Calvin Harris lets fans engage him in impromptu Twitter Q&A, distances himself from EDM

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Calvin Harris lets fans engage him in impromptu Twitter Q&A, distances himself from EDMCalvin Harris 1

Calvin Harris took a short break yesterday from cranking out number No. 1 records and posing for Armani underwear spreads to engage in a slew of Twitter exchanges with fans on the state of his music and “EDM” at large.

The Scottish “Feel So Close” producer answered music and non-music-related inquiries alike with a bit of comedy and a great deal of candor. A glaring takeaway from the repartee is Harris’s delineating his current chosen production style with the now-ubiquitous umbrella term, “EDM.”

Upon a fan asking whether or not he’d be “going back to EDM at some point,” Harris replied,

“EDM has been sad, slow songs for years now. Doesn’t have anything in common with the music I love to make. 2010-2014 edm was more house influenced to me. Anyway now I’m out the bubble and making big records with amazing singers that sound like house music to me…”

Additionally, Harris took the opportunity to suggest he’ll be diving back into the festival circuit soon–now that many of his large-scale projects (namely Funk Wav) are in the books. He also announced an indefinite retirement from his former live performance setup, having purportedly exhausted the format at this point in his career. However, make no mistake: at 34, Harris continues to flex his adventurousness in the studio. Just this month, he offered one of his rare vocal demonstrations on his new house single with Benny Blanco, “I Found You.”

Photo Credit: Rukes

 

 

Steve Aoki unveils foolproof crossover blueprints on ‘Neon Future III’ [Stream]

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Steve Aoki unveils foolproof crossover blueprints on ‘Neon Future III’ [Stream]Steve Aoki Neon Future III

Steve Aoki‘s Neon Future LP installments have always felt like full-blown events, and the main event of the cake-tossing EDM icon’s year has finally arrived: Neon Future III. 

Aoki’s ubiquitous productions are never off the airwaves long. In between his well-endowed festival/touring schedule, the globetrotter found time to pepper 2018 with releases. Despite the consistent output, Neon Futures III easily stands out from the rest of Aoki’s output with an feature-stuffed track list that’s poised for some serious chart damage.

“Neon Future III (Intro)” starts off the LP with a no-vocals-necessary stadium electro scorcher–but the opening volley quickly gives way to an categorically stacked slate of feature-heavy pop-leaning productions. Former One Direction-er, Louis Tomlinson is on-board for radio-ready house on “Just Hold On,” and K-pop sensations BTS are right behind with “Waste It On Me.” Aoki has a potential crossover smash for every genre in the chamber, with everyone from blink-182 to social media queen Bella Thorne in line to lend their talents. For fans of his full-throttle instrumental offerings, the tone struck by the intro track resurfaces at the LP’s close, with none other than Bill Nye lending heavyweight sample clout to album close: “Noble Gas.”

Hakkasan pairs Steve Aoki with Lil Uzi Vert for co-headline performance

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Hakkasan pairs Steve Aoki with Lil Uzi Vert for co-headline performanceSteve Aoki Hakkasan Credit Joe Janet

Las Vegas nightlife hub, Hakkasan, has a proven knack for pairing top EDM talent with the most in-demand hip-hop acts in the game right now, but they’re one-upping themselves with their latest booking. Dim Mak kingpin Steve Aoki is primed to take over the club on November 15 with one of rap’s most sought-after performers of the moment, Lil Uzi Vert, for the duo’s first ever co-headlining performance. While Uzi and Aoki have yet to officially collaborate, a shared stage in Las Vegas this month could give way to a studio link sometime down the line.

Lil Uzi Vert and Steve Aoki’s shared headline performance comes amid a packed month of entertainment on the Las Vegas strip. Heavy hitters like NGHTMRE, Kaskade, Tiësto, and Matoma are all also slated to perform at Hakkasan and the club’s affiliated properties across the month of November. Find Hakkasan’s full November lineup below.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Hakkasan’s website here. 

Hakkasan

Thursday, Nov. 1

Main Club: Lil Jon

Friday, Nov. 2

Main Club: NGHTMRE

Saturday, Nov. 3

Main Club: Loud Luxury

Sunday, Nov. 4

Main Club: Salvatore Ganacci

Thursday, Nov. 8

Main Club: Borgore

Friday, Nov. 9

Main Club: NGHTMRE

Saturday, Nov. 10

Main Club: Tiësto

Ling Ling Club: Phoreyz

Sunday, Nov. 11 | “Rock with Me”

Main Club: Jeff Retro

Thursday, Nov. 15

Main Club: Steve Aoki with Lil Uzi Vert

Ling Ling Club: DJ Dash

Friday, Nov. 16

Main Club: Gryffin

Saturday, Nov. 17

Main Club: Kaskade

Sunday, Nov. 18

Main Club: Crankdat

Thursday, Nov. 22

Main Club: Fergie DJ

Friday, Nov. 23

Main Club: Borgeous

Saturday, Nov. 24

Main Club: Matoma

Sunday, Nov. 25

Main Club: Jeff Retro

Thursday, Nov. 29

Main Club: DJ Shift

Friday, Nov. 30

Main Club: Matoma

JEWEL Nightclub

Friday, Nov. 2

IRIE

Saturday, Nov. 3

DJ Karma

Monday, Nov. 5

FAED

Friday, Nov. 9

Brody Jenner

Saturday, Nov. 10

DJ Sourmilk with Dzeko

Monday, Nov.12

DJ E-Rock

Friday, Nov. 16

blackbear

Saturday, Nov. 17

DJ Drama

Monday, Nov. 19

DJ Shift

Friday, Nov. 23

DJ Turbulence

Saturday, Nov. 24

Scooter

Monday, Nov. 26

DJ Karma

Friday, Nov. 30

Just Blaze

Omnia Nightclub

Thursday, Nov. 1

Heart of OMNIA: Maria Romano

Friday, Nov. 2

Main Club: Party Favor

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Nova

Saturday, Nov. 3

Main Club: Zedd

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Lucky Lou

Terrace: Pedi

Sunday, Nov. 4

Heart of OMNIA: Phoreyz

Tuesday, Nov. 6

Main Club: Fergie DJ

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Crooked

Thursday, Nov. 8

Heart of OMNIA: Mikey Francis

Friday, Nov. 9

Main Club: Kaskade

Heart of OMNIA: Kid Conrad

Terrace: Fabian

Saturday, Nov. 10

Main Club: Zedd

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Nova

Terrace: Mikey Francis

Sunday, Nov. 11

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Dash

Tuesday, Nov. 13

Main Club: Zedd

Heart of OMNIA: Wild DESEO – hosted by AJ Kallejero with DJ Exile

Thursday, Nov. 15

Heart of OMNIA: Mondo

Friday, Nov. 16

Main Club: Steve Aoki

Heart of OMNIA: Maria Romano

Saturday, Nov. 17

Main Club: Matoma

Heart of OMNIA: NVM

Sunday, Nov. 18

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Stretch

Tuesday, Nov. 20

Main Club: Burns

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Lucky Lou

Thursday, Nov. 22

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Dash

Friday, Nov. 23

Main Club: Gryffin

Heart of OMNIA: OB One

Saturday, Nov. 24

Main Club: Steve Aoki Birthday Celebration

Heart of OMNIA: Phoreyz

Sunday, Nov. 25

Heart of OMNIA: Pedi

Tuesday, Nov. 27

Main Club: Fergie DJ

Heart of OMNIA: DJ OB One

Thursday, Nov. 29

Heart of OMNIA: DJ D-Miles

Friday, Nov. 30

Main Club: Loud Luxury

Heart of OMNIA: DJ Shift

Martin Garrix continues release streak with ‘Access’

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Martin Garrix continues release streak with ‘Access’Access Martin Garri

Something seems to be brewing in the Martin Garrix world. The EDM wunderkind has been on an ambitious release streak, putting out three new singles in the span of a week while also teasing something mysterious on his website. No word as to what exactly he has planned — be it an upcoming EP, or an album — however, Garrix is continuing his ongoing roll with a fourth single.

“Access” is a particularly special one to fans, having been played out initially as a sought-after ID under the name of “Chinatown.” Name change aside, the track’s makeup remains the same as what had initially caught attention in the first place, catalyzing a euphoric rush in its listeners with its light, easygoing synthwork and nostalgic riffs that feel like a warm breeze on a sunny day. Whatever Garrix has planned, it seems like quite the venture, and followers are anxiously awaiting to see the final product.

 

Vicetone time travel with triumphant Avicii tribute, ‘South Beach’

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Vicetone time travel with triumphant Avicii tribute, ‘South Beach’Vicetone South Beach Avicii Tribute

By any measure, Vicetone has the secret formula for festival and club smashing EDM anthems down cold. The dutch duo have garnered tens of millions of streams on the strength of hits like “Neveda” and “Astronomia.” Now, Vicetone delivers something special with “South Beach,” a track the group have dubbed their own musical tribute to Avicii.

“South Beach” is an instant uplifter, opening on an infectious synth hook that primes listeners for impact. Drums engage beneath a wall of beaming chords before landing in a swelling, string powered breakdown. The track’s finale is triumphant and joyful, and instantly transports back to late 2000s dance music nostalgia. Although the crisp and melodic production comes Vicetone standard, the origins of the track’s throwback feels become crystal clear from the duo’s backstory posted to social media.

The song was among the first they ever made, and management advised them not to release it given the clear influence of their reverence for Avicii in the track. When the legend passed away in April, Vicetone managed to find that song on an old hard drive and finally finish it. Nine years later, the song has taken on new meaning as a tribute from the duo to one of their musical heroes. “South Beach” is an impactful, time-traveling reminder of just how much Avicii affected today’s biggest EDM stars.

 

 

 

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Premiere: Benzi drops ‘EDAT PACK VOL. 2’ stocked with remixes of Skrillex, Drake, Lil Wayne and more [Free Download]

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Premiere: Benzi drops ‘EDAT PACK VOL. 2’ stocked with remixes of Skrillex, Drake, Lil Wayne and more [Free Download]Edat Pack Volume 2 Artwork

Your stepdad’s favorite DJ is back at it. Benzi returns with another one of his stacked periodic drops, giving away EDAT PACK VOL. 2 completely free of charge, as per usual, loaded with a grip of his famous personal edits. Between deliveries, the legendary remixer’s personal cuts get passed around like clout trading cards. Now he has officially dropped off his summer batch, featuring stacked edits and mashes that include Skrillex, Drake, Lil Wayne, ATLiens, Travis Scott, and more.

Download EDAT PACK Vol. 2 here

Enlisting fellow producers CRNKN, New York’s DJ CHUWE, and others for some added firepower, Benzi orchestrates a ten-track collection of certified set list weapons, packed with bridge-gapping edits that stitch together dub, hip-hop, drum n’ bass, and trap. Find the full EDAT PACK VOL. 2 track list here and grab the free download below.

EDAT PACK VOL. 2 Track list:

6ix9ine x Doreus – Stoopid (BENZI x CHUWE EDAT)
Cardi B x Rickyxsan & Hydraulix – Bickenhead (BENZI EDAT)
Drake x Skrillex – Mob Ties UK (BENZI x GENTZ EDAT)
Flipp Dinero x GRAVEDGR – Leave Me Alone (BENZI x CHUWE EDAT)
French Montana x ATLiens – No Stylist (BENZI x CAZES EDAT)
Lil Baby x Badrapper – Drip Too Hard (BENZI x GENTZ EDAT)
Lil Wayne x Kompany – Make It Rain (BENZI x CRNKN 2k19 EDAT)
Smokepurpp x Estremo – Nephew (BENZI EDAT)
Travis Scott x TYNAN & Disto – STARGAZING (NvrLeft x BENZI EDAT)
Young Thug x UNKWN – Chanel (Go Get It) (BENZI x CAZES EDAT)

Download EDAT PACK Vol. 2 here

Calvin Harris and friends celebrate Labor Day weekend with Hakkasan

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Calvin Harris and friends celebrate Labor Day weekend with HakkasanHakkasan Calvin Harris Photo Credit Joe Janet 1

Las Vegas-based Hakkasan Group is known for its worldwide hospitality, five-star restaurants and top-of-the-line night clubs which span from the eponymous Hakkasan, Omnia, and beyond. The brand’s organizers have been hard at work preparing their institutions for Labor Day festivities around the corner, and are finally ready to reveal the supremely-stacked bill of guest talent to headline throughout the weekend of August 30 to September 3.

Calvin Harris, Tïesto, and Martin Garrix are just a few names participating in the festivities, along with hip-hop phenomenon Lil’ Jon, who is no stranger to Hakkasan Group’s events. It’s hard to resist spending the holiday weekend among such legendary, chart-topping artists. Not to mention, no matter then venue, each performance is guaranteed to be accompanied by Hakkasan production standards, which include top class lighting and visuals, sound, and layout.

Omnia’s Vegas branch at Caesars Palace kicks off its Labor Day Weekend on Friday, August 31 with Calvin Harris, and Generic and DJ Dash as his opening acts. Zedd and DJ Lucky You take over on September 1. Finally, Martin Garrix closes out the weekend with DJ Bamboozle on September 2.

Jewel Nightclub, situated in the Aria Resort & Casino, has its share of talent as well. Playboi Carti opening festivities there on August 31. Tyga comes through on September 1, with the cake-throwing talent Steve Aoki closing out on Sunday, September 2.

Get ready to scream “HEY!” And “OKAY!” With Lil Jon at Hakkasan on Thursday, August 30. Hardwell swings by with Kill the Buzz on August 31. Tiesto headlines with Dzeko and DJ Five on Saturday, September 1, with an encore performance by Calvin Harris and Generik on Sunday, September 2. 1OAK Nightclub at The Mirage Hotel & Casino celebrates the end of summer with the “Panda” singer, Desiigner on Friday, August 31st, along with O.T. Genasis on September 1st. 

Pool parties during the day time hours are set to bring an oasis from the heat in the funnest of fashions. Wet Republic will be starting off its afternoon festivities Tïesto and Dzeko at the helm, with Steve Aoki and Kaskade joining the fray on September 1. Martin Garrix makes plays a daytime cameo alongside Justin Mylo on September 2. Liquid Pool Lounge at will be hosting the likes of Scooter & Lavelle, DJ E-Rock, DJ Drama, BRKYLN, DJ Buza. Last, but not least, partiers can also enjoy Greg Lopez, G-Squared, Zsuzsanna, and DJ Que at the Bare Pool Lounge in The Mirage if none of the previous events mentioned don’t fit their fance. On that note the Barekini Contest with DJ Flow on Monday, September 3 is set to be a fun cap off for the weekend. All in all, Hakkasan is gearing up to close out festival season in style.

 

Looking back on Coachella: A festival that eloquently mirrors our post-EDM world

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It’s not hard to find electronic music at Coachella. In fact, one could argue it’s the new star of the show. 

A newly-minted superstar Skrillex played his first set at the festival in 2011, joining other rising legends like Steve Angello and Afrojack in welcoming an imminent paradigm shift for the future of dance music around the world. In the process, they helped usher in what would soon be remembered as the halcyon days of what we know now as “EDM.” What followed was an explosion of the sound in the music world at large, and similarly, within the festival’s subsequent lineups.

By 2016, EDM’s influence could be heard on the radio and in commercials. No longer a fringe sound, this contemporary and widely popular form of electronica had permeated into pop and beyond, thanks to artists like Avicii, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and The Chainsmokers. Coachella attendees can even expect to catch top-tier electronic acts while venturing to other stages as well, like the Do LaB and Sahara tent.

This is the nature of the Goldenvoice behemoth, and what has made the annual celebration in the Indio Valley so incredibly unique. Coachella’s boasted the best and most severely innovative talents of the dance music spectrum since its very first iteration in 1999, all the way into helping commercialize its exploding contemporary form in the late 2000’s. The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and Moby kicked off the first year, after all.

What’s more is that Coachella’s begun to evolve beyond the capacity of a music festival, and into a cultural touchstone of its own entirely. It’s also come to serve as a directional compass for music’s changing tides, by continuously mirroring and championing the effervescent trends of the times. Despite its shifting nature, electronic dance music at Coachella has withstood the test of time, and the festival is now looking into the future.

The Sahara Tent, in particular, has grown to become a golden standard of electronic music curation. As Goldenvoice’s own answer to EDC and Ultra, the Sahara has morphed into one of Coachella’s top-ranking destinations. 2018’s significant physical expansion was the most outright testament to this phenomenon. Furthermore, the tent’s billing this year of what others are now labeling “post-EDM” — or, the influx of new and forward-thinking strains of electronica filling the vacuum that big room/pop-centered EDM is slowly leaving behind — once more demonstrates just how deeply tapped talent bookers are into the mass musical vein. 

This past year, the Sahara Tent was the proverbial “beacon of hope” for EDM’s burst bubble, and post-EDM provided the light. Though the rising stars under this new umbrella genre are amidst the fine print of the festival — see Petit Biscuit, Ekali, San Holo, Whethan, and more — Coachella has advertently mirrored the state of streaming and post-EDM in its larger bookings, too. Kygo,  ODESZA, and Barclay Crenshaw are three glaring examples. Sahara has certainly grown past its days as a wee tent, evolving into a veritable embodiment of post-EDM’s rise to prominence.  

Depeche Mode headlined the Sahara tent back in 2006. That same year, Daft Punk unveiled their legendary pyramid stage production. Fast-forward to 2018, where Alison Wonderland took the crown atop her bona fide production pyramid as the highest billed female DJ to ever play the festival. She expertly played the cello, sang, and danced live on stage, all while showcasing her most deeply personal art to date before a closing set from one of the most-buzzed-about producers of the last few years — REZZ. The venerable women signified the new dawn of EDM — one that’s embracing producers, classical training, emotion, and pushing the musical envelope.

Goldenvoice is incredibly intuitive indeed, and Coachella’s lineup is well-calculated. 2018’s roster as a whole was a reflection of the streaming and radio-centric era’s beckoning, and the Sahara stage is one of the festival’s largest reflections of forces that will soon take the music world by storm. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Coachella

Exclusive Premiere: West Coast Massive – ‘Until We Die Young’

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West Coast Massive

Alex Bandes & Steven Girardi of West Coast Massive met at a college party in Virginia during the Spring of 2015. After knowing each other for just a week, they decided to move in together for the summer and spend all their time producing music. It’s a good thing that they did: ‘Until We Die Young’ marks the 4th single release from the LA-based duo, and is a sign of more to come.

Alex and Steven also gave Dancing Astronaut a deeper look at the track from the producers’ point of view:

“We walked into our session off Melrose avenue in Los Angeles with Dia Frampton and Scott Effman and started talking about the summer. It’s hard to forget the weekends that we spent in New York City visiting friends and getting into trouble. The city has such a majestic allure that causes you to think big and daydream which is what we decided to write the song about.

Steven played a chord progression on the piano that was influenced a lot by deadmau5 which gives it a melancholy beauty. From there we wrote the song over the chords and tried to truly capture the time we spent bonding together and exploring. We layered different textures, synths, and instruments to achieve this rock/electronic feel.

Whenever we start a song, we don’t really know where it’s going to end up. Sometimes we get something really cool and other times we have to start fresh and try something new. After the first round of production we thought we didn’t want to release the song because we weren’t sure how it would be received. A few months later we opened up the session files to see if we could freshen up the production. Once we played this new version in meetings and saw the reactions we knew we had to put it out.”

Virtual Self & the State of Electronic Music: Keeping art authentic in the face of a swallowed up culture

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porter robinson

Porter Robinson is either a tortured soul, or the “tortured artist” personae is one that works to his favor. His love of electronic music and simultaneous disdain for “EDM” culture is a complicated and genuine struggle, much like his highly self-critical relationship with his own music. But there’s something authentic and thoughtful in the way Robinson goes about creating art. Here is a guy who publicly lambasts his own style for becoming too stale or no longer honest. He has also been both artistically and commercially successful at once — something producers may work their whole careers to achieve, which Robinson had already accomplished at the ripe age of 21 when he debuted his electrifying Worlds project.

Porter Robinson incorporating live vocals on his Worlds Tour in 2014

Revered by his fans and respected by industry veterans alike, the now 25-year-old artist embodies a legacy much bigger than his music or visuals could convey. Over the years, he’s fostered a creative space for a global community to connect with spirituality and find purpose in his work. With an artistic inspiration entrenched in video gaming and Japanese anime, Robinson stays ahead of the game by not bothering to compete with anyone.

“I didn’t have this goal to be the next number one DJ in the world. I just kept taking the opportunities that we given to me and doing my best,” he once told BeatsRadio. Because of this, he’s developed a niche that allows him to be wholly genuine in his approach, consequently influencing fans and fellow artists to value substance over surface and to pursue their passions at all costs.

Just weeks after a surprise performance on Holy Ship! and one month prior to his debut festival appearance at Buku Music + Arts Project, a certain e-mail was leaked in which Robinson introduced his Virtual Self project and his rationale for making such a move. The letter itself was revealing and personal, but so is Robinson despite his aversion to the public spotlight. Robinson speaks to pop’s infiltration of electronic music and his concern over how artists are compromising authenticity for the safety net of a chart-topping hit. His ultimate goal with the project, per the email, was to reignite creative risk-taking.

 “[E]lectronic music is at its best and its healthiest when new, exciting, unexpected things are happening. This is a genre that thrives on novelty.”

Yet, while he certainly alludes to such, Robinson never explicitly discusses the state of art in the context of latent capitalism. And that is precisely what is missing in his lamentation over the loss of artistic originality.

This begs the question: Why are artists quick to discount, or often times uncomfortable even mentioning, art’s relationship with money and capital?


Art for art’s sake? Or art for money’s sake? 

“As electronic music essentially converged with pop in 2016…I think it’s pushed a lot of artists away from risk-taking and passion projects. In the last two years, for most artists, all they really had to do was compromise their style by like 30% and add a safe, inoffensive tropical vocal to have a chance at having a hit — and I think for many, that temptation was too much.” – Porter Robinson

In today’s hyper-commercialized culture, some musicians hold steadfast to the notion that art is art first and foremost. That is, money comes secondary to creating a genuine expression of one’s self. This creates a quandary for artists like Porter Robinson. First, because it’s a luxury only commercially successful artists can afford to make. Second, because it’s a claim that rests on an outdated, modernist mode of thinking.

The fact is, Robinson wouldn’t be in a position to take huge artistic risks had he not garnered the widespread support of prominent labels like OWSLAAnjunabeats, Universal’s Astralwerks and Ministry of Sound. How did he do this? By hopping on the “big room” train and playing packed-out stadiums on Tiësto‘s Club Life: College Invasion. Robinson was able to go onto pursuing future passion projects like Worlds, his “Shelter Tour” with Madeon, and now his Virtual Self alias — all the while enjoying monetary success — precisely because he had compromised artistic identity at the onset.

Porter Robinson plays Tiësto’s Club Life College Invasion tour stop in Los Angeles, California.

It’s no secret that Porter Robinson grew quickly tired of a commercial EDM scene centered around formulaic songs with their timed builds and beat drops — a scene which was also responsible for his success. The point of disconnect for himself, and other artists, lies between the passion for creating art and disdain for the ubiquitous money-making side of the music industry. Therein lies an inescapable truth: music is an industry, through and through, and the pervasiveness of capitalism plays a vital role in how one’s art reaches the masses.

Therefore, art doesn’t exist in subservience to money, or vice-versa. The postmodern collapses this distinction. In a postmodern world, money and art exist in a cyclical relationship — they are constantly coming back to one another, fighting with the other, and, yet, are codependent on each other.

This is the intersection at which Robinson’s outward struggle with art and authenticity lies. It’s a problem of postmodernism. Or perhaps it isn’t a problem at all.


Art is a copy of a copy. So what is authentic anymore? 

“I tried to authentically incorporate IDM-y, jungly drum breaks, era-accurate trancy super saw sections, early hardcore and j-core elements, but all morphed into something that sounds kind of ‘big’ and thoroughly produced.” – Porter Robinson

Porter Robinson poses for the American Dream Issue of CLASH Magazine.

Exposed, vindicated, and honest, Robinson is poised as a tastemaker to influence dance music trends. The producer has dabbled in big room, complextro, and now seeks to fuse trance and happy hardcore with his Virtual Self identity. Robinson states his new project’s objective is to morph 2001 tropes of dance music and update them for a 2017 production sensibility.

The stance reflects the very contradiction of postmodern art that we’ve been encountering since Andy Warhol’s famous depiction of his Campbells Soup Cans. Crucially, Warhol showed that art is a commodity and a commercial business, and that the commodity is a fetish in capitalist society. Like Warhol, Robinson finds himself knee deep in the thick of postmodernism — by imitating art. The act of imitation sanctifies art as a commercial activity, affirming and celebrating its commodity status.

Inevitably producers will soon piggyback on the style of Virtual Self just as others mimicked the style of Robinson’s Worlds, especially as they see his new formula successfully selling records. By this token, capitalism is the same metaphorical beast that The Beatles evoked in Yellow Submarine — a beast that swallows up everything in its path and, as it runs out of things to swallow, ends up swallowing itself.

This is the state of art in latent capitalism, as “new” art becomes a copy of its original, and then a copy of a copy, until consumers have forgotten where the art originated. Likewise, how many dance music enthusiasts can describe what classic genres influenced the birth of techno? Or what city house music was born in? How many can even name the multitude of genres that fall under the umbrella of EDM?

Electronic music is, by its very design, a postmodern process, as evidenced in how producers pastiche various styles and genres of music together to tell a different story.

 I want to convey a certain kind of ‘new nostalgia’ and resuscitate some things that have fallen out of fashion, especially from the early 2000s.” 

The postmodern collapses not only the distinction between the old and the new, but also the gap between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” art. By the same token, the work of Virtual Self isn’t something new or original; although it may be an exciting spectacle to behold.

The quandary for Porter lays in his pursuit of the authentic, resting on the modernist belief that what Virtual Self is doing is somehow “high brow,” or more authentic; while making the inference that those who pursue “safe, inoffensive” artistic choices, by not taking risks, are pursuing lower forms of art.


Revive, Reinvigorate, Renew: Making the old sound new 

“I really, really, truly, love electronic music, and I want it to be as good as it can be. I hope that by doing something unexpected, I can shake things up and hopefully inspire other artists to do something weird.” – Porter Robinson

So what do we do as creators and consumers of art to preserve its sanctity?

Ideologically, we might stand to collectively change the way we think about art and authenticity. Authenticity is not some modernist dirge, but a postmodern undertaking. What is authentic to one’s artistic process may not be to another. Authenticity then boils down to whatever is honest to one’s own human experience. Given how his Virtual Self identity is rooted in the fragmented nature of online identity, Robinson seems to understand what it means to live a postmodern life. Yet, Porter’s struggle over authenticity is evidence to the fact that we are still coping with the modernist sentiments of yesteryear in our postmodern time.

“And to be totally clear, I don’t think that Virtual Self, early 2000s trance, or digital abstract art are the solution or the future at all.”

Artistically, Porter is doing everything right! That is, he is evoking his Virtual Self identity to change the way music is experienced. At the same time, he is evoking his privilege as a commercially successful artist to package a different sound to the masses — a feat that would be much more difficult without the name recognition he earned from his earlier, safer pursuits.

If, as the postmodern turn suggests, the sanctity of art lays in its commodity status, then what is hallow about songs packaged onto iTunes for $1.99 a pop? Why the experience of course! The experience is the key to the spiritual domain, or the feeling of human connectedness. That is something capitalism can never imitate or reproduce. What Porter Robinson and artists like him understand so well is that the solution lays in experiencing music live.

Porter Robinson performs with Zedd on their 2013 Poseidon Tour. Photo cred: Rukes.

Thus, we return to the original point at hand: Robinson is neither the first nor last artist to straddle the contradictory space between art as a tool of honest self-expression and art as a commodity good. The aim of this observation is certainly not to condemn anyone who pursues art to make a living, but rather to unearth the many contradictions associated with living in capitalism.