One of Mobilee‘s brightest stars, Rodriguez Jr., is back on the imprint with an EP representative of his forward-thinking melodic sound. Malecón Azul was inspired by life on the road, and it seems influences gathered from around the world have inspired two distinctive tracks.
We’ve elected to focus on “Clusters#1,” which follows up an airy, yet poignant title opener with a grittier, almost shadowy aesthetic. The warm analog synths Rodriguez Jr. is known continue to play a strong presence in this single; however, a more prominent low end and percussion give off a more “heads down” feel to the finished product. As always, the French producer ensures excellence in his mixing and arrangement, crafting a well-balanced piece with subtle layers that keep listeners intrigued until the very end.
Order a copy of “Clusters#1,” and the rest of Malecón Azul , here
Clarian‘s amid a streak of releases that have so far found homes on Culprit and Watergate. Now, he lends his masterful touch to a brand new project, HOKI.
“Almost Home” is HOKI’s first single. The nascent duo are coming up in the live space, where they’ve been honing in on a pleasantly melodic aesthetic that translates to easy listening. Clarian takes these motifs, already present in the original, and enhances them. The result is a beguiling tune, with its breathy vocals folding gently into sharp percussion and a reimagined melodic arrangement. In upping the tempo and emphasizing 4/4 time signature, Clarian has made “Almost Home” into an emotive dancefloor weapon.
“Almost Home” is also the first taste of HOKI’s album, which will be released sometime toward the end of 2019.
Kiesza became in instant star in 2014 when her impassioned vocal tune “Hideaway” caught America’s ear and became a smash radio hit. Marquee talents rushed to work with her, and soon we saw the rising Canadian talent’s name appearing alongside projects like Skrillex and Diplo’s Jack Ü, Duran Duran, Djemba Djemba, and Bakermat. It’s clear that she’s poised to be an enduring force within the pop and electronic arenas.
Life hasn’t been free of struggle for this singer, however. Before becoming a full-time musician, she knew a life of heavy discipline and grit via training in her home country’s military. Hardship also struck right as she hit her prime, when a terrible car crash left her with a near-career-ending brain injury and no choice to but to take a couple years off to focus on returning to full health and stability. If we know anything, however, it’s that Kiesza is an enduring character—and her unrelenting passion for her craft ultimately translated to an inevitable return to the arts.
“Sweet Love” thus serves as powerful comeback single, and a public expression of Kiesza’s shift in paradigm. Her recent struggles have given way to a different outlook on life and what’s important, and as a result, we see her taking a more stripped-down, raw, and emotive approach to her music making. “Sweet Love” is simultaneously haunting and wistful, allowing her crisp voice to take center stage while subconsciously communicating a hopeful message. It’s interpretive accompanying video is a visual manifestation of this new direction.
We caught up with Kiesza upon her new tune’s release, digging into her new inspirations and direction, her artistic journey, and beyond.
“Sweet Love” is a bit of a change of pace for you sonically. What led you down this direction, and how was the process in choosing a producer/collaborator that could help you realize your vision?
On this next musical chapter, I’m taking my audience on a more expansive musical journey. I came up as a songwriter on the New York music scene, so pushing boundaries with writing and dipping my toe into uncharted genres has always been second nature to me. That’s why I felt it was necessary to go independent for this next leg. I see this as a chance to evolve and expand in so many directions. But don’t worry, there is lots of dance music on the horizon! “Sweet Love” is a special song. I wrote it with the same baritone opera singer that sang with me on the first of my Halloween series, “Phantom of the Dance Floor.” His name is Philippe Sly and I asked him if he would ever be interested in writing a song together. He hesitated at first, but what I love about Phil is that he is so open-minded, and ultimately he just dove right into it with me! My friend Kid Harpoon joined us in the writing room. It was an amazing songwriting session and I have always loved this song. I struggled to put it out while in the major label system, so releasing this is so exciting. It needs to come out of hiding!
When it came to producing “Sweet Love,” it just so happened that while I was in Denmark, I showed the demo to the production duo Namafalcon, and they immediately had ideas that were aligned with my own vision for the song. I always go where the enthusiasm is strong and where the creativity starts to flow. Once we got going, it was effortless, and I love how it turned out.
The lyrical content and the dancing in the music video give off a very nostalgic, “young love” type of tone [in our subjective opinion]. Was this inspired by an early love in your life, or a profound experience where you really felt “love” for the first time?
It’s definitely painted with those emotions, both “young love” and even “forbidden love.” The feeling of already being so deep in, that you know there’s no turning back, while all-the-while trying to reconcile with the sense of underlying risk that comes with it.
Do you feel your sound evolving toward this softer, more sentimental direction or do you think you still might be involved in the dance music sphere as a vocalist in the future?
It’s about to become quite a musical rollercoaster ride, as I’ve been on a rollercoaster myself, both in life and in the industry I’m in. I think by now I’ve felt almost everything there is to feel on some degree. Extreme love, unimaginable loss, the fulfillment of dreams and the rush that comes with it, self confidence, self doubt, winning and then losing, an open road that ran straight into a brick wall, and then the sense of being derailed completely and without warning, followed by the struggle of fighting my way back. I have a lot say now. A lot to express. To vent. But also a lot to be thankful for.
Dancing has always been my medicine, and for this reason I will always continue to write dance music. But now you’re going to have a bigger window into who I am, as the songs unveil themselves. I’m sort of moving in all directions at once I guess…expanding.
You’ve definitely been stepping into your own power artistically as of late. What advice can you offer other young musicians who might be struggling to find themselves or assert themselves in this crazy industry?
True, as difficult as it is to cut through all the noise, it’s ultimately an amazing time to be an independent artist. There are so many avenues and unique pathways for new musicians to share their art with the world. The secret is to just keep at it and be willing to work harder than you ever could imagine. When you feel like giving up, you just keep going. And it’s important to be critical of your own music. That may sound harsh, but no one writes a hit song every day. I write bad ideas all the time. You just have to have the guts to throw your work away when you know it isn’t strong enough. And simplify as much as possible. There’s no getting around hard work. And be willing to adapt as the winds change. Expect the unexpected, and give it right back.
As a songwriter, do you have any particular routines or techniques that help you get the lyrics flowing when working on a project? What do you do when faced with writer’s block?
Movement in general helps stimulate ideas. Going for a walk, or riding a bike. Even taking public transportation helps me come up with ideas, believe it or not. Anything that puts you into a flow state.
Let’s poke a bit more into your past here, as we’re a dance site and we first learned about you through your numerous high profile collaborations. How did you first end up getting involved in this side of the music world, and what methods did you use to get your self out there and get noticed by the likes of Jack Ü, Bakermat, Djemba Djemba, etc?
“Hideaway” was my bridge from the realm of the unknown into the limelight. It was that song that paved the way for all the collaborations that followed. When it comes to collaborations, I just go with what feels right. I usually collaborate with people that resonate.
What is your favorite aspect of the dance music scene in general, and the crossover/pop world you’ve found yourself in more recently?
Dance music brings people together, and it makes people happy. Even if it’s just for a moment, when you’re dancing, you always feel good. You don’t have to think about the things that are weighing you down. In that moment, it’s just complete suspension. The new music I’m releasing knows no boundaries. You’ll never know what’s coming next. Sweet Love is a song that allows me to tell a story. It harkens to that familiar lure of lust becoming love. Sometimes the purpose of a song is to be heard. And some of my music in this upcoming chapter will be those songs. Songs with stories, or messages, where the lyrics matter. I try not to make my dance songs too complicated lyrically, for the simple reason that I myself prefer dance songs to be simple and light hearted, when I’m dancing to them. But I have a lot to say, and the time has come to go deeper. I want to share more of who I am with the world.
Finally, the number one question: what’s coming next down the Kiesza pipeline?
For starters, I have more songs written then I know what to do with. But once I get started, there’s no more stopping. I’m really looking forward to lots of collaborations, and expressing so many different sides of my personality through the upcoming music and performances.
Allow No Mana and EDDIE to lead you through the dark and shadowy corridors of their new collaboration, “Untitled Forever.”
The two mau5trap frequenters have returned to the famed label to unleash this latest offering, which proves to be a true amalgamation of their styles. Sinister in its beat and daunting in its melodies, “Untitled Forever” is an impressive showing from both artists, who’ve found the perfect haunting vocal to accompany their production.
With the release of the song, they’ve also put together an animated music video that shows the two producers working on the song and bickering about what to name it, finally settling on “Untitled Forever” after chucking hot Cheetos at each other.
The tune marks EDDIE’s second of the year on the label, following “Zombie Mannequin” in January and Spiritual Contraband EP in October. No Mana comes to “Untitled Forever” from his April Skin release with Electrocado and Julian Gray.
“Untitled Forever” is out June 21 via mau5trap. Pre-save it here.
Cheat Codes, comprised of Prince$$ Rosie, Trevor Dahl, and Matthew Russell, have always appreciated a consistent air of mystery to be kept about them, their output, and their live performances. Dynamism is key to their sound: the outfit has been quite vocal about the aforementioned desire to remain aesthetically unpredictable and undefinable, and their ongoing catalog only reaffirms their commitment to musical exploration. When it comes to traversing new sonic territory, the title of Cheat Codes’ 2018 tune, “I Love It,” applies. “We kind of play around with everything and see what sticks,” Dahl told Dancing Astronaut, “One way we keep you guessing is [that] we don’t even know what we’re going to do next.”
In their productive play, Cheat Codes have found formulas that have indeed “stuck.” Their 2017 Demi Lovato-assisted single, “No Promises,” peaked at number 39 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart following its debut, cinching Cheat Codes’ very first Hot 100 hit. “No Promises” remained on the Top 40 charts for six months, while the group collected gold and platinum certifications for a number of other originals, including “Feels Great,” and “Sex,”in the meantime. The next goal for Cheat Codes is to expand the subgenres that fall under their catalog’s purview via a collection of upcoming urban records. They made sure to mention that they even have “a few Latin records in the works.”
While the expression goes “three’s company,” Cheat Codes think with a “the more the merrier” mentality that’s evident in their collaborations ranging from Kaskade, to CADE, to Danny Quest. Their creative interplay with Kaskade resulted in “Be The One,” which materialized as a tasteful amalgamation of Cheat Codes’ ear for momentous drops with magnetic appeal, and Kaskade’s house sensibilities.
Cheat Codes and Kaskade traded several records, sending options back and forth. A triplet drop that Russell describes as strikingly “unique” in its sound caught Cheat Codes’ ear. The trio added what they call some “Stranger Things sounding chords” to the fledgling production. The chords went on to inspire the vocals, as Cheat Codes’ then recent performance in Tromso, Norway had a hand in some of the lyrical content that would follow.
We played a show in Tromso, Norway which is famous for the aurora borealis. That sparked the line ‘I wanna kiss you underneath the Northern Lights.” The concept of the lyrics is having all of these one of a kind experiences with a significant other.”
Later, the Redux producer and Russell would go on to run a 5K in Miami together following “Be The One’s” release.
“I Feel Ya” appeared as a formidable follow up to “Be The One.” The offering sourced its vocals from Ina Wroldsen, and saw Quest link once more with Cheat Codes to produce the track. One of Cheat Codes’ “best friends,” according to Russell, Quest is also an artist on the dance trio’s Too Easy imprint. “We were able to knock out production really quickly,” Russell said of the process that preceded the “I Feel Ya” that listeners now stream.
Everything came together super quick, we love when things flow like that.
The rapidity with which Cheat Codes and Quest pieced together “I Feel Ya” is a credit to Quest and Cheat Codes’ creative synergy, which was first audible on 2018’s “NSFW.” While Prince$$ Rosie, Trevor Dahl, and Matthew Russell cite Quest as a close friend—and, clearly, an effective studio presence in the context of the collective’s musical invention—Quest was, not long ago, one of Cheat Codes’ roommates.
“NSFW” was born out of this living situation: “‘NSFW’ came together [while we were] literally eating breakfast and thought of this funny vocal tag,” Dahl said, “‘it’s nasty, it’s dirt, this sh*t ain’t safe for work.’ We were inspired by Reddit, they have a special section titled ‘Not Safe For Work,’ so people [browsing and] working 9 to 5 jobs don’t get in trouble.”
Moving forward, Cheat Codes hope to one day collaborate with Daddy Yankee, Willy Williams, and J. Balvin on the Latin side, and Blackbear, Trippie Redd, and Drake in the hip-hop sector. While time will tell if these powerhouse musical matchups come to be, fans can count on Cheat Codes to keep their material continually forward thinking, consistently innovative, and fresh, long after any given release. In the fashion of their name, the trio has uncovered the ‘cheat code’ to first creating, and then maintaining a distinctive sense of youthful presence in modern dance music circles: unceasing stylistic curiosity, and the drive to try anything at least once.
Australia is a breeding ground for cutting edge electronic artists, and Hayden James is a shining example. He emerged into the international scene with his radio friendly “Permission To Love,” which immediately cemented his position as a crossover master. He’s since been capturing hearts around the music world with his knack for breezy soundscapes and silky texturing in each of his songs; it’s no wonder that when he announced he’d be putting out his debut LP, the world began waiting with much anticipation.
The moment has finally arrived, and Between Us is now out on digital shelves. Clocking in at 11 tracks, the album is an expression of everything Hayden’s come to embody sonically through his industry tenure. “Nowhere To Go,” his sultry single with NAATIONS, makes the track list, in addition to a strong slate of other collaborative pieces which include Running Touch, Boy Matthews, and Faar to name a few. One listen is all it takes to add a bit of euphoria into the day.
To mark this very special occasion, Hayden James has curated a special edition ORBIT playlist for us. Plenty of album singles make their way into the mix, plus a strong list of supporting tracks which include a Honey Dijon dub, a Kaskade and Gorgon City collaboration, Purple Disco Machine, and more. Spin during daytime for amplified summer sentiments.
Order a copy of Hayden’s album, ‘Between Us,’ here
Clyde P has turned up the power for his return to Desert Hearts. The Gnawa March is an EP made for peak time, with Darius Syrossian even hopping on board for remixing duties.
The rising French producer entices listeners into his two-tracker’s title A-side with tribal inspired percussion that’s further amplified by his choice of vocal sampling. Its centerpiece however, is its low-end; a heady bassline adds gravity to the finished product while playing well to its implied theme. Ultimately, “The Gnawa March” is primed to become a summer anthem as it makes its way around the house music circuit.
Order a copy of ‘The Gnawa March,’ out on May 31, here
June 3 will bring about Boxia‘s debut studio album, A Night In The Life Of. As one of Drumcode‘s notable rising stars, expectations have been set high for the big release. Per the sound of it, the British artist is looking to top the bar and show off his diversity through a patchwork of club-focused tunes. Each are based around different nightlife characters he’s encountered throughout his years on the circuit or around specific memories, giving the LP a particularly expressive effect. The album span across the abstract, all the way to driving, darkened techno.
“Nights Become Days” falls somewhere in the middle of Boxia’s spectrum, and explores a more emotive side to his musicality. Like quite a few tracks on A Night In The Life Of, the single is melodic and almost trancey at times, putting listeners under a nostalgia-filled spell. Much like its title, “Nights Become Days” errs toward the euphoric side; a clear homage to times spent at a party that persisted into daytime hours. Not to mention, it’s a track that clearly means business.
Order a copy of “Nights Become Days,” via ‘A Night In The Life Of’ on Drumcode, here
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
UK climber Boxia has asserted himself as a key talent in house/techno’s new guard. After honing in on his ferocious, big room take on underground music, it didn’t take long for Adam Beyer to notice the burgeoning talent and adopt him into the Drumcode fold. Since then, his name has become ubiquitous in the global sphere, and with good reason. A lifetime of DJing and producing experience under his belt has given Boxia a unique edge and ability to read his crowd, and adapt with chameleon-esque standards. Constant curiosity and will to self-improve is also a huge aspect of the producer’s ethos, which is why his music remains an ever-evolving force despite its overall cohesion under his signature sonic aesthetic.
This musical evolution is what eventually birthed Boxia’s upcoming album, A Night In The Life Of. It’s his first project of this type, naturally backed by Drumcode, serves as an aural expression and memory log of characters Boxia has met throughout his time on the dancefloor and beyond the decks. This isn’t so much an at-home listen, consume in one go type of LP; instead, it’s mostly club-focused, making the format more accessible and danceable. Curious to know more about the inspirations behind A Night In The Life Of, how Boxia brought his characters to life in song, and his overall process, we sat the producer down for Techno Tuesday to dish on the details.
Order a copy of ‘A Night In The Life Of,’ out June 3, here.
Your album carries a melodic motif to it. What has led you to this sonic direction, and how does it play into the overarching theme of you recounting your rave days?
Thanks, very good observation. I love to be moved by music. It can happen in all kinds of methods and sounds in production, but a melody to pluck away at nostalgia as well as being something interesting can add new dimensions to a track.
Each of the album’s songs are ascribed to a certain club character you’ve encountered, correct? Can you pick out a couple of these characters in particular, the song that represents them, and how you expressed their personalities in musical form?
Yes, that’s right some characters, some situations. The track ‘Where Are Your Friends’ is about a close friend who’d always go missing when we go out. The melody from that is my interpretation of how he was feeling when he was bouncing around the place having the time of his life on his own!
The track ‘Under The Bridge’ was more about a situation when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen for 10 years at the first Junction 2, they arrived around dusk and we were walking up to the main stage but unable to see the crowd yet, buzzing full of anticipation, sound resonating from the distance. Then you first catch sight of what’s in front of you from the top of the slope and it’s a sight to behold. It was a moment I shared with a friend I’ll never forget.
Why is now the right timing for you to release your debut studio album?
Erm, I guess this is different for everyone. I’ve always had so many ideas for tracks, and a good idea on how to make an album tracklist flow and the opportunity came up. I worked as hard as I possibly could for a year to deliver something I felt was right for now…
Were there any tracks that were especially challenging to complete? Why?
Yes, most of them! ‘Ephenomenon’ stands out though. I had a massive wobble quite late on and changed the entire track – high and low drums, lead, and even the melody. The first version just sounded so dated the more I played it. I’m really glad I persevered and changed it.
Tell us about a rave memory that helped secure your goal to become a full-time member of the dance scene.
There are so many. I had a quite successful career before I decided to drop everything, make some sacrifices and give this my full attention. It’s not a memory as such, more an experience. There’s a level of passion in this industry whether you’ve just got into it or been in it for years. It’s really nice surrounding yourself with people at both ends of the scale, as it exposes you to both new ideas, and experienced opinions.
How has the raving affected your outlook on life over the years?
I didn’t have the best teenage years. I really struggled to grasp any purpose at that time of my life… Then I went raving week in, week out for as long as I could do it and my whole outlook completely changed. Everything made sense after that, I owe it all to those times.
You’ve ascended the techno ranks quite quickly, becoming a notable member of Drumcode’s newer generation. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome to get to where you are today?
There are so so many obstacles, every corner and every day. Something which is an everyday thing for many artists on the up, is the trap of comparing yourself to others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on around you, wondering how this person does this, or how they got that show. You have to respect what happens around you and concentrate on your own thing. The super talent Honey Dijon articulates it so well in this post
On the note of Drumcode, what factors make you and the imprint such a good match creatively/sonically?
One of the things I love is that you just have to scan the back catalogue to see how the label pushes forward and I like being a part of that. Adam pushes me to deliver the best I can, and you just can’t argue with his level of experience, ha. The whole team is extremely professional to work with too which is a blessing.
Now with charting club singles, and album, and heavy touring under your belt, where do you see yourself headed next in your career?
Oooo, let me think…
I will hopefully tour more. The challenge of playing in new territories is something I really love. I’d like to do some collabs in the near future too. I have some bits I’m working on I can’t reveal too, you’ll have to wait for that!
What else do you have in your pipeline at the moment?
I have a remix coming on a new vinyl label called APE-X from the UK of an artist called ‘Markse’ which is produced by Man Power (Me, Me Me). The release also includes a remix by Spencer Parker. Other than that, I’ve just changed my entire studio workflow and setup so I’m knee deep in learning again while at the same time writing new stuff. As for the rest, you’ll just have to watch this space.
The world finally got to see just how multifaceted of an artist Namito is through his first LP, Letting Go. Released on Ubersee, the expansive project which combined writing, art, and a sonic biography of his life stunned dance fans across the world. For his debut on Sabo’s Sol Selectas, the Berlin-based artist taps into his Persian roots to present a refreshed, and slightly psychedelic take on a classic.
“Stone Flower” takes vocals from an older tune out of Iran, and embeds them in a deep, 4/4 foundation. It’s dissonant and hypnotic, leading listeners down a metaphorical rabbit hole with lush rhythms, string accents, and entrancing basslines. Namito does well in fitting into the Sol Selectas aesthetic—and has crafted a top opening tune for his sets in the process.