Spacesuits on! Dancing Astronaut is hiring [Apply]

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Spacesuits on! Dancing Astronaut is hiring [Apply]DALogo

Dancing Astronaut is hiring — have you got what it takes to join the team? We are looking to bring in some well-rounded, fresh talent to assist in advancing our editorial team forward as 2018 begins to wind down, and plans for 2019 ramp up. If you’re a strong, experienced writer with a love of electronic dance music, please take a look at the open opportunity below. If you’re interested and qualified, please email your resume and a short paragraph detailing your prior experience and qualifications to jobs@dancingastronaut.com.


Contributing Writer

Time expectation: approx. 2 hours / day

  • COMMUNICATION
    • Develop and manage relationships with publicists, labels, artists, and industry professionals
    • Maintain strong channels of communication both internally and externally
    • Develop strong, hands on communication with writing/editorial/social staff to facilitate the daily production of content
  • WRITING
    • Strong writing background with the ability to quickly turnaround news posts
    • Ability to write in an informed professional/authoritative voice
    • Journalism background is a plus/preferred
    • Affinity for electronic dance music and hip-hop, must have your finger on the pop culture beat
    • Execute both long and short term content pieces and meet weekly/monthly content metrics
    • Demonstrated ability to meet both tight deadlines and long lead deadlines
  • NEWS CYCLE
    • Stay on top of current news (RSS feeds, social media, email)
    • Keen eye for brand-fitting news stories in tech, business, and other industry sectors
    • Weekend availability is a must

In Defense of Bassheads: The 5 pillars of the Bassnectar community

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Easter Sunday has come and gone. While most god-fearing men and women hunkered down in church for communion followed by an Easter egg hunt in their local parks, the Bassnectar family flocked to the Midwest for their own holy sacrament.

The bass worshiping disciples have congregated in Chicago’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center under the iconic bass drop image displayed across several large LED screens. They’ve traveled far and wide, commingling in the sacred space to commune and catch up since their last familial gathering. After all, it’s been several months since their last mass migration to Atlanta, Georgia — far too long.

The two-day event, dubbed Spring Gathering, is the first of four family affairs scheduled for 2018. The previous night saw Lorin Ashton deliver a truly mystical full moon sermon, with amorphous sound waves crashing into the hearts and minds of his loyal followers, making them weak at the knees as they lean their faces to the floor, bowing to the bass in head banging unison.

As the onlookers prepare for the weekend’s second and final set from their musical savior, Bassnectar, it’s clear they’re feigning for deeper exploration of the bass music abyss. The pre-show music begins, preparing the congregation for the ensuing throw down, and the scene begins to feel a bit like an enchanting ritual.

Nerves settle. Pupils dilate. Arms extend upward. Anticipation permeates the air.

Bassnectar Spring Gathering, Chicago, Illinois. Photo: aLIVE Coverage

Known collectively as “bassheads,” Bassnectar fanatics are a generally a progressive, fun-loving, and wildly ostentatious bunch. So, why do they often get such a bad rep? Many have heard the stereotypes: Bassheads are cynical and elitist, burnt out on their passion for Bassnectar, filled with contempt for newcomers into their cult-like community.

Admittedly, there are quite a few “haters” in the Bassnectar scene; although it’s important to note that, much of the time, haters are just angry lovers. This vocal minority pessimists often drown out the many positive voices in the Bassnectar community, longing for the days before the Ashton’s explosion into stardom and even shaming those in the community who don’t know every Bassnectar title circa the days of Underground Communication or Divergent Systems of Throb.

Generalizations are thus formed about the bassheads as a whole based off these particularly distinctive outcriers. After all, it’s a proven fact that our brains are biologically wired to categorize,compartmentalize, and make assumptions about a whole community based on personal and prominent observations. Ultimately, however, this reasoning is fallacious.

Dancing Astronaut aims to redeem bassheads from their misunderstood image by getting back to the essence of what the Bassnectar family truly stands for: community, love, and immersive bass music. Based on online polling results from within the community itself, we trace its five central pillars and the commandments within.

 


1) Unconditional love and unwavering acceptance

Bassnectar Spring Gathering, Night One, Chicago, Illinois, 2018. Photo: aLIVE Coverage.

Imagine having just endured the arduous endeavor of getting past the security and ticket lines and feeling fatigued. Then, a stranger approaches with a warm, familiar smile and presents a homemade business card with the following message: “You are loved beyond infinity.” Such sharing of meaningful, affirmative words and gifts are regular occurrences at any family gathering, known to bassheads as random acts of kindness.

This tenet, one that is similar to other pillars of transformational communities such as Burning Man, is in fact the first commandment bassheads live by. They carry this awareness from the show into everyday life, sending each other care packages and giving out small tokens of appreciation. Across the country, selfless bassheads are constantly engaging random acts of kindness and treating others with respect, gratitude, and equality.

The second commandment bassheads choose to consciously live by is best summed up in one of Bassnectar’s song titles: Inspire the empathetic. They practice empathy with a mission of existing with others on a leveled playing field. Empathy requires walking a mile in another’s shoes — a difficult task that bassheads work tirelessly, and not always successfully, to achieve.

These two commandments form the first pillar of the Bassnectar community: Unconditional love and Unwavering Acceptance. This is the new age sense of spiritualism that pervades the Bassnectar community, a belief emanating from Ashton’s Bay area upbringing in a hippie commune that is absorbed and proliferated by his followers.

 


 2) Freedom of artistic expression 

Live painting at BassCenter X, Hampton, Virginia. Photo: Reston Campbell Photography.

Anyone whose traveled to a Bassnectar special event has almost assuredly been bombarded with the usual traveling creatives hustling event-specific gear in the parking lot, before even checking into hotel. Through the revolving doors and into the lobby, a pop-up marketplace beckons: one painter has laid out her psychedelic-inspired oil canvases, while a craftsman is selling his handmade wire-wrapped jewelry.

The above encapsulates another critical commandment of the Bassnectar community: a strong support for grassroots art. Many within cultivate their own creativity out of deep inspiration for Ashton’s DIY attitude. While some fans pursue art at an amateur level, others have manifested their artistic passions as a full-time career and a live embodiment of the commitment to Freedom of Artistic Expression.

One basshead revealed, “I quit my nine-to-five because I was getting so many requests for custom wire wrapped rings and pendants. Now I’m making a living off my art. I’ve even started learning welding and soldering techniques to become a professional jeweler someday. I’m living the dream!” He pours his all into each piece he constructs.

These are the kinds of goals, dreams, and artistic aspirations that grant bassheads the means to travel all over the country to attend every nectar family event — and trust that they don’t miss a single gathering.

“That’s the key to evolution, you always want to change, adapt and improve but also balancing that out with being grateful.” – Lorin Ashton, in a previous interview with Dancing Astronaut

Roaming performers pose at BassCenter 9 in Commerce City, Colorado. Photo: 303 Magazine.

 


 3) Connection with like-minded individuals 

Basshead railers at BUKU 2018, New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Christian Miller.

Every couple of months or so, bassheads come together from all over the country for “listening parties,” where they put on a throwback Bassnectar mixtape in real time and with strangers online through live tweeting and such. Local bass families will often convene at someone’s home or in a local park with enormous subwoofers as they listen, reflect, and head bang together. The point of these social functions is to celebrate bass music and come together in the same moment despite barriers of physical distance.

This is more-or-less the bedrock of an cult, underground community built from like-minded individuals coming together to baptize one another in bass. They flock to four special locations each season to completely immerse themselves in the alien frequencies of their figurehead, who they’ve dubbed “The King of Sound,” as well as to celebrate Ashton’s amorphous music in all its majestic height. At each festival that Bassnectar headlines, dedicated followers often stay behind after the set armed with trash bags to collect every bit of garbage and confetti left on the ground — it’s a sustainable practice with roots in the Burning Man “leave no trace” principle. Bassheads regularly come together in their respective cities and towns to volunteer their time to serving in the community as well, usually through local clothing and canned food drives or park and beach clean-ups.

But Bassnectar’s cult-like movement has ballooned into a burgeoning and increasingly bifurcated community that is anything but underground, with Ashton sitting at the helm of a rockstar spectacle. As the it continues to grow at an exponential rate, so too do its complexities and contradictory cultural inner-workings.

Bassheads gather in New Jersey to volunteer at The Food Bank. Photo courtesy of The Bass Network.


 4) Passion for politics and progressive activism 

Ashton’s politics are unapologetically progressive at their core. So naturally the issues that are important to him are important to bassheads. Bassheads have shown up in large numbers to high-stakes, at times dangerous, political demonstrations like the Dakota Pipeline protests, the Women’s March, and the fight for Net Neutrality.

Key issues like these have long been a theme in Bassnectar’s music, which he took from the 1990s punk rock and death metal scenes he came of age in, infusing those values and ideals into the cultural current of his electronic music.

“The spirit of punk rock and death metal was very anti-establishment, pro-underground, pro-community, very fucking fiercely in opposition to the mainstream, in opposition to ignorance, and you know all kind of religions and weird human dogma traps. And having a flag of resistance to fly in the face of that is really powerful”

Basshead protests #NODAPL, Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Photo courtesy of Chelsea O’Connor.

Bassnectar brings this staunch sense of political activism into his live sets with visual segments that implicate public figures like Dick Cheney and Donald Trump using Nazi and KKK imagery — all as his bass-bolstered remix of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” plays over clipped images of the swastika and white hooded figures.

During his iconic Oregon Eclipse and BassCenter X sets last year, Ashton brought to the stage a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, named Chase Iron Eyes, who delivered a powerful message about the continued protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Indigenous-American activist ended with a resounding chant that bassheads still echo into today: “Water is life!”

The Bassnectar community’s passion for taking a stand against wage and class inequality highlights another important commandment: that art is and always has been political.


5) Think for yourself and question everything 

Bassnectar performs in Rothbury, Michigan, 2017. Photo courtesy of Electric Forest.

When Lorin Ashton launched his “Think For Yourself” campaign with Electric Forest in 2015, he compelled fans to challenge the mainstream news that is bound by political bias and corporate interests. The campaign encourages bassheads to seek out alternative news sources that cater to the well-being of the general public, as opposed to the 1%.

“When it comes to current compelling issues, it is very difficult to find ‘the truth’ without wading through a ton of bias from corporate sponsors, pundits, or even just the opinion of the newscaster or the owner of the publication (or some half-wit long-haired DJ who has found the time to type a zillion words and post them online),” Ashton wrote on his official blog.

He even puts his own biases on display as a public figure with a sizable influence over the opinions of others. Despite how the Bassnectar community constantly catapults Lorin to god-like status — sometimes for fun and giggles, sometimes not — Lorin Ashton is, for all intents and purposes, only human after all.


The message is very simple. 

Bassnectar Spring Gathering, Night One, Chicago, Illinois, 2018. Photo: aLIVE Coverage.

A few years ago, when Lorin Ashton made his Electric Forest debut, a landmark festival which now houses Bassnectar’s residency, DA sat down with the man behind the hair to discuss his cultish community of loving bassheads. It was a time of great transition for the underground king of bass — from a figure who detests fame to an electronic music rockstar whose name draws tens of thousands of loyal followers to any given event. Ashton made the decision to stop touring in the classical sense, with his iconic 2014 Noise Vs. Beauty Tour resting as his last, and start creating more immersive family gatherings several times a year. The events that unfold at these gatherings is what sits at the core of the Bassnectar project: Unconditional love, artistic expression, connection with like-minded individuals, passion for politics, and thinking for yourself. 

These five pillars of the Bassnectar family are really the very same ideals that strike at the heart of the music community at large. The Bassnectar community is just one tiny microcosm for seeing into the more expansive universe of music. From the freaks and outcasts of punk rock and metal core to electronic dance music, issues that sometimes plague the community aren’t anything new or specific to only the Bassnectar family.

So when returning to the earlier problem of how bassheads are perceived — as cynical, misanthropic misfits — the reality is that communities are much more nuanced than we can ever fathom them from the side lines, and that sometimes it only takes a small minority of negative individuals to making enough noise to end up representing a whole group of people. As outside onlookers, we ought to use caution when making blanket statements that lump large groups of people together; lest we risk stereotyping in such a way that stigmatizes, which leads to ignorance, demagoguery, and witch-hunting. Generalizations can be helpful, but they can also be harmful. Ultimately at stake is an ethical question that boils down to this: Live and let live.

Bassnectar family photo. Spring Gathering 2018, Night 1. Photo: aLIVE Coverage.

 

 

Analog BKNY partners with Egg London for 15th anniversary tour

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Among the many faces of the music industry, the beginning of 2018 has brought upon collaborations of all sorts. From the elusive b2b sets that Holy Ship attendees have been fortunate to witness, to the announcement of Diplo and Mark Ronson’s joint venture, Silk City, the year has started with a bang.

In that vein, one of the most highly anticipated events is primed to kick off the new year in New York. Working together with Egg London — one of London’s most reputable venues — Analog BKNY is set to host its 15th anniversary tour with Matador, DESNA and Espinal & Nova.

The 15 year celebration highlights the growth and success of the UK clubbing haven, bringing in coveted names such as Laurent Garnier, Lee Foss and Solomun, and marking itself as an international tastemaker in the nightlife industry. Home to an expertly designed sound-system and a ceiling adorned with flashing lights, Analog BKNY suits the ideal atmosphere for this techno-laden event.

Tickets are available online

 

Read more:

Dance music vs. the Miami market: against all odds, Basement is the answer

Analog merges with Magnum Bookings to form Analog Spain

Cityfox prepares for colossal 26-hour NYE party in New York

What will Coachella’s EDM programming look like this year?

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What will Coachella’s EDM programming look like this year?

Coachella‘s status as a music festival has grown to become larger than life since its humble, European-inspired beginnings in 1999, and their yearly lineup is both a cultural statement regarding the current state of music and a presage to future trends.

The behemoth brand has always integrated electronic music into their programming, with artists like The Chemical Brothers, Paul Oakenfold, Moby, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, and even Daft Punk helping to shape its reputation as an audacious tastemaker when it comes to curation. Until Coachella, electronic music had a hard time making it across the pond — it certainly never occupied such prime real estate as desert fields filled with upwards of 60,000 attendees.

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Coachella’s longstanding relationship with EDM has been as mercurial as the multifaceted genre itself, with its programming interests shifting in conjunction with the tastes of festival attendees. 2010 saw Tiësto occupy a sub-headlining set, playing after Muse on the festival’s main stage. Swedish House Mafia’s seminal 2012 performance has become solidified as one of mainstream house’s defining moments as a genre. Calvin Harrisiconic set in 2016 marked the first year that an EDM artist has headlined Coachella, a precedent that has since shaped the festival’s programming ethos. Its most recent iteration saw the most electronic artist names in both the second line and undercard areas of its lineup in its entire history.

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So, what will EDM look like at Coachella 2018?

As always is the case, Coachella’s internal forums and sub-Reddits have been crawling with speculation around the lineup since the end of last year’s festival in April. However, 2018 has been more silent in terms of credible rumors than in recent years. 33 names on the 2017 bill were confirmed by this time in 2016, including all three headliners. This year, a mere 8 names are confirmed, with only Beyoncé confirmed as a headliner due to her unexpected cancellation.

The Chainsmokers‘ potential elevation to headliner status catalyzed a lot of buzz earlier in the year, for example, but these rumors have since been proven insubstantial at best. Such hypotheses beg the question: Who aside from Calvin Harris does have the EDM star power to headline a festival as large as Coachella? One could only name a few potential candidates, really: the new ‘it boy’ Marshmello, Daft Punk, Zedd, and maybe Major Lazer or Skrillex off of a new album.

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The Sahara Tent

Most of the Coachella’s EDM selection tends to be confined to one of North America’s most storied destinations for the genre: the Sahara Tent. Since the festival’s recent attendance expansion, it has gone to great lengths to increase the amount of space between stages, removing bottlenecks and increasing traffic flow. However, it failed to predict that the jump in attendance would largely be from those looking to quench their collective thirst for EDM.

Massive acts like DJ Snake & Martin Garrix were placed one after the other in 2017, rather than being scheduled in conjunction with one another to help ease crowding. The same was true of Sahara mainstays Dillon Francis and Steve Angello, both of which played there once more at peak hours.

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The likely reason for this lack of counter programming stems from the fact that fans pay a great deal of money to see as much of their music of choice as possible, so directly countering EDM with more EDM would likely upset Coachella’s core demographic. Still, the Sahara Tent is nearly uninhabitable after sundown, and fans can’t even break into the tent to catch their favorite sets if this scheduling methodology persists.

Coachella’s online forum users have pointed towards the prospect of the festival adding another gargantuan tent similar to the current Sahara Tent, which could showcase similar styles of music while lessening the bottleneck effect in the Sahara. A more plausible option, though, would be the expansion of the current Sahara Tent to accommodate a larger number of attendees.

Regardless of how they tackle it, Goldenvoice must, and likely will address the overflow of wide-eyed festival goers flooding into the Sahara Tent in dangerous fashion.

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Second Liners

With so many dance titans occupying the second line of Coachella’s roster over the past couple years, its seems like the event has almost jumped the gun just a bit. Booking so many of EDMs hottest names means that there are now far less to look at for 2018, assuming there are no repeats — quite the conundrum indeed.

ODESZA appears to be one of Coachella fans’ most sought-after artists. Fresh off of a new album and accompanying tour, which saw them incorporate a drum line and other exciting elements into the mix, the seminal indie/pop electronica duo is likely going to claim one of Coachella’s top spots come Spring of next year. One could even go so far as to wager that they will fill the third name on the second line and occupy the same main stage sunset spot that Porter Robinson & Madeon occupied in 2017.

Since Kygo’s ascension to national stardom that essentially began in 2015, the Norwegian giant has garnered hundreds of millions of streams and has since gone on to popularize the “tropical house” sound and captured the attention of the masses. A key second line slot seems fitting for Kygo in 2018 — a step up from his 2015 booking — and the artist certainly has the clout to headline the festival’s second biggest stage: the Outdoor Theatre.

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Eric Prydz is another name that hasn’t played Coachella in years, and has since accrued a massive increase in popularity among the dance music community. With the release of Opus in and the debut of his new Epic 5.0 stage setup, Prydz is certainly a candidate for high placement on Coachella’s 2018 poster — there’s even a good chance he could occupy a similar after-dark set on the Outdoor theatre, à la Justice in 2017. Or, perhaps Prydz could headline the legendary Sahara Tent during a main stage set from The Chainsmokers.

One of trap music’s most elusive figures, RL Grime, has been on his headlining Nova tour for the last two months, which features groundbreaking visuals that are rarely seen in the trap world, or EDM world at large. The LA native, who has redefined trap music’s fundamental style, always ensures his sets are filled with a tangible verve. He could very well close out the Sahara Tent or perform second to last on Coachella’s Outdoor Theatre, especially if he releases an album in the foreseeable future.

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Finally, after their meteoric rise to mainstream recognition since Group Therapy, Above & Beyond is also primed to their long-awaited return to the Polo Fields — maybe for 2018 after the release of their Common Ground album. The trio is known for filling their sets with tear-inducing moments aided by sentimental visuals, and like RL Grime, would make for perfect counter programming in the Sahara Tent or placement at the Outdoor Theatre.

GRiZ has never performed at Coachella and, fresh off of the release of his newest album Good Will Prevail, the Michigan DJ and saxophone master is definitely evolving into an excellent booking choice. With live, instrumental-centric sets that are full of insurmountable energy, it’s only fitting that GRiZ occupies a coveted slot on the lineup. GRiZ seems to be on the cusp of second liners — he may be closer to filling a high spot on the third line — regardless, he might make his debut at the 2018 iteration.

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Yuma Yuma Yuma

As Coachella’s electronic programming progressed through the years, organizers soon felt a need to incorporate a tent that captured the essence of the underground dance niche. Thus, the Yuma Tent was birthed in 2013. The stage’s indoor setup features awe-inspiring lighting schemes, air conditioning, a giant disco ball, and even giant beds that sore feet can head to rest and soak in the sounds of top underground talent.

In years past, the Yuma Tent has featured such legendary acts as J.E.S.u.S (Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler), Richie Hawtin, The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson), Bicep, and Ben Klock, to name just a few.

So who will DJ in the legendary tent this year? Our bets are on the return of artists like those that comprise J.E.S.u.S. Others that are due for a return include Maceo Plex, Carl Craig, and Dubfire.

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Coachella’s Yuma tent selections continue to break ground within the electronic side of the festival sphere, but it will need to expand upon its current scheduling methodology in order to keep up with the growing factions that divide ‘popular’ underground leaders — like Hot Since 82, Solomun, and The Martinez Brothers — and their lesser-known counterparts.

Will bookers finally decide to pay homage to such pivotal acts as Len Faki, Amelie Lens, Rødhåd, Detroit Swindle, and The Black Madonna? The aforementioned underground acts have not typically made the cut in recent years; whether this is due to them not receiving an offer, or simply not wishing to play a mainstream festival like Coachella, is entirely unknown.

One thing that is for certain is that they would do well to expand their horizons in terms of the styles of techno and house they book, given the apparent lack of diversity in the Yuma Tent’s recent years. Ultimately, the stage is still defining its identity after only half a decade of existence, so who knows what it will have in store come April 2018.

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Undercard Hopes

Coachella’s most consistent aspect is its stellar undercard, and electronic music within this area of its roster continues to act as an integral force in its success. Acts like Nicolas Jaar, Tycho, Galantis, Kaytranada, Jai Wolf, and Four Tet all occupied its undercard last year. When one considers that even some of electronic music’s most established and hottest acts didn’t even make the second line, the festival’s depth becomes entirely apparent.

This year’s bill has the potential to showcase an array of tantalizing dance music up-and-comers. Some acts we predict will appear on the 2018 undercard include Virtual Self (Porter Robinson’s alter alias), Ekali, Big Wild, Gorgon City, Malaa, and Oliver, to name a few.

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A Cultural Phenomenon

Coachella holds strong in the festival sphere of influence, continually expanding its attendance rates and selling out each year thanks to bookings like Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, and more.

The festival is a glaring manifestation music’s current state and where its headed: this is especially true for its electronic programming, in which its talent buyers are faced with a more arduous task than ever to remain cutting-edge for the upcoming rendition.

Coachella’s upcoming lineup is most definitely going to be incredible no matter what, and we’re excited to see who makes the cut.

GQ got it wrong: 10 looks that prove Marshmello is EDM’s fashion trailblazer

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GQ got it wrong: 10 looks that prove Marshmello is EDM’s fashion trailblazer

GQ might have just dubbed Marshmello as the 8th ‘Worst Dressed Man of 2017,’ but we here at Dancing Astronaut beg to differ. In fact, one might argue that Marshmello is a veritable pioneer of sorts when it comes to selecting creative and coordinated outfits.

We’ve assembled a tidy collection of ten top-notch ‘Mello looks taken from across his social media pages that show off his true fashionista side.

 

Words by: Grace Fleisher, David Klemow, Mike Cooper, & Christina Hernandez

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Can we get an Encore?

Marshmello’s almost prom-esque tuxedo that he chose for his XS campaign begs for an “Encore” of the suit’s snappy appearance.

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Patent Pending

As if it wasn’t clear enough that Marshmello is a master of serving up smooth looks…this head-to-toe patent fit will surely do the trick.

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Canadian Tuxedo? No, Marshmello Tuxedo

Speaking of coordination, this cleverly-constructed white denim affair does a great job of embodying the Marshmello persona and becoming a more mod version of the “Canadian Tux” at the same time.

 

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Mighty

The masked future bass marauder makes quite the good Power Ranger, with an enhanced helmet to boot!

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Hanging with fans

Marshmello, pictured left, spotted hanging out with cosplaying fans at a recent gig. The man knows how to create a cult following, that’s for sure.

 

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Marshmello on the dark side

Vampire, or fluffy, sweet EDM purveyor? It’s hard to tell with this ghoulish getup.

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Marshmello Vice

Fairest of them all, the bucketheaded producer recently caught some wind in Miami wearing stylish poolside-primed long johns like an absolute idiot.

 

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Marshmello goes red

Marshmello trying on a slightly off brand jelly bean look. Only the most forward-thinking fashion connoisseurs can pull off a candy-infused outfit, so this enigma is the perfect one to do so.

 

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He is the golden one

Marshmello is definitely not appropriating East Asian culture in this choice gold number.

 

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Edgy ‘Mello

Marshmello shows off his edgy (and ripped) side with this lit jacket, also in white per his signature aesthetic.

 

5 musical moments that shook the crowd at Suwannee Hulaween 2017 [Event Review]

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5 musical moments that shook the crowd at Suwannee Hulaween 2017 (Event Review)

Suwannee Hulaween has just turned five, but that’s not the festival’s only accomplishment in 2017. The Silver Wrapper and Purple Hat-partnered event has cemented itself as the south’s premiere fall festival; held inside the eminent musical venue of Florida’s Suwannee Music Park at Spirit Lake, the event boasts four days of expertly-curated jamtronica, underground bass, and unique house music offerings. In today’s over-saturated music festival market, standing out among the rest takes one part true tenacity and a pinch of good luck. Yet, the “spirit of Suwannee,” as many refer to these sacred grounds, runs deep into the roots of its towering moss-covered trees.

Fresh off last its conclusion, we’ve compiled 5 unforgettable moments from Hulaween’s 2017 that made it’s audacious fifth anniversary its most bright, prosperous, and wildly auspicious event to date.

All photos courtesy of Suwannee Hulaween

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The String Cheese Incident’s infamous Saturday night set

The String Cheese Incident is known for having a heavy hand in curation at their mainstay festivals. For the long-time alum of Hulaween and other transformational gatherings, the talk of the weekend centers around Cheese’s Saturday night “shebangs” — and for good reason. With six full sets on the bill, the coveted show of the weekend was SCI’s Halloween-themed “Night Of The Loving Dead” performance. Their love-themed set included renditions of iconic songs like Sublime’s “What I Got,”  Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love,” and of course, both the Bob Marley and Beatles’ original by the same name, “All You Need is Love” amidst fireworks, confetti blasts, and giant inflatables began making their over a sea of plastered smiles. As an undeniable bridge between the jam scene and electronic scenes, String Cheese’s vision of bringing a multi-genre bill to life runs deep into the spirit of Suwannee.

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Space Jesus’s secret set at the Indendia Stage

Stumbling across the Incendia stage at 2 am is as much of a treat as it is a must. Famous for its birthplace at Burning Man in 2013, the mobile artistic installation and interactive stage consists of six geodesic structures, all featuring a spellbinding propane flame effect ascending from atop its modular ceilings. Incendia has made its way across the US over the years, and is better known to Floridians as Okeechobee‘s secret set locale for artists like Snails, GRiZ, Ganja White Night, and more. Hulaween was no different. As attendees made out like children wandering through the iridescent woodland playgrounds of Spirit Lake, the unmistakable inter-dimensional wubs of Space Jesus drew late night wanderers like a moth to a flame — bringing truth to the idiom “not all that wander are lost.”

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GRiZ’s secret sunrise set in the campgrounds

After closing out the Meadows main stage with an elating funk-driven set, GRiZ took to the campgrounds in the wee hours of Monday morning, thereby confirming the rumors his family had been clamoring about all weekend. As the sun peaked through the trees, the All Good Records label head played up-close-and-personal for a crowd of roughly a hundred people. The sunrise set would become the memorable moment of Suwannee Hulaween — for those lucky enough to attend, that is. For all others, GRiZ’s secret campground appearance was the most heartbreaking affliction of the weekend (Watch it here).

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Manic Focus bringing out Space Jesus and Break Science

Taking to the Amphitheater stage on Saturday night, Manic Focus (aka “JmaC”) elevated his new wave hip-hop infused electro-soul act to new heights. The All Good Records producer served fans a hearty helping of tracks from his most recent genre-defying LP, Minds Rising, as the All Good family poured down the stage’s narrow steps. JmaC’s fiercely spirited performance culminated to the point when he brought Space Jesus onto the stage for some heavy back-to-back play, capped off with another rare Break Science showing alongside Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch.

 

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The five songs that dominated the dance floor

Walking through Suwannee felt like blasting back into time. The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was agreed upon by attendees as the most played song of the weekend, imbuing the sacred grounds of Suwannee with an authentic Woodstock vibe. Michael Jackson’s 1980s hit “Thriller” was another popular stage anthem, creating an appropriately spooky vibe for the Halloween weekend event. Deep within the forest’s Spirit Lake stage, Dirtybird boss Claude Von Stroke treated his audience to his retro-house redo from two 80s classics, “The Rain Break.” A solid trap mainstay of the festival came courtesy of  Minnesota with his recently-released, long-awaited track, “HiLow,” which was heard heavily across the bass stages. Finally, Bassnectar premiered his unreleased collaboration with Digital Ethos, “Slather,” which was broadcasted across his 2017 traveling stage set-up.

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Perhaps the biggest strength of Suwannee Hulaween lays in its manageability of it’s sheer size. Set in an expansive venue, capped at 25,000 attendees of all ages and sizes, the festival values keeping the authentic transformational vibe alive over notorious expansion and maximizing profit. This vibe scuttles deep into the spirit of the festival grounds, across its swampy sands and panoramic landscapes.

Indeed, even purists from festivals like Electric Forests Forest often end up finding themselves more at home within this more intimate, yet equally magical venue. With a well-curated line-up and a smaller, more intimate venue, its no wonder Suwannee Hulaween has blossomed into the shiny new jewel of the jam, bluegrass, and bass scene.

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5 reasons to never miss a Bassnectar curated event [Event Review]

This post was originally published on this site

 

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5 reasons to never miss a Bassnectar curated event

BassCenter has cemented itself as Bassnectar‘s most-anticipated event of the year among his cult-like family following. Set inside the famed indoor venue of Hampton Colosseum in Hampton, Virginia this year, the event offers 3-days of top-notch “underground” bass music curation to fans, alongside a plethora of other live acts and interactive community building activities. Every single detail is finely tuned with utmost scrutiny by none other Lorin Ashton himself, according to a Bassnectar Reddit AMA he’d done.

For such a prolific annual gathering, topping it from year to year is no easy feat. Just last year, for instance, BassCenter pulled 25,000 fans to Commerce City, Colorado. Such inflated numbers eventually led its hair-thrashing visionary to make the executive decision to pull in the reigns a bit for his brainchild’s 10th iteration, with an aim to make it a smaller, more intimate affair. Indeed, is what unfolded at Hampton’s sold-out 10,000 limited capacity venue, a space dubbed “the Mothership” by bass heads, dead heads, and Phish heads alike.

Fresh off last week’s conclusion, we’ve compiled 5 reasons why one of Bassnectar’s special events should be in your travel plans soon.

All photos courtesy of Reston Campbell Photography

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1. An abundance of impressive, up-and-coming bass music

At each and every Bassnectar event, there is a slew of opening talent that Ashton hand picks with specific purpose. Yet, since BassCenter is the premier event of Bassnectar’s year, both creatively and communally, artists seem to really bring their A-game to each of their sets. Bleep Bloop came to impress with his usual brand of weird space bass. Clozee is becoming a mainstay of Bassnectar’s events, making her second appearance in two months, with her organic Eastern-influenced line of bass music. Direct openers for Bassnectar were Mr. Carmack and Cashmere Cat, who brought something different to the table, pumping in a lot of his melodic productions for Ariana Grande, while delivering heavy sub bass to get the crowd in the right space for Bassnectar.

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2. Live roaming performers, pop-up acts, and vendors at every corner

From official vendors lined up along the outside of the venue to the more organic sales of homemade goods by passionate, artistic festival-goers, one should bring their pocket book armed to any Bassnectar event. Even the hotel lobby turns itself into a market place for selling shirts, pins and gifts, and all kinds of merchandise. Those who also chanced upon The Lot’s musical musings were fortunate enough to discover a hoop squad grooving and spinning to heart thumping bass music from The Librarian, Dorfex Bos, and The Fungineers.

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3. The production quality is second to none

Cutting edge technology what makes Bassnectar events so special. The sound in itself is a physical, visceral, emotional rollercoaster that can be seen and felt as it reverberates throughout the entire body. Paired with the visuals, which are also carefully planned by Lorin and his team, the event becomes a psychedelic and communal experience. As if the sound and visuals weren’t enough to overload the senses, there were also points at which rose petals fell from the ceiling and large inflatable animals were released into the crowd. Ashton conjured up three completely distinctive, “full-throttle” sets for the weekend, complete with all his favorite music that he adapted to fit a more contemporary frame. The themes for each two-hour-long performance were Space, Earth, and Ether, whereby the iconic figure structured thematically around fan requested songs leading up to the event.

More notably, Bassnectar brought special guest Chase Iron Eyes during his Earth set, onto the stage. Iron Eyes is an American Indian activist and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and he donated his time onstage to give a conscientious speech about the continued protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He then ended his stirring monologue with a powerful chant that resonated with those watching through out the weekend, “Water is Life!,” before providing a number for guests to contact so they could assist with the ongoing protests.

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4. Activities and art at every corner

BassCenter additionally provided an endless amount of options to pass one’s time outside of just the music. From games and booths to massages and a gift alter in The Haven, every corner of the Mothership seemed to provide a new adventure. The Lots was an enhanced gathering space outside the venue, was complete with renegade sound systems, pop-up arts & crafts fair, and guest performances. The Center itself was akin to a teeming bazaar of art, with painters showcasing their work live to a backdrop of curious spectators buzzing about.

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5. The passionate community of bass heads is one of a kind

BassCenter is not a typical large-scale electronic music event. For one, it boasts an exceptional amount of love for community. Across all three days, you’ll see selfless bass heads practicing random acts of kindness and treating others with respect, gratitude and equality. Gifts from random strangers are a regular occurrence. Meeting your new best friend in the host hotel’s elevators is not unlikely. Trading kandi, smiles, and hugs with police officers is routine social practice. Any given show feels like Ashton’s very own pop-up hippie commune. These unified ravers are not only committed to chasing Lorin’s music all over the country, but to spreading his message of love and acceptance.

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There’s Bassnectar festival sets, and then there’s Bassnectar curated events. The proof is in the pudding with BassCenter X, and seeing is believing if one wants to know – truly know – what this immersive community is really about. The next chance to commune with the progressive, fun-loving and wildly ostentatious Bassnectar community is New Years Eve in Atlanta, Georgia!

Featured photo courtesy of aLive Coverage

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The 2017 Oregon Eclipse Gathering: An event in totality [Event Review]

This post was originally published on this site

As thick dust clouds covered the secluded desert terrain of Big Summit Prairie, Oregon, flocks of eclipse chasers converged onto Ochoco National Forest with its 360 degree views of mountainous pines for the Oregon Eclipse festival that would soon unfold. Their ultimate mission was to view the magic of totality, which occurred between 9-10am on Aug. 21, 2017, among thirty thousand like-minded people.

In an off-year of their globally renowned festival, the producers of Symbiosis Gathering teamed up with 13 of the world’s premier independent festivals — Lightning in a Bottle’s Do LaB (California), Rainbow Serpent (Australia), Sonic Bloom (Colorado), Origin (South Africa), Envision (Costa Rica), Beloved (Oregon), and many more—for a seven day global synaesthesia of art, ideas, music, dancing, community, and profound transformation.

Jacob Avanzato - Oregon Solar Eclipse

Photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

An international melting pot of people were represented at the festival, including infants perched atop their mothers’ chest, families of four or more enjoying “Kids-biosis,” and retired burner folks with their decked-out light-up walkers. In addition, strangers speaking every language from French to Japanese at the Sky Stage as it pumped deep desert house, and Native American tribes and spiritual leaders from the countries of Ecuador, Columbia, and Peru were in attendance.

Tribes from Standing Rock also traveled to Ochoco to give political demonstrations at the organically constructed arena, 1Nation Earth, as well as to ignite the three sacred fires placed throughout the festival grounds. One female shaman even journeyed from Okinawa to conduct ceremonial water blessings, in which she anointed willing participants.

Every installation paid such keen attention to detail that it was hard to believe most of Oregon Eclipse’s structures were constructed from raw materials used from the very land that housed each structure. Old moss covered branches and rocks formed the pathways and walls of the festival’s many temple-esque domains, with curtains draped from the ceilings, and walls of stained glass windows suspended into thin air. Sacred geometry artwork was the centerpiece of most installations. Live painters abounded, while Burning Man installations made guest appearances.

Juliana Bernstein - Get Tiny - Oregon Solar Eclipse

Photo courtesy of Juliana Bernstein

Symbiosis’ bold endeavor far exceeded any expectations, despite having never received money from a sponsor — ever. The production was massive and breathtaking, because this independently-assembled team of unique global collaborators constantly pushed out maximum effort to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience during the entire process. It’s safe to say they achieved their goal. Installations and exhibits were being completed all throughout the week, even as attendees arrived day-by-day. Construction never really ceased, nor did the grounds ever stop growing. Ochoco remained a constant collaborative community at all times, whose psychedelic installations came alive at night.

As for the festival’s music lineup was held across seven stages: one main, four slightly more specialized stages, and two stage dedicated solely to live performance.Its main musical attraction, dubbed The Eclipse Stage, was utilized as a gigantic harp suspended from the tips of the stage onto its side structures that also would become integrated into live performances throughout the week. This stage hosted Bassnectar, Beats Antique, Emancipator, Random Rab, TroyBoi, The Glitch Mob, and many more.

Jacob Avanzato - Oregon Solar Eclipse - Eclipse Stage

The Eclipse Stage, photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

The infamous Desert Hearts clan participated in a 5-hour takeover on The Sky Stage, pumping deep, dark tech house into the forest and hypnotizing house heads there with pulsating shamanic drum rhythms. Meanwhile, Dirtybird player Justin Martin delivered a 4-hour extended set of soul-penetrating house and techno that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

Juliana Bernstein - Get Tiny - Oregon Solar Eclipse (0)

Photo courtesy of Juliana Bernstein

But, make no mistake, the house stage DJs were guests in this global arena of trance and downtempo. International eclipse festivals are generally based around trance and downtempo insofar that the bass, jam, and eclectic circus acts were actually guests in this experience. In fact, The Sun Stage, which housed the beautiful blue spaceship-like structure used at the LIB gathering, pushed psy trance until 6am everyday. Even if you didn’t come for the trance, as one attendee put it, you were getting dosed with it daily anyway — courtesy of the full FUNKTION ONE system populating the stage.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

Photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

While the sun baked the Prairie well into the high 80s each day, The Earth Stage pumped world-influenced glitch into the freezing desert nights, which reached into the low 40s. The Moon Stage served as the festival’s bass head haven, housing Bleep Bloop, French glitch supreme Clozee, EPROM, Minnesota, and, of course, Lorin Ashton’s coveted secret ‘West Coast Lo Fi‘ set.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

Photo courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

As far as transformational festivals go, the Eclipse Gathering raised the bar on all counts. In workshop spaces like The Parlor and The Hub, lectures and dialogues ensued over mind-expanding topics ranging from permaculture, nutrition, and consciousness, to elemental alchemy, psychoactive substance, sexuality, and astrophysics. Entire structures were dedicated to yoga and dance shala, where hourly sessions were held of everything from bass yoga and vinyasa flow to belly dancing.

Juliana Bernstein - Get Tiny - Oregon Solar Eclipse (2)

Each interactive installation offered diverse round-the-clock activity at every turn. The Mud Dance Experience, for example, invited attendees to strip down to their skivvies and bathed each other in wet clay. The Sound Immersion Experience, housed hammocking meditators in a 360-degree healing cocoon of sound emanating from surrounding gongs and dijiridoos.

Perhaps the most inspired interactive digital attraction was Android Jones’ MICRODOSE VR dome installation, which opened up each night after dark. Participants would enter the large, white structure for a 30-minute sensory-engulfing cinematic experience featuring Android Jones’ psychedelic artwork coming to life before their very eyes. The kicker: the ‘film,’ of sorts, was being controlled by four audience members in virtual reality.

Photo courtesy of Jonkillz Photography

Photo courtesy of Jonkillz Photography

Then, of course, there was the main event. Most attendees stayed up through the night to experience the event in totality. An early Random Rab sunrise set was going off just before, as ecstatic hippies performed yoga in the morning sun. Hot air balloon rides peaked over the trees as they tethered over the grounds’ massive lake. Picture-ready burner clans turned up decked out in their flashy garb, as giddy festival goers filed the space between the sacred Sun and Moon Temple grounds wherein the native tribes lit their final sacred fire.

As morning turned into night, birds scattered, temperature plummeted, the sky went dark and eyes swelled as a ring of fire filled the sky. Attendees stood in awe as if a portal had opened up into another universe. A Woodstock-esque character shook his maracas. A young infant looked bewildered in his stroller. Delirious party-goers clanked their mimosa glasses. Strangers embraced, tears fell, and a deep sense of gratitude filled the air — Oregon Eclipse attendees had finally manfested what they intended to do, learning that the power of intention was the most important takeaway on these sacred grounds.

Juliana Bernstein - Get Tiny - Oregon Solar Eclipse (4)

Photo courtesy of Juliana Bernstein

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Photo Courtesy of Jacob Avanzato

Read More:

Dancing Astronaut’s Soundtrack to Lightning in a Bottle 2017

Desert Hearts has embarked on an extensive spring and summer tour

Envision’s 2018 lineup features Manic Focus, Bob Moses, DJ Tennis and more

What the hell does it mean to be a producer in 2017?

This post was originally published on this site

It’s 2014, and 60,000 festival attendees at Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival are staring expectantly up towards a sea of lights and a DJ board. Over the course of the weekend, they’ll watch Pharrell Williams, Zedd, and Calvin Harris light up the desert sky, but now, they stand and wait for two men whom not a single person in the crowd has seen take the stage.

Fans linger, eager with anticipation, confident they know what to expect from this ‘breakout’ group from hit releases ‘Smile’ and ‘You.’ Little do they know, they had been listening to their music for years.

Linus Eklow and Christian Karlsson of Galantis are staring back at the expectant faces from the side of the stage, taking a moment before they reveal themselves. For the past 20 years, their production capabilities have propelled the likes of Britney Spears, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue into the limelight of sold out arenas. They have created hit records, chart topping albums, and won Grammys. As they stepped out in front of a roaring crowd and a thousand lights, they turned to one another and smiled.

Now it was their turn.

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For as long as anyone can remember, a producer’s job description has entailed slaving over sound boards in a dark studio and inevitably forfeiting all due credit to the vocalist. A producer was acknowledged for his or her masterpiece in the fine text of the ‘thank you’s,’ and their fame began and ended with industry stakeholders.  The David Axelrod’s and George Martin’s of the world lived in anonymity despite producing some of the industry’s most well known tracks such as “The Edge” by David McCallum and “Love Me Do” by The Beatles respectively. Had Axelrod or Martin been told that being a producer would result in the excessive and public facing lifestyles embodied by the Diplo’s and The Chainsmokers of today, they likely would not have believed it.

Today’s producers are global citizens, jet setting across the world to play their music for a different hoard of fans each night. Emboldened with microphones, they are performers in their own right. They pack arenas and festival grounds with tens of thousands of fans like the pop singers of the 2000s. For the first time in the history of commercialized music, being a music producer is sexy.

The reality of our modern music landscape is that we now live in a world that has two distinct factions of music producers. There are still many traditional producers, who strictly work in the studio and behind the scenes to create music that is performed by star vocalists and bands. These producers—people like Max Martin or Rick Rubin—aren’t credited in the title of the tracks they create nor do they perform their music live.

The second faction of producers are a recent breed. They elicit their own fans who are drawn to the beats behind the songs that they create. These music producers are doubly skilled: in addition to producing their own tracks they perform their music ‘live.’ This new brand of producer is a complex phenomenon that many are still teasing out.

Up until 15 years ago, there was no option for a music producer to become a performer unless the producer was also the vocalist. As the art of DJing has evolved into a mode for producers to ‘perform’ their tracks ‘live,’ the producer’s role has evolved, too. Now the job title music producer can indicate one of two very different career paths, and because of this, there has been a dynamic shift within the music industry.

Before the rise of commercialized electronic music, music producers were virtually never credited in the title of a track. This elevation of the producer to an artist—as opposed to a fine text name at the bottom of a Wikipedia page—is something that was rarely done in the U.S. pop music scene until fairly recently. M.I.A.’s breakout hit, “Paper Planes,” for example, was both written and produced by Diplo in 2007.  In contrast, 2015’s “Where Are U Now” is billed as a track ‘by’ Diplo, Skrillex, and Justin Bieber.  

As producers find their own celebrity through DJing, a greater public appreciation of the craft has resulted, and they are more able than ever before to use this leverage to further their own celebrity.  

This phenomenon is all too familiar to Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow—the production duo behind the Grammy nominated project Galantis. Though fans are surely familiar with the group’s hit songs like breakout “Runaway (U+I),” less familiar are the years of behind the scenes production work Karlsson and Eklow have racked up.

Karlsson is the Grammy award winning producer behind mega hits like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as well as a part of the Swedish Indie Pop band Miike Snow. Eklow co-produced and wrote on Icona Pop’s number one hit, “I Love It.” Karlsson and Eklow have, independently of one another, produced and co-written music with the likes of Katy Perry, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue

“It’s important to mention that today you can be a producer and you can be an artist,” says Karlsson, though he concedes that duality is “not for everyone.”

“That’s for a few. If you are an amazing producer and you don’t have that talent and you don’t have that in you, you aren’t supposed to do that. To make it as a ‘celebrity producer,’ you need to be an artist,” says Karlsson.  “It’s a totally different thing.”

Karlsson’s distinction is hardly without merit. Being a celebrity producer today is reserved for those who aspire to be an artist, just as someone like Britney Spears did. Although Djing as a method of performance has gotten it’s share of criticism from those who believe all it requires is standing on a stage and pushing a button, there is a reason why not every successful music producer has become a mega star through playing their hits on stage.

But Karlsson’s distinction begs the question: has the rise of the celebrity producer diminished the value of the traditional producer? A famous producer can bring their brand and their fans to the table in addition to the vocalist’s. The traditional producer cannot add this value.

“The producer fee is the same, but celebrity producers are not only being paid for being producers,” says Karlsson. They are being paid as artists, which adds another layer to their credibility.”

Stranger yet, Karlsson points out, is the that vocalists now seek out superstar producers to appear, credited as artists, on their albums.

“A singer is going to do a song, and now they are able to seek out an artist who can produce the song,” says Karlsson. “Celebrity producers appeal to vocalists because they want that brand so badly and the bigger exposure. The cross pollination of producers’ and vocalists’ audiences has resulted in new and exciting collaborations across different genres of music that we haven’t seen before.”

If anyone is familiar with this sentiment, it’s Maarten Vorwerk. Vorwerk made a name for himself in 2015 when he came forward as a ghost producer—a controversial role in dance music which involves unknown producers selling their creations outright to famous artists who then own the track.

Though Vorwerk now puts his efforts into his own creations, he enjoyed a long run as one of the most sought after ghost producers in the industry, engineering more than a few Beatport number one hits.

“Eminem tells everybody that Dr. Dre has produced his new track and the fact that Eminem collaborated with Dr. Dre is seen as a big selling point to the track,” explains Vorwerk. “Whereas, you wouldn’t see a DJ saying that this or that producer has produced his new track. From my point of view I think that you should give credit where credit is due.”

But ghost producers, he concedes, are paid outright to never be credited.

Though ghost producing is undoubtedly a very real phenomenon among the dance music community, keyboard warriors are quick to level the charge against any artist they don’t particularly like. This witch hunting can be chalked up in part to our increasingly polarized and contentious internet culture. It also reveals how little people understand just what a ‘producer’ is responsible for.

Contrary to popular belief, the producer is not necessarily the person creating the sounds and programming the track. Karlsson and Eklow explained that the role of a traditional producer does much more than simply engineering the beat of a track.

The producer is responsible for even the most ephemeral elements of music creation: to make sure everyone is hitting timelines and the atmosphere in the studio makes the vocalist feels comfortable and confident.

“You can hire anyone to program a drum,” says Karlsson and Eklow. “People think that the producer is the guy who actually programs the beat. The producer is the one who decided who is programming the beat, and what the vision for that beat is, and how it’s supposed to make the listener feel. See the difference?”

“Everything that happens in the studio—it is the producer’s responsibility.”

In this regard, producing music becomes similar to producing a movie or a tv show. The producer isn’t responsible for the technicalities of lighting and camera angles. Instead, the producer is making sure that all 200 pieces that need to come together to create a final product do so.

The more mainstream electronic music becomes, the more noticeable the discrepancy between the traditional producer and the celebrity DJ-producer. In examining where the traditional pop producer is left when there is the potential for celebrity, Galantis solidified that celebrity DJ Producers should be likened to artists as opposed to the traditional producer.

After all, they are compensated as artists, they are branded as artists, and they are celebrities in their own right.

Perhaps no one knows this tension more intimately than Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson. Together called “The Runners,” the duo have a staggering 17 year production history working with a star-studded list of clientele that includes the likes of DJ Khaled, Usher, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Harr and Jackson have a reputation for being some of the best minds in the music industry, but their reputation lives solely within the music industry itself and hardly registers at all to music fans outside of it.

Recently, Harr and Jackson have had an epiphany of sorts. In hopes of being recognized for their own talents by a newly receptive public, the duo have developed a project to push through their own original releases. With their BLVK JVCK project, they hope to drum up traction for their creative work without having to depend on the star power of a pop artist feature.

“Our dreams always were to be a Pharrell or a Timberland, but we couldn’t sing and we couldn’t rap,” says Harr. “The growth of electronic music has opened that door for us to express ourselves musically.”

“When you are working with the Rihanna’s and Ushers of the world, you are creative but you still have to create something that caters to them creatively,” continued Harr. “Now it is our opportunity to do what most producers dream of- to create something that is our own. Our own portrait, our own painting, and that is amazing. To be able to say this is my project, and this is how I’m going to do it is an amazing rebirth creatively.”

Harr and Jackson look onto the evolution of the producer’s role and star power in a positive light, but not every behind the scenes producer is clamoring to become the next Calvin Harris. In fact, Harr and Jackson could indeed be outliers in a world where many producers are still keen to stay behind the scenes and live in quiet glory.

 

Read More: 

Electric Zoo 2017: Thomas Jack on the ‘discovery and curation’ that drives his career [Interview]

‘You have to be free when you write a song’ – Galantis on why songwriting still matters [Interview]

Is India actually destined to become the ‘next EDM hub’ of the world? [Editorial]

This post was originally published on this site

It’s likely that anyone familiar with the Indian EDM scene has read a multitude of articles that serve to highlight the “vast” scope of electronic music in India, or how India will become the next “trending electronic music destination.” There is, indeed, no shortage of pieces dedicated to discussing the topic in this light— citing the paradigm shift in music played at metropolitan nightclubs and the growing attendance at Indian dance music festivals as a yardstick for the same. In fact, EDM in India stared to gain media popularity post the year 2013, which was around the time when Sunburn Festival started to gain significant traction in the international community and found its way into a number of top 10 global festival rankings. This basically reflects a ‘herd mentality’ when it comes to writing about Indian EDM; one agency writes an encouraging report, and the rest follow suit.

However, a crucial problem with such opinion-based articles is the fact that they are generally written by mainstream Indian journalists who have little or no knowledge about the genre, and are therefore unable to communicate their justification in an efficient or eloquent manner.  Another rather amusing issue arises when said journalists do manage to get hold of an eminent DJ or franchise head, and proceed to ask them the same dreary questions on the same dull topics that have been continuously rehashed ad nauseum. Such monotony has become commonplace over the past several years.

Yet, despite lackluster reporting, there is absolutely no denying the fact that India really does have the raw material to dominate the EDM industry — a fact that has been reiterated by the co-founder of Tomorrowland himself. Most importantly, it has a huge population of about 1.3 billion, around half of which is below the age of 25, which lies in the “Goldilocks zone” of EDM consumers, as studies have shown.

sunburn goa crowd rudgr

A giant crowd congregates at Sunburn. Photo courtesy of RUDGR.

Another pivotal factor behind this growth is how well developed India’s tourism sector is, ranking a respectable seventh in terms of tourism revenue in Asia. The emphasis on the travel industry in India can easily be seen in the vast international attendance at prospective dance music festivals held in the country. Thanks to the formidable reputation that Sunburn festival has established for itself over the past decade, for example, it’s easy to spot ravers from countries like America and Russia in the event’s massive crowds; for a frame of reference, the Goa-based festival drew over 350,000 fans to its 2015 edition.

Unsurprisingly, electronic music in India started to grow around the same time as Sunburn began to gain international traction. in fact, Sunburn has not only brought EDM to India, but has facilitated a musical culture change in certain areas of the country as well. For starters, elements of Big Room can be found in the songs of almost all mainstream Bollywood movies, including Diplo’s much hyped Bollywood debut with “Phurrr” for Shah Rukh Khan’s film, Jab Harry Met Sejal.

Homegrown DJs are also getting their fair share of fame. Mumbai-based DJ Chetas used his unique hybrid of Bollywood-EDM tracks to climb to a lofty rank of 33 in last year’s DJ Mag Top 100 poll 2016. Delhi-based producer Nucleya debuted Raja Baja album in front of a crowd that filled Mumbai’s NSCI dome — the same venue where Armin van Buuren held  ASOT Asia in 2015. These factors, coupled with Ultra Music Festival’s eagerly awaited India debut this September and Sunburn’s recent expansion to Australia, are enough to sway anyone into believing that India is destined to become the spiritual home of EDM in the coming years.

diplo srk phurrr video still
Diplo and Shah Rukh Khan pose in the “Phurrr” video. Photo courtesy of Diplo.

 

However, it would be irresponsible to believe this is the case, as there are still a number of problems that need to be overcome, and quickly, lest the genre lose traction in India as it has been the case worldwide. Firstly, the current popularity of the genre is not nearly as widespread throughout the country as one might be led to believe. This is mainly because EDM seems to have not yet made it into the playlists of most rural populations, which make up close to 70 percent of the Indian population.

In my own experience, I’ve encountered countless people hailing from villages who hadn’t heard a single track from the Western world — let alone, a dance music track — before coming to IIT(BHU) in Varanasi, one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the country. It’s worth noting that television acts as the predominant source of communication for the rural populace, rather than dance music’s greatest circulator, the internet. Additionally, the top 5 music channels featured on Indian television play exclusively Bollywood music.

Because of this informational imbalance, rural Indians (who make up around 70% of India’s total population) have severely limited exposure to EDM, and indeed, Western music in general. As a result, most of this demographic gravitates toward the Bollywood music which pervades their media intake. Meanwhile, the exact opposite trend is in effect in major cities like Mumbai & Delhi, which are home to a large number of India’s top DJs and producers, and wherein dance music thrives.

Another big issue for dance music’s presence in the subcontinent is the linguistic diversity that for which India is so well-renowned. India has 22 official languages, and English isn’t one of them. About 125 million Indians are capable of conversing in English, while only 360,000 of them prefer to use it as their first language, as per reports.

Furthermore, the number of internet users in the country stands at 450 million — so, even if we consider all forms of English speakers to have a working internet connection, it makes up a measly 10% of the entire population. This statistic is of particular relevance because most dance music publications, are based off the internet and are in English. So, if the current model is to be followed, only 10% of the Indian population will ever get authentic dance music news from credible sources.

But perhaps the biggest impediment to the growth of the industry is the lack of critical support infrastructure and musical knowledge that producers so desperately need. Despite the ample opportunity for producers with the emergence of all-Indian dance music labels and with Sunburn’s policy of having at least one Indian performer at every festival, there isn’t a single world-renowned producer to come out of India.

This abysmal statistic is a direct reflection of the lack of musical expertise present for Western music in the country and has somewhat of a snowball effect, specifically since Indian consumers aren’t exposed to the same quality (and quantity) of EDM as their Western counterparts. A majority of Indian dance music enthusiasts prefer to listen to the rapidly stagnating Dutch big room sound, forcing producers to create within the saturated genre in order to gain national recognition. However, this is a major stumbling block on the international platform as most listeners have a more eclectic taste, and tend to ignore Indian releases due to their lack of originality.

martin garrix sunburn 2015

Martin Garrix performs at Sunburn in 2015. Photo courtesy of RUDGR.

In fact, EDM in India will probably never reach the standards it possibly could, unless the genre adapts to Indian listeners’ tastes. At first thought this may sound absurd, but it has already been put into action in South America, where a large portion of electronic tracks feature distinct elements of Samba, Latin Dance and other popular genres of the region.

A similar tactic could be especially successful in India, as most mainstream songs are produced specifically for Bollywood films, and are able to find their way to a significant portion of the public. Although this has taken place to an extent, it’s been limited to big room, which is but a drop of water in the prophetic ocean that is dance music spectrum. So, by integrating the myriad elements of all the sub-genres of electronic music into Bollywood, a much larger portion of society would get acquainted to the genre, and would help boost the popularity of local producers as well as Indian music festivals.

Another way to ensure the long term survival of the genre in the country is to facilitate contact between talented Indian producers and internationally-renowned taste makers who will help expose them to international audiences. However, this will only take place if producers expand their genre pool, which is directly dependent on Indian dance music consumers wanting to hear more forms of electronic music. The opinion-forming process has been helped to a large extent by the increasing popularity of streaming platforms, which have helped expose a growing number of Indians to foreign music. However, it can be further expedited if the Indian public has easy access to credible information about worldwide electronic music trends, in the regional language of the area.

So, will traditional EDM ever become mainstream in India? This seems unlikely, especially if it is viewed as a competitor to established Indian musical genres. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the industry is destined for failure. Its salvation lies either in artists “Indianizing” their music to suit local tastes (as Indian superstars DJ Chetas and Nuleya have effectively done), or by educating Indian music consumers through proper levels of exposure, so that they can enjoy the broad spectrum of dance music to the fullest.

Sources: Indiatimes, Business Standard, BW Business World, Insider, Livemint

Featured image by RUDGR.