Emerging from the resurgence of “underground” bass music are two producers — G Jones and EPROM — who carry a similar artistic ethos and musical directionality. In the spirit of collaboration, the two have joined forces yet again on a brand new genre-bending single titled “Hysteria.”
The track comes as a high-intensity, experimentally-driven bass gem that takes frantic twists and turns in every sonic direction. It’s glitchy, it’s dubby, it’s trappy, and, all the while, the driving force holding the track together are the very things that shreds the listener into pieces. “Hysteria” is the first single from their forthcoming split EP, titled Acid Disk, which features this collaboration, along with two solo productions from EPROM and G Jones respectively.
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.
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 debutedRaja 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.
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 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
With the Ultra franchise’s ever expanding “Road To Ultra” series poised to make its India debut just around the corner, we’re taking a look at seven tracks likely to be featured throughout the weekend from the lineup’s hottest artists. From the woefully overplayed to the delightfully new, they’re all right here.
Curated by Dancing Astronaut’s International Editor Kanvar Kohli
Rezz – Drugs
While not currently a household name in Asia, Rezz is genuinely one of the most talented artists in current rotation, and would be performing in India for the first time on September 8. ‘Drugs’ is exquisite, bass-heavy collaboration with 13, taken from her critically acclaimed new album, Mass Manipulation.
The Chainsmokers – Closer
The Chainsmokers’ viral hit ‘Closer,’ which has racked up over 1.7 billion views on YouTube in just over a year— and also gained significant popularity in India in the process, will also surely get some Ultra airplay this year in Mumbai. Given its extreme popularity and instantly recognizable lyrics, ‘Closer’ will undoubtedly be played at some point during The Chainsmokers’ headline performance.
Slushii x Marshmello – Twinbow
Another artist making his India debut is Slushii, who will seek to enthrall festival attendees with his unique melodic dubstep style. A song to keep an eye out for is his collaboration with Marshmello, titled ‘Twinbow’ which the producer often plays at his kinetic sets. Fans in attendance can look forward to also hearing tracks from his recent debut LP, Out of Light.
Sam Feldt – Show Me Love
‘Show Me Love’ is Tropical House maestro Sam Feldt’s greatest ever hit, with more 250k likes on SoundCloud alone. The slick track features melodious chord progressions, delicate live-sampled sounds, and sensual vocals, making it a perfect reflection of Feldt’s subtle style.
Getter- Head Splitter
Getter is somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the festival’s line-up, given the stark contrast in his music as compared to the other performers. The best way to describe his bizarre music would be ‘one big acid trip,’ which extends perfectly to ‘Head Splitter.’ Despite the songs extreme weirdness, there is no denying the dubstep producer’s talent.
Lost Kings – Look At Us Now
Another group looking to make a name for themselves in Asia is Lost Kings, who released their collaboration ‘Look At Us Now’ with Ally Brooke and A$AP Ferg a couple of months ago. The track echoes firm future bass and pop influences, making it perfect for a modern festival setting.
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This
Rounding off the list is The Chainsmokers’ monster collaboration with Indian fan favorites Coldplay, ‘Something Just Like This.’ Playing this track is an absolute no-brainer, given Coldplay’s almost religious following in India, especially following the band’s maiden performance in Mumbai in November of 2016.
Although GRiZ released a full 13-track Good Will Continue (Remixes) project just a little more than a week ago, the Colorado-based future funk artist has been busy in his home studio collaborating with some of his friends. After all, Grant Kwiecinski, the man behind GRiZ, is known for regularly hosting live studio feeds on his Facebook page for his beloved fan base, the most recent of which was a jam session hosted at his flat in the Rockies.
“Smoke That,” out Aug. 28, is lighthearted downtempo track that truly speaks to Grant’s love of the ganja. Produced on the national 4/20 holiday with close collaborators ProbCause and Jaye Pryme, the track features all the beautiful funk elements GRiZ has become widely known for, including a saxophone melody and futuristic synth chords, along with some chill candy-glitch samples. The result is a fun and lovable ballad that highlights Pryme’s angelic chorus vocals and ProbCause’s hip-hop lyrics on the verses.
Despite revealing to his fans on March 29, 2016 that he was retiring from a rollercoaster career in music, global progressive house juggernaut Tim Bergling vowed to “never let go of music.” Amidst rumors of addiction, career burnout, and illness, earlier this year, the producer resolved to return to music with a world class album.
In a move that’s been months in the making, Bergling announced on August 3 a new EP along with a Hollywood spectacle-style trailer. Interestingly, the promotional video — posted to his social media accounts — features some dimly-veiled dates for what turns out to be the EP’s actual release time in the cities of Los Angeles, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Reykjavik, London, Stockholm, Moscow, Mumbai, Tokyo, and Sydney.
This year over 400,000 people descended upon Boom, Belgium for the two-weekend 2017 edition of Tomorrowland. A staple of the electronic music community, the festival features the highest profile artists along with the hottest up and comers, covering a vast swathe of talent across the EDM spectrum. The festival’s high reputation and large international fanbase naturally translates to intense pressure for the artists to bring their A-game to each gathering, and this year’s roster certainly had no issue inspiring frenetic dancing among their crowds.
Many times in these eclectic shows, patterns emerge. That’s especially so when a producer creates a work that resonates deeply with so many others that it finds its way into many, many sets without losing its glimmer. The following playlist is a sampling of such tracks, which could be heard all throughout Tomorrowland on both weekends.
While featured tracks such as “Boom” by Tiesto and Sevenn and “Pump” by Valentino Khan were to be expected, A-Trak‘s “Heads Will Roll” has proven once again that it can withstand the test of time as one of EDM’s greatest festival hits ever made.
Tiësto & Sevenn – BOOM (Radio Edit)
Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This (Don Diablo Remix)
Mike Cervello & Cesqeaux – SMACK!
Skrillex & Habstrakt – Chicken Soup
Kungs Vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners – This Girl
Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix Radio Edit)<br />
JOYRYDE – HOT DRUM
Jack U – Jungle Bae (feat. Bunji Garlin & MX Prime)
Pitbull Feat Lil Jon Amp Will I Am Amp JD – Put Your Fuckin Hands Up Acappella<br />
Renegade Master – MAD M.A.C vs Jamis(Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Edit)
Diplo is one of the few producers who take their social media presence very seriously. In fact, his social media is just about as integral to his persona as are his musical ventures and collaborating with celebrities worldwide.
His latest tie-up is one with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan for his new movie, in which Khan plays a ‘starring role’ in Diplo’s new Bollywood-themed track.
This isn’t the first time the American has come to India, as he had previously opted to film the music video for ‘Lean On’ and bring the Mad Decent Block Party to the culturally rich country in March 2017.
The world’s largest dance music festival, Tomorrowland, returns to its usual stomping grounds in Boom, Belgium. Taking place over two exciting weekends to close out July, the festival promises attendees an unforgettable experience—in part due its massive lineup featuring most all of the electronic music world’s pre-eminent superstars like Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Nicky Romero and Laidback Luke among others.
Beginning at 12:00 PM EDT on 21st July, the live stream will be played across four channels, with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike closing out the ceremonies on Sunday 23rd July. Pulling live footage from the main stage throughout the weekend, the live stream will also focus on curated stages including Paradise, Drumcode, Q-Dance, and breakthrough label Monstercat. Tomorrowland can now be watched virtually anywhere, so be sure to tune in to hear all the latest from your favorite artists.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the mind of Lorin Ashton, better known as Bassnectar, then today is your lucky day. The electronic music producer has recently opened up in an interview with Westword, where he revealed a less-than-thrilled hot take on the dynamics of the current EDM scene, weighed in on his cult-like following, and more.
In recent years, Bassnectar has garnered a religious following of fans willing to travel far and wide to catch the artist’s sets. In the Westword interview, Ashton vocalizes a personal disconnect between his project and the way the world see’s his work. Speaking at great lengths about a multitude of topics, the artist provides a glimpse into his psyche. Opening up the interview with what he believes to be his place in the industry (or lack thereof), Ashton makes it clear he sees himself as an outsider looking in.
Well, to be clear, I 100 percent don’t feel like I’m any part of EDM any more than I’m part of hip-hop or rock and roll. And I don’t mean that coyly, like I’m dancing around the reality. I really, truly have never felt like I was a part of that.
But not only does the producer feel like an outsider, he’s also revealed that the collective EDM scene is failing to push out distinct content, stating:
I feel EXTREMELY — and you can put that in all caps — disinterested in EDM. There are very few EDM artists who I like musically. There are very few EDM artists who I’m impressed [with] or intrigued by their personality or what they’re projecting. But there are some artists who are making electronic music who are absolutely fantastic. And there’s more and more underground artists who — God knows what the f*ck to call them — are just very talented.
It’s becoming easier and easier to make music, just with technology evolving as it is. So, you know, whereas I used to collect and always collect promos and buy music and go treasure hunting, constantly crate digging for new records, in the last year, I’ll find a lot more good music than I did the year before. I think there’s a lot of good, inventive minds, but I don’t think they’re EDM. And I think EDM is something I just don’t know anything about. But it looks really silly to me.
Continuing the discussion on his disappointment in EDM as a whole, Ashton expressed great disdain for watching DJ’s stand behind a table pressing buttons in front of a crowd:
“I’m not saying this rudely to talk shit on anyone, but I truly feel so unimpressed by the concept of standing in a crowd and looking and one or two or three humans on stage dancing alone to music. It’s not that mind-blowing. Again, I’m not saying that all DJs suck except for me. I’m saying, me included, it’s preposterous.”
EDM is to reality TV era what Freestyle Sessions is to this different daydream. It’s this concept of interaction and participation. I don’t want to create a lot of expectations. I’m not trying to say this is better or it’s going to change your life or anything. It’s something that I know is meaningful to me that I don’t get to do. I don’t get to play music without being a spectacle. And I don’t get to play music to a smaller crowd. There are all these tiny little factors that I’m trying to put together to create this experience with other musicians and for the attendees. A lot of it has to do with the ergonomics of the event, trying to not centralize the focus, not have a stage.
Owning up to the idea that he is largely regarded as a granddaddy of the scene, Nectar offers his own take on how he will work to combat the issues in EDM. Using his event Freestyle Sessions this past weekend as an example, Nectar says:
“I really want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and go super-special, super-intimate, super-creative, super-old school. It’s funny how many uphill battles you have to fight to get to do that. Getting them to let you play on the floor — like, I want to be on the floor, in a booth, and not looked at — not because I’m hiding. I want to provide people with this experience that I don’t think they necessarily get these days, which is just to be immersed in music and not be at a show, just to be at an event of dancing and immersion.”
Regardless of whether you adore Bassnectar’s music or can’t stand the bass, Ashton’s sincere devotion unto his craft and influence on the genre itself is unmistakable. Read the full interview here.
Wolfgang Gartner is a dance music veteran who has managed to adapt his sound to the changing tone of the industry. Despite a drop in release frequency over the past few years, Gartner’s sporadic releases have spanned myriad genres, from electro house to hardcore trap with “Borneo.”
With his latest release on Armada Trice, “Find A Way,” Wolfgang Gartner has continued his recent experimentation with this refreshing bass house single. Delving into the style of music that helped Jauz make a name for a few years ago, the seasoned producer has out a groovy single, complete with screeching synths and excess amounts of bass, perfect for club settings.