Live concept for just the second time. And judging by the festival’s lead off booking, 2020’s talent roster is already looking mighty fine.
Pendulum Trinity feature’s the group’s original three members: Gareth McGrillen, Rob Swire, and El Hornet, performing atop a pyramid of LEDs, making for one of the most sensory-overloading live electronic shows of the last decade. The trio have only performed together one time outside of Australia in the last ten years, debuting the Trinity concept at London’s South West 4 Festival in early 2019. Now, the group is locked in for a headlining slot in Antwerp next year for Rampage, which takes place March 13 – 14, signaling to a massive low-end lineup soon to follow.
Effin is carving out his own lane as one of bass music’s fiercest new forward-thinkers. The LA-transplant is building a catalog of menacing low-end ammunition, and with each new original work, manages to plant his flag a little deeper—Effin is here to stay. He’s forming a reputation as a new force to be reckoned with a steady stream of new material like his latest neck breaker, “Partial.”
The track is a ground-rattling setlist weapon that packs a deafening punch, marked by the “Cabbage” producer’s emerging sonic signature. “Partial” comes by way of bass powerhouse Never Say Die, which is proving to be a fitting home for the burgeoning beatmaker. Keep an eye on Effin—there’s a lot more where “Partial” came from.
Following their debut single, “Bad Decisions” genre-burring electro-rock outfit AHZ has returned with a second single, “It’s Alive”. The group, which consists of Brody Jenner, LA-based DJ SAVI, metal band frontman Adam O’Rourke of 2Cents and Loren Moore, are forging their own heavy handed hybrid sound, and their latest undoubtedly falls within the group’s sonic vision. “It’s Alive” is heavy bass from front to back, with vocalist Adam O’Rourke delivering sultry melodies before the track descends into a bulldozing dubstep break. The visual feature is directed by Colin Lepper in a stop-motion animation style that complements AHZ frantic beats.
“It’s important to us that we give people something truly unique for their ears and eyes to feast on,” said AHZ’s Brody Jenner.
AHZ’s fresh and innovative take on dance and electronic music combines elements of electronic rock, punk, bass, and pop. Ushering in a sound entirely of their own, AHZ are preparing to expand on their catalog considerably, with the group is currently in the final stages of recording their debut album at their Malibu-based studio for an early 2020 release. See “It’s Alive” below.
Amid the season of spiders, ghosts, and demons (oh, my!) Dancing Astronaut presents some of the most delightfully decadent tracks released solely in 2019. The dastard design of the dark arts is never something to scoff at. Dampened tones, haunting harmonies, and menacing drums take the driver’s seat this year, of course, as our annual harrowing Halloween playlist rears its head yet again. In light of the recent mid-tempo Renaissance—and the formidable sounds that followed—this year’s compilation is fashioned from entirely up-to-the-minute offerings.
Other notable mentions include i_o and Grimes new hit thriller, “Violence,” a remix from Knife Party‘s “Ghost Train” after their first EP in four years, and the monstrous “If My Eyes Are Vampires (Your Body Is My Sunlight)” featuring TYNAN, arriving from Sullivan King‘s debut long play. Play this at your next Halloween party or in your pumpkin-print pajamas. But proceed at your peril: these tracks are not for the feeble-hearted.
Two house titans, Claptone and MK, converge in Montreal for a wild night at club favorite, Dstrkt. “The Masquerade” of course refers to Claptone’s ongoing series of masked gatherings that take guests into an alternate dimension with entrancing electronic beats and cameos by fellow wild DJ characters. Both MK and Claptone come from an elevated class of electronic talent, assuring a night of seamless spinning and anonymous holiday exuberance.
Bassnectar’s Freakstyle: Day of the Dead (Michigan)
November 1 -2
Candidly, every Bassnectar event is a little on the freaky side. But Freakstyle 2019, this year returning to Grand Rapids, November 1-2, is Lorin Ashton’s unanimously scene-accepted moment of madness. The Crowned Prince of beguiling bass is bringing some equally aural experimentation-friendly associates along for the ride (J:Kenzo, Kursa, Stylust, Aztek, Super Dre and Distinct Motive).
Tickets are sold out.
Wynwood Fear Factory (Miami)
Halloween lineups are keeping things hot heading into the fall events season. Chief among them comes from the organizers at Diskolab, with Wynwood Fear Factory’s stacked 2019 lineup. Mana Wynwood Warehouse is the place to be on October 25, with Illenium, Knife Party, Gareth Emery, Malaa, and more all making their way to Miami for Halloween.
Additional support comes by way of performances from Matt Medved, EDX, and DROELOE. Wynwood Fear Factory passes and VIP packages are on sale now
October 24 – 27
The founders of Chicago’s notorious North Coast Music Festival are returning to bring their multifarious earmark to Florida this freaky season, by way of Suwannee Hulaween in Live Oak, Florida. The four-day weekender, October 24-27 is packing profound firepower for its 2019 installment, with all-embracing artistry like Anderson.Paak, Whethan, Big Wild, Tchami, Mija, and Umphrey’s McGee heating up the roster. It’s enough to make you want to get weird in the Floridian backwoods this season.
Topping the bill for the event’s fifth anniversary is the endlessly talented polymath, Bonobo, hosting his own Outlier stage. Just below is the UK groove machine Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs alongside Machinedrum‘s collaborative project with Jimmy Edgar, JETS, which will serve as a welcomed departure from the expected house and techno roster.
HARD‘s bringing its harrowing roundup of unearthly artistry back to the venerable Coloradan Red Rocks Ampitheatre, including Gramatik, Kayzo, Tom Morello, ARMNHMR, DUCKY, and Mom N Dad. Going down on Saturday, October 26, HARD is returning to prove it can hold down Halloween all over the map in the electronic event ether.
HARD has long reigned supreme over the West Coast event space, and HARD Day of the Dead is a veteran Halloween destination fraught with well-earned acclaim. This year, for November 2, HARD has secured Dog Blood, TOKiMONSTA, Damian Lazarus, The Martinez Brothers, and more for its 2019 haunting of Downtown LA’s State Historic Park.
Who doesn’t like weed and electronic music? In many cases, the two go hand-in-hand. LA transplant Michelle Lhooq, known for her dynamic journalistic accounts of THC in nightlife, has merged these two items into an experiential event built for the Southern California underground. A TBA warehouse will be filled with two rooms—the hardcore-driven Sativa with headliner DJ Assault and the ambient Indica—as well as a scavenger hunt for free edible treats and live art from local contributors. It’s high-jinx in the best of ways.
San Francisco’s Midway plays host to a top caliber array of house and techno talent once again, this time for a Halloween mélange of local and imported artists. UK pioneers Sasha and Lee Burridge are headlining, while founder of Burning Man institution Opulent Temple Syd Gris will also be spinning. Other Bay Area favorites populating the cavernous venue’s four rooms includes Rooz, Borzu, and Oona X, while fellow UK veteran James Trystan also joins in the festivities.
Sunset Sound System Halloween Costume Boat Party (San Francisco)
Bay Area staple Sunset Sound System have built a strong reputation for themselves over their 25 years of putting together underground-led outdoor parties, and their annual Halloween Costume Boat Party continues on this tradition. 2019’s iteration sees John Tejada & Reggie Watts playing a live set under their Wajatta guise, while OG Sunset member Solar, now a favorite on the European circuit, will be stopping by his hometown for the bacchanale. Quality electronic music with a stunning Bay Bridge backdrop sounds like an ideal way to kick off Hallo-weekend, in our books.
Switzerland’s premier underground house brand Cityfox takes over Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner for a 12-hour affair on October 26. With a balanced mixture of live and DJ performances, those partial to deep, lush house sounds will find delight in artists like Bedouin, Rodriguez Jr, Stimming, Dance Spirit, Lee Burridge, Monolink, Art Department, and many more leading the charge. There’s a reason why Cityfox has become a favorite within the New York underground over its years taking a second home in the city.
Ibiza mainstay Circoloco and Brooklyn stalwarts Teksupport team up for their fourth Halloween at a virgin warehouse in the borough’s Navy Yard. They’ve booked a wide-ranging assemblage of artists, including French experimentalist Bambounou, Keinemusik co-owners &ME and Rampa, Burberry curator William Djoko, Seth Troxler, and the legendary Honey Dijon. Circoloco’s signature red light aesthetic offers an atmosphere perfectly fitting of its Halloween theme.
The Midwest’s Jawbreaker Festival is bringing a delectable slate of trance, progressive, and house to its home cities of Chicago and Detroit for two days of Halloween thrills. Above & Beyond, hot off the heels of ABGT350 in Prague, are headlining, with Gabriel & Dresden as well as Qrion joining along for the ride in Chicago. Kenneth Thomas and John Beltran offer support for the beloved trio on October 26 in Detroit. The weekend will certainly be one to remember for Anjuna aficionados, who will be treated to seamless production Jawbreaker brings to the table as well.
Ever since dance music became a real contender in the pop music landscape—rivaling rock and hip-hop in terms of global influence, artists have been looking for new, unique ways to innovate; to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. After all, once any genre breaks out of the underground, the number of artists that hitch their wagons to it nearly overnight increases dramatically.
As a result, so many of those artists calculate their craft for marketability on every level—from production to performance—searching for different aspects to which they can draw focus so as to affirm their originality. Sometimes it can come off as gimmicky, other times more genuine, though the line between is a tightrope walk.
There are some artists, though, who don’t have to manufacture a sense of originality. They show up already equipped with a sound and style that is inimitably and entirely their own. Chief among that elite crop of artists in the electronic space may be KOAN Sound. Consisting of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow, the venerated British duo has tackled an extended myriad of genres and subgenres, all while maintaining their unmistakable sonic identity.
This flair for uniqueness is driven by a concerted effort to imbue their strong instrumental background into every track they produce. From their breakout hit, “Meanwhile, In The Future,” to their latest EP, Intervals Above, their early days playing in a band together back in Bristol support their affinity for limitless exploration, both in the studio and on stage.
Dancing Astronaut caught up with Weeks and Bastow at their LA tour stop for a rare interview wherein the pair discussed their continuing instrumental influences, their brand new live show, and more.
You’ve just released another rework of “Meanwhile In The Future,” one of your break out tracks. What does this track mean to you both? How did it feel to revisit this track once again as more seasoned, experienced musicians?
Weeks: Well, that was really fun to do because we’ve learned so much since writing the original. It was cool trying out similar things, but with all these new techniques.
Bastow: Out of all our tracks that one’s always been one of the biggest fan favorites. That kind of era of our productions, the early OWSLA productions, are still really popular with a lot of fans so we wanted to keep playing it, but we thought it would be cool to update that along with some of the other tracks in the set. Kind of put a fresh spin on them, and I think the reception so far has been positive.
Which of the two versions would you say you enjoy listening to more?
Weeks: I think the old one, you can definitely hear the age.
Bastow: Yeah it’s definitely partly a nostalgic thing.
Throughout your career you’ve adopted a plethora of styles and genres—everything from boom-bap beats to drum ‘n’ bass to dubstep to disco, and yet your music is unmistakably your own. How do you continue to insert your unique sound into all these different styles in fresh, new ways?
Weeks : We don’t think about it too much. We have a way of working so whatever genre it is things end up sounding the same in terms of sound design.
Bastow : I think if you do anything for long enough and keep working away at it you will develop your own spin on it; your own perspective. I think it’s unavoidable and its definitely not something we’re really conscious of when we’re in the process of making music. It’s just something that is born out of that. But to me I think that’s one of the highest compliments that someone can give because music can be good and it can be bad but if something sounds like you then no one can take that away from you, and that’s a very high compliment.
So when you go to make a new track do you have a specific intent in terms of what genre you want to make or does it flow naturally through the process?
Weeks: Usually we start with an idea, but we work on tracks for so long that they often develop into something else entirely.
Your releases have always been accompanied by very bespoke artwork to the point that you created an original piece of art for every track on Polychrome. What purpose does visual art serve in relation to your music? Do the visuals help define the music? Or are the visuals a reaction to the music?
Weeks: Well I think part of it started when I said I see a lot of shapes and colors when I hear music, but then that grew into trying to create visuals to go along with our sets, but we haven’t done anything on this scale before as we did with the new live show.
Bastow: I came from a visual art background, and that’s always been very important to me. For instance with the Polychrome project I thought it would be a cool way to try and tie all of the different elements and tracks together because, like you say, the album has a lot of different styles and covers a lot of different stylistic ground so I thought it would be a cool way to tie all of those together by telling a story in each of the pieces of artwork.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t made an official music video for any of those tracks, right?
Bastow: Well that’s what the show is. Essentially each track has a bespoke music video for it, and we’re playing with stuff live and triggering things over the top of these space layers that are running in the background. But yeah, each track has its own full-length music video.
I think that’s interesting because if someone hasn’t come to the show and sees the art that is paired with the music, it’s still very open to interpretation. Whereas a traditional music video further defines a song most of the time. Explain the opposite approach a little more?
Bastow: I think also we play a really big role in the development of the visuals which just means we have more personal investment in them and just more attachment to them and hopefully that comes across.
You both grew up playing instruments and use them frequently in your productions. What inspired you to go the electronic route as opposed to staying the course in your live band?
Weeks: Well we were doing them both at the same time. They were both fun things, but I guess it’s hard to keep people together in a band.
Bastow: Yeah they definitely both ran in tandem and I think over time our interests and musical tastes just developed. We began to listen to more and more electronic stuff and just become more immersed in that world, but I think we went through a period while we were writing Polychrome where we were jamming quite often with some other musicians. Our friend Chalky who plays guitar being one of them. That definitely informed some of the album writing to a certain extent, and we play drums and keys on stage so there’s still a bit of that in there.
Both Polychrome and Intervals Above display a return to your more instrumental style of music. You even put together a playlist of guitar music that inspired Intervals Above. How do you translate instrumental influence into electronic music? How does a jam session inspire an electronic production?
Weeks: I think when we record anything, whether it’s other people or ourselves, we just record a lot of audio. Then usually we’ll play around with that within Ableton find cool ways to use it.
Bastow: It’s really just that. There’s not really a science behind it. It’s just recording everything that we do when we’re experimenting or just playing something and then going through it after and picking bits out and the bits that catch our ear just pursuing those and processing them and experimenting with them.
Are there times in the middle of these jams when you’ll stop and instantly know that you’ve found the idea that leads to a track?
Bastow: The recording process is very separate from the actual production process. We’re not normally doing both at the same time; recording while we’re making a track. Normally we’ll be out with a field recorder or recording someone else playing an instrument or I’ll be recording some keyboards or what not. Then after we have those we’ll go back to the studio and listen through those and choose bits from them.
Do you think having that separation between recording and producing helps formulate the ideas for your tracks?
Weeks: I’d say if anything it leads to more happy accidents because you come away from the recording process and then you come into it fresh again and you can stumble on really interesting progressions.
Bastow: It’s kind of a work flow thing as well. Just having that separation means that the two processes are distinct.
What were the intentions behind Intervals Above? Was it simply leftover tracks from the Polychrome sessions? Or were you trying to do something new?
Weeks: I think it was a love letter to the guitar music we like. Metal, Latin American music…
Bastow: We listen to a lot of instrumental metal stuff, with Animals As Leaders being one of the biggest names. So, part of it was that and part of it was becoming really close friends with a guy named Chalky who played a lot on the EP. We had these initial ideas and did some short recordings with him. Those recordings formed the direction of the EP in terms of sound, and we just tried to use those recordings as much as possible because it’s not an instrument we’ve used a lot in the past.
When you first emerged bass music was much more narrowly defined than it is today, and your music always existed outside those definitions. Now you have a long list of huge crossover artists. How do you think this trend has impacted your music and your audience? Do you find more people are down for the stuff you’re making now?
Bastow: Well I think when we initially started we were pretty closely tied to dubstep. We sort of rode the wave of that association and, like you say, everything was more in the box at that time. So, I think we were pigeon-holed a little bit into that, but I think it’s been a gradual evolution. From that point we’ve continued to experiment and try new things until we were at a point where people were digging us because we were doing that; because we weren’t sticking to that one thing. We became known for always doing a different thing.
There’s something incredibly legitimizing about an electronic artist’s first Essential Mix. It’s a level up from one’s current echelon into certified “industry heavyweight” status, and now it’s officially REZZ‘s moment to shine. The undisputed queen of mid-tempo bass, REZZ has long been carving out a formidable name for herself on the international dance circuit, garnering a cultish worldwide following behind a catalog of infectiously strange, gripping sonics.
REZZ’s BBC debut came in 2017 during one of deadmau5‘s residency sessions. After gracing the airwaves during the first hour of her mentor’s mix, it was clear REZZ was bound for her own Essential Mix in the near future. Now, she’s delivered, and she’s kept strictly to her own catalog of work throughout the battering two-hour session.
In a recent interview with SiriusXM, Shaquille O’Neal compared bass music to game seven of a championship game. The wholesome personality said in the interview a lot of people ask him why he performs for free, to which he responds “I’m doing it for the sport of bass music.”
He goes on to describe when he started DJing in 1988 with an SP1200 Gemini mixer he got from a pawn shop. When he retired from the NBA in 2011, he needed to fill that void of excitement he used to get from roaring crowds after a Shaq slam. So he went to Tomorrowland and was shocked by the pure energy of the fans and made the connection there are only two things that help one stop all the negativity in their life: sports and music.
8/08 day is an annual cause for resounding celebration. The iconic Roland drum machine played a quintessential role in electronic, hip-hop, and pop’s development, with its imprint permanently stamped on a vast amount of top-charting singles of the ’80s and ’90s. While, the mechanism became antiquated by the turn of millennium, on account of oversaturation, lack of availability, and Roland’s plans to propel newer gear to the forefront, this was far from the end of its legacy.
Fast-forward another decade: the 808 revival had begun. Rappers like Kanye West found that the instrument added a unique, crisp edge to the low-end of their productions, whilst dance music innovators like Aphex Twin found other creative ways to utilize the 808 for maximum impact. Today, a good deal of producers appreciate the vintage appeal it offers; so much so, that Roland even revived the 808 in 2017.
We honor this musical staple with a series of larger-than-life tunes by Skrillex, Eptic, RL Grime, Dillon Francis, Bassnectar, Doctor P, Flux Pavilion, and more from heavy-handed listeners’ legion of 808 legends who have allowed this instrument to shine in the dance space over the years. In 808, we trust.