New York boasts a long line of underground dance music pioneers, and Avision is one of the new generation carrying the city’s high reputation into the future. A cousin of the well-established Victor Calderone, Avision’s love affair with house and techno began at a young age and has since blossomed into a comfortable career that sees him travelling the world with his sounds. Not to mention, he’s become a new darling of Adam Beyer’s iconic Drumcode, where he’ll be releasing a single on the next edition of its A-Sides compilation.
Prior to A-Sides, Avision lands on Alan Fitzpatrick‘s We Are The Brave for a blistering new EP, This Way (order here). It captures the explosive sound Avision has become known for, and the uncompromising aesthetic of We Are The Brave as a label. With such a heavy slate of releases ahead and astronomical success over the past year, we’ve chosen to highlight him as Dancing Astronaut‘s latest Radar artist. Listen for a taste of This Way inside his mix, and catch him at Boston’s Bijou club on August 23.
Memorial Day Weekend is a special time for Detroit, and dance music at large. It sees fans from all over the world converge upon the Motor City to celebrate the genre born there: techno. Movement is the centerpiece of the celebration. For over twenty years now, the family-friendly festival has grown become one of the most well-known and beloved in the world, hosting the world’s best selectors and legacy acts to take the decks behind its multiple stages.
Over time, Movement has expanded its palette to celebrate not just techno, but the city’s place in history as a whole. Its Redbull stage welcomes hip-hop, for example, while a wide range of house producers also make their rounds at the Midwest institution. One such legend in the house realm is MK—a Detroit native himself and a Movement regular. Per his usual modus operandi, the stalwart put together a high-charged two hours that left audience members with no choice but to dance. It’s a journey through house music past-and-present, with some tech hints mixed in—a proper showing for the weekend.
Enjoy our exclusive recording of this set and relive the festival if in attendance.
The last time Guy Mantzur and Khen teamed up, they dominated the charts with “Children With No Name.” Three years later, the Tel Aviv powerhouses have reunited for another thrilling musical contribution—this time on John Digweed’s esteemed Bedrock imprint, where both have been signed to before. They’ve given us a full EP, Where Is Home, and have predictably risen to the occasion of providing top class progressive to the label’s 2019 repertoire.
After a glittering opener, “My Golden Cage” makes for a brilliant closer that keeps heads down and feet on the floor. It follows a tantalizing build, creating tense moments with well-arranged synths and a sultry bassline that carries the track forward. Crisp percussion rounds out the finished product for a truly slow-burning masterpiece.
There’s no denying that there’s a huge movement of ethnocentric, Burning Man-inspired house music unfolding in Germany; it can be heard from the halls of Watergate, through labels like Kindisch, and beyond.
Acid Pauli is one at the forefront of this movement, and his latest release falls neatly into his simmering, spirtualized aesthetic. For this one, the producer has stopped by his compatriot Noema’s imprint, The Magic Movement, for guest remixing duties on his downtempo cut “Twilight.” Taking some weight off the low-end, we’re left with an airier rendition of the original where tribal drums and subtle melodies lacing the background are given the chance to shine. Acid Pauli has also removed the lyrical bits of “Twilight,” adding a sense of hypnotism in the process that doesn’t quite exist in Noema’s first take. It’s a class tune that belongs in the golden hours.
“Twilight (Acid Pauli Remix)” comes out on August 16.
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